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The Best Fishing Hats of 2024

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The right fishing hat is a critical piece of gear for a successful day out on the water. While a ball cap might have sufficed in the past, your fishing experience will be better with the sun, wind, and rain protection only a quality fishing hat can provide. That doesn’t mean you have to ditch the familiar ball cap, as several good fishing hats we’ve handled are modeled after the classic ball cap. But, if you want to compare all the best options, read on.

Our experts have been landing fish for decades, testing a wide range of angling products from the best fishing glasses to the best hunting knives. Our lead tester, Ben Hickok, has over 2 decades of outdoor experience, including rock climbing, backpacking, and his great passion for fishing.

He lives on a few acres in Central Wyoming with his wife and daughter, enjoying unfettered access to Wyoming’s hunting and fishing opportunities. His combined experience and informed opinions let us narrow product selections to great products, separating mediocre products, gimmicks, and casualwear.

Finding a comfortable and useful fishing hat can be difficult, especially when shopping online and without the ability to try any on. Still, when you find the right one, you’ll wonder why you’ve waited so long to get one. We analyzed brim sizes, materials, fabric treatments, design pros and cons, special features, comfort, and fit to help you narrow your search and graduate from casual to performance wear.

Below are the top fishing hats based on our testing and evaluations. We have highlighted hats that fit different anglers and needs. We’ve also included a thorough buyer’s guide, a comparison chart, and an FAQ section for those who are trying to understand the what and why of fishing hats.

The Best Fishing Hats of 2024

Best Overall Fishing Hat

  • Style
    Boonie
  • Brim Size
    Medium
  • Weight
    3.8 oz.
  • Materials
    100% Recycled Polyester body; Polyester mesh
  • UPF Rating
    UPF 50+
  • Floats
    Yes
  • Adjustable Headband
    Yes
  • Adjustable Chin Strap
    Yes (Removable)
  • DWR Treated
    Yes
  • Extras
    Rigid Bill

  • Great ventilation

  • Comfortable

  • Rigid bill

  • Removable chin strap


  • A bit pricey

  • Heavier than other Boonie hats

Best Budget Fishing Hat

  • Style
    Boonie
  • Brim size
    Medium
  • Weight
    2.6 oz.
  • Materials
    Nylon
  • UPF rating
    UPF 50
  • Floats
    Yes
  • Adjustable headband
    Yes
  • Adjustable chin strap
    Yes
  • DWR treated
    Yes
  • Extras
    None

  • Inexpensive

  • Great ventilation

  • Lightweight

  • Comfortable

Best Fishing Hat for Max Sun Protection

  • Style
    Straw Hat
  • Brim Size
    Large
  • Weight
    4.6 oz.
  • Materials
    Natural Straw, Cotton underbrim
  • UPF Rating
    None
  • Floats
    Sort of
  • Adjustable Headband
    Elastic
  • Adjustable Chin Strap
    Yes
  • DWR Treated
    No
  • Extras
    Dark Underbrim

  • Lots of sun protection

  • Comfortable

Best Minimalist Fishing Hat

  • Style
    Cap
  • Brim Size
    Large (bill)
  • Weight
    3.68 oz.
  • Materials
    Nylon and Polyester
  • UPF Rating
    UPF 50
  • Floats
    No
  • Adjustable Headband
    Yes
  • Adjustable Chin Strap
    None
  • DWR Treated
    Yes Teflon
  • Extras
    Extra long bill

  • Super light

  • Extremely comfortable


  • No ear or neck protection

  • Looks a bit goofy

Best of the Rest

  • Style
    Boonie
  • Brim Size
    Medium
  • Weight
    4.8 oz.
  • Materials
    99% Recycled Nylon, 99% Recycled Polyester
  • UPF Rating
    UPF 50
  • Floats
    Yes
  • Adjustable Headband
    Yes
  • Adjustable Chin Strap
    Yes
  • DWR Treated
    Yes
  • Extras
    Uses recycled materials and fair trade certified

