What to Look for in a Hat

Whether you agree our hats are the best most functional hats around or not, here are a few things you'll want to consider when shopping for a hat:

UV Protection
Just because you can't see through a fabric doesn't mean it will protect you from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. As an example, a standard t-shirt has a UV Protection Rating (UPF) of around 7 (unless it's wet,then it's closer to 3).

Make sure your hat has at least a UPF 30 rating. UPF is what is used to rate protection of clothing, whereas SPF is what is used to rate sunscreens that go on your skin. (read about the difference in the "General" section on our FAQ page)

While you need a hat for sun protection, you want to make sure it's not going to interfere with your sport, or you'll be cursing it and eventually stop using it.
  • First, if you're involved in a board sport, simply laying down on your board will immediately bring to light the visibility issue - the bill of any hat will block your visibility, unless you can move the bill out of your face.

  • Second, if your sport involves waves and water, then a stiff bill poses a problem with the water pushing on the bill and either pushing your head around (since the hat is securely attached to it), or pushing the hat off your head even with the use of chinstraps.

  • A soft/flexible bill has an advantage in that it can be moved out of the way. However, if the bill is not secured in the flipped up position, then the moment you duck dive it'll right back in the way, and if you're dealing with any sizable waves, then the bill can be pushed down over your eyes and create a significant danger. So the bill should be movable, and when it's moved out of the way, it should be secured in that position.

One last note on the visibility subject: Make sure to look at the depths of the hat (the crown), and the length of the bill. Large or deep hats, a design that seems to have become more prevalent these days, means the bill will ride very low on the forehead and can significantly reduce your visibility. With longer bills, the same is true, so you'll want to find the balance between the shade you want and the unobstructed view you need.

If your sport involves the elements, where you could lose your hat, then you need chinstraps, it's as simple as that. Simply using one of those leashes that attaches your hat to your collar isn't going to keep you from losing the hat if the waves are of any significance.
  • Look for chinstraps that are not stretchy. While stretchy chinstraps sound like they'll be more comfortable, they simply will not keep the hat on your head.

  • Look for good quality buckle, preferably one that can be adjusted while the hat is on and won't slip. Many of the non-slip buckles are difficult to clasp together under your chin, as well as difficult to unclasp. Most of these are also difficult to adjust and require you unbuckle and take the hat off to make any adjustments - not really what you want when you're out in the surf and need a quick adjustment.

Be careful and look for hats that use a dark color under the bill/brim of the hat. Even though you'll be wearing a hat to protect you from the sun above, there can considerable glare reflecting from the water and even the ground, so you'll want a hat that will help to reduce that glare.

Quick drying
This is more of a "nice-to-have", but may also be indicative of the comfort of the hat. Quick drying fabrics usually mean a lighter weight material, which may be more comfortable to wear. You also don't want something that will be difficult to dry on its own, or you may be dealing with a stinky mess after a few sessions in the water.

Look for the little things, such as taped seams, double and triple stitching in areas of stress, all designed to help the product hold up to the stresses.

If you have any other suggestions on features or things to look for, please let us know.