Gardeners worship the sun—it’s what makes our plants grow beautiful, flavorful fruits and veggies. But as much as the sun is a win for plants, it can be a danger for our skin! Because avid gardeners spend so much time outside in the sunshine, it is vital to have a good sun protection routine, and that must involve a great garden hat!
A good, wide brim garden hat won’t just protect your face, chest, and shoulders from sun damage, but it’ll also help keep you cooler and protect you from the occasional rain shower. We’ve tested a lot of sun hats in our time out in the garden, and here are our faves!
Why Should You Buy A Gardening Hat?
Aside from the obvious reason that a good garden hat can help protect your skin from the harsh summer sun, one of the biggest reasons to get in the habit of wearing a garden hat is to up your comfort level! Having a good, breathable hat goes a long way to help you regulate your body temperature—especially in the heat of summer. Pulling weeds is much more comfortable (especially if you have dark hair) with a hat covering your head.
How to Choose The Right Gardening Hats For You
Finding a perfect hat is a personal journey that all gardeners must go on, but here are some things we recommend you look for:
Obviously, you want your hat to have a comfortable fit for long hours out in the garden! This means not grabbing a hat that is too small (if you have a larger head that tends not to fit hats, we highly recommend investing in a hat stretcher) or too big. In general, one-size-fits-all hats don’t, in fact, fit all. We recommend trying to seek out a hat with either adjustable sizing or multiple sizes to choose what’s right for your head size.
Also make sure the hat doesn’t have any bits or baubles that dig into the skin on your head or pull your hair.
The main goal of gardening hats is to protect you from the harmful UV rays of the sun! For folks with sun-sensitive skin or thin hair, you can increase the sun protection for your scalp by looking for a UPF hat. But any wide brim hat will provide enough shade to make for ample sun protection for most folks. When shopping for a hat, you want a brim that is wide enough to shade your face, part of your chest, and some (or all) of your shoulders. Many folks like a 2 to 4 inch brim.
You can achieve maximum sun protection by seeking out a hat with a neck flap. These hats are particularly useful for us gardeners who spend a lot of time bent over, exposing our neck and shoulders to the sun!
Ease of Cleaning
Everything gets dirty in the garden! So you’ll want your sun hat to either be something that can be easily cleaned (either by popping it in the washing machine or by wiping it off with a damp towel), or you want it to be a material that doesn’t show dirt easily—like a classic straw hat.
One of the biggest mistakes folks make when buying a sun hat is trying it on inside the cool, air-conditioned climate of a shop, without testing its breathability! Unless you want your head to hang out in a sauna (and warm up your whole body), you want a hat that breathes. You’re going to get the best breathability out of natural, lightweight material—like cotton or straw. But you’ll also find some hats that are made of synthetic fabric (like polyester) with vents on the sides of the hat that can help with breathability, and they have the bonus of wicking away moisture and sweat.
Frustrating gardening hats are the absolute worst! So you want to make sure the hat functions well for you. A few options you’ll probably want to make sure your hat has:
- Wind Lanyard: Unless you live in a place with no wind, you’ll want a way to secure your hat to your head during windy conditions. Make sure your hat has a chin cord to keep it snuggly in place. You can also add an adjustable chin strap to any hat that doesn’t come with one.
- Sweatband: In the heat of the summer, working hard in the garden, you SWEAT! And to keep that sweat from running into your eyes, a sweatband is a must. Most hats come with an inner headband, and if you can find one that is sweat absorbing and sweat-wicking, you’re ahead of the game. You can also use a bandana or other thin sweatband in your hat (if your hat is large enough).
Our Favorite Gardening Hats for Adults
- North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer Hat — This hat checks off all the boxes! It’s a wide-brimmed bucket hat, it’s packable (go ahead, shove it in your pocket!), it’s breathable, it’s lightweight, and it comes in many colorful options and sizes. It’s a winner for all kinds of outdoor activities!
- Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat — Outdoor Research consistently makes some of our favorite sun hats, and the Sombriolet is our favorite of them all! A wide brim and UPF 50+ rating protects your face and neck from hot, sunny days. A wicking headband keeps sweat at bay.
- Outdoor Research Women’s Oasis Sun Sombrero—This hat comes in four different sizes, making it a great option for folks on the extremes of the head size spectrum who have trouble sourcing hats. The small is good for head circumferences of 21½” – 22” and the XL size fits a head circumference all the way up to 24″.
- Straw Hat—A classic for a reason! A good straw hat is breathable, sturdy, and offers superior sun protection. A straw hat is one of the best sun hats around! There is a reason gardeners and farmers have been wearing them for centuries. We like the classic wide-brim beach hat for maximum sun protection, but for a more modern look, you can also go with a wide-brimmed fedora or Panama straw hat.
You might be tempted to grab one of the floppy beach hats (a wide brim that provides so much protection!), but while they are great for enjoying a beach read in a lounge chair, their floppy nature makes them über-annoying while moving about the garden.
Our Favorite Gardening Hat for Kids
Outdoor Research Kid’s Rambler Sombrero Hat—This list of kid’s sun hats begins and ends with this single hat—it is the best kid’s gardening hat on the planet! It is adjustable, meaning it’ll fit a wide variety of ages (our daughter has worn the Medium 3-6 size hat since she was 18 months old, and she’s now almost 7 and it still works just fine!). The brim is wider in the back, which offers excellent protection for your little one’s shoulders, neck, face, and chest. It’s breathable, comfy, and can take a beating. It’s washable, water-resistant, and comes in adorable kid-friendly colors. This is the only gardening hat you’ll need for your kids!
The larger sizes of this hat are also a great option for adults with small heads.