  • Flexible brim

  • Eco-conscious

  • Fair trade


  • Small ventilation holes

  • Thicker sweatband

  • Bowl-shaped crown

  • Expensive

  • Style
    Boonie
  • Brim Size
    Medium
  • Weight
    3.2 oz.
  • Materials
    Polyester
  • UPF Rating
    UPF 50
  • Floats
    Yes
  • Adjustable Headband
    Yes
  • Adjustable Chin Strap
    Yes
  • DWR Treated
    Unknown
  • Extras
    None

  • Large neck coverage

  • Cinching chin strap

  • Lightweight

  • Comfortable for long periods


  • Small ventilation hole

  • Crown-shaped like a bonnet

  • Floppy brim

Fishing Hats Comparison Chart

How We Tested Fishing Hats

Our team of outdoor anglers have decades upon decades of collective fishing experience, from baitcasting and spinning, to fly fishing, Tenkara, and even trapping bait and mudbugs. That experience culminates in a lot of different preferences and opinions, but one thing is always clear, staying safe and comfortable with a fishing hat is a must.

A fishing hat can help prevent dangerous health issues, add comfort, and potentially give anglers a small edge with glare reduction. Thus, we focused heavily on the importance of protection from the sun’s UV rays while testing fishing hats.

Author Ben Hickok has put in the time, energy, and mileage, to have a voice when it comes to fishing. He mostly enjoys freshwater fishing in almost every imaginable location and loves to seek out some of the most remote fishing locations to hook beautiful fish.

Pursuits of fish often mean full days in the sun at higher elevations and little shade, floating along in a kayak while getting beat down by the elements from multiple angles, walking high desert creeks looking for a good hole, or fishing through freak mountain storms. Regardless of the pursuit, a fishing hat can be either an indispensable piece of gear or an aggravation you want to stuff into your pack.

Fishing hats have come a long way from the quintessential waterproof, rubbery bucket hat, to incorporate more practical designs and higher performance materials. When you wear a modern fishing hat, you should expect protection from the sun, adequate shedding of rain, and a high level of comfort.

We held hats to those demanding standards when we brought them along on our fishing adventures at different locations in the foothills of Wyoming’s Wind River range this spring. Wyoming’s weather, well-known for a snowstorm one minute and classic blue skies minutes later, provided us with a great environment in which to speedily put hats to the test.

We tested six different fishing hats, from casual to purpose drive, and tried them all on hot, overcast, windy, and even rainy days across various fishing environments. We wore them with backpacks, frame packs, and waders. To further evaluate comfort, we even left them on for the drives to and from fishing spots and to run errands and go to social events.

Some hats we forgot about, some got in the way, and others earned some funny looks, but we put in the time in and out of the field to bring you the most unbiased evaluations of some of today’s best fishing hats. If you’re looking for some other fishing gear to keep you out there longer, check out our guide to Best Fishing Waders.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Fishing Hats

When comparing fishing hats, we recommend considering protection from the elements, materials, water resistance, color, design, comfort, and fit.

Protection From the Elements

The first major consideration for a fishing hat is sun protection. The sun’s rays can be harmful. Extended exposure to sunlight can lead to painful sunburns, sunstroke, premature aging, and even skin cancer. A wider brim provides more coverage and better protection from the sun, wind, and rain.

It also helps shield your eyes from glare. In particular, matte, dark, or neutral colors of underbrim materials will knock down glare, improving visibility when spotting fish. However, overly large brims can obstruct your peripheral vision and become cumbersome in windy conditions.

Aim for a brim width that balances the level of protection that makes sense for your fishing style and environment. A medium-sized brim, like found on the Shelta Seahawk Performance Sun Hat or the Simms Superlight Flats Cap, provides different levels of sun protection than a large straw hat. But, smaller brims are more practical for adventures through thick brush and can more comfortably be worn with a pack. For added sun protection, grab some fishing sunglasses.

