When your hiking in hot climates, you need to make sure you’re protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Sure, you can whack on a load of sunscreen, but when things really heat up it can start to run (and getting sunscreen in your eyes is not fun) and you’ll have to keep reapplying throughout the day.
Plus, good sunscreens don’t come cheap, and making sure you have enough for a whole vacation can really put a dent in your wallet.
An easier way to keep the sun at bay is to simply wear a hat. Caps offer some protection for your face, but they leave your neck exposed and the wind can whip them off your head in an instant. On the other hand, boonie hats feature a wide brim that provides shade for your face and neck, plus most of them come with a cinch cord to hold them in place when things get blustery.
In fact, boonie hats are so effective that they’re the go-to for military personnel operating in hot climates, so they’ll definitely do the trick for a weekend of hiking in the hills. There are tonnes of boonie hats on the market, with various styles to choose from.
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Boonie Hats For Hiking
Here, we’ve put together a list of the best boonie hats around and included options to suit every kind of budget, so you be sure to find the one that’s right for you – happy hiking!
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If you like the sound of a boonie hat but are worried about it cramping your style, then you should definitely check out the Tilley LTM6 Airflo.
The hat has been carefully constructed to bring a hat that’s not only stylish but is also durable and super functional.
It features UPF 50+ sun protection and has a brim that extends around the entire hat… but the thing we like best about the brim is how sturdy it is – even in blustery conditions it will stay put, ensuring that your face and neck stay protected. What’s more, the hand-sewn lock stitches are super secure, so you can be sure that this hat won’t fall apart on you after a couple of wears.
The sturdy nature of the hat does mean that it’s a little heavier than other flimsier options (and a little more expensive) but, if you want something that won’t flap in the wind and will last you a while, then it’s worth the trade-off.
In terms of breathability, this hat features mesh inserts located high up on the hat (which is great as that’s where the hot air will gather) and extend right the way around the hat for excellent airflow.
There’s a cinchable drawcord to stop your hat blowing off in the wind but if the worst happens, and your hat does take leave of your head when you’re hiking alongside a lake, you’ll be very pleased that the hat’s water-resistant and the brim has been designed to float – so you can scoop it out of the water before it’s lost.
More features that we love are the nifty stash pocket hidden in the roof of the hat, which is perfect for a key or some cash, and the anti-glare underside of the brim that keeps your eyes shielded. What’s more, this hat comes in a huge range of sizes, so you can be sure to find the right fit for you.
Durable, stylish, and jam-packed full of awesome extra touches – what’s not to love?
Next up we have the highly functional Sunday Afternoons Ultra-Adventure Hat.
One of our favorite features of this hat is the way that the brim extends at the back to cover the entire neck area – so you won’t end up with any pesky patches of sunburn between the base of the brim and the top of your T-shirt.
Another feature that we can’t get enough of is the integrated sunglasses lock, which makes sure that your shades stay put while you’re on the move – pretty neat huh? The hat is SPF50 rated, and it has dual mesh panels running over the top to make sure that hot air can escape and leave you feeling nice and cool under there.
Plus, there’s even a strip of fabric above the eyes that soaks up any sweat beads before they drip down your forehead and into your eyes, which is an awesome feature for anyone who wears contact lenses. It comes in a range of sizes too, and there’s an adjustable clip to make sure you get a nice and snug fit.
Although there are various color options for you to choose from, no matter what color you go for, the overall look of this hat leaves something to be desired – it’s definitely not the coolest looking boonie hat you’ll come across.
However, if functionality is the name of the game, then you won’t find a hat with this many thoughtful touches at the price.
The GearTOP Hat has been designed with wild safaris in mind, so it can definitely handle a few hikes. What’s more, it covers all the basics yet comes with a surprisingly low price tag.
This boonie hat is constructed entirely from polyester, this hat features UPF 50+ protection and has a broader brim than some of the other models, so you can be sure of awesome allround sun protection.
