Direct sunlight exposure puts you at serious risk of UV damage, we look at the best sun protection hats and materials for staying safe on the course.
A day on the golf course leaves you exposed to a lot of direct sunlight and in turn, harmful UV rays. Tightly-woven clothes, made from light synthetic fabrics like polyester or heavy natural fibers like cotton, are recommended by the World Health Organization to protect yourself from the damaging effects of direct sunlight.
The best golf hat for sun protection is one that offers excellent coverage, a fit that you’re comfortable with, and is durable. Throwing in a dash of good styling is always a benefit, but sun protection comes first.
Join us as we take a look at what makes a great sun protection hat, which style is best for blocking the sun, and what options are available.
- 1 Best Golf Hats For Sun Protection
- 2 NIKE Golf Sun Protect Bucket Hat
- 3 Nike Mens Golf Legacy91 Tech Sun Protection Hat
- 4 Kangol Men’s Striped Lahinch Bucket Sun Hat
- 5 Under Armour Men’s ArmourVent Sun Cap
- 6 Frogg Toggs Waterproof Breathable Bucket Sun Hat
- 7 Guide To Sun Protection Golf Hats
- 7.1 Sun Protection Materials Used In Golf Hats
- 7.2 Golf Hat Styles And Sun Protection Factor Ratings
- 7.3 Sweat Management In Direct Sunlight
- 8 Conclusion
Best Golf Hats For Sun Protection
Finding a golf hat that offers adequate coverage and protection from the sun is a matter of personal taste with a little science thrown in for consideration.
The Australian government’s radiation protection and nuclear safety agency (or “ARPANSA”) has a useful guide on how to approach sun protection using hats. Since golfers typically stick to bucket hats or baseball caps, we’ve taken their Sun Protection Factor ratings for those styles and placed them in the table below.
The table makes it clear that bucket golf hats are far better at blocking out the sun and offering protection on the course. Many golfers, however, find bucket caps to be a bit distracting or uncomfortable, and as such, opt for a cap regardless of the inferior sun protection. For this reason, we’ve included a mix of both styles here. Below are the best golf hats for sun protection that offer some of the best protection around regardless of your favored style.
NIKE Golf Sun Protect Bucket Hat
Nike’s golf “Sun Protect” bucket hat is as high-quality as UV protection golf hats get. As we’ve already touched on, bucket styles offer far greater coverage than golf caps, so this is truly at the pinnacle of fashionable UV protective headwear.
Made from an 88% polyester and a 12% spandex blend, you’re getting a comfortable stretch fit that is manufactured with lightweight synthetic fabrics, perfect for absorbing harmful UVA and UVB radiation.
In our humble opinion, this is the best golf hat for sun protection, especially given the minimalistic styling and notoriously high-quality brand.
Nike Mens Golf Legacy91 Tech Sun Protection Hat
If, like many golfers, bucket hats just don’t sit right with you on the course; then you need look no further. Nike’s Legacy91 Tech Golf Hat is the perfect option for those who prefer a golf gap to a bucket hat but still want that excellent sun protection.
It’s fitted with the same patented Dri-FIT fabric that wicks sweat away from the skin and helps your body release heat. The adjustable strap coupled with a stretchy feel to the 100% polyester material means you’ll almost definitely find a snug and comfortable fit with this cap.
Kangol Men’s Striped Lahinch Bucket Sun Hat
The Kangol Striped Lahinch bucket sun hat is a fashion statement as much as it a functional sun hat; it excels at achieving both. Made from 100% cotton, this breathable, trendy piece of headwear still holds its weight among the more hi-tech sun hats available to golfers.
It fits true-to-size and has a loose but comfortably secure feeling that is perfect for hot days on the course. A medium sized brim gives you adequate coverage without obstructing your view. The manufacturer describes it as “the quintessential bucket hat”, and we’re hard-pressed to disagree with them.
Under Armour Men’s ArmourVent Sun Cap
Under Armour’s “ArmourVent” technology seems to match the quality of other prominent brands in promoting breathability and quick drying. In this cap, you’re getting a 100% polyester, stretchy and durable sun protection hat that is incredibly stylish.
The curved brim does well to keep out glare, and the hat itself feels more structured with a slightly higher crown than other hats we’ve tried. A built-in sweatband (which Under Armour brand as “HeatGear”) works equally as well as the sweatbands in the top Nike golf caps.
Frogg Toggs Waterproof Breathable Bucket Sun Hat
Taking a step away from the more stereotypical golf hats, we turn our attention to this 100% polypropylene waterproof bucket hat from Frogg Toggs. An adjustable headband and chin strap provide you with the fit and security you need to execute your game flawlessly while protected from the sun.
The polypropylene material guarantees this hat to be the airiest of the lot, though it’s worth mentioning that material does suffer from degradation under UV exposure at a rate far higher than that of polyester and cotton.
Guide To Sun Protection Golf Hats
Buying a hat for fashion is a lot easier than buying a hat for function. While fashion does play a part in your final decision, you should prioritize hats and caps that offer the best protection against the sun.
Being out on the golf course regularly for hours at a time puts you at a significant risk of damage from exposure to harmful UV rays. Though golf hats aren’t enough on their own to combat this entirely, they are a great place to start.
So what makes a golf hat great at blocking the sun? What characteristics do the best golf caps have with regards to sun protection, and how can you spot them? These are questions we’ll look to answer in the following sections, by introducing you to some common materials and their properties.
