The summer sun can be intense. Whether you're hiking the Continental Divide or just working around the yard, you should always protect your eyes. Sunglasses carry much of that burden, but they let sun slip in through the top during the brightest parts of the day. To get fuller protection, wear a hat. A men's wide-brimmed hat gives you protection from every angle, unlike a cap.
Wide-brimmed hats come in many different styles, ranging from cowboy hats, to safari hats to straw hats. Style is largely a personal preference; to get the right style for your tastes try hats on in person.
A downward angled brim gives longer protection throughout the day, and a pliable brim lets you bend and shape the brim to maximise sun protection. Many sun hats have adjustable chin straps, providing a more secure fit in windy weather. A waterproof or resistant material or coating proves valuable on rainy days.
One thing to remember is that you'll be wearing your wide-brimmed hat during hot, humid summer weather. If you're worried about overheating, look for a hat with ample ventilation; some sun hats have a lot of mesh to provide full ventilation. Regardless of what the rest of the hat is made of, it should have a moisture wicking, polyester headband to keep the sweat from pouring down into your eyes. A high UPF rating protects your head from UV rays.
Stephen Regenold, better known as the Gear Junkie, reviewed a number of outdoor-specific hats in a comparison test in 2004. He found the Outdoor Research Safari Hat to offer an ample combination of sun protection and cool, light design, stating: "Under hot sun, I was even more fond of Outdoor Research's Sahara Cap as it is lighter weight and more breathable than the Dr. Shade model."
Where to Look
There are dozens of sun hats designed specifically for different activities and climates. You can find options from manufacturers such as REI, Tilley and Columbia. To get the best fit and style, go to a local sporting good shop, clothier or hat store. Online, you'll find a wide selection of wide-brimmed sun hats from reputable retailers like REI and Backcountry.com.
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