Camping Gear

The Best Camping Hats for Your Outdoor Adventures

Last Updated on October 27, 2020 by Jody

How many ‘camping hats' do you wear?

I’m not talking about the trip planning hat, the meal planning hat, the packing the RV hat, or any other metaphorical hat that comes with organizing a camping trip.

I’m talking about actual hats for camping and outdoor activities.

The last trip we took I looked at the assorted hats my family packed for camping… I think there were at least 8 in the back of our SUV – when we take the RV I’m sure there are more!

hats for camping and adventure. Hiking in the Pinnacles, Black Hills, South Dakota.
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While we could, undoubtedly, each make do with a single hat, we have found the best hat for lounging at a pool is not the best hat for hiking. And the best hat for kayaking may not be the best hat for an afternoon wandering historic Main Streets.

It’s quite a lot like shoes, if you think about it. You wouldn't go hiking in a flip flop, would you?

My thanks to Tenth Street Hats for inspiring this article & sending a couple of crushable hats for us to try! 

The Best Hats for Camping

If we’re camping you can bet my hair is tied in a ponytail or a messy knot and I’ve put on some sort of hat to hide the fact that I probably haven’t run a comb through my hair (or washed it!) since I left my house.

But beyond hiding bad hair, hats are very important for camping safety. Not only do hats offer sun protection, but they also provide protection against ticks.

Related: 4 Ways to Banish Bugs at Your Campsite

Best Hats at the Campsite

When we're hanging out at our campsite a plain ol' ball cap is usually the easiest hat to throw on, and it does the trick quite nicely, keeping my hair back and my husband's eyes shaded as the sun sets below the camper awning.

Another favorite for relaxing outside is the Camden by Scala. I adore the floppy brim and the casual look of this hat. But what sold me on this hat is that is it crushable. Yes- you can travel with this hat and not worry about it getting ruined!

Crushable Camden hat by Scala.
Crushable Camden hat by Scala.
Buy from Tenth Street Hats

Best Camping Hats for Water Activities

We love water activities! Kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and white water rafting are our favorite aqua adventures. Our girls also love to swim, so if we are at a campground with a pool it's a fair assumption that we can be found cooling off in the water or lounging near by.

For most water activities my husband defaults to a basic ball cap, while I prefer a sun visor. Why a visor? I like to have my hair off my neck when there is the possibility of it getting wet. Also- if I am lounging poolside I won't be laying on a ponytail!

white water rafting in Montana
I prefer a sun visor for active water sports

Best Camping Hats for Hiking & Horseback Riding

We do a lot of hiking when we camp, and a bit of horseback riding when we can. For these two activities we prefer a hat with sun protection as well as a strap, in case of a strong breeze or a brisk ride.

My husband has two safari hats, both with mesh sides to allow air flow. His Aussie Breezer hat by Henschel Hat Co (below) is packable. He also has a less expensive mesh safari hat by J Hats that is crushable.

In the first photo in this article my daughters are each wearing a hat by Sunday Afternoons. Both have a UPF 50+ sun rating, a chin strap, have flexible brims, and are packable. My eldest is wearing the Sunset Hat and my youngest has the Lily Hat.

top of Little Devil's Tower Trail in the Black Hills
After rock scrambling and dusty trails we made it to the top of Little Devil's Tower Trail in the Black Hills.

When my eldest steals my Sunset Hat (as she usually does) I default to my favorite Scala Straw Cowboy Hat. I've had this hat for years and absolutely love it. It is not crushable. so I have to be a bit more careful with it than my other hats, but it is one hat that I never go camping without.

Best Hats for Wandering

Though my family will often forego hats when we head into towns, I still want the sun protection. Depending on where we are I will default to my Scala Straw Cowboy Hat or the fun and floppy Camden hat.

But if I'm feeling especially fancy I'll put on my big brim New Port hat by Scala. It's definitely a statement piece, but it's also crushable with UPF 50, so even the sunniest days don't keep me in the shade.

New Port hat by Scala from Tenth Street Hats
The New Port Hat by Scala is perfect for wandering historic towns, farmers markets, or charming gardens.
Buy from Tenth street Hats.

Caring for Your Hats

Most hats don't require a lot of care. And, unless you or your child play baseball, you've likely never even washed a ball cap.

Tip: use a cap washing frame to hold the shape!

But there are a few things you can do to extend the life of your hats and keep them looking great.

Store your hats properly. Don't just toss your hats on a shelf or stack them on top of a dresser. Use a hanging closet organizer to keep hats from getting crushed by everything else around them and to keep them by type.

Consider a hat box. Your more expensive hats should be kept in a hat box. This will keep dust from settling into the fabric or weave between wearings. It will also help keep them from being crushed and misshapen.

Wipe it down. Periodically wipe down your hats with a clean, dry cloth. Try to keep straw hats dry, wiping away rain or moisture as soon as possible. Hats created with man-made materials may benefit from being wiped down with a wet cloth once in a while.

NoSweat_hat_liners_camping_hats
Easy to use NoSweat hat liners

Protect your hat from sweat. Outdoor activity often leads to perspiration, and hat bands just aren't made to stop that sweat from running down into your eyes. Sweat can also leave awful stains on your hat and, ultimately, make it uncomfortable to wear. NoSweat hat liners are an easy to use layer of protection for your hat, designed to absorb perspiration and odor, and extend the life of your hat.

What's your favorite camping hat for outdoor adventure?

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