Sun Protection Materials Used In Golf Hats
Golf hats, marketed for sun protection or otherwise, are typically made from sun-protective fabrics such as cotton, polyester, polypropylene, and spandex. Let’s briefly touch on each one and discuss how they’re used and how much protection they offer.
Cotton Golf Hats For Sun Protection
Cotton lays somewhere in the middle-ground of sun protection and often relies on additives to meet the higher levels of sun protection factors seen in other fabrics.
Cotton is a reasonably light, breathable fabric that is commonly used in the manufacturing of bucket hats that offer a wide coverage area.
Polyester Golf Hats For Sun Protection
Polyester is great for sun protection. High-end golf caps for sun protection are often either 100% polyester or mostly polyester with a blend of other fabrics for various reasons.
Polyester has something called a benzene rings, these are part of the molecular makeup of polyester and give it it’s impressive strength. The benzene rings also do a great job of absorbing UV, stopping it from getting through the fabric.
A slight downside of polyester is that it’s quite a good insulator; not particularly great for letting your head breathe.
Polypropylene Golf Hats For Sun Protection
Polypropylene is another standard polymer plastic just like polyester but with different strengths and weaknesses. It’s used not only in golf clothing, but also for food containers, packages, and pretty much anywhere that requires a good tolerance of high temperatures.
This tolerance of high temperatures makes it fantastically comfortable in the heat out on a golf course. However, polypropylene is prone to a high rate of degradation when exposed to UV light, meaning a 100% polypropylene hat, though comfortable, may not last you a lifetime on the course.
Spandex In Sun Blocking Golf Hats
Spandex, like all the other light-weight synthetics, does a decent job of blocking out the sun. Spandex is most often used in a blend with other fabrics to give that slightly stretchy feel. This stretchiness is perfect for golf hats as you want them to fit nice and snug, so they don’t fly off when a light breeze hits you.
Golf Hat Styles And Sun Protection Factor Ratings
We touched briefly on the sun protection factor ratings given to the two most popular golf sun hats earlier in the article. Here we’ll talk more about how the protection differs between bucket golf hats and baseball cap style golf hats; we’ll also touch on why golfers tend to prefer caps over bucket hats despite the lower protection.
Golf Bucket Hats vs. Golf Caps, Which Offers More Protection?
Hands down, bucket hats offer the best sun protection of any typical golfing hat style. The brimmed hats block the sun from reaching the cheeks, nose, and neck; not entirely, but undoubtedly more effectively than golf caps.
Golf caps offer relatively weak coverage. You can expect to shield your forehead and have some protection to the nose area. That’s pretty much it.
When using a golf cap rather than a bucket hat, you should take extra care to cover your face, neck, and ears with adequate sunscreen.
Pros and Cons of Bucket Golf Hats
Sun protection is, of course, the primary benefit of opting for a bucket golf hat. You’ll keep direct sunlight off the majority of your face and even your neck during midday hours.
Many find bucket hats to be more breathable since they’re typically made with either cotton or polypropylene in favor of the more dense polyester.
The downsides are that they don’t do quite as good a job of keeping the glare from the sun out of your eyes as a rigid golf cap does, and you also have less control of where the brim lies.
Visibility and the confidence that your view isn’t going to be obstructed are essential out on the course, and that’s why many golfers prefer to stick with golf caps.
Pros and Cons of Golf Caps
Golf gaps offer greater visibility, a more rigid and sturdy feeling in the wind, and are far less likely to obstruct your view mid-swing.
Caps, made from polyester in most cases, typically feel far better in quality and offer a snugger, more comfortable fit than bucket hats.
The downside, of course, is that sun protection is limited. Aside from the area covered by the cap’s visor itself, you’re not getting much protective coverage at all.
Also, a snugger fit isn’t always the best option for a blistering hot day on the golf course. A bucket hat made from a breathable fabric with a loose fit would be the better option here.
Sweat Management In Direct Sunlight
Sweating profusely is far from ideal when you need to concentrate. Getting your hands on a golf hat that helps manage this, be it through air-flow or other mechanisms, will make you a much happier customer.
Several modern-day golf caps come with built-in sweatbands, which are fantastic for absorbing sweat before it gets a chance to roll down your face.
Manufacturers typically brand their sweatband technology with jargon-sounding names that don’t really explain much. For example, Nike has “Dri-FIT” and Under Armour uses “HeatGear”. In almost all instances, this just means they use fabric that dissipates heat quickly, dries quickly, and absorbs sweat well. Don’t sweat the brand marketing.
Attempts to increase airflow are more common in tighter fitting golf caps since the insulative nature of polyester can otherwise be a problem in high temperatures.
This increase in airflow is achieved either through holes in the top of the cap or by mesh netting at the back of the cap. There’s unfortunately not much room to mess with the density of the fabric since it would weaken the sun protection qualities.
You’ll get better protection from a bucket golf hat than you would a golf cap, but the best golf hat for sun protection is one you’ll actually want to wear; so choose the style that makes you most comfortable.
Heavy natural fibers like cotton and linen or light-weight synthetic fibers like polyester and polypropylene offer the best sun protection.
Remember that tight-fitting caps will make you sweat more than loose-fitting bucket hats, so look for cap styles that have taken air-flow and breathability into account. This could be a mesh backing on the hat, or plenty of holes in the top of the cap to allow heat to escape.
Finding a hat that meets your needs while keeping you protected from the sun should now be well within your grasp. Choose from our picks above, and you won’t be disappointed in the quality.