Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Men’s Sun Hat

A sun hat can help prevent you from getting a sunburn, skin damage, and skin cancer.

Couple on a boat
Most sun hats are lightweight, comfortable, breathable, and stylish.Unsplash/@amandadalbjorn

Spending time in the great outdoors is healthy for mind, body, and spirit. Except, perhaps, for the top of your head and face. Protecting skin from harmful sun rays requires specially made hats with protective fabrics and substantial shade-producing brims. But that doesn’t mean they can’t look stylish and still perform in a gale. Here are three things to think about when you’re looking for a sun-friendly cranium topper.

Cloth Matters

Columbia mens Bora Bora Booney
This hat includes a mesh vent and moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you dry and cool.Columbia

Sunscreen for your skin is rated according to its SPF, or sun protection factor. Fabrics are rated based on their UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor. It’s an indicator of how much UV radiation can penetrate the fabric. A UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays, which means only 1/50 gets through the cloth to your skin. Lots of things affect a fabric’s UPF rating, including density of cloth, how it is woven, and how much stretch it has. And some fabrics are treated with UV-inhibiting chemicals to boost their sun-blocking powers.

Shade Matters

Shelta Seahawk Sun Hat
This sun hat is built with an innovative stiff, winged hidden visor so it won’t flop in the wind.Shelta

While a baseball-style brim will help shade your face, a wide brim that completely encircles the hat is a far better choice for long-term use in the sun. A wide brim blocks the sun from reaching delicate skin such as the tops of ears and the back of the neck, where sun damage can be a hidden problem. The wider the brim, the better the protection.

Total Coverage

DDYOUTDOOR Fashion Summer Outdoor Sun Protection Fishing Cap Neck Face Flap Hat Wide Brim
This product has a nifty cord-lock hat keeper to keep it in place in a breeze.DDYOUTDOOR

Damaging sun rays don’t always come from the sky. We’re often out in places where shiny surfaces reflect damaging sunlight--think about being on the water in a boat, or walking on white sand, or playing tennis or golf. If you’re frequently out in such environments, or are fair-skinned and susceptible to sunburn, consider a sun hat with integrated face and neck shields to bump up the protection.

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