Best Sun Hats for Travel

Since becoming new parents 14 months ago we’ve become much more conscious and careful (but certainly not perfect) about protecting our daughter’s delicate skin against harmful UV rays than our parents ever were with us in the 70’s and 80’s. Sound familiar?

As young children in New Zealand my brother and I were very inconsistent with applying suntan lotion. Over the years I would typically get burnt badly at the beginning of each Summer, before going on to be more careful for the rest of that season, and then promptly forget how bad it felt to get sunburnt over the Winter. As the years went on we learnt that the Ozone layer above NZ had a hole in it and yet we still didn’t improve our habits. We should have been more careful, what with coming from fair Celtic stock and knowing that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Forward 20 years and “the chickens have come home to roast, fully. My brother has had a melanoma excised from a leg and I’ve had a few superficial basal cell carcinomas removed. My parents get bits and bobs chopped out at regular interval, one uncle recently died of metastatic skin cancer and another has had major facial surgery because his keeps spreading.

Anywho! Suffice to say I don’t want my daughter going down the same path and I’m guessing neither do you.

The fact remains that most of us chase the sun when we take a vacation. We pray for blue cloudless skies so we can enjoy the world’s favorite cities, beaches and national parks at their very best. Therefore good sunglasses and a great sun hat are a must when we travel.

So what features does the best travel sun hat have? It:
– needs to be made of natural fibers and/or have good ventilation to breathe well.
– should be a packable sun hat that can be folded up in your luggage without getting damaged. I found this youtube clip on how to fold hats for travel very helpful. You could also use this different technique for a medium-smaller brimmed hat.
– has a wide enough brim to protect the face and the back of the neck.
– needs to be washable, after all we all sweat in the heat.

Some of the best sun hats for sun protection are made with materials that give an extra level of UV defence and have a UPF rating.


Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat

Great hat with UPF+ sun protection, a wicking headband and well placed vents with mesh for ventilation. Can be worn by men or women and comes in 3 sizes ( M – 22 1/2″, L – 23 1/4″, Xl – 24″ ) but can also b adjusted. The brim is 3 to 3.5 inches and is stiffened by foam and a piped edge making it a little more wind resistant. This hat comes in 6 fairly neutral colors and has a chin strap. It is made of synthetic material but the upside of this is a lighter hat which is easy to hand wash and dry.

Women’s Anti-UV Sun Protective Wide Brim Reversible Floppy Sun Hat Beach UPF 50+

This feminine hat is made of cotton and has an 18 cm wide brim to keep you covered. The material has been treated to give extra protection from the sun. Three of the options have a colorful floral pattern on one side which reverses to a single tone, depending on what you’re wearing. You can add an extra flourish with either a floral or lace ribbon, both which come with the hat. There are also two non floral single tone (blue/grey or pink/grey) options with a bow on the blue and pink sides if you prefer that instead. It has a detachable, adjustable neck strap to ensure you don’t lose it on a windy day. The outer brim a has a thin wire in it which allows you to adjust and hold the brim in a position of your choosing. Because of this I would hand or spot wash the hat. I tend to find wide brim floppy sun hats annoying on a windy but they certainly provide fantastic sun protection and make stylish beach sun hat on a calm bright day.
A few people commented that they found it hard to get kinks out of the wire brim after it arrived folded in the post. 75% of customers were happy with the fit, but some did find it a bit on the snug side. It is meant to fit a head circumference of 22-23 inches so I would suggest you measure your head before ordering.

Bienvenue Womens Large Brim Floppy Foldable Roll up UPF 50+ Beach Sun Hat

With this option you get 4 hats for the price of one! To start with you have a reversible small brim (4″) reversible bucket hat. In addition to that there is the wide brim (7.5″) component that attaches to the small hat via buttons. Some people even chose to wear the brim on it’s own as a 360 degree sun visor hat. I would have assumed that having 2 brims partially overlapping would make this hat feel a bit heavy but apparently it doesn’t. There is no mention of cotton so I presume it is made of synthetic material. It fits a head circumference of 21.5-22.5″ and again some people find it on the small side. I just measured my head and I’m 22.5″ so I’d just sneak in there. The outer brim has a flexible wire which allows you to adjust your look. This hat comes in several different floral or polka dot versions.

