best surf hat
Min Read Time

The Best Surf Hat and Why You Need One

n this article, we are taking a look at some of the most popular and coveted surfing hats on the market today and going through all the reasons why you might need, want, and benefit from one.

Pfff, who needs a surf hat? You might be one of those riders who think that surf hats are as uncool as rollerblade knee pads, but in reality, a surf hat is a great accessory to have. Why? Well, it doesn’t only protect your head from the rays of the sun, but it also comes in handy when you need to see and navigate your terrain and keep the sunlight from getting in your eyes.

It might be an afterthought, but if you haven't tried to surf with a surfing hat so far, you’re in for a treat. We bet that the quality of your surfing session will drastically improve just by incorporating one into your daily schedule. 

Have you ever thought that surfing hats work both ways? Not only does it prevent you from getting a heat stroke, but when the weather is cold and the conditions aren’t ideal, it also keeps you warm Moreover, it prevents water from entering your ears and causing you a “surfer's ear.” 

So, should you go all out and get the most advanced and in-demand hat out there? Well, that all depends on how much you will be using it, whether you truly need it, and the quality of the hat itself. 

Look, you can just get any regular cap and call it a day. Yes, it will provide you with some kind of protection, but here we want to take a look at some more palpable options, some that might really pack a punch in the real world. 

What Makes a Good Surf Hat?

How can you tell if a surf hat is actually good or if you’re overpaying for it? While there’s the factor of taste and preference, there are a couple of additional factors that most surfers will agree on. The first thing that any hat should be capable of providing you with is sun and cold protection. Without this, there is really no point in having one. 

The second thing that you should be concerned with is the durability of the hat. You can get the best performing hat on the market, but if it falls apart in two weeks, it’s really not that good of a purchase. Once these two parameters are taken care of, you can start looking into things such as how it’s made and the price point. You want that sweet spot where you experience the least diminishing returns. 

Make sure that your hat of choice is a snug fit and goes well with your ear plugs. While earplugs are excellent and are able to keep most of the water out of your ears, it really takes the plugs and the hat to work together in order to deliver the best results. There is no sure way to know whether a hat will be a good fit when it comes to keeping your ear canals dry, so you should definitely try at least a few before deciding on one.

Over the years, there have been rumors that surfing actually causes baldness. While this isn’t inherently true, there is some merit to its origins. Surfers are constantly exposed to salt water. This, by extension, exposes their hair to all kinds of bacteria and debris. So, even though the act of surfing isn’t contributing to baldness directly, exposing your hair to different kinds of bacteria for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis can lead to baldness. Another excellent reason to have a hat with you at all times. 

Our Favorite Stay-Put Surf Hats

One more important thing we should mention is that your hat has to stay put. If it can’t, it just keeps flying off your head on every dive, and you’ll end up spending more time in hat chasing than actual surfing. Let’s take a look at some of the best stay-put hats on the market today, in no particular order. 

Dakine Indo Surf Hat

dakine surf hat

If you are on a tight budget or just simply looking for just one cap that can do it all, then the Indo Surf Hat by Dakine is definitely a safe option. The hat features a signature chin strap that is compartmentalized inside the hat itself. Riders are able to make use of the detachable neck protector flap. 

The hat itself is a snug fit, so if you aren't used to it being a little tight and you want your head to feel absolutely free, then we suggest that you go with one number up from what you are usually wearing; if you are an M, order an L, etc.  

Patagonia Surf Brim

patagonia surf hat

The Patagonia Surf Brim shares a lot of traits with the Indo Surf Hat, but the Patagonia Brim is much more compact and easier on the head. You will get the same sun-to-eye protection. 

Surfers can even get the brim in a very fresh green color so that they can really stand out from the crowd when they are on the water. 

Additionally, Patagonia is an environmentally aware company, and it produces its product using recycled materials. So, you’ve got quality, functionality, and care all in one package. Oh, did we mention that it looks absolutely stellar? 

Dakine W20 Surf Cap

Dakine surf hat

The W20 is one of the most popular and sought-after purchases on the surf market for a reason. The main thing is that it can handle whatever you throw at it, and it won’t burn a hole in your pocket. 

Surfers are able to make the most of their sessions because the materials that comprise the hat are quick-dry fabrics, and the hat itself is UPF 50+ certified. 

For those that want all of the protection that they can get, the hat does come in tow with a chin strap that can be adjusted to preference. 

The mesh design makes sure that your head will be able to breathe and get all the ventilation that it requires, while at the same time, it will provide you with ample protection during long paddling sessions.   

If you need a thick hat that will provide you with a lot of protection from the sun and keep your head heat in check, you will probably be better off by going with a different option. But if you are in the market for a lightweight, durable and sleek design, this one might be the one that you are looking for. 

Kaiola Surf Hat

Although the surfing hat by Kaiola might be a bit on the pricey side, in our opinion, the higher price point is well justified. 

Why? Well, for starters, it's made for the people by the people. Kaiola products are made by surfers and wave riders themselves, so you know that what you’re getting has been produced by people that know what they are doing and have experience. It’s the hat to end all hat debates if you are willing to make peace with the steep price. 

When it comes to performance and design, the Kaiola Surf Hat is an absolute dream. Surfers will find that the hat features a slim and compact chin strap made out of quality materials, a premium visor that can be folded and adjusted so that you get it right the way you want it, absolutely divine inside padding, and an extra headband inside so that nothing sticks on you during sweaty surf sessions in the sun. 

Get a hold of this: it is certified at UPF 80 protection. Moreover, the hat will float if it falls on water, it will dry in an instant, and it comes in a plethora of different colors. 

Riders who would like to keep wearing the hat as a regular accessory are able to do so because the chin strap can be tucked in and made completely invisible. 

Just so we are in the clear, this is a premium product, so it will stay on your head even if you don’t employ the chin strap. Most riders just rock it as-is and have had no problems with it whatsoever. 

Billabong Surf Bucket Hat

Billabong  surf hat

One of the best hats that the surf market has to offer is undoubtedly the Billabong Surf Bucket Hat. The hat leans on the affordable side of the fence, but don’t let that fool you and lead you into thinking that this is not a capable product. 

The outline of the brim is a bit floppier than what you might be used to, but that doesn’t stop it from staying on your head and giving you great protection during long surfing sessions. 

If you are looking to get a surf hat but don’t have a lot of dough to spare, this one should definitely be atop your list. 

Melin A-Game Hydro

Melin  surf hat

The Melin A-Game Hydro is one of the most amazing surf hats ever made. Period. The hat is a bit pricey, but you won’t regret this purchase. It’s made out of premium materials, has a very sleek design, has a waterproof construction, and floats like a duck. 

The lightweight polyester and spacious ear panels make it very suitable for warm weather sessions where you want to be protected but want maximum breathability as well. 

The Melin A-Game comes with a built-in pocket as well if you don’t have a place to store your keys while you’re surfing… Just kidding. 

The design is the only thing that might put some people off. The crown of the hat is a lot taller than what you are used to seeing, and at first, it might come off as a bit strange and unusual. If that’s not a thing for you, and if you can get over it, then, by all means, the Hydro is the way to go.

Everyday California Waterproof Snapback

brixton surf hat

Going from one extreme to another, the Everyday Snapback is a cap for riders that don’t really want to break the bank and aren’t after anything outstanding. The cap does the job. 

It will provide you with all the sun protection you can handle, it’s waterproof, it will float when thrown into a wave, and it’s fully adjustable. 

The catch is that there is no chin strap to it. Now, for some, this might be a deal-breaker, but a lot of surfers we know simply do not want to hear the word chin strap. 

So, if you aren’t used to having one, you can save a couple of bucks and still get a solid all-around budget performer. 

O’Neill Lancaster Hat

oniell suirf hat

Coming in at an even more affordable price point, the O’Neill’s Lancaster Hat is a timeless design that you should have in your arsenal just because. 

This is the image that pops in your head when you think of bucket hats. It comes in a variety of colors and offers a solid UPF 50 protection. 

The cap is made in the USA and features a complete polyester design. This makes it very lightweight, even with the inside sweatband. 

Looking at this price point, you can’t expect it to be glued to your head at all times—it will flop around from time to time. If that’s not something that’s a dealbreaker, this is a very solid choice at a very affordable price. 

It also comes with an inside pocket that can be used to stash anything that might be of immediate use to you when you are out on the ocean. 

Connor Aussie Organic Surf Hat

connor surf hat

The Connor Surf Hat is a true classic. It is situated at the mid-point pricing range, so it does pack a punch above its weight. 

Surfers are able to roll up the cap with ease and take it anywhere they wish without damaging it. Since the hat is made entirely from cotton, it guarantees solid sun protection of UPF 50+ and comes with a wider brim. 

This might be a dealbreaker for some because this does mean that it is a bit more prone to flying off your head, but at the same time, if you aren’t doing any big wave surfing, the featured chin cord should serve you just fine and should be enough to prevent the cap from falling off. 

We should also mention that the company is very eco-friendly. The connectors are biodegradable, and the paper tags are all made out of recycled materials. 

Patagonia R3 Yulex Cap

Patagonia surf hat

It might not be the best-looking and en vogue cap out there, but there is no denying that the Yulex cap is one of the best purchases that you can make. The simple and sturdy design makes it a great all-arounder. 

The name of the game on all Patagonia products is quality and durability, and the Yulex is no exception. You can expect this cap to last you a long, long time, even after years of long abuse. 

You should also know that this model is a snug fit. If you are looking for more freedom, go with a larger number. The cap will provide ample warmth in colder conditions, but be advised that it might reflect on the communication side of things as it will cover your ears. 

However, If you’re not much of a talker, it might come as a blessing in disguise. 

In Closing…

A good surf hat is not that hard to find nowadays. Whether you want to go for a bucket hat, brim hat, a brimmed bucket hat, the classic Patagonia surf brim hat, or a Peak surf hat with an adjustable chin strap, they all have the same function - keeping the blazing hot sun at bay. 

The bottom line is that both a trucker hat, a technical surf hat, and high-quality surf hats are all the better than having no hat at all. In most cases, the choice of the best surf hat comes down to your surf style and preference.

Written by
Nico Palacios
surf coaching