Materials

Fishing hats have come a long way from yesteryear’s cotton, wool, and tweed hats when there were no synthetic fabrics. Today’s materials and any treatments applied to those materials can significantly impact performance and durability.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider hats made from UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) fabric, which offers superior sun protection compared to standard materials, which we’ll touch on in a minute.

Types of Materials

For most types of fishing, the ideal hat is constructed from lightweight and breathable fabrics like nylon and polyester. A hat design should include poly mesh sections for greater ventilation, sweat dissipation, and cooling, or at a bare minimum include grommets in addition to breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics. Avoid any hat made from a heavy nonbreathable material that will trap heat and sweat.

Straw fishing hats like the Grundens Waterman Straw Hat are popular for good reasons. They provide ample protection from the sun and the weave of natural straw materials provides good ventilation. However, while a straw hat will float when it falls in the water, the straw materials are not meant to hold up to any extended contact with water.

When a straw hat falls into water or gets saturated by rain, it will protect you for a little bit before becoming saturated and floppy. If you get your straw hat wet with anything but rainwater, it is smart to give it a quick rinse with clean, fresh water. Then, place it somewhere, like on a table with the brim flush to the table, where it can dry without losing its shape.

Water Repellants

We have all been or will be in a spring or summer rain shower, hail storm, or snow flurry at some point during our fishing adventures. At those moments you have or will appreciate a hat that helps to keep the moisture off your head, from sticking to and fogging your glasses, and out of your face.

Those situations are why you should buy a fishing hat with a durable water-repellent coating like the Shelta Seahawk Performance Sun Hat and the Patagonia Quandary Brimmer. Even nylon and polyester materials can become saturated and fail to shed water over time.

Flotation

In addition to water-resistant materials and water-repellant treatments, some fishing hats incorporate materials into the brim that cause the hat to float. For example, the Orvis Solid Performance Sun Hat floats. This feature prevented us from losing this hat when we accidentally dropped it in the water while wading. This can also happen while fishing from a kayak, paddleboard, boat, or any situation where you are surrounded by water.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)

UPF is a measurement of how much of the sun’s UVA and UVB energy a fabric allows to reach your skin. This is not to be confused with SPF ratings of sunscreen, which are very different. The majority of UPF sun shirt and sun hat ratings you’ll see must have a minimum of UPF 30, but many that we see are UPF 50, which blocks 98% of light, allowing 1/50th of ultraviolet light to penetrate.

The sun’s UV rays can be incredibly harmful. Melasma, a skin condition that causes patches and spotting, is the result of UV exposure or hormonal issues. It may make you feel insecure and while it isn’t physically dangerous, melanoma is deadly. Look for UPF ratings on sun hats, and help prevent potential health issues while you enjoy fishing.

Color

Fish can see color, which is part of why attractor flies like a psycho prince nymph or a red copper john might entice a fish when other imitative flies have lost their luster. While you want a fish to see your fly, you don’t want to startle them with the sudden casting movement of any brightly colored apparel.

It may not be a universal opinion, but fishing hats in neutral or light colors like beige, khaki, or light gray go beyond reflecting sunlight and keeping you cool. They can also keep you from standing out against a bright sky or vegetation behind you.

Some anglers disregard the color advice for the sake of style or just aren’t as concerned that it is an issue. If that is the case for you, and you like an eclectic but vintage look, you’ll want to take a look at the Patagonia Quandary Brimmer in the OG Vessel Blue color. Of course, if you like the hat but don’t want the flashy color pattern, it’s available in more neutral colors.

Design

Common fishing hat designs include the iconic straw hat, boonie or bucket hats, and caps, and some hats are better suited for a backcountry fishing trip or float trip than they are for pier or jetty fishing. Most straw hats are exceptionally similar in design, but a liner decorated in fun motifs can add a little bit of personal flair.