Siggi Bucket Boonie Cord Fishing Beach Cap Summer Sun Hat Wide Brim for Women UPF50+

This sunhat has a 4-4.5″ brim which will protect you forehead, nose, and cheeks but not the entire back of your neck. It comes in several attractive colors, a number of which are 2 toned with solid color on the top and floral on the underside. Three other options are single block colour. I like that it’s mostly cotton, is light, washable and easy to fold. It’s not reversible but that’s not a deal breaker for me. It has a detachable neck strap for windy days, and fits head circumferences between 22.6″ to 22.8″.

Wallaroo Women’s Scrunchie Sun Hat – Lightweight and Crushable – UPF 50+

This is a true traveling hat which is easy to pack. Like all hats with a wide brim ( this one is 4.5) it is perhaps a bit more floppy if the wind is up, but the only way around that is to wear a visor or cap which don’t give sun protection to your whole face. The brim edge has a wire which makes it adjustable.
The hat circumference is 22 and 5/8 inches but it has an internal drawstring which makes it adjustable to small heads and you can get the fit just right. On the down side it doesn’t have a neck strap and it not made of natural fibers. It comes in nine different colors.


Koloa Surf Co. Wide-Brim Outdoor Hat

A great light, packable sun hat for men. I like that this hat has a neck flap that can be stowed away (by tucking into the hat) when not needed. It comes in Olive and ‘stone’ colors. The brim has foam in it so the hat will keep afloat if dropped in water. It comes in two sizes and also be adjusted. The is also an adjustable neck cord. Made of rip stop poly/nylon material and has a wickable sweatband.

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

For the active outdoors you can’t beat this ultimate sun protection hat. It’s a unisex cap with a detachable neck flap that also covers the ears and which has an adjustible neck strap to stop it flapping on a windy day. Made from UPF 30+ nylon material it has mesh side panels for better ventilation, and a moisture wicking headband. It comes in 4 different sizes S – 21 5/8″, M – 22 1/2″, L – 23 1/4″, Xl – 24″ and there is also Velcro for adjusting at the back. The brim is 3 3/4 “. There are 6 colors to choose from. The cap is not waterproof but dries quickly if it gets wet.

Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hats

This is a popular hat for good reason and can be worn by either sex. It has a 3 inch soft brim for good alround protection and easy packing. It is made from nylon material which is UPF 50, is hand washable and quick to dry. It only comes in one size but has an adjustible bungy cord which can be cinched to fit just about any head size. There are 9 colors to choose from and it has a chin strap that can be adjusted.


Millymook Girls Happy Flower Sun Hat

We were given this hat for Christmas (for my daughter who was 11 months old ) before I even considered writing this review. We love it and I was thrilled to see that it gets great reviews by others too.
It’s a well made, cotton, UPF 50+ rated, reversible hat with gorgeous feminine patterns and a removable chin strap with an excellent adjustment toggle. It’s is easily washed by hand. You no doubt could put it in a washing machine but I love it so much I want to take really good care of it. The only criticism from a few people is the 2 available sizes are a bit on the small side (2-5 years is 51cm and 5-12 years is 55cm) so make sure you measure your child’s head first and err upwards. The brim on our hat is 2 inches which, depending on the angle of the sun, covers most of her face and neck. At 14 months she not overly keen on hats. Frankly, if the brim were any widef I think it might bother her and she’d pull it off more.

N’Ice Caps Unisex Kids Reversible And Adjustable Cotton Twill Aussie Hat

This is highly rated Unisex, cotton hat with a 2 inch brim. It is reversible so you get more than one look, and it comes in 6 attractive colours. It is not UPF rated but has good sun blocking qualities. There are 7 sizes to choose from, ranging from 19.7 inches up to 23.6 (adult). It has a useful drawstring in the crown which allows you to adjust for the perfect fit within 3 size ranges. I’d suggest getting something bigger than your child needs right now, and then they can grow into it and it’ll last several seasons. All the hats have an adjustable chin strap.

Sunday Afternoons Child Unisex Play Hat

This 50+ UPF rated hat gets a 5 star rating and could be the best sun hat for infant, toddlers and children! It fits from approx. 2-5 years, with a head circumference of 20-22″) It comes in 7 colors including several more masculine tones. It’s not cotton but it has 2.5-4″ sloping brim which protects the face and ears (and won’t flap around in the wind) and a generous neck flap at the back. The chin strap has a protection mechanism which prevents any risk from strangulation. Sunday Afternoons makes a Baby sun hat in the same style (approx. 6 months – 2 years, 19.5-21.5″), as well as one for youth (21-23″)and adults. It has the added benefit of being resistant to rain. People have said it can be machine washed but I like to take care of my hats so I’d stick to hand washing it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *