The Best Sailing Hat For Days On The Water

best sailing hat

Getting the best sailing hat possible for those blissful days out on the water is essential for your enjoyment and your safety.

If you’re spending any amount of time out at sea then you’re going to need the best sailing hat you can find to offer all round protection from both the cold and the sunshine. Being exposed in the sunshine can be a real health hazard and while you’re sailing the best way to avoid getting too much sun is with a hat that will offer great protection.

the best sailing hat - a baseball cap worn by a woman sailor
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To be useful at sea that hat needs to fit a whole load of extra criteria to a hat you’d use at home. The best sailing hat will have a whole host of extra useful features that you might not have even thought of till now!

Over two years of sailing we’ve been through our fair share of sailing hats, and we’ve spoken to lots of other full time cruisers to get their top recommendations too! Here’s our guide to the best sailing hats to help you enjoy your time on the water to the max.

Quick Guide To The Best Sailing Hats

a man wearing the best sailing hat
A quick guide to the best sailing hat
  1. Gill Marine Technical – The best budget hat
  2. Outdoor Research Sombriolet – Best for comfort
  3. Sunday Afternoons Adventure – Best for sun protection
  4. Gill Race Cap– Best baseball cap design
  5. Tilley LTM6 Airflo – Best in quality
  6. Sealskinz Hat – Best for cold weather
  7. Best Sailing Hats For Kids

Features To Consider In The Best Sailing Hat

a man wearing the best sailing hat on a cloudy day out sailing
What do you need to consider before you buy?

These days sailing hats come with all sorts of fancy features – but what do you really need in the best hat for sailing? We’ve put together a list of a few of the things you might want to consider before you buy a sailing hat, ranging from the amount of protection from the sun and wind it gives you to some of the fancy extras like wicking bands and vents.

Ultimately, the best sailing hat for you will be a personal choice and you’ll have to decide what you want to prioritise. You might just be sailing for a few hours a week and want to prioritise budget, or you might sail every day and need a sailing hat that will last.

Hopefully we’ve given you enough options to help you make the best decision for you!

Why Sailing Hats Are So Important

a girl wearing her best sailing hat while drinking wine on a sailboat
Why do you really need the best sailing hat?

A sailing hat has a few different jobs that are equally important. Firstly, as most of us prefer to sail in the sunshine, a sailing hat will protect you from the suns harmful rays. This includes damage to your skin and heat from the sun.

If you sail in colder climates a good sailing hat will also protect you from the cold. We lose most of our heat from our head, so a decent quality sailing hat for cold weather is very important.

I would always recommend having a sailing hat for both weather extremes on board just in case. You never know when the wind will pick up and you’ll need some warmth!

Consider Where You’re Sailing

a man in a hat for sailing looking out at a sailboat on the water
Where you’re sailing will help you decide on the best sailing hat for you

Where you’re sailing, when you sail and how often you sail will have a big impact on what you decide is the best sailing hat for you.

As I mentioned earlier, if you’re a weekend fair weather sailor then you might decide you need a budget hat that will keep the sun off your face. If you plan on sailing through the UK winter then you’re going to want a hat that will provide protection from the wind and cold weather.

Decide on your priorities in a sailing hat before you buy.

Think UPF Ratings

A UPF rating is a sun protection rating applied to clothing. It measures the amount of UVA and UVB radiation that penetrates the fabric and reaches the skin. In most cases, you’ll want a hat that provides a UPF rating of 50+ giving you nearly 100% protection from the sun through the material.

What About Brims?

a girl looking out to sea in the best hat for sailing
Is your brim too wide or not wide enough?

For most activities a really wide brim is a huge bonus as it will keep more sun and heat off of your face. However, when we’re out sailing the wind can be a pain. It will either force the brim of the hat up, whipping the hat off your head or leaving you unprotected, or it will force the brim down and you’ll be blinded!

Most of the best sailing hats combat this with a stiffened medium sized brim.

Which Is The Best Sailing Hat Material?

A sailing hat needs to be pretty durable. It’s going to be put through its paces out on the water spending lots of time wet, in the sun, being packed down small and repeatedly washed. The best sailing hats will stand up to all of these things and will be made to last.

The Best Sailing Hats

looking up at a sailboat sails
Our top picks of hats for sailing

Here are our top sailing hat picks. We’ve included some of their best features to help you make the right decision for you.

Gill Marine Technical

This is one of the best budget sailing hats around, and it should meet all of your sailing hat requirements! Gill is a well known sailing brand for a reason – they deliver quality sailing gear.

This sailing hat is no different. For starters, it floats! And it has an adjustable chin strap that you can remove if you need. We have lost way too many hats to the sea and the wind. Having a hat that floats is a real bonus.

The brim is wide which is perfect for keeping the sun off your face and neck, and it keeps the glare out of your eyes too. This sailing hat is made from a really lightweight, water repelling material which means it actually dries super quickly if it gets wet (which it will, obviously!) It also has an absorbent headband which is one of my sailing hat must haves to try and combat sweat!

Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sailing Hat

This hat by Outdoor Research is a little more expensive than the Gill sailing hat but worth it if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors.

This hat has been made to last, with a wide foam stiffened brim and a UPF 50+ rating. It has a wicking headband to keep sweat off your face and breathable panels to keep you cool in the heat – perfect for lazing about at anchor in the sunshine.

We love how easy the drawstring cord is to adjust – you can do it with one hand while you’re sailing.

This hat is made out of durable materials, it’s easily washable and water resistant. It’s also super light and folds away easily for convenient storage or packing.

This is a great all rounder sailing hat and is worth the extra money for a hat that will last.

Sunday Afternoons Adventure Sailing Hat

If you’re after the best possible sailing hat for sun protection then this is it. This is a world famous hat for all types of adventure sports with it’s huge brim and neck cape that provides all round sun protection.

It floats, it’s light and durable, it’s size adjustable and it has a wicking inner headband. The big difference between this hat and others we’ve mentioned is the neck cap and wide brim. Perfect for covering up when spending all day in the sun.

The only negative with this hat is that it’s perhaps not the trendiest, but when you’re out at sea who’s looking anyway!?

Gill Race Cap

If you love baseball caps then you’ll know the dangers of wearing a standard one out on the water! Baseball caps don’t make great sailing hats because as soon as the wind picks up it catches the lip and blows them straight into the sea. It gives you a great chance to practice your MOB procedure but it can get a little tiresome!

Luckily there are sailing hats out there designed to overcome this problem. This baseball sailing hat from Gill comes with a strap and plastic clip to keep your hat from being anywhere but on you. If it blows off it won’t be going anywhere!

It has all the other features you’d want in a sailing hat, like a wicking head band, 50+ UV rating, water resistant and durable fabric. The only downside is that baseball caps don’t give as much all round sun protection and leaves the back of your neck exposed. Consider grabbing a few buffs to combat this problem if you’re more comfortable in a baseball cap design.

Tilley LTM6 Airflo Sailing Hat

Tilley hats were designed by an avid sailor and have a bit of a cult following (for a reason). These hats are certainly not a budget option but they might just be one of the best.

The Airflo Collection is designed for versatility and function in every outdoor adventure. Every hat is designed to be breathable, packable and protective from sun, rain and wind. Perfect for every sailing condition.

It comes with all the other expected features from a sailing hat, such as UPF 50+ ratings, floatation, washable, water resistant and strap to tie on in the wind. But these sailing hats have received a whole lot of extra love too.

Each Tilley hat is hand-sewn and all seams are lock-stitched so they won’t unravel. The crown of these sailing hats are slightly higher so the top of the hat doesn’t sit against your head (one of my pet hates in sailing hats). This obviously allows more ventilation from the mesh. They have a sewn in pocket for storing small valuables like a room key or cash.

These sailing hats are guaranteed for life and the manufacturers claim that this will be the last hat you ever buy! Perhaps the price looks a little more appealing now!

Sealskinz Sailing Hat

If you’re looking for the best sailing hat for cold weather then look no further.

This sailing hat by sealskinz is 100% waterproof and windproof but still breathable. It’s designed for extreme cold weather with a three layer construction. There are ear panels to keep your ears warm (my biggest hate!) and the adjustable fit means it won’t blow off in the wind.

Best Sailing Hats For Kids

Above are a few of the best sailing hats for kids, designed to be fun for them to wear (to encourage them to keep them on!) to be comfortable and to provide the maximum protection from the elements for their young skin.

Hopefully this guide has given you some ideas when it comes to choosing the best sailing hat for you, so that you have more time for fun out on the water! Let us know if you have a favourite hat for sailing in the comments below!

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