Paddling hat recommendations

I am in the market to replace current and “well experienced” paddling hat. The attributes I seek are broad brim for good sun coverage, not hot to wear, stays put in wind, brim does not flop over my eyes when wet/windy and machine washable. I tried on 2 Tilley models yesterday, LT5B lightweight nylon and LTM5 Airflow. The first one does not have what I think is a goofy looking, but likely functional, vented top like the second. However each brim seems floppy. Local store does not have the TWS1 Paddlers Hat which lacks a chin strap bit does promise a stiff brim.

What says the collective wisdom about any manufacture’s head gear to keep the UV off and stay on my head? I am almost 60, so function exceeds form.

I am on my second Tilley, provided under warranty when the first started dying from UV exposure.
Both are the LTM5 model. Good protection in sun, wind, and rain. The brims seem floppy until they are on my head.
You are aware of the number of pissing contests on here over Tilley’s?

I’m on my third Tilley replaced after the other two had bad experiences in the washing machine. Wife has the red Paddlers hat. Works good. Floats when it blows off the deck on those rare times when not on head. Stayed on head during the 30 mph gust that hit us on the last Matanzas paddle. Keeps the water off my glasses when raining. Keeps the sun off my ears.

Hats , like paddles, are very personal choices.

If you are Ok looking like you are on the British expeditionary forces in Africa, one of Outdoor Research Sun Runner hats ( would be good. This is what I wear the most.

If rain is more of an issue than sun, the OR Seattle Sombrero ( would be good.

The best no-flop, large brim sun hat that I have found is the Shelta. The brim is very stable, won’t budge in the wind. I like the Seahawk model, but they have a few models: . Some people don’t like the “boonie” look, works for me.

My second favorite is the REI paddler’s hat. Looks good, brim is pretty stable but it can’t handle the wind that the Shelta can:

I’m in Florida, so the hats need to not only be wind-stable, but not trap too much heat either. That’s the reason I usually don’t like sun-runners and other “neck cape hats”. My head bakes in them. I prefer a brim that allows you to feel a breeze,


I carry two hats when I paddle in Sarasota, Florida. Most of the year I wear my OR Sombriolet. It’s the lightest, coolest (temperature wise), biggest brim hat I own (and I own two Tilley hats). I use the REI Paddlers hat or a Tilley when the wind kicks up. I personally find the Tilley’s too thick and hot to be my primary paddling hat in Florida.
I will admit that the Sombriolet is not a good hat in the wind or rain as the brim is not as rigid as a Tilley. But the REI Paddlers Hat works fine in both of those conditions. As stated earlier, it’s a personal choice (as is boats to paddles to just about everything kayaking).

I use the REI bucket hat. I like it because I don’t like big wide brims (I don’t like to see the brim when I’m wearing it), and I do like the look of it on my head (which I can’t say for most hats). It is reasonably priced at $30 and although not billed as a floater, it has in my experience floated well enough for me to retrieve it the few times it has come off (I don’t like strings or ropes dangling around and cut the chin strap off my hats - I have gotten them entangled in my strobe on my rear lashtab before). The only time it has come off though is during a roll and even then, it usually stays on. It retains its shape after being stuffed into my gear bag.

I’m gonna have to check out those Shelta hats though.

I have been on a quest for a full brim hat for a while and picked up the Sunday Afternoons Compass hat a couple months ago. Its one of my favorite hats so far.

Large brim, light top color, dark under brim, chin strap, elastic cinch, floats, has convertible vents for hot days. Not waterproof, but water seems to roll off it pretty well, not soak in right away.

I wore it for 4 hours in mid-day california sun a couple weeks ago with no sunblock on my face or neck and did not get burned at all. A+ in my book.

Am liking the Shelta options due to internal brim stiffener and configurable chin strap. The Firebird V2 is most similar to my existing Boonie style’s brim which is slightly more wide than any Shelta models. Nearest dealers are in Charleston, a good 60 mile drive from lovely Beaufort. Will likely save the fuel and drive time with on-line order V2 and Sea Hawk and return less suitable one.

Hi, Andy,
I’ve been using a Dorfman Pacific hat (Safari model) for more than 30 years. It’s still going but looking rather beat up these days. I purchased another Safari hat several years ago to replace it. The hat has a nice wide full brim that is stiff enough to hold up pretty well on windy days but a gust will collapse the sides temporarily. A chin strap keeps it on my head in the wind. The sides are made of mesh so it’s not a rain hat. (I use a baseball cap under my rain jacket hood for those days.) The mesh lets it breath well during hot weather but it’s probably not a good hat if you don’t have all your hair. The brim soaks up sweat and ends up getting stained even if you wash it. It looks a bit urban at first but takes on a lot of character over time, =)

For high traffic areas I wear one of these:

I have an REI hat similar to the one in the link. But the cape folds into the back of the brim, and has a pocket in the top that I keep a seperate head net and buff stored when they aren’t being used. since i almost always leave the cape down the one in the link might be able to store those two Items in the top also. Paddled in high winds and rain It has done passably well though the brim could be stiffer.

Andy, the Shelta hats are available on Amazon. Customer service has been excellent. I had one hat that developed an issue (the steel mesh over the vent holes rusted) and they replaced the hat with no questions asked. The replacement is doing fine, one year later.

I have tried both the looser fitting “boonie” crown and the form-fitting five panel (baseball cap style) crown. I prefer the “boonie” crown as it seems a little cooler but it’s a subtle difference. That said the Firebird style wasn’t available when I bought mine. I do like the option of a larger brim on the Firebird, but haven’t had any issues with the brim coverage on the Seahawk.

My wife loves her Tilley. She found it at a yard sale for “1 or 2 dollars”. Brand new; never worn.
I wouldn’t wear one if somebody gave me a new one.
If I want a hat to wear when it’s raining; I wear an REI rain hat.
If I want full coverage to save my face from UV wear & tear; I wear a straw hat, which I think cost me 25 or 30 bucks, and I look so damn good in it! :slight_smile:
Cloudy to partly sunny, no rain…ball cap.
Cold days it’s one of a variety of wool or fleece, stocking hats.


PS. I never pass up an opportunity to attempt to aggravate Tilley lovers. But if it works for you; go for it!

“I love the way you wear that hat”!
“You don’t know nothing”!
James Dickey’s Deliverance dialogue.

I have a Seattle Sombrero for old rain.

I found a Watership on sale at West Marine years ago.
It is my go-to paddling hat.
I save my Tilley for date night…

OR fantastic hat at an unbelievable price. Super light weight.

@string said:
I have a Seattle Sombrero for old rain.

Cold rain

Recommendation: wear one regardless of brand with a full brim.
Or have bad things burned or cut off your head every 6 months so they don’t become really bad things.

@string said:
Recommendation: wear one regardless of brand with a full brim.
Or have bad things burned or cut off your head every 6 months so they don’t become really bad things.

I always hated hats… now they are cutting on me… now I wear hats…