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By Diane Spicer
Hiking hats, so much to say about them!
So many to choose from!
Here are all the features a perfect hiking hat should have:
There are so many ways to protect your head on a hike with hats.
And so many things to protect your head from.
Think of hiking hats as vital pieces of hiking gear, because they are.
But how likely is it that you'll find the perfect hat for your particular hiking style?
I'd say 100% success if you follow these Hiking For Her tips.
Let's take it one season at a time, starting with the months when your ears are coldest!
If you hike when the weather is less than ideal, you'll need to keep your head and ears covered.
Too much heat is lost in these areas for you to be comfort, let alone safe, wearing just a ball cap.
I have a full repertoire of winter hiking hats, and because folks are curious about what works for me on the trail, here's what's in my collection (and my pack):
I also use a "neck gaiter" along with my beanie, similar to this one.
It can be used on your head or neck in many different ways, giving you versatility as well as warmth.
And of course, there are always ear muffs and headbands!
I've got quite a collection, and you will, too, once you see how functional and lightweight they are.
As temperatures turn a bit more moderate, you won't need full head coverage.
But you should expect precipitation.
You want a lightweight hat that will channel the water away from your neck and face.
And you want a way to anchor the hat when wind gusts kick up.
So bring along a hat like one of these:
Rivulets of sweat.
Your hiking hats have to stand up to that, and provide shelter for your eyes so you can see the trail without having to squint.
There should be side vents, to release all the heat you're generating.
And some shade for your neck, too, please!
Here are the hats that I wear on summer trails, and recommend them for you, too. Pick your favorite style, or pick a few to switch things up.
Gotta keep things interesting, right?
Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat
Another solid choice for the best hiking hats:
I'm a hat abuser.
Here's how I treated the most perfect hiking hat I ever had:
*I wore it through mud, rain, hail, snow, blindingly hot sunshine, buggy terrain - year after year.
*I dropped it into mud holes.
*I snagged it on brush and brambles.
*I used it as an impromptu berry bucket when I ran into a rich patch of blueberries.
*I swatted -and squished- flies with it.
*And I poured my sweat into it, hike after hike after hike.And what did this splendid hat do in return?
It patiently protected my head!
And my eyes from the harsh glare of sunshine.
And my ponytail, when I tucked it up under the hat.
There's one more little abuse I heaped upon this hiking hat:
I ran it through the washing machine when it was too dirty to be seen on a hiking trail.
Recently, my hat came out of the washing machine shouting "NO MORE".
And I realized a sad truth:
I should have been soaking it clean in a lukewarm basin or bucket of soapy water, then rinsing with cool water and hanging it up to drip dry.
Or, as one reader recently suggested, taking it into the shower with me and using mild shampoo to cleanse it.
Ready for the moral of the story? Here it comes...
Hats have a lot to do with the enjoyment of your hike, way beyond the utilitarian functions we've mentioned..
So be selective about bonding with a hiking hat.
And then take really good care of it. See my personal story above :)
One more thing which ties into the sun hat I wear:
You should pay attention to the amount of UV radiation falling on your face and ears and neck, both front and back.
Protection from the sun isn't just something an older hiker needs to worry about, either.
Hats silently reveal your trail personality.
That's why I love spotting unusual headwear on the trail.
I believe that you can tell a lot about a hiker by what's on her head, in terms of color and patterns, brands and slogans.
Make a little game of it next time you're out on a hike!
See how many different logos, or national park patches, or unusual colors and styles you spot during a day hike.
Get your trail buddies to join in, and at the end of the day, compare notes on what you noticed. I guarantee that your list will be different from theirs, even though you hiked the same trail.
Hats off to you for being so thoughtful about your hat choices.
Wear your choice of hiking hats with verve.
And celebrate all of the ways you're being a smart hiker:
These are the most common questions Hiking For Her gets about finding the best hiking hats. Click on a question to get started.
Don't give up.
Best Hiking Hats
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