Looking for the perfect packable sun hat to take with you on you travels and outdoor adventures?

Let’s face it, when we travel we spend more time exposed to the sun’s rays than we wish. Whether you are soaking up the sun on the beach or spending the day strolling around Rome, there is one part of your body that is always getting UV radiation. Your head and face.

I can’t count how many times I wish I had packed a sun hat along on my trip or needed one when a short jaunt turned into a seemingly endless adventures around a new city.

Having a packable sun hat can save your scalp, not to mention a painful and uncomfortable sunburn (or worse) on your head and neck.

best-packable-sun-hats-for-travel

There are tons of great packable sun hat options out there for both men and women. Buying one is a small investment for the protection it provides. Plus, they are great if you hate smearing sunscreen on your face, head, and neck.

If you’re a hurry, take a look at my top packable sun hat choice on Amazon. It’s the perfect balance between lightweight, breathable, and crushes down to pack away in any space.

Best Packable Sun Hats 2017

NameImageUPF RatingMaterialPriceOur Rating
Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo Hat50+Supplex nylon$$$
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98
Coolibar UPF 50+ Men's Crushable Ventilated Hat50+Cotton / polyester canvas$$$
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94
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat50+Nylon / polyester$$
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98
Outdoor Research Transit Sun Hat50Cotton Spandex$$
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94

REI Paddler’s Sun Hat

best-sun-hat-rei-paddlers
n/aNylon / polyester mesh$$
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94
Home Prefer UPF 50+ Sun Hat50+Cotton Polyester blend$
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90
Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat5086% nylon/14% Polyester$$
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96
Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hat50100% textured nylon poplin$$
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97
Camo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat50100% polyester$
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93
Henschel 5310 Packable Mesh Breezer Hatn/a55% Polyester/45% Cotton$$
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95
Coolibar UPF 50+ Featherweight Bucket Hat50+Polyester$$
See It
93

What is a Packable Sun Hat?

It’s just that—a sun hat that is ultra packable. Designed to be foldable or crushable they can easily be packed away in your bag or luggage. All this without damage since they are made without a rigid shape.

Packable sun hats are the perfect option for anyone who wants a versatile and compressible sun hat that can be stuffed away when not in use or while traveling around.

Let’s face it, no one has enough room to store a full-sized sun hat in their luggage. And you don’t want to be that person wearing it one the airplane.

There are various designs available, some fold better while others are made to be crushed. Almost all with have a floppy brim made from a soft material, normally a dense foam or durable material that can get wet.

Almost all will be very breathable and some have extra features such as a chin strap for windy conditions or a extendable neck shield for full neck protection.

Why Get a Packable Sun Hat?

Let’s face it, travelers end up spending long hours in the sun and always need sun protection. You’ve been there, wandering around all day long under the sun while on a trip.

At the end of the day you can feel your skin being scorched and you wished you had covered up or put more sunscreen on.

best-packable-sun-hat-for-travel

Of course, that is always an option. But, if you are like me you hate smearing greasy-feeling sunscreen on day-after-day. Plus, you don’t want to feel crusty at dinner if you don’t make it back to the hotel to wash up before.

That’s why having a functional and stylish packable sun hat is priceless for the avid traveler and outdoor adventurer. Easy to carry and pack, once you find one that you like you’ll never leave home without it.

Uses & Benefits of Packable Sun Hats

A packable sun hat doesn’t have to look any different than a normal hat. Most models have a traditional safari or bucket hat design. Depending on the style that you choose, no one will even notice that you can of course easily stuff your hat away in your bag.

That’s the biggest benefit of packable sun hats, you can wear them normally everyday, yet you can easily carry them around without having to worry about damaging them.

Just a few of the situations you’ll find yourself taking along your packable sun hat:

  • Any trip abroad to a sunny location—you can easily store it in your bag while flying
  • Exploring a new city—it’s small size easy stores in your daypack
  • A day at the beach, lake or river—most hats are waterproof
  • Hiking in the mountains—the perfect lightweight and breathable hat
  • Working in the yard or garden—a light and cool option for outside work
  • Spending time outside—picnics, concerts, or just relaxing
  • Packing along for sports games—soccer, football, golf, etc

How To Choose the Best Packable Sun Hat

Sun Protection

When comparing the best packable sun hats, the level of sun protection is the most important factor. You want to look for a UPF rating of 30+. This will provide enough sun protection for extended outdoor wear in with direct sun exposure.

