The 14 Best Packable Sun Hats for Travel of 2023

The Coolibar Women's Aubrey Wide Brim Beach Hat is our top choice for sun protection.

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Best Packable Sun Hats Tout
Courtesy of REI, Amazon, and Nordstrom

Whether it's finally warming up where you live or you're heading out to a beach vacation, you need protection if you're spending time in the sun. A good sun hat is "absolutely critical" according to Dr. Melanie D. Palm, a board-certified dermatologist based in San Diego. "Even on cloudy days, we still are exposed to 80 percent of the UV of a sunny day."

Ideally, your hat will have a UPF factor of 50+ and at least a 4-inch brim to guarantee you're getting enough coverage from damaging UV rays. We also looked for hats specifically designated as packable or travel-friendly to make sure they're easy to toss into a suitcase or beach bag and then pop on at your destination with no structural damage.

"Sun-protective clothing is one of the easiest and most important tools we can use to protect our skin from the harmful rays of the sun and allow us to enjoy the outdoors safely," says Pasadena-based, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ivy Lee. A crucial factor, though? Making sure you like it enough to actually wear it. "I've seen many expensive UPF 50+ hats that sit lonely on a closet shelf," says Lee.

Luckily, with these options, that shouldn't be a problem. Our favorite is the Coolibar Women's Aubrey Wide Brim Beach Hat for its classic but crushable design and thoughtful touches like an internal drawstring to adjust sizing and a cotton lining to minimize any potential sweat or skin irritation.

Best Overall

Coolibar UPF 50+ Women's Aubrey Wide-brim Beach Hat

Coolibar Wide Brim Beach Hat


Why We Love It: Good sun protection, style, and a customizable fit make this our pick for the most appealing packable sun hat for most people.

What to Consider: It's not water resistant, so make sure you're not taking a swim in it.

Dr. Lee keeps at least three go-to hats in her arsenal, including a floppy sun hat with an extra-broad 5- to 7-inch brim for days with extended outdoor exposure. She recommends the Coolibar Aubrey, which is described as having "soft, crushable construction" so you can toss it in your beach bag or checked suitcase without any concerns about it losing its shape. The neutral tone and classic stripe, meanwhile, mean you won't have to worry about any mismatching, and UPF 50+ means you won't have to worry as much about the sun either. Its 5-inch brim circles a cotton-lined crown that should minimize any sweatiness concerns, and an internal elastic drawstring ensures you'll be able to find the perfect fit.

Brim size: 5 inches | Circumference: 22.5 inches | Material: Straw | UPF: 50+

Best Visor

San Diego Hat Company Signature Women's Ultrabraid Large Brim Visor

San Diego Hat Company's Signature Women's Ultrabraid Large Brim Visor


Why We Love It: This visor comes in a wide color range and easily rolls up into a packable cone.

What to Consider: Since it's a visor, the top of your head won't get as much protection, so this shouldn't be an all-day option.

Hat number two in Lee's collection is this roll-up, broad-brim visor that she keeps in her purse or car console for daily wear — don't think that just because you aren't spending that much time outside means you don't need a hat or visor. "This option is super practical, so I can wear [it] anywhere and everywhere," she says. The visor can roll up into a tight cone for easy stowage, then fastens around your head with a velcro closure when it's time to head outside. Match anything in your travel wardrobe with your choice of 28 colors, including classic straw, chic mixed red and black, playful bright orange, and a lime green-and-pink combo.

Price at time of publish: $31

Brim size: 4 inches | Circumference: 22.4 inches | Material: Paper and polyester | UPF: 50

Best for Hiking

Solbari Wanderer Sun Hat UPF50+ Mulberry

Wanderer Sun Hat UPF50+


Why We Love It: A removable chin strap and water-resistant fabric keep the Wanderer fit for wherever your adventure may lead.

What to Consider: Since the fabric is designed to be light and breathable, the brim may blow around a bit in the wind.

A more adventure-friendly option from dermatologist-recommended Solbari, the Wanderer Sun Hat works for both hitting the trail or teatime afterward. It has a removable chin strap to make sure your hat doesn't fly off on a windy boat ride, then you can switch over to a more chic look when it's time for afternoon cocktails. It's also water- and stain-resistant, so any drops in puddles or unexpected showers won't be a problem. The soft, stretchy fabric comes in five colors, but we're especially fond of the stylish mulberry shade. It's available in three sizes and also includes an adjustable drawcord at the back to fine-tune your fit.

