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Prevent Sunburn With The Best Sun Hat For Surfing, Kayaking, And Paddle Boarding (2022)

Though you might be wearing your rash guard and sunscreen before paddling out, there’s one place you might forget when it comes to sun protection.

Your head.

Even if you’ve got a head full of hair, the sun’s rays can still burn your noggin to a crisp.

That’s why you need to wear a good surf hat with UV protection when you go out on the water.

As someone with fair skin and thin hair, I know this all too well. I’ve tried a few different sun hats and surf hats, so I can tell you which ones work the best for water sports.

My Favorite UV Sun Hats For Water Sports

Patagonia surf brim hat KUHL Renegade cap REI vented explorer hat
Patagonia Surf Brim Hat KUHL Renegade Cap REI Co-op Vented Explorer Hat
chin strap keeps the hat on ideal for calm conditions good coverage + chin strap
Buy at: Patagonia, Backcountry Buy at: REI, KUHL Buy at: REI

Features To Look For

If you’re shopping for a surf hat, then I assume that’s either because you want some UV protection for your head or because you want something with a bill to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Regardless of why you need one of these hats, my recommendations above and below should still meet your needs.

Since there are other options on the market that you might want to consider, let me share a few things that I think you’ll want to look for your new sun protection hat.

How’s the UV protection?

With so many options available with UV protection, definitely avoid any hats that don’t offer this.

Hats that come with UV protection have the fabric already treated with stuff that keep’s the sun’s harmful rays from reaching your head.

That’s why you should only buy a hat with UV protection. Usually the tag on the hat will list how much protection it’s rated for, like UV50+ protection.

How’s the coverage?

If you’re concerned about your neck and ears getting sunburned, then you should focus on hats that offer full coverage like the REI Co-op Vented Explorer Hat.

For instance, the KUHL baseball cap won’t protect your neck, so it’s a bad idea if you need your neck protected by your hat.

How secure is the fit?

When you’re out on the open water, it can be pretty windy. And you don’t want your hat to blow off, right?

So you’re going to need a sun hat that is secure enough to stay in place. Most surf hat have a chin strap so that you get a secure fit.

Just make sure whatever hat you get comes with some sort of adjustable strap, even if it’s just on the back of the head like with a baseball cap, so that you can keep it in place.

How quick does it dry?

If you’re doing something on the water where you might end up getting your head wet, then you need to look for a hat that is quick drying.

That’s one of the things that makes the Patagonia Surf Brim Hat so great – it dries quickly when you get it wet.

Surf Hat Reviews

If you’re looking for a bit more info on these hats beyond our recommendations, then keep reading!

Below we’ll go through each of the hats that we recommend to give you an idea of what to expect if you buy one of them.

1. Patagonia Surf Brim Hat

Hands down, this cute sun hat is our favorite surf hat for both men and women. It’s a unisex hat that just happens to be awesome for surfing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding.

This hat will even stay on when you’re riding a jet ski or doing some kite surfing!

You can buy this one in a few different color options. And I am loving the new color for 2020, which you can see in the image above.

Get the best price at Patagonia online.


  • CoolMax headband on the inside to wick away the moisture as your out there paddling to your hearts desire and working up a sweat.
  • The fabric has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish, which is good for the odd splash you might get on it when paddling out.
  • UPF 50 sun protection
  • Secure, and comfortable, chin strap that’s adjustable to fit anyone

You’ll experience a lot less glare from the water when you wear this cap, thanks to the dark under bill, which was designed specifically for that purpose.

The fabric soft, yet still keeps its shape even when wet. And it dries very quickly if you do end up in the water while wearing it.

That neoprene headband means that you have a snug, secure fit without it being uncomfortable. And just in case you have a major wipeout, the chin strap will make sure you don’t lose your hat.

2. KUHL Renegade Cap

Whenever I’m outside and the conditions aren’t too windy, this is my go-to hat for sun protection. I love that it’s a baseball cap style instead of a floppy hat or a bucket style hat.

KUHL uv hat

It looks great with pants or shorts when I’m on land, or when I’m out in the water. I really love how stylish it is.

REI only sells this hat in a couple of colors, but if you buy direct from KUHL you get several more colors to choose from.

Buy online at KUHL for the best selection and price.

I really like how comfortable this hat is to wear. It’s not stiff like most baseball caps. Instead it’s designed to conform to your head on the front, back and sides for a great fit.


  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Durable 2-way stretch fabric with durable water repellent (DWR) treatment has a great feel and dries quickly
  • One handed quick adjust strap system

Of course, the obvious downside of this KUHL baseball cap is that you don’t get full coverage with it. This hat is also great for hiking.

3. REI Co-op Vented Explorer Hat

If you want something with a bit more coverage, but that is more secure than a traditional floppy hat, then this option from REI is a great choice.

And don’t worry guys, despite a woman wearing the hat in the image below, this is a unisex hat and it can be worn by men.

REI Co-op Vented Explorer Hat

The chin strap keeps this hat on during windy conditions and it shields your face and neck from the sun while letting cool breezes blow through the crown.

Buy online at REI


  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Made from organic cotton
  • 3 in. wide brim provides plenty of coverage; brass snaps on each side let you snap one or both sides of the brim up
  • Polyester mesh side vents keep your head cool
  • Stash pocket inside top of crown


  • Doesn’t dry quickly

As you can see, the big disadvantage of this hat is that it’s made from cotton, so it does not dry fast at all. But, if you know that you won’t be getting your head wet, then the coverage you get from this hat is great.

Other Surf Hat Options

If you’re not really a fan of the models above, then you might be looking for some alternatives.

Maybe you’re concerned about the above surf hats will affect your visibility out in the water.

Or will they be annoying when you duck dive?

Here’s a few other options that you can get online at Amazon.