The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating system is what measures the UV protection provided from types of fabrics. Think of it as the clothing version of the SPF rating system used for sunscreens. For a quick guideline, a fabric with UPF of 30 shields you from 96% of the UV radiation hitting its surface. Where a UPF of 50 shields you from around 98% of the UV radiation.

Below is the ASTM Standard for Sun Protective Clothing:

UPF RatingProtection Category% UV radiation Blocked
UPF 15 – 24Good93.3 – 95.9
UPF 25 – 39Very Good96.0 – 97.4
UPF 40 – 50+Excellent97.5 – 98+

Sun hats are made to protect your skin form harmful UV rays (ultraviolet radiation) and having a high quality hat will give you the protection you need. A UPF rating of 30+ to 50+ will afford you the option to not wear sunscreen on your face and head.

You’ll want to buy a sun hat that does not have large holes for ventilation, this includes large mesh fabrics and weaves. A considerable amount of UV radiation can pass through these during extended outside wear. You do however, want to have a ventilation provided from a small mesh fabric without holes. You’ll still get the airy feel, but be protected from the sun.

Lastly, make sure you purchase a packable sun hat with a large-sized brim that provide sun protection for your head, neck and face. If you opt for a smaller brim model you may have to still wear sunscreen to fully protect from UV rays. A dark-underside brim can also prevent additional facial exposure from reflection.

Style

Although packable hats have to have a crushable design there are wide array of styles out there. You can go with a classic looking sun hat, such as the this Coolibar hat, a safari sun hat like the Outdoor Research Sombriolet, or more of active design like the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat.

That said, hats are often a style statement, even if we are just talking about a sun or travel hat. You want to feel comfortable wearing it, after all a sun hat is only good when you use it. You probably don’t want to look like you are running a marathon in the Sahara when strolling around Rome. The bottom line is go with a style you feel comfortable wearing.

Material & Breathability

If you plan on using your sun hat for exercise and outdoor (running, hiking, paddling, etc) use you’ll want to focus on synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon. They are much more effective at wicking and quicker drying than cotton. These fabrics also breath very well and help you stay cool when it’s hot out.

Finding a hat model with mesh ventilation on the crown is also key for staying cool. You’ll want to avoid mesh with large holes as UV rays can still get through, but a small mesh is suitable for UV protection. Almost all models included in this list of the best packable sun hats includes a mesh panel for comfortable wearing.

Use & Function

Do you plan to primarily use your sun hat while roaming around cities? Or hiking to the top of mountain peaks? Maybe hitting the beach?

Depending on how you’ll primarily use your packable sun hat you may want to choose a more classic or sporty style. If you will be sweaty while wearing it when you hit the trails, go with a synthetic fabric that wicks away moisture and dries fast. Plus, you can easily wash these fabrics when they get sweaty and dirty. The Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hat is an great example of a hat that offers a integrated wicking sweat band around the inner brim.

If you want want a hat that doubles as a outdoor hat, but also fits for use in the city, you can find many classic looking packable sun hats that work well in both situations.

Durability

A cheap sun hat bought along the side of the road will probably not last as long. With most gear, you get what you pay for.

Buying high quality travel and outdoor gear that will hold up after extended use is an important factor for anyone making a purchase. My suggestion is to always go with a trusted brand that is known for making quality gear.

best-foldable-sun-hat-travel

A cheap sun hat just won’t cut it (or last)

It’s worth it in the long run if you don’t have to replace your gear just after a year of use. A high-quality folding hat will last for years and will be your trusted ‘never leave home without it’ piece of gear when you head out on adventures.

When it comes to sun hat durability the most important factors include the material choice and stitching quality. Both nylon and polyester are strong materials that are readily used for sun hats. Combine those materials with double stitched seams and you’ve got a sturdy hat built to last.

