Updated on

The wind is up, the sun is shining, the water is calling… and your skin is crying out for protection! Sun and wind make for a great day on the water, but too much sun, in particular, is a health hazard. The best protection is to cover up, and that starts with the right hat. Fortunately, we have access to a huge range of headgear that deploys all manner of design tricks to protect us from sun, control perspiration, and stay secure in even the windiest conditions. Let’s take a closer look at five of the best sailing hats!

For more of our top sailing gear recommendations, check out the Best Sailing Shoes.

 

 

Quick Answer - The Best Sailing Hats

  1. Gill Marine Technical
  2. Outdoor Research Sun Runner
  3. Sunday Afternoons Adventure
  4. Outdoor Research Seattle
  5. Tilley LTM6 Airflo

 

Comparison Table - Best Sailing Hat

PictureNameMaterialUPFSizeBrimChin StrapPriceRating
Gill Marine Technical100% Nylon50+Medium, LargeWide, Size Not SpecifiedRemovable, Adjustable$4.0
Outdoor Research Sun RunnerNylon50Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large2.5” BillCord On Removable Cape$$4.5
Sunday Afternoons AdventureNylon/Polyester50Medium, Large4 in. (front) / 7.5 in. (back)Adjustable$$4.5
Outdoor Research SeattleGore-Tex, Nylon50+Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large2.25" to 3.125", Depending On SizeAdjustable Cord$$$4.5
Tilley LTM6 AirfloNylon50Ten Sizes3.25"Adjustable, Wraps Under Chin And Back Of Head For High Winds$$$$5.0
PictureNameMaterialUPFSizeBrimChin StrapPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Hats for Sailing

Gill Marine Technical

Specs
  • Material: 100% Nylon
  • Size: Medium, Large
  • UPF: 50+
  • Brim: Wide, Size Not Specified
  • Chin Strap: Removable, Adjustable
Features
  • Designed For Sailing
  • Wicking Inner Band
  • Stiffened Brim

BEST BUDGET HAT

If you’re looking for a functional hat that delivers the basic needs at an accessible price, the Gill Sailing Sun Hat will be your top choice. It’s made from a light, water-repellent, quick-drying material, the brim is wide and stiff, the cord is fully adjustable and removable, an integrated absorbent band controls sweat, and if it falls in the water, it floats. All that at an accessible price adds up to a great deal! Gill manufactures sailing-specific products that have a reputation for no-nonsense quality and competitive pricing, and that’s what this hat delivers.

Outdoor Research Sun Runner

Specs
  • Material: Nylon
  • Size: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large
  • UPF: 50
  • Brim: 2.5” Bill
  • Chin Strap: Cord On Removable Cape
Features
  • Removable Cape For Neck And Face Protection
  • Inner Headband Wicks Away Moisture
  • Adjustable Back Band And Cinch Cord
  • Mesh Panels For Breathability

BEST CAP

On the street, it’s an ordinary cap. Get to the water and add the removable cape, and the Sun Runner delivers full 50 UPF protection to your neck and the sides of your face. It’s two hats in one! It’s also breathable, packable, and adjustable, with a cinch cord on the cape to keep it securely in place even when the wind is up. There’s an inner headband to keep sweat out of your eyes, the cape attachment is easy and secure, and the hat gets consistently great reviews from users.

Sunday Afternoons Adventure

Specs
  • Material: Nylon/Polyester
  • Size: Medium, Large
  • UPF: 50
  • Brim: 4 in. (front) / 7.5 in. (back)
  • Chin Strap: Adjustable
Features
  • Mesh Panels For Ventilation
  • Internal Headband Controls Moisture
  • Rear Sizing Strap For Custom Fit
  • Foam-Filled Brim Keeps Hat Afloat

BEST FOR SUN 

This hat’s wide 4-inch front brim and extended 7.5-inch rear cape make it instantly recognizable. They also provide unparalleled sun protection, with the brim shading the face and the cape completely covering the neck. The Adventure Hat ticks all the basic boxes: it floats, it dries fast, its inner headband controls sweat, the cord anchors the hat securely to your head. The extra sun protection is a bonus, and if sun is your concern, this is your hat.

Not everyone likes the style, and the word “dorky” appears repeatedly in the user reviews. Function still trumps form, and those same reviews consistently carry five stars!

Outdoor Research Seattle

Specs
  • Material: Gore-Tex, Nylon
  • Size: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large
  • UPF: 50+
  • Brim: 2.25" to 3.125", Depending On Size
  • Chin Strap: Adjustable Cord
Features
  • Seam Sealed, Guaranteed To Keep You Dry
  • Internal Adjustment For Custom Fit
  • Fleece Lining For Warmth
  • Velcro Closures To Raise Brim On Sides

BEST FOR COLD AND RAIN

We’ve been focusing on sun protection, but in some places, sailors are more likely to be dealing with rain and cold. One of those places is Seattle, and the Seattle Sombrero carries that name for a reason. It’s made to keep your head dry in the rain, and it has earned the coveted “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” rating from Gore-Tex. A fleece lining keeps your head warm, and internal adjustments and an adjustable neck cord keep the hat snug. If the sun shines, it still carries a 50 UPF rating! If you sail in places where cold and rain are your main concerns, this will be your top pick.