Price at time of publish: $45

Brim size: 3.9 inches | Circumference: Not listed; available in three sizes for heads ranging from 21.75 to 24 inches | Material: 85% polyester, 15% elastane | UPF: 50+

Best for Larger Heads

Sungrubbies Ribbon Braid Big Floppy Hat Beige

Ribbon Braid Big Floppy Hat


Why We Love It: Sometimes you want both size and packability – this hat offers it all.

What to Consider: There's no chin strap on this hat, which combined with the large brim might mean you're at risk of it taking flight if the winds pick up too strongly.

Palm is a fan of the Sungrubbies brand, which specializes in making hats for larger head sizes. They also prove that there's no need to sacrifice circumference for packability. If you're ready to go big, the 7-inch brim on the Sungrubbies Ribbon Braid Big Floppy Hat will have you embracing your inner Shiv Roy. The concentric circles of the ribbon braid add an attractive texture to the hat, and there are sizes available up to 4XL, so no matter what size head you're working with, you can still find a suitable fit. Choose between black or white, then adjust the bow around the crown of the head for the perfect fit.

Price at time of publish: $48

Brim size: 7 inches | Circumference: Not listed; available in seven sizes for heads ranging from 21.7 inches to 26.4 inches | Material: Polyester | UPF: 50+

Best Style

Madewell Packable Braided Straw Hat

Madewell Packable Braided Straw Hat


Why We Love It: Who says sun protection can't be cute?
What to Consider: The UPF on this hat isn't listed, so make sure you aren't seeing any light get in through the fibers.

For the fashion-conscious, Madewell also offers a Packable Braided Straw Hat that would fit nicely on your favorite wanderlust Instagram feed. Its unstructured nature is both part of its charm and the reason it can be easily thrown in your bag without losing its shape — just roll it up and tuck the band around it to fold it up when it's time to go. It's almost universally flattering and can complement almost any face shape as well as any color scheme you may have in your suitcase, with four neutral hues ranging from Almost Black to Antique Cream. It's available in two sizes.

Price at time of publish: $40

Brim size: 3.5 inches | Circumference: 21 inches (S/M) or 22.5 inches (M/L) | Material: Paper straw | UPF: Not listed.

Best Style for Men

Coolibar UPF 50+ Men's Galileo Packable Travel Hat

Coolibar UPF 50+ Men's Galileo Packable Travel


Why We Love It: This hat has a wider brim than most men's hats and high UPF protection.

What to Consider: There have been some incidents of the band coming disconnected, and it isn't water resistant.

Men need cool hats too, and the dermatologist-loved brand Coolibar has a wide range to choose from. We're particularly fans of the Galileo for staying a bit more fashionable. The hat comes in two shades, a neutral Khaki or blue-grey Fog, complemented by a stylish grosgrain ribbon band. There's also a 3.5-inch brim for keeping away the sun and an adjustable faux-leather chin cord paired with a wooden bead for keeping it on your head. But don't worry, it's still extremely foldable and offers a UPF of 50, combining fashion and function. You can spot-clean it, but don't take it in the water — it's unfortunately not water resistant.

Price at time of publish: $69

Brim size: 3.5 inches | Circumference: 22.5 inches (M), 23 inches (L), 24 inches (XL), 25 inches (XXL) | Material: Polyester | UPF: 50+

Best Active

San Diego Hat Company Women's Active Sun Brim Hat

San Diego Hat Company Women's One Size Active Wired Sun Brim Hat


Why We Love It: It will stay on your head while you exercise without blocking your view.

What to Consider: The brim might flop up if there's a strong breeze.

Lee's final hat choice for her set is a broad-brim hat with a chin strap for active or on-the-water days. The lightweight Active Sun Brim Hat from San Diego Hat Company, one of Lee's preferred brands, fits the bill with an adjustable under-chin cord to prevent any wind- or wave-induced escape attempts. There's also a moisture-wicking sweatband around the 4.5-inch brim to keep you cool while out hiking or exploring, while the brim's easily adjustable wired edges will keep your views unimpeded. It comes in five colors, including black, white, and a camo print, so you can make sure you coordinate your accessories appropriately.