Color

Since sun protection hats are exposed to extensive solar radiation it’s a wise choice to go with a light color that reflects light and heat. The lighter the color the less heat it will absorb when out in the sun. However, you’ll also need to consider how dirty the hat may get after use.

A white hat will easily show marks and dirt, whereas a tan or grey hat will help cover up a bit of dirt and you won’t have to wash it as much.

Comfort & Fit

Proper fit is key for any hat you’ll wear. Too small and you’ll get a head. Too large and the hat will be unstable and fly off in the wind.

Hat size is based on your head’s circumstance where the inner brim sits on your head. In the US hat sizes are in inches, elsewhere you’ll find hat sizes in centimeters. If you don’t know you hat size, figuring it out is straight forward. All you need to do is to measure your heads circumference with a cloth tape measure. Then you’ll want to compare this measurement with the hat manufacture’s sizing chart, such as this one from Columbia Sportswear:

As far as comfort, since you’ll likely be wearing your sun hat while traveling and doing outdoor activities you need it to be comfortable. This means having a proper fit that stays snugly in place, but is not too tight.

Also, you want a brim size that is neither too large or small for what you’ll be using it for. For casual use and hitting the beach, the larger the better. But for activities where constant movement and sight is important, you’ll want a smaller brim that allows you to easily look around. There is nothing more annoying that having a hat bring constantly getting in your view of sight.

Weight & Size

The lighter weight your packable sun hat, the better. This is not only for reasons of carrying in your luggage, but also comfort on your head.

The best travel hat is one that you forget your are even wearing. If that hat weighs too much you’ll feel it after periods of longer wear.

Best Packable Sun Hat Reviews

There are tons of great packable sun hat options out there. You’ll find many brands and styles of sun hats in various price ranges, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.

Here are just a few of our favorites that provide stylish sun protection while you are outside.

Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo Hat

The Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo Hat offers exceptional performance and style for a packable sun hat. The medium brim that snaps up Aussie style is sized perfect for everyday use and most will not find it too large for outdoor activities.

The hat is well ventilated with 3/4-inch polyester mesh on the upper crown. This allows your head to stay cool with increased airflow on hot days. The underbrim is a darker color which helps reduce glare and protects you from reflected UV rays.

Other features of the hat that make it standout among competition include construction from 100% Supplex nylon fabric. This is both water and mildew resistant, yet incredibly durable for everyday wear.

The hat offers 50+ UPF sun protection, which is plenty even in the sunniest conditions. If you are traveling you’ll also find the secret storage pocket in the crown useful for storing money or a room key.

Hand sewn in Canada, Tilley produces some of the highest quality packable sun hats. That’s why it’s considered one of the most trustable travel hat brands out there.

UPF Rating: 50+

Material: Supplex nylon

Brim Size: (front) 3 inches / (back) 5 inches / (side) 2.5 inches

Special Features: Snap-up brim, dark under brim, secret storage pocket, mildew resistant fabric

You can read more reviews and see the latest price here

The Coolibar UPF 50+ Men’s Crushable Ventilated Hat is by far one of the best looking packable sun hats. It performs well, looks great in any situation, yet it’s completely crushable.

It’s one of most ventilated crushable sun hats with a fully mesh crown to keep your head cool on even the hottest days. It’s rated to provide UPF 50+ in sun protection with it’s 3″ brim.

The Coolibar Crushable Ventilated Hat will stay put on windy days with it’s internal elastic band and adjustable chin cord. Overall it’s a great choice for anyone looking for a well-designed and great looking travel hat.

UPF Rating: 50+

Material: Cotton/polyester canvas

Brim Size: 3 inches

Special Features: Adjustable chin cord, internal elastic band for snug fit

You can read more reviews and see the latest price here

Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat – Best Packable Sun Hat

The Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat was out top pick for best packable sun hat. It’s incredibly comfortable with ultra-breathable fabric, provides solid protection against UV rays, and packs down super small for travel.

