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What Is the Best Sun Hat?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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A sun hat, at its essence, is a hat that shields your face from the sun. As we’ve written before, though, a good, non-mortifying hat can be hard to find. But if you know where to look — or the right people to ask — you’ll see that there are some really good hats out there that fulfill their purpose of providing ample sun protection and make you look more stylish than silly. To find actually good sun hats, we spoke to 15 women (and a couple of men) with exceptional taste about their favorites, then combed our archives for additional standouts. From resort-worthy straw hats to on-trend bucket hats to classic baseball caps, the 18 sun hats below include something for most everyone and every budget. Speaking of budget, we’ve organized the hats by price, beginning with a slew of under-$50 options that include one hat beloved by multiple Strategist editors that’s less than $30.

Best under-$50 sun hats

Photo: Retailer

Baggu’s Packable Sun Hat was an instant hit when it debuted in 2021. As the Cut wrote then, “The hat looks like a bonnet for a giant toddler or a car-size sun visor you can wear.” Like the brand’s bags, the magic of its this hat is that it folds up into a convenient “instant clutch,” despite having a brim diameter of almost 20 inches. Devine Blacksher, To Many More co-founder and former associate fashion editor at the Cut, wrote that wearing it “makes me feel like Zorro: The brim of the hat is so massive and the way I can tie it under my chin into a cute bow makes me feel like a superstar/superhero.” The hat is also great for travel: “I was traveling around Mexico for three weeks and it was the perfect hat for the trip,” she says. “It was easy to pack in my carry-on and go. It opens easily and isn’t too wrinkled. Literally the perfect travel hat.” In addition to the gothic floral shown here, it comes in plenty of Baggu’s beloved prints, like lemon trees and pistachio gingham (as well as some more staid solid options).

Two Strategist editors — features editor Katy Schneider and senior editor Simone Kitchens — own this simple, super-affordable Milani cotton hat that Kitchens found on Amazon. Schneider, in fact, owns two of them and told us a friend of hers recently ordered one, too. “It’s just a nice, simple sun hat,” she says. Kitchens appreciates the fact that the brim is constructed with supportive wiring, “so you can shape it and it won’t flop down.” She adds that the hat is easy to care for, too — something she can “sweat in and fold up and wash easily.” As the Milani’s available colorways are currently limited to just orange and aqua, senior editor Jen Trolio suggests this very similar Scala hat as an excellent alternative that only costs a few bucks more. It also features an inner drawstring and a folded brim, but comes in more than 20 colors, both bright and neutral; Trolio owns it in olive.

“When looking for the perfect sun hat, I prefer styles that are low maintenance, compact, and easy to travel with,” says stylist Olivia Rose, adding that “straw or crochet bucket hats are super current and have those aspects of practicality.” This classic & Other Stories straw hat certainly ticks those boxes; content creator and talent manager Ariel Oz bought it after seeing it on a friend and reports that it’s “casual, lightweight, and really easy to throw into a beach bag or suitcase.”

Sonia Patel, a chief pharmacist of Capsule, told us she wanted a sun hat that not only shields her face from rays, but is made with UPF fabric that actually helps block them from filtering through. She found her ideal style in this hat from Coolibar — a brand we’ve written about before — which has a UPF rating of 50-plus (meaning that roughly one-fiftieth of UV radiation will pass through the fabric). As Patel explains, “Sunscreen has limits on its effectiveness against preventing sun damage, so people should avoid relying on it as their sole protection from sun exposure.” The wide-brim hat is also reversible: One side is solid-colored while the other features a contrasting white stripe.

From $45

Those with larger noggins might want to check out this unisex gorpcore hat that former Strategist associate editor Daniel Varghese recommends. “I have been looking for a good floppy hat for a long time,” but it took awhile to “find one that fit my head,” he says, noting he wears the L/XL size (in khaki), which fits perfectly. Varghese says the hat’s brim “has a really nice structure to it and you can shape it exactly how you want.” Made of nylon and lined with a merino wool blend, it comes with a drawcord chin strap and also has vents that Varghese says “make it more breathable so you won’t sweat through it.” If khaki isn’t your style, it also comes in navy and copper colorways.

Perhaps, like fashion illustrator Annie Reeds, you’d prefer to hide from the sun under a simple baseball cap. Her go-to is this extremely affordable hat from Dalix, which she says is “chic, lightweight, branding-free, and cheap to replace.” It’s also available in more than 20 solid colors. As for Reeds’s favorite shades, she says she’s recently “been partial to dark green, but I always have black, navy, khaki, white, and dark brown on deck.” She’s considering light blue as the next addition to her lineup.

If you want something just as easy but a little breezier, consider a visor. Emily Mandagie, a photographer, writer, and the co-founder of travel website The Mandagies, wears this polyester one on days she doesn’t want to wear a baseball cap. She says the visor “can be easily rolled up and stuffed into a bag,” making it great for backpacking, hiking, or camping trips. It also gives her the “freedom to wear hairstyles like high ponytails” that she says are harder to pull off in a baseball cap. “It keeps my head cool and hairstyles fresh on the trails,” Mandagie concludes. For those who prefer a more natural look, there’s also a straw version of the visor, but it can’t be rolled up.