The mesh panel around the front of the hat allows that much-needed airflow, although it doesn’t extend around the entire circumference of the hat. With a toggle at the back and a cinchable under-chin drawcord, you can be sure that this hat will stay put and fit you nicely (it can be adjusted to 22 – 23 1/2 inches).
Personally, we love the safari-esque color options available, but they might be a little dull for some folks who prefer to don more vibrant gear. sure, it might not come with all the bells and whistles that you’ll see on more expensive models, but it makes a fantastic, budget-friendly option for keeping the sun off your face while hiking.
Next up is the popular Columbia Bora Bora Booney. Constructed from UPF 50 nylon fabric, and with a brim covering 360 degrees, you can be sure that this hat will keep your head and neck safe from UVA and UVB rays.
But don’t worry, you won’t find yourself overheating even when you’re trudging up super steep hills thanks to the integrated mesh panel that allows for awesome airflow so that hot air can escape from the top of your head.
What’s more, if you do feel a sweat coming on, you won’t have to hike around with a soggy head all day – the omniwick moisture technology soaks up perspiration from your head in an instant then disperses it across the surface of the hat so that it dries in no time, winning.
Unfortunately, this boonie hat does take a one-size-suits-all approach that might not be ideal for people with, particularly large or small heads. However, it does feature a toggle at the back so you can adjust the fitting to suit your needs, making it suitable for most head shapes.
There’s also a cinchable cord that sits under the chin to prevent your hat from running off into the wind, and it’s available in a range of colors too.
With excellent sun protection, great breathability, fantastic wicking, this boonie hat really does have a lot to offer… and it comes with a very reasonable price tag too, winning.
If ultimate sun protection is your top priority, then look no further than the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap. This hybrid boonie hat brings together the top features of caps and boonies to bring you the best of both worlds.
The underlying cap is constructed of lightweight nylon that dries rapidly and has excellent moisture-wicking properties. What’s more, it features dual mesh panels along the top to stop your head from getting clogged with all that hot air.
The cap can be worn solo, but if you’re worried about the back of your neck burning or your cap blowing away in the wind, you can simply attach the neck-covering component.
This additional section not only features a super-secure cinch cord to stop your hat from blowing away, but it also provides excellent coverage of the back AND sides of your neck, making it an awesome option for hiking in very sunny places. Essentially, you’re getting two hats for the price of one, and the price itself is very reasonable too.
It might not be the sturdiest hat around, but this helps to keep the weight down and means you can roll it up easily and slip it into your bag. It’s also available in tonnes of colors and sizes, so you can find the one that suits you best.
While it doesn’t look particularly fashionable, sunburn doesn’t either, and in terms of sun protection combined with affordability, this hat can’t be beaten.
Looking for a boonie hat that won’t break the bank? Then the CAMO COLL Boonie Hat could be your perfect solution.
Constructed of lightweight polyester, this lightweight boonie hat can be rolled up and stashed in even the smallest of packs. The fabric provides UPF 50+ protection, and the brim provides a decent amount of all-round shade coverage.
The mesh ventilation panels extend right the way around the hat, allowing airflow from all angles, and the fabric will dry super fast so you won’t be hiking in a sweat-logged hat, even when the pace picks up.
It’s available in a range of colors, and it’s surprisingly stylish, but unfortunately, there’s just one size available (and there’s no adjustability). It does, however, come equipped with an under-chin cord to stop it from blowing around in the wind.
It might not be the fanciest option, but for an extraordinarily low price, you’re getting a highly portable hat that’s perfect for taking on hikes just in case.
The Outdoor Research Helios Hat is a fantastic option for anyone seeking a lightweight hat but who’s fed up with flimsy options with rims that flap in the wind.