The hats uses UPF rated fabric for it’s mesh ventilation, which makes this hat standout among it’s competition. This means your not giving up UV protection to gain breathability. The hat is made from a polyester ripstop crown for durability and a Supplex® 100% nylon under brim to fight mildew a bacteria growth.

It’s SolarShield construction and medium-sized brim provides UPF 50+ sun protection. It’s a great sized hat for activities and hiking, but you’ll still fit in when wearing it around the city. The underbrim is a darker color to provide protection against UV reflection off of water and light surfaces.

It’s extremely lightweight and completely crushable with it’s flexible foam-stiffened brim (also floatable). Although when storing it for longer periods it may take a minute to bounce back into its normal shape.

In windy conditions the hat can be cinched down with its  built-in chin strap and an adjustable rear drawcord allows for quick sizing adjustments.

For anyone looking for a lightweight and breathable sun hat option, the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat is one of the best options.

UPF Rating: 50+

Material: 86% nylon/14% polyester ripstop crown/Supplex® 100% nylon under brim

Brim Size: (front) 3 inches / (back) 3.75 inches

Special Features: Floats in water, external drawcord for adjustments, chin strap

You can read more reviews and see the latest price here

Another great option for Outdoor Research is the Transit Sun Hat.

It uses the same SolarShield™ construction (UPF 50+) that is found on the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat. Both hats share many of the same features including a TransAction™ headband and foam-stiffened brim that floats in water.

The differences come down to the fabric and style. The Transit Sun Hat is made from durable organic cotton/spandex blend fabric and has large side panel vents to allow cooling airflow. It also features a removable chin strap that can be used to secure the hat in windy conditions.

UPF Rating: 50+

Material: Organic cotton/Spandex blend

Brim Size: (front) 2.5 / (side) 2.75 inches

Special Features: Removable chin strap, floats in water

Take a look at more reviews and see the latest price here

Built with style and comfort in mind, the Coolibar Featherweight Bucket Hat provides 50+ UPF protection in an ultra-lightweight design.

The hat is made from polyester that is both durable and quick drying when it gets wet or needs a wash. You can easily adjust the hats fit with an elastic draw cord toggle and remove its chin strap when it’s not needed.

For styling options the brim snaps up. And most importantly, the hat is travel friendly—it’s crushable and packable.

Another great option is the Coolibar UPF 50+ Men’s Reversible Bucket Hat which gives you the option of easily switching up color combinations.

UPF Rating: 50+

Material: Polyester

Special Features: Removable chin strap, snaps on brim

You can read more reviews and see the latest price here

best-crushable-sun-hat-rei-paddlers-hat

Built with a wide brim and mesh panels, the REI Paddler’s Hat is made for any outdoor adventure you can throw at it. This hat is designed with outdoor sports and water in mind and will protect you from both sun and rain. Plus, the brim is built with a foam insert that floats if your hat happens to land in the water

Polyester mesh side panels provide extra airflow on hot days, but it’s not the most well-ventilated hat out of the bunch. The hat can be adjusted to perfectly fit you head with it’s rear toggle.

In windy conditions you can cinch it down more to ensure a snug fit that stays on your head. Additionally, the hat has a chin strap for extra security.

Note that this hat is only offered in two sizes (S/M and L/XL), which may not fit you well if you are in between sizes.

UPF Rating: n/a

Material: Polyester

Brim Size: (front) 3.25 inches / (back) 4 inches

Special Features: Chin strap, floats when dropped in water, adjustable rear toggle

Take a look at more reviews and see the latest price here

Camo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat – Best Budget Sun Hat Option

The Camo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat is a great budget packable sun hat option. If you’re looking for a hat that gives you sun protection, but you don’t want to worry about it when stashing it on the beach, look no further.

Made from 100% polyester, this foldable hat is both comfortable and breathable with its large side vents that allow airflow during hot days.

It’s a great outdoor hat option for just throwing in your bag while hiking, camping, hitting the beach, or traveling. However, it’s not the most well-made hat out there and is only offered in one size, so don’t expect it to hold up as well as other better made hats.