Best under-$100 sun hats

The New York Times Magazine editor Iva Dixit told us she wanted a “massive, impractical hat as big as my entire torso.” Dixit says she dug through pages of Google searches to find such a hat that wouldn’t make her look like “a dairymaid in the Swiss countryside or a rich grandmother going to church.” Unimpressed by many designer options and wary of cheaply made knockoffs, she kept hunting until she discovered this hat from San Diego Hat Company “purely by accident, on page seven or eight of Google shopping.” Plenty wide with an eight-inch brim, she bought it and is “happy to report I do not look like a beekeeper in it.” Dixit says the hat is solidly made — “hefty” is the word she used to describe it — and that “it came in a massive square hatbox, not rolled up and squished.” Shown in a color called toast, it comes in nine others, including white, black, citron, and hot pink.

Multiple sources mentioned Lack of Color as a great option for cute and affordable hats. “I get all my hats from Lack of Color because they have a wide variety that come in large sizes,” says stylist Soraya Augustin, who owns three different hats from the Australian brand. Content creator Kelsey Kotzur has also stocked up: She owns this terrycloth bucket hat in red, green, light blue, and pink (nearly half of the nine colors it comes in). “The colors are just so good. I feel like Australians just know how to do summer,” Kotzur says. Her hats have definitely taken a beating, but they’ve proven exceptionally resilient: “I’ve gotten them so dirty. I’ve gone in the ocean with them. I’ve jumped in the pool with them,” but after a quick rinse in the washing machine, they’re good as new.

San Francisco–based makeup artist Jeanne Y. Sun swears by this straw hat she found on Etsy and bought on a vacation to Hawaii. “I love how wide the brim is and that it has a ribbon to tie around your neck in case of wind,” she says. “The exaggerated shape gives just the right amount of drama to even the simplest of outfits.”

“After years of throwing it carelessly in my carry-on, beach bag, and back seat, this thick canvas hat still holds up,” writer Alexis Cheung says of her go-to sun hat from Colorado-based Hatters. Made of canvas with a bit of an unfinished hem around the brim, she describes it as “lightweight and funky-looking — strong Hogwarts-Sorting-Hat-but-for-the-beach vibes,” adding that it is “inherently wearable in any setting, from the sand, to an outdoor market, to your garden.”

Best splurge-worthy sun hats

The largest cotton sun hat on our list, Beklina’s Voluminoso is owned by two Strategist staffers: senior editor Simone Kitchens and writer Lauren Ro. Its supersize floppy brim provides full coverage for both your face and shoulders and a thick chin sash offers added security, in case that brim gets caught in a gust of wind. Kitchens says its floppiness makes the hat a bit “stunty,” but likes how stitching along the brim helps it hold its shape when you roll it up. Ro adds that its lightweight material makes it easy to pack up and toss in a beach or weekend bag.

A few of the stylish women we spoke to mentioned Freya and its selection of on-trend hats. Minneapolis-based stylist Ravena Kerur discovered this bucket hat from the brand at her neighborhood boutique Idun. “I love how its thick material protects my head from the summer sun,” she says. The hat has an asymmetrical brim that’s broader on one side and shorter on the other, which means it can be worn two ways. “I love the way I can manipulate the material to make it look like the kind of hat that I want to wear each day,” says Kerur, who told us the hat is great for “hiding under and tuning out.”

This snazzy Lorna Murray hat comes with a pleated brim, which is designed to collapse and fold like origami. Additional strings at the base means you can even tie it up into a neat little bundle, so it’s extremely easy to take on-the-go with you, advises Megababe founder Katie Sturino — and “it even comes with a little sack!” she says.

Janessa Leone’s sophisticated sun hats have been spotted on a multitude of chic women with great taste, including Who What Wear co-founder and chief content officer Hillary Kerr. She owns a total of seven Janessa Leone hats, including a few vintage ones from the brand’s very beginning in 2013. “I knew that she was making something truly special from our very first meeting,” Kerr declares. “The proportions are sumptuous, the construction is flawless, and you just feel like the chicest version of yourself when you wear one of her hats.” Even the hats that are approaching a decade old still hold up and “weather beautifully, becoming even more elegant over time.” Right now Kerr is in a “natural straw phase,” and will spend the summer alternating between the Tinsley shown here and the more Western-looking Milton, paired with “a Mara Hoffman bikini and J. Crew oversized striped linen shirt.”

Oz calls this wide-brimmed hat, also from Lack of Color, a “staple in my closet” and a “timeless classic you could wear at any point your life.” She does caveat that it’s a little trickier to travel with, considering it’s larger and stiffer than a bucket hat, but will reach for it whenever she wants to make a statement with her outfit. She bought the hat around six years ago and says it “looks fantastic” and “shows no signs of wear,” adding that she can see herself rocking this hat for “many many years to come.”

Eva Lee, the former head of newsroom operations at BuzzFeed News, has had this Helen Kaminski hat for close to 10 years. She says it’s worth the price because “it gets better with wear and holds its shape thanks to the raffia, which is really soft and flexible.” Thoughtful details include “a neoprene band inside that makes it super comfortable” — and helps it stay on her head. Lee also loves that the hat is foldable and, importantly, has a wide brim that provides great sun protection. Plus, she adds, “it’s not as tightly woven, so the hat promotes nice airflow.”

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What Is the Best Sun Hat?