There was a time in the history of this great nation when a gentleman would sooner step outside without pants on his shanks than without a hat on his head. The early and middle years of the last century saw the apex of the brimmed hat’s popularity; be it a bowler, a fedora or a pork pie, the hat was essential to any man worth his salt. In fact, by the late 1940s, it had become common for gangs of hatted men to attack the hatless with clubs made of woven Juniper boughs while shouting “Three strikes for the hatless!” leading to the coining of the phrase “hat trick.” (Actually, that’s total bullshit.)
By the twilight years of the 20th Century, the hat had faded from ubiquity to a status nearer to the anachronistic. It was a sad time for hat lovers and the not-so-hirsute-headed alike. But today we’re seeing something of a renaissance when it comes to hat-wearing, though largely among specific subsets of society cough-cough-hipsters.
Related: Style for your feet
There has always been once place, however, where the hat transcends the dictates of style: it’s a place called the Great Outdoors. From the fisherman to the camper to the hiker, any dedicated outdoorsman will tell you his hat is one of the most important components of his gear.
A good hat should be able to keep your face and neck protected from the sun, your head dry even during driving rains, and should be able to help keep you warm or cool depending on the climate. (It’s true: a quality same hat can keep you cooler or warmer! For example, packing the top of your hat with fabric can help trap in heat. And did you know that Babe Ruth tucked a leaf of wet cabbage under his cap to keep cool during games on hot days? Well he did! But that’s gross; don’t do that.)
Perhaps no activity merits the use of a truly great hat like long-distance hiking: long hikes can take you through varied terrain and temperatures and can see the weather shift time and again. That means you need a hat that’s ready to perform no matter what you encounter along your trek! And as you might have guessed… we’re about to share a few of our favorite hiking hats with you.
If you’re looking for a basic, reliable hat that will keep the sun off your head and that lets a cool breeze blow across your scalp, this is a fine choice. It’s the hat you picture when you think about hiking: no bells and whistles, but a decent price point and quality materials. Take it on the trails, take it fishing, take it camping; the Bora Bora Booney II is a fine starter hat indeed.
Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat ($22 – $51)
Are you hoping to find that special someone out there on the trails? Or are you planning on taking your beloved S.O. on a romantic camping trip? Then don’t wear this hat. This hat looks ridiculous. But you know what? The flesh of your face and neck doesn’t care about looks, it cares about not being sunburned. The Adventure Hat may get a -3 for style, but it gets a +10 for protecting you from the sun and keeping you cool, and hey, if you average those it’s um… it’s a 7! Yeah, that’s how this works…
Tilley Endurables T3 traditional canvas hat ($65 – $80)
Now damn but this is a fine hat! If you’ve never heard of Tilley Hats, drop and give us 20. At around $70, this hat is a steal, because it is a lifetime purchase. You pretty much can’t destroy a Tilley hat (try it with water, sun, salt, sand and more!), and if you do, they’ll replace it! The T3 floats, it goes in the washing machine, it blocks the sun, it stops the rain, it has a sweat band, it has a built-in pocket, the sides fold up, it has a neck and back-of-head band, and in fact the T3 doesn’t look all that bad, either. This “cotton duck canvas” hat will be with you for every adventure, be it traipsing down the John Muir Trail or pounding beers on Drinking Hat Night.