I have to admit that I’ve never considered myself a hat person. Even when I’ve expected to be out in the sun all day, I’ve been reluctant to wear one. Though after several bad sunburns this past year, I realized that I needed to get more serious about my sun protection. In particular, I wanted to find the best travel hat to wear. In my search, I found two that seemed to stand out and potentially change my attitude toward hats.

My history with hats

I remember when I was a kid, all the cool kids were wearing baseball caps to school, and while I tried to do the same, it didn’t work for me. Not only was it uncomfortable, but I would get a bad case of hat hair. It might be because I have thick hair that tends to get big and bulky when it’s warm or humid.

Fast forward to when I was a cadet in college, and I realized that I was going to be wearing a hat when in uniform. It didn’t change the fact that it was uncomfortable. Though I had much shorter hair, so getting hat hair was less of an issue.

Favorite hats for travel and outdoor adventures

The hats that I’m sharing with you today are the two that I have found to be most comfortable and effective for my use. Keep in mind that I tend to favor functionality over form. That being said, I am a bit self-conscious about wearing a hat. Though I think these hats look good compared to some of the other options on the market. Some of you might still think I look like a dork, but I’m ok with it.

REI Screeline cap

I recently picked up a baseball-style hat from REI called the Screeline Cap. It’s made of nylon and polyester and has a military cap look. What I like about the cap is that it wicks moisture well and has ventilation on the sides. The hat has straps to hold your sunglasses, and the brim is foldable for easy packing. The brim also floats in case you lose it while on water.

The cap helps to keep sunlight off my face, and offers a UPF 30 rating. The drawback of a baseball style cap is that while it protects your face, it often leaves your neck and ears exposed. If you’re going to be exposed to the sun for a long period of time, it’s worth checking out a more protective option. That’s where a wide-brimmed hat comes in.

Tilley Airflo hat

There are unlimited choices out there when it comes to wide brim hats. If you look online, you’ll see a variety of sun hats. There’s bucket hats, boonie hats, and many other bizarre hats that can protect you from the sun. I personally have a Tilley Airflo hat, which is one of their supplex nylon hats with a ventilating mesh at the top. In terms of appearance, I think it looks more like Indiana Jones than Gilligan’s Island.

I purchased this Tilley hat a few years ago, but it’s slightly too small. I’ve managed to stretch it, but I would love to get a new one in the correct size. Tilley hats are expensive, but the quality is solid. If you do a quick Google search on Tilley hats, you’ll find an entire following of people that love them. A lot of people love Tilley products, their history, and their customer service. They’re a Canadian company with a strong reputation for producing quality products and standing by their customers.

Other than the high-quality, this hat has several unique features that set it apart from others. One is the dual strap system to keep your hat in place when in windy environments. One strap goes under your chin and the other behind your head to prevent the hat from flying away. You don’t have to use it, but it’s there if you need it. There’s also a hydrofil sweatband that helps to absorb and wick sweat, a secret pocket where you can store small items, and a foam top that floats in water. The hat can be crushed or compacted to fit in your suitcase or daypack, making it perfect for traveling and the outdoors. Tilley also has a lifetime guarantee on their hats, which is another reason they have such a loyal customer following.

This particular hat, which is the LTM6 model, has a broad 3.25-inch brim on the front and back. This gives you a lot more protection from the sun. It has a UPF 50 rating and keeps much of the sunlight off my neck and ears too. This makes a big difference when you’re out in the sun all day. Though the drawback is that the hat can get warm, even with the vent on top. The supplex nylon is lightweight and durable, and is even water resistant. However, the tradeoff is that it doesn’t breathe as well as organic materials like cotton or hemp.

Tilley Hiker’s Hat (worth checking out)

Tilley makes many different hats with different size brims and materials. There is a cotton version of this hat that is marketed for hiking called the Hiker’s Hat. I wasn’t able to get one from the company to test out and review, but it’s one that I am personally interested in trying. It’s similar to my current Tilley hat, but it’s made of organic cotton and has a pad that you soak in water and store in the upper pocket. This feature is designed to cool you down with evaporation. Since my biggest issue when wearing my current Tilley hat is the heat, this seems especially appealing to me.

Tips for wearing a hat

Lastly, here are some tips for wearing a hat. These are things that helped me to get more comfortable with wearing a hat, especially since I’ve been so resistant to them for so long.

1. Wear your hat loosely:

While a lot of us are used to wearing hats snugly on our heads, I recommend wearing your travel or hiking hat more loosely, especially if you tend to feel warm. I even keep my REI Screeline cap loose since it tends to trap less heat and is much more comfortable to wear.

If you opt for a Tilley hat, then you’ll need to figure your specific size. Unlink other hats, they come in exact sizes rather than the traditional small, medium, and large size. There are instructions on their website on measuring your head size. Though I suggest intentionally keeping the measurement loose. For example, if I measure my head tightly, I get 23 inches. Though if I measure it loosely, it’s closer to 23.25 inches, which is a much better fit when it comes to the Tilley hat. When in doubt between two sizes, I would suggest going with the larger size.

2. Consider lighter colors for warm weather:

A lighter color hat is going to absorb less heat than a darker color hat. If you’re trying to stay cool, this can make a big difference. Also, a dark color under the brim is helpful as it absorbs the light away from your face. Though if you’re looking for a hat to keep you warm in the winter, then a darker color will be better suited for that purpose.

3. Wear sunglasses and sunscreen:

Even with a hat, it’s worth protecting your eyes with sunglasses and the rest of your body with sunscreen. I personally love polarized sunglasses. If you don’t know the difference between regular and polarized lenses, you’ll want to see our video/post on the topic.

4. Wash your hats:

Most hats can be washed and you should definitely do so especially if they get covered in sweat. Sweat stains can be tough to remove, so it’s better to get them washed sooner rather than later. For example, my REI Screeline cap is hand washable and my Tilley hat is machine washable

Do you have a favorite hat for traveling or outdoor activities? If so, please share them below in the comment section.

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