The nylon and polyester construction of this boonie hat has helped to keep the weight down and the comfort levels high, yet the brim has been stiffened with foam to ensure that you remain protected from the sun even in the face of strong winds. What’s more, the double-weave ripstop shell can handle a few bumps and scrapes, so it’s perfect for life in the great outdoors.
We love the wicking TransAction headband that stops those pesky sweat droplets from running down your face when your huffing and puffing your way uphill, but we do wish this hat had some mesh panels to let hot air escape. On the flip side, however, the lack of panels means that this hat a great option for colder weather, as it will retain some warm air around your head.
It’s available in several sizes, and there’s a cord under the chin to keep it in place when you’re on the move. There are several color options to pick from, although the logo might put a few people off.
Overall, this hat is an excellent choice for slightly cooler climates where the wind might pick up while the sun is shining.
And last, but by no means least, on our list of the best boonie hats for hiking is the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Hat.
This hat features many of the things we liked about the Helios – such as a moisture-wicking headband, UPF 50+ sun protection, and a foam-stiffened brim – but it has some extra touches too.
Unlike the Helios, this hat comes with vents on all sides of the hats, and these vents are similar to tent vents (rather than just being mesh panels), which means that they won’t let rain if the weather takes a turn – a feature that we can’t get enough of.
Plus, we love that the brim on this hat is nice and broad (at a whopping 4 inches), providing awesome allround sun protection. We love that you can take off the drawcord too for times when the wind is absent and the cord becomes irritating.
This boonie hat does cost a little more than the Helios, and it won’t be as warm in cooler weather, but for warm conditions, it’s an excellent option.
So, there you have it, our list of the best boonie hats for hiking currently on the market. There’s quite a range of hats out there, but what are the key things you should be looking for when you’re shopping around?
First and foremost, you want a boonie hat that will keep the sun off. All good boonies will be constructed with UPF 50+ materials, but this isn’t the only thing to consider. Broad brims keep more of your neck and face in the shade, brims that are long at the back protect your nape (even if they don’t look super cool), and some brims can even be removed if the clouds hit.
The type of protection you need will depend on where you’re going and how sunny it will be, so make sure you think about how much sun protection you’ll really need before picking up a boonie.
Although floppy brims can be a pain in strong winds, they do mean that you can roll up your hat and pop it in your pack, which can be great for backpacking trips. Sturdier brims avoid the flapping issue, but you might not have space for it in your pack (or you might risk misshaping it if you try and squeeze it in), so try and decide how important packability is before you sacrifice sturdiness.
If you’re wearing a boonie hat, then the odds are the sun is shining. This means things can get pretty warm, especially on serious hikes. If you’ll be hiking in hot climates, make sure that your boonie has a way to keep the air flowing.
Mesh panels are the most common feature, but some hats are more generous than others when it comes to their panes. Plus, there are even boonies with tent-like vents that can be better in slightly cooler weather.
Still struggling to decide which boonie is right for you? Don’t worry – here are our top three to help you make up your mind:
Our top pick if you’re looking for a budget boonie has to be the GearTOP Hat.
The extra-broad brim offers excellent sun protection, it’s highly adjustable, and it looks pretty darn cool too – what more could you ask for at this price?
Our best allround boonie hat is without a doubt the Sunday Afternoons Ultra-Adventure Hat.
Why? Because it’s absolutely jam-packed with features that we love. It features an extended nape for ultimate sun protection, dual mesh panels for breathability, a sweatband above the eyes, and it even has a clip for your sunnies!
It’s also lightweight, available in various sizes ad colors, and not as expensive as we’d have thought – winning.
But if we had to pick just one boonie hat to don for our future hiking adventures, it would have to be the Tilley LTM6 Airflo.
This super stylish hat has been carefully crafted to bring you a boonie that’s as durable as it is functional.
The sturdy brim can stand up to strong winds, offers great sun protection, and it can even float – perfect for windy lakeside hikes! The ventilation is awesome too, and you can even stash your goods in the hidden pocket – yes, please.
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