Boonie or bucket-style hats are also all very similar, but taking a closer look at different hats will highlight differences in design choices from one brand to another. The shape of the crown on boonie and bucket hats ranges from a more structured hat with a lower profile flat top, versus the dome shapes of others. This makes some models like the Orvis Solid Performance Hat look more like a bonnet with a brim than something designed for a backcountry angling adventure, like the Columbia Bora Bora II Booney.

Brim Size

Brim size and design should also be considered when wearing a hat with a pack or fishing from a kayak where an oversized brim can brush your float vest or just obstruct paddling and casting. The Shelta Seahawk Performance Sun Hat is a perfect example of a good balance of the size of brim and crown design that makes sense for anglers fishing from any sort of small watercraft, as it provides great protection, and stays out of the way for some of the more rigorous types of fishing.

Ventilation

Proper ventilation is essential for staying cool and comfortable while fishing. Straw hats like the Grundens Waterman Straw Hat will provide natural ventilation through the woven design.

However, a boonie hat like the Shelta SeaHawk or Columbia Bora Bora promotes airflow and prevents overheating with mesh panels or large ventilation holes strategically placed around the crown. Materials in the headband should also allow for sweat to wick away sweat and moisture.

Comfort and Fit

A proper fit is crucial for ensuring comfort while fishing. Look for hats with adjustable features such as cinching headbands, chin straps, elastic, and either hook and loop or adjustable snaps.

While the Simms Superlight Flats Cap won’t protect the back of your neck or ears from the sun, the ultralight hat is easily sized to your head with a hook and loop closure, and once it is on your head, you’ll forget it is there. Avoid too tight or loose hats, as they can cause discomfort. And, like most things that are uncomfortable, you’ll eventually pull it off or stop using it altogether.

Additional Features

Some fishing hats offer anglers conveniences that enhance comfort, functionality, and versatility. Some more notable features are an integrated crown pocket for folding up and storing a hat and removable chin straps. Some brands also include loops around the crown or brim to attach tackle, sunglasses, flies, or other small items.

Flies attached to a hat are iconic and even romanticized by classic films like “A River Runs Through It.” However, it is arguable whether it is practical to store anything on your hat or not. We have no interest in starting a debate over hat storage. But, we will note that the Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Bucket Hat incorporates loops into the crown design. Consider that model if that’s a feature you believe you want, or even need.

FAQ

The best fishing hat is the one that suits your sun protection, comfort, and fishing needs. No one hat handles all angling situations perfectly. Rather fishermen should have a couple of hats to match angling styles, the day’s specific conditions, and personal preferences. 

Anglers may have a variety of hats to choose from, that suit different weather conditions and personal preferences. Common choices include wide-brimmed straw hats for maximum sun protection, boonie or bucket hats for a greater balance of performance and versatility, and caps that range from serious but minimalist to casual. The specific hat worn often depends on factors such as the time of day, weather forecast, and fishing location.

Small nuances in design and utility distinguish a bucket hat from a fisherman’s hat. A bucket hat can be a simple fashion item that helps provide shade from the sun. A fishing hat protects from the sun and rain through the use of UPF-rated synthetic materials that are naturally water-resistant. They may also be treated with a durable water-repellent coating.

Fishing hats also have a broader brim, a glare-reducing underbrim, and a chin strap for added security in windy conditions. Many have cinching or elastic headbands for better fit and comfort. Breathable and moisture-wicking materials are also a normal part of the construction of a fishing hat. The typical cotton bucket hat will do little by comparison to help keep you cool or dry.

A fishing hat, for the most part, is not a fashion statement but a practical piece of equipment that protects from the elements, including the sun’s UV rays. Anglers rely on them to shield their eyes from blinding glare and to stay cool under the scorching sun. They are an indispensable piece of kit and some offer additional features that provide even more functionality.

Waders allow you to stay comfortable while fishing, extending the fishing season to year-round possibilities. We tested the leading fishing waders to find the best of 2024.

Sunglasses can make or break your success on the water. Without the right pair of glasses, you may not be able to get the job done.



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