Price at time of publish: $28

Brim size: 4.5 inches | Circumference: 22.4 inches | Fabric: Polyester | UPF: 50+

Best Active, Men's

Solbari Traveller Broad Brim Sun Hat UPF50+

Traveller Broad Brim Sun Hat UPF50+


Why We Love It: The Traveller will stay on even in the choppiest waters.

What to Consider: The brim is shorter than dermatologists recommend, but the high UPF helps make up for it.

This straightforward men's hat is one of the most popular designs from Solibari. It has a 3-inch brim, but it still maintains a UPF of 50 in the fabric. The water- and stain-resistant nylon should hold up to even the most intense hiking or water activities. If the seas get rough, the chin strap and its locking toggle plus the drawstring at the back of the hat to adjust the fit, make sure it will stay on. There's also an integrated sweatband and mesh paneling on both sides to keep it breezy. Choose from white or beige with navy accent, or go full navy.

Price at time of publish: $49

Brim size: 3 inches | Circumference: Not listed; available in three sizes for heads ranging from 21.8 to 24 inches | Material: Nylon | UPF: 50+

Best Bucket Hat

Solbari Getaway Reversible Sun Hat UPF50+

Getaway Reversible Sun Hat UPF50+


Why We Love It: Bucket hats are coming back in style, and the longer brim on this reversible option keeps it on-trend and protective.

What to Consider: This brim is a little shorter than the dermatologist recommendation.

If bucket hats are more your style, go for the Getaway. This reversible option sneaks in a 3.75-inch brim that's also shapeable, so you can adjust it over the course of the day. Choose from the neutral black-and-white option or three ice cream hues that will have you ready to hit the boardwalk; just pop up the brim to show off your color selection. Sun protection doesn't mean sacrificing breathability; the hat is 100% cotton to help keep air flowing and prevent sweat buildup. That cotton build also means rolling it up and throwing it in your luggage won't be a problem.

Brim size: 3.75 inches | Circumference: 21.5 - 22.5 inches | Material: Cotton | UPF: 50+

Best for Basking

Coolibar UPF 50+ Women's Compact in A SNAP!™ Shelby Shapeable Poolside Hat

Coolibar UPF 50+ Women's Compact in A SNAP!™ Shelby Shapeable


Why We Love It: Lounge poolside by day without worrying about wind, then roll it up into a cone when you're ready to go.

What to Consider: The hat needs to fold into a specific shape to snap properly, though there's a helpful video on the Coolibar site.

If you're concerned about your large hat flying away, Coolibar's Shelby Shapeable Poolside Hat is here to help. It comes with a chin strap which makes sure the hat won't take flight no matter how rough the poolside conditions get. The wired 7-inch brim can easily be manipulated based on sun position or to show off your best angles, and the sleek bow on the back adds a feminine touch. Even better, the "Compact in a Snap" feature means it easily rolls up and secures into a flat cone shape with the help of a snap hidden under its bow. Choose black or white depending on how you want to top off your tan.

Price at time of publish: $59

Brim size: 7 inches | Circumference: 22.5 inches | Material: Polyester | UPF: 50+

Best Color Options

Columbia Global Adventure Packable Hat II - Women's

Columbia Global Adventure Packable Hat II - Women's


Why We Love It: The Global Adventure hat has a winning combo of functionality and fun colors.
What to Consider: It's a bit thin, so you may run into problems with the hat ripping or denting with rougher use.

The Columbia brand is a go-to in the outdoor industry, and their Global Adventure Packable Hat II boasts Omni-Shade fabric with a UPF of 30 and a 4-inch straight brim to keep you properly shielded while on the go. The adjustable chin strap will help it stay on your head, while the range of colors will keep you color-coordinated. The light green Safari shade is especially fun, or go for an aquatic vibe with the Icy Morn/Sea Wave two-combo. And as the name implies, it's ready to hit the road whenever you are, with no special packing effort required.

Price at time of publish: $35

Brim size: 4 inches | Circumference: Not listed | Material: 58% paper, 25% polyester, 17% polyethylene | UPF: 30

Best Squashable

Wallaroo Hat Company Women’s Scrunchie Sun Hat – UPF 50+

Wallaroo Hat Company


Why We Love It: If its ability to stand up to any kind of luggage squashing weren't enough, it also comes in a slew of colors.

What to Consider: Because it's on the lighter side, you may find it overly floppy.

