Hats to keep you cool on the trail

Watch the above video demonstrating eight different ways to wear Buff headwear. 


Put a lid on it with hats designed to keep you more comfortable on the trail.

RAIN, SUN, WIND, or cool temps: The ever-mercurial great outdoors demands that serious wilderness wanderers own a rack of caps. Any billed hat can shade eyes. But if you’re venturing into true wilds, a small investment in “technical” headwear can reap a big ROI.

Sun protection, sweat wicking, warmth, and, yes, even aesthetics dictate my chapeau du jour. So from billed waterproof rain hats to a pseudo-bandana called a Buff, my headwear picks here—some of my favorites on the market—will keep your noggin covered.

Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of GearJunkie.com.


1. ORIGINAL WOOL STORMY KROMER CAP
$35, stormykromer.com
Classic! This decades-old design fits tight to the head and offers ear protection with a headband that pulls down if the winds pick up. Wool and nylon constitute its handsome and sturdy fabric blend. A signature lace tie in front gives a micro-adjustment for fit. Made in the USA and designed to last for years.

2. TILLEY OUTBACK HAT
$79, tilley.com
Indiana Jones types will want to invest in an Outback Hat, a broad-brimmed swashbuckler that employs waxed cotton in its stout, water-resistant build. It’s rated for UPF 50+ protection, and a dark under-brim fabric all but eliminates glare. The company offers a lifetime guarantee and a promise that the Outback Hat can be “washed, worn, packed, used, and abused” ad infinitum outdoors and around the globe.

3. HEADSWEATS SUPERVISOR
$20, headsweats.com
Like a sweatband with a brim, the Supervisor offers a moisture-sucking cloth band and a stout little bill to keep the sun out of your eyes. Its topless approach (beloved by Ironman triathletes) offers ultimate airflow for outdoorsmen who don’t mind their dome exposed to the sun.

4. MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR DOWNPOUR BASEBALL CAP
$25, mountainhardwear.com
Waterproof even in hard rain, the close-fitting Downpour cap works as a great stand-in for an umbrella. The cap’s body keeps your head dry, and the big brim keeps raindrops out of your eyes. An absorbing band around the inside of the cap wicks sweat when you’re on the move.

OUTDOOR RESEARCH SUN RUNNER CAP
(Shown above in photograph with model Brent Anderson.)
$32, outdoorresearch.com
This skirt-equipped cap is essential for sunny environments such as the Utah desert; its UV-blocking fabric will keep your neck and ears from getting burned. Mesh side panels provide breezy airflow. And the skirt snaps on and snaps off, letting you ditch the Lawrence of Arabia look once you’re off the trail and back to civilization.

UV BUFF
(Shown in video and photo above.)
$23, buffusa.com
“Seamless, multifunctional headwear.” That’s what Buff calls its fabric-tube headwear product. Strange as it sounds, these neo-bandanas, popularized by Survivor, give you a wide variety of uses across a range of temperatures. Some even offer UV protection. You can wear them in a dozen ways—from beanie-style, to sweatband, to a do-rag look that even a pro wrestler could love.

9 thoughts on “Hats to keep you cool on the trail

  1. I have been shopping for UPF 50+ outback hats recently and I am baffled why you choose to showcase an $80 one. There is plenty of competition in this space and you certainly could have found one more in line pricewise. Furthermore the Tilly does not appear to snap up on the sides. For me that is a defining feature of outback hats.

    As a Cubmaster who already deals with skin cancer related issues I wish the BSA would bring back a wide brimmed hat as a standard for adult Cub Scout leaders in place of the ball caps that are the only official solution.

      • ScoutStuff.org now sells a waxed cotton safari hat for significantly less than the one featured in this article. And it is BSA logo merchandise.

    • Hey it hard to find the right hat in the scout store. That is cool in the south. I’m a Tiger Den Leader. I Just made my own. By Dorfman Pacific CO. Bonnie
      hat which is orange. It might not be regs. But it cool in the heat of summer. The kids can spot me.

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