Hikers and backpackers frequently worry only about the “biggies” in their backcountry equipment, such as their boots, backpack, pants, and jackets, and neglect the rest. Undoubtedly, these gear items are crucial. However, some lesser-known parts of your equipment can also have a significant impact on how you experience the trails. The hiking hat in particular is the most so.
This article will examine the factors you should take into account before purchasing a hiking hat. For various climates and conditions, you’ll most likely need a few of the various hat types that we discuss below. Before we continue, let’s be clear that a good hiking hat is essential for the trail as it provides safety and comfort in a variety of circumstances.
Climate and Season
The first thing you should do is consider the weather and environment in which you’ll be using your hiking hat. In order to protect yourself from the sun while hiking in Australia’s Outback, a broad rimmed hat with good neck coverage might be what you need.
Similar to this, if you’re outdoors in Western Europe during the autumn and winter, warmth will be your top priority, so a beanie style cap would be more appropriate. So first things first, decide where you will wear your hiking hat. Consider the environment as well as the season and climate.
Once you have determined your basic needs, you should think about the kind of hiking hat that will work best for you. There are many different types of hiking hats, as was mentioned above.
We’ll start off with hot climates. In those kinds of circumstances, you should try to find a hat that will shield you from the sun. These are the available options:
The Classic Sun Hat
These have a wide rim all the way around the hat, shielding your entire head from the sun’s rays as well as the back of your neck. They also have a very good bonus because they help keep the sun out of your eyes.
Some sun hats can protect you from the sun very effectively by having long lapels on the sides and back and a front. You must determine the level of protection you require; if you require Sahara desert level protection, you may want to consider this type of hat as it offers slightly more protection than a typical sun hat.
The Baseball Cap
Another one of my favorites that you can wear when hiking in nicer climates is the traditional baseball cap. However, keep in mind that this will only shade your eyes, so if you are prone to sunburn, you should use sunscreen on your neck and any other exposed parts of your head.
The Beanie Cap
Another one of my personal favorites and a classic. Beanie style hats, also known as skull caps, are perfect for keeping your head warm because they fit snugly on your head. They are made of a variety of materials, and you can buy ones that are somewhat more resistant to rain and other elements. It’s important to note that beanies are reasonably priced; you can buy a simple one for a few dollars. They do a great job of keeping my head warm despite being simple and as cheap as chips.
Balaclava Winter Hat
In essence, they resemble a large sock with holes at either end. It can be wrapped around your neck and worn as a scarf, extended up to cover a portion of your face, or, with some easy but deft manipulation, transformed into a hat similar to a beanie. Therefore, you have a lot of choices!
The Winter hat
This style of hat is intended for extremely chilly weather. It will most likely be constructed of an insulating material that will keep your head warm in extremely cold temperatures. You could pay anywhere between $150 and $300 for one of these hats because they can be highly specialized and consequently cost can rise significantly if you want a top of the line one. Although there are less expensive options in a similar style, quality does matter.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Hiking Hat
The primary purpose of a hiking hat is to shield the wearer from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating of your hat, a scale that indicates how much UV radiation it allows to reach your skin, will help you determine how well it can do this.
UPF ratings typically range from 30 to 50+. According to a UPF 50 rating, only 2% of UV rays will pass through the fabric of the hat.
The best UPF fabrics typically have tightly woven fibers to block out light. The majority of these are made of polyester and nylon, and they are frequently lined with a Gore-Tex (or comparable) membrane to make them impermeable to both sunlight and water.
Likewise, cotton offers respectable UV protection. However, because of its high rate of absorption, it provides little in the way of moisture management and is therefore not the best choice for your hat, socks, or any other article of clothing, especially in warm weather.
There are numerous brands available. Most manufacturers of hiking accessories will offer a variety of hats in at least one of the above-mentioned styles. There’s a good chance your preferred gear company has a hiking hat that will work for you. However, keep in mind that investing in a brand name will most likely increase the cost slightly.
Hiking hats are another item of gear that I believe you can get by with without spending a lot of money, unless you specifically need a specialized hat, like one for extremely cold weather. A simple beanie and a good baseball cap or sun hat are usually sufficient for most people.
There is no reason a good hiking hat should be expensive. For anywhere from $5 to $50, you can probably find something stylish and functional. The wide range in price will largely depend on your hat’s functionality, the style, size, and, of course, the brand you prefer. However, as was already mentioned, the cost can rise significantly if you require a real specialty hat for something like subzero temperatures.
It makes sense that when purchasing a hat, you should take your head size into account. This is less crucial for flexible hats like beanies, so getting a general size range, such as small, medium, large, etc., should do the trick.
But if you’re looking for more specialized sun hats, you might want to pay closer attention to size because it might be a little different for this kind of hat. When I say different, I mean that while a medium size may typically fit your head for a beanie cap, you might need a large for a sun hat. It’s simple to figure out; all you have to do is try on various hats until you find the sizes that fit you comfortably and use those measurements as a guide.
You can search for various materials depending on the type of hat you need. The pros and cons of each material will vary, but as long as you keep your needs in mind when looking for a hat, you should be fine.
In other words, if you’re looking for a beanie that will keep you warm and provide some rain protection, a wool/acrylic blend might be the perfect fit. But in order to get a quick-drying sun hat for extremely hot but humid weather, breathability is just as important as sun protection. In light of this, it might be preferable to aim for nylon or another synthetic material with good wicking properties and a high UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating.
Reliability and Durability
You want reliability and durability in your hiking gear, as with any other gear you buy. By reliability, we mean that you want the hat to function as intended. If your beanie is meant to keep your head warm, it ought to do so. Not particularly complicated, but still worth mentioning.
When considering durability, you want your hat to be able to take some minor beatings without breaking down. If I think of my own hiking hats, they are almost always tucked away in my bag or my jacket.
While I’m putting on and taking off layers, they can be both sat on and left on the ground for a while. What I’m trying to say is that since you are on the trail, your hat needs to be able to take a reasonable amount of punishment. Your hat shouldn’t come apart at the seams after being tossed around on several mountain outings.
I sincerely hope that this article on how to buy a hiking hat was helpful. At the end of the day, you’ll probably have a variety of hats that for various climates, seasons, and environments that you hike in.
When purchasing any piece of hiking equipment, there are a number of factors to take into account, and a good hiking hat is no exception. This is one area where, in my opinion, you really don’t need to spend a fortune to get something good and useful. Depending on your needs, there are great deals available. As with everything else, some hats cost more than others, but there are plenty of high-quality options available that should satisfy the needs of the majority of people.