Choosing a Hiking Hat
When you’re on a hike you should always bring a hat with you. Hats serve two purposes: to protect you from the sun and to keep you warm in cold weather conditions. When you’re in extreme conditions, the style and good looks becomes less important and performance is all that matters, however with many different quality hats on the market you’re most likely to find a hat that looks just as good as it performs.
You can lose up to 50% of your body heat from your head in a cold weather and it’s no joke. Wind and wet working together can be a real killer so you should always go to your hike prepared. On other side, strong sun rays on unprotected head can cause all sorts of problems such as sunstroke, dehydration and heat exhaustion. Usually sun hat will also protect your head from getting wet when it rains in warmer weather, but you will need more specific gear in a cold weather.
What to look for?
Your hat should have water resistant properties such as GORE-TEX for wet weather use and good UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) at least 30+ or higher for protection against sun rays. Use sunscreen on exposed areas where hat can’t protect you against UV rays. If planing to hike in extremely cold weather conditions a woolen balaclava might be your best choice, covering all your head. Use a waterproof hood to cover balaclava if it rains.
Letting some air circulate around your head is only going to help to keep your head cool and prevent the hat of getting wet from your own sweat. Looking for a hat that is breathable either through built in venting or made of breathable material will benefit you in the long run.
You don’t have to give up all your comfort for a sake of staying safe. Choose a light hat that is comfortable to wear and that doesn’t limit your movement. Your hat should fit on your head well, it can’t be too big or to tight. If too tight, it will affect your blood circulation to head and can cause headache and discomfort, if too big, it will feel unstable and wobbly. You can measure your head following the specific company sizing guidelines, before buying the hat to avoid later dissatisfaction with your purchase.
A quality hat could last you a lifetime. You should look for a durable materials that keeps it’s shape after being repeatably abused and is easy to clean.
Lighter colours reflect the suns rays a lot better than dark ones and sun hats are produced in lighter shades for this very reason. However if hiking in a damp or cold conditions, better choose darker colours as stains from hard use won’t show as much as on lighter ones.