UPF Rating: 50+

Material: Polyester

Special Features: Adjustable drawstring

You can read more reviews and See the latest price here

If you haven’t noticed yet, Outdoor Research is the king of making some of the best sun hats. The Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat is no exception.

Made from SolarShield™ construction with ripstop nylon/polyester blend you’ll get UPF 50 with this sun protection hat. Like other Outdoor Reseach sun hats, it comes with a foam-stiffened brim that floats in water, a TransAction™ headband moisture management when you sweat, and an external drawcord for sizing adjustments.

It’s a great daily wear option for a breathable sun hat that provides 50+ UPF protection. The brim is mid-sized at 3.5 inches, which is in range with other outdoor hats and offers functionality in a variety of uses.

Additionally, it’s one of the more packable travel hats out there and compresses down to a size you can easily slide into you bag or pack for daily outings.

UPF Rating: 50

Material: 86% nylon/14% Polyester

Brim Size: 3.5 inches

Special Features: Floats in water, external drawcord for adjustments

You can read more reviews and see the latest price here

The Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hat is a a top rated sun from well known outdoor gear manufacture Columbia Sportswear. It’s well designed with high performance materials, offers great sun protection, and won’t break your budget.

Constructed with Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection nylon fabric the Bora Bora Booney II was originally designed as a fisherman’s hat. However, it performs among the best for both travel and outdoor use with it’s 3 inch brim and Omni-wick sweatband.

With it’s high performance fabric and mesh ventilation that surrounds the entire crown it’s also one of the most breathable travel hats. This makes it a perfect option for not only everyday use, but also hiking or any other adventure you can throw at it.

The hat has an integrated cinch around the crown that provides an extra secure fit in windy conditions. Plus, an adjustable chin strap when you really need it.

The brim is not rigid, which makes it an ultra packable travel hat, but also means that the hat may take longer to pop back into shape after being packed. That said, it’s one of the lightest and most foldable hats available

As it’s built for fishing and other water activities it’s fully water proof and quick drying. So whether the hat takes a dip or just needs to be washed, it will dry fast and be ready to use.

UPF Rating: 50

Material: 100% textured nylon poplin

Brim Size: 3 inches

Special Features: Crushable in every way, chin strap, cinch around crown

You can read more reviews and see the latest price here

Henschel 5310 Packable Mesh Breezer Hat – Best Full Mesh Sun Hat

The Henschel 5310 Packable Mesh Breezer Hat offers incredible breathabilty for ultra hot conditions. The hat features a fully mesh crown which allows great airflow and ventilation. Not to mention is one good looking hat for any occasion.

Made in the USA it offers high quality construction and is built to last. It will stand the test of time and hold up day-after-day no matter what activities you take it on. The hat offers 50+ UPF sun protection with it’s heavy duty fabric.

The 3 inch brim provides enough shade for the face and neck, yet allows you to move around easy. If it gets windy you can cinch down the adjustable chin cord to make sure you don’t lose what will likely be your favorite travel hat.

UPF Rating: 50+

Material: 55% Polyester/45% Cotton

Brim Size: 3 inches

Special Features: Fully mesh crown, stylish look

You can read more reviews and see the latest price here

The Bottom Line

Your bound to spend time and travel in sunny conditions, which is why a packable sun hat is a no brainier for anyone who cares to be protected from UV rays.

Packable travel hats are the perfect piece of travel gear for efficient packers who value lightweight and compressible items. These hats are crushable or foldable, which allows you to pack them down small and easily stow them in your bag or luggage. This means you can take them along without thinking twice, and they are there when you need them most.

If you are looking for the best packable sun hat geared towards outdoor activites, take a look at the Outdoor Research Sombriolet.

For one of the more stylish packable sun hats, the Coolibar UPF 50+ Men’s Crushable Ventilated Hat is hard to beat. However, the Henschel 5310 Packable Mesh Breezer Hat comes close.

If you’re on a budget, the Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hat is a bare bones option that will give you the protection you need.

You can also read our guides to the best lightweight rain jackets, the best compression sacks and other recommended travel products here.