Which bucket hat is best?
When you spend time outdoors, it’s essential to protect your skin from UV rays. While most people slather up with sunscreen and throw on a pair of shades, they’re not the only protection you should use. A bucket hat protects your head and can even keep you cool.
Thanks to broad, floppy brims, bucket hats protect your face, head and neck. They’re known for their durable designs, making them a popular choice for outdoor sports and activities. Take our top choice, Columbia Men’s Bora Bora Booney, for example. It’s ideal for water sports for its quick-dry design.
What to know before you buy a bucket hat
Perks of bucket hats
On the fence about bucket hats? Here are a few perks you should know as you weigh your options among outdoor hats:
- Bucket hats are typically worn to protect the head, neck and face from UV exposure. They’re often considered a superior option to visors and baseball hats, given their wide, 360-degree brims.
- It’s common for bucket hats to have mesh panels or grommets, both of which contribute to better air circulation around the head. These details may also speed up drying time.
- Bucket hats have a relaxed fit that won’t leave wearers with “hat head,” as is often the case with beanies, baseball hats or headbands.
More often than not, bucket hats are unisex and come in only one size. A few manufacturers offer different sizes for men’s and women’s hats. However, size and fit differences aren’t very significant in most styles. Kids’ bucket hats, on the other hand, are notably smaller than adult styles.
Bucket hat brims are anywhere between 2-6 inches wide. Many bucket hats have a concentric stitching pattern, which contributes to their structured design. Brims without this detail tend to be somewhat flimsy and are prone to sagging or flipping down over the eyes.
What to look for in a quality bucket hat
Bucket hats are made with a wide variety of materials, with some serving the wearer’s needs better than others.
Cotton and canvas styles are appreciated for their soft, comfortable designs. These materials are absorbent, which means they aren’t ideal for rainy conditions or water sports.
Synthetic materials like polyester, terylene and nylon are lightweight and flexible. Because they’re quick to dry, they’re often worn during water sports or wet weather. However, some of these styles have floppy brims that may distract wearers.
Of note, you’ll come across many bucket hats that indicate their material has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF, rating. This simply refers to the material’s capability to block out UV rays. Many bucket hats offer a UPF rating of 30 or higher.
Some bucket hats have neck flaps that extend protection down the neck toward the upper back. Specific bucket hats have removable or adjustable neck flaps, which many wearers find convenient for multipurpose use. These styles are particularly popular for camping, fishing and hiking.
Mesh panels and grommets are ventilation features, meaning they promote airflow around the head. According to many wearers, these small yet essential details help keep the head cooler, not to mention they may reduce scalp sweat. The mesh panels and grommets also contribute to faster drying.
Many bucket hats have drawcords that secure the hat to the head or neck. The drawcords come in handy during windy conditions or high-impact activity. However, some are made with rougher woven materials that may irritate sensitive or sunburned skin.
How much you can expect to spend on bucket hats
Basic bucket hats from lesser-known brands cost $12-$20. Those made by popular outdoor brands, priced from $25-$40, usually have practical, durable designs. Some bucket hats push the $50 mark if they have superior construction or specialty features.
Bucket hat FAQ
Should I wear a bandana under my bucket hat?
A. It boils down to personal preference. Some people wear bandanas with bucket hats to absorb sweat, or they wet the bandana to keep cool. Other people feel bandanas only make them sweat more.
What does it mean if a bucket hat is water-repellent?
A. Water-repellent bucket hats will hold up to splashes and moisture exposure by allowing water to bead off the surface. However, because they’re not waterproof, they may absorb water with prolonged exposure to moisture or wet weather.
What’s the best bucket hat to buy?
Top bucket hat
Columbia Men’s Bora Bora Booney
What you need to know: A customer favorite, this wide-brimmed bucket hat is known for its durability and comfortable design.
What you’ll love: Breathable mesh vents keep wearers cool. Wider brim offers more protection for the face and neck. Made with sweat-wicking material that has a UPF 50 rating.
What you should consider: Brim has a tendency to flop down over the eyes.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods
Top bucket hat for the money
Home Prefer Cap Wide Brim Fishing Hat
What you need to know: The neck flap and extra-wide brim make this bucket hat a popular choice for those seeking additional sun protection.
What you’ll love: Drawcord has a bungee for quick and easy adjustments. Hat and flap have soft mesh panels to boost airflow. Lightweight and travel-friendly, plus it comes in several colors.
What you should consider: Isn’t waterproof, and the neck flap is hit or miss.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A classic cotton blend design, this bucket hat is a favorite for everyday wear given its soft construction and flexible design.
What you’ll love: Grommets boost airflow around the head. Retains its shape well, even when stuffed in luggage or washed. Brim is wide enough to offer decent protection to ears.
What you should consider: One size fits all, and it runs relatively large.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.