Some reviewers say that the hat is too hot for warm-weather use, but that’s a bit like complaining that your wool sweater is too hot for summer. It’s a Seattle Sombrero, not a Miami Sombrero!

Tilley LTM6 Airflo

Specs
  • Material: Nylon
  • Size: Ten Sizes
  • UPF: 50
  • Brim: 3.25"
  • Chin Strap: Adjustable, Wraps Under Chin And Back Of Head For High Winds
Features
  • Will Not Wear Out, Shrink, Or Fall Apart - Guaranteed For Life
  • Hidden Pocket
  • Closed Cell Foam Keeps Hat Afloat
  • Soft Band Absorbs Sweat
  • Insured Against Loss For 2 Years

BEST OF THE BEST

What kind of hat carries a lifetime guarantee against wear and shrinkage and two years of insurance against loss? The Rolls-Royce of sun hats, the Tilley Airflo. The specs on paper don’t seem very different from other hats, but a legion of devoted fans and fanatical five-star reviewers point out that it’s about the quality, not the numbers. Tilley hats deliver the goods and keep on delivering them for life. 

The only downside to the Tilley is that it’s a pricey purchase, for a hat. If that’s an issue, there are plenty of decent options farther up this list. If you want the best and you’re willing to pay for it, Tilley is there for you!

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SAILING HAT

A sailing hat has to provide protection from the elements: the sun is at the top of the list, but if you sail in northern latitudes, you may also be concerned with rain and cold. Wind is part of our lives, so our hats need to anchor securely to our heads. Even the most secure anchor can come loose, so a hat that floats is a bonus! We appreciate hats that dry fast and pack small, with brims that are wide enough for protection from the sun and stiff enough to stay put in a stout breeze. The choices on our list face the challenges and come out on top!

 

HATS ARE IMPORTANT

Hats may seem like a frivolous item. They’re not. If you’re sailing in the sun, you need a good hat with a UPF 50 protection rating. The skin on the face and neck is particularly vulnerable to sun damage. Sunscreen helps, but dermatologists recommend a physical barrier. Get a good hat and wear it.

 

KNOW WHAT YOU NEED

The features that matter most to you will vary with the type of sailing you do. Assess your needs and choose a hat that fits them. If you’re just starting out and you’re not sure what you need, a good all-around sun hat will serve until you’ve refined your criteria.

 

KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE

A hat is a personal choice, and if you like your hat you’re more likely to be wearing it when you need the protection. It’s good to compare specs and features, but consider your personal preferences too, even if they seem a little irrational!

 

LEARN MORE

There aren’t many authoritative guides to choosing a sailing hat online, but Practical Sailor offers this interesting post on the subject followed by informative comments from a number of readers, and this vigorous discussion on the Yachting and Sailing World forum gives a sense of how actual sailors feel about their headgear choices!

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

UPF RATINGS

A UPF rating is applied to clothing and accessories. It measures the amount of UVA and UVB radiation that penetrates the fabric and reaches the skin. It is a different rating system than SPF, which is used for sunscreens and cosmetics. A UPF rating of 50 provides near-complete protection.

BRIMS

The brim of a sailing hat is a compromise. If it’s not wide enough, it won’t protect your face or neck from the sun. If it’s too wide, the wind will force it up onto your forehead or down onto your face. Most sailing hats combine moderate-width brims with stiffeners to keep them in place.

MATERIALS

A sailing hat is going to be wet much of the time, so it needs to dry fast and stand up to repeated wetting and drying without degrading. It also needs to be crushable and packable without damage. Most sailing hats are made of nylon or a nylon/polyester blend.

INTEGRATED HEADBANDS

Sweat in the eyes can be inconvenient and annoying. Most sailing hats have integrated headbands to absorb perspiration and wick it away from the face.

READ MORE

For more of our top sailing gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

About The Author

Steve Rogers operates an adventure travel business in the mountains of the northern Philippines, where he organizes and guides mountain biking, canyoneering, trekking, and white water rafting and kayaking trips. He has guided sea kayak trips among the islands of northern Palawan and sailed small catamarans up and down the coast of western Luzon. He owns an outdoor shop, accumulates excessive quantities of gear, and occasionally throws shields around. He is the primary author of Action Asia’s Adventure Travel Guide to the Philippines and has written extensively on a wide variety of topics.

Related Posts

0 Shares
Tweet
Pin
Share
Email
Flip