Go ahead and squish up the Wallaroo Scrunchie; it won't be left any worse for wear. As the name implies, this hat can be rolled up into your luggage, then easily uncurled and reshaped no matter how determined you were to fit it in with that extra pair of shoes. The wire-edged 4.5-inch brim gives you an endless option of angles to choose from, no matter what silhouette strikes your mood. The polka dot pattern adds a touch of whimsy to eight different color options, or go with a classic black or white. On the practical side, an internal drawstring helps you find your ideal fit, and UPF of 50+ helps keep out harmful rays.

Price at time of publish: $49

Brim size: 4.5 inches | Circumference: 22.8 inches | Material: Polyester | UPF: 50+

Best for Running

Gone For a Run Ultra Pocket Hat

Ultra Pocket Hat for Runners
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: It gives you the protection of a sunhat while remaining lightweight and sweat-resistant.

What to Consider: It can feel tight if you fill the pockets.

This ultralight and water-resistant sport hat is the perfect accessory for running in the sun. Not only will it help prevent sweat from sticking under the hat, it also includes two side pockets for keys, money, and anything else you may need on the go. This comfortable hat also comes in five different colors with an adjustable velcro strap so it'll stay secure on your head throughout your run.

Price at time of publish: $35

Brim size: Not listed | Circumference: Not listed | Material: Polyester | UPF: Not listed

Best Cowboy Style

Sunday Afternoons Sunset Hat

Sunday Afternoons Sunset Hat
Sunday Afternoons Sunset Hat.


Why We Love It: This fun hat is completely adjustable, so you get the perfect fit.

What to Consider: It can feel a bit hot while wearing.

If you're looking for a fun statement hat for your next vacation, consider this cowboy-style floppy hat from Sunday Afternoons. With a bendable brim, adjustable sweatband, and adjustable neck chord, this hat is a totally customizable piece you'll want to wear throughout your vacation. For extra fun, it comes in five different eye-popping colors and two different sizes. Plus, the hat is guaranteed for life, so you can confidently wear it without fear.

Price at time of publish: $34

Brim size: 3.75 inches | Circumference: Not listed | Material: Polyester | UPF: 50+

Tips for Buying Packable Sun Hats

Look for UPF

The first qualification to look for in a good sun hat is its UPF (UV Protection Factor) grading. As the name implies, this system indicates the item's level of protection against ultraviolet energy and how much UV radiation reaches your skin, taking into account color, weave density, and fabric. Lee cites a UPF of 50 as the general dermatologist recommendation, which means it will protect your skin from 98 percent of UV radiation.

Think about brim size and material

The next thing you want to look for is the structure of the hat itself. Ideally you want a brim of at least 4 inches and not too many openings in the structure for sun to sneak through. "Because a broad-brim hat also provides you with your own shade structure, the hat may protect your eyes from UV rays," says Lee. "A broad-brim hat is an easy, effective, and fashionable way to keep our skin safe and healthy."

Materials themselves can vary, as long as they have sufficient UPF. "Tighter weaves, darker colors, and believe it or not, washed fabrics (which shrink the weave) are more advantageous," says Palm. If a hat doesn't have a UPF rating, you can try holding it up to the light and seeing how much light gets through.

Consider Functionality

Whether you're lying by the pool, going for a run, or enjoying a day on the golf course, you should be protecting your face and neck from the sun. When looking for a packable sun hat, it's important to know what your travel itinerary has in store so you can get the perfect hat for your active lifestyle. Many sun hats are made with moisture wicking technology, which is perfect for sport enthusiasts, while floppy straw hats may be best for loungers.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What types of hats keep you cool?

    Straw hats are the best for keeping cool in hot weather. Those with a wide brim are especially great not only for keeping the sun off your face and neck, but also allowing air to move through the woven straw, keeping you extra cool.

  • What color hat is better for sun protection?

    Dark blue or black hats are best for UV protection since they will absorb both the UV rays and your body's heat, keeping you cool and protected. If you don't want black or navy, keeping to darker colors is the way to go for maximum sun protection.

  • How do you pack a packable hat?

    There are so many varieties of packable hats that the best way to take care of your hat is to read all manufacturer instructions before traveling. A good rule of thumb when packing is also to turn the hat upside down in your luggage and pack clothing items inside the hat and around the brim for protection. Many packable hats also come with specific folding instructions to guarantee it lasts as long as possible.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Rena Behar has more than eight years of professionally assessing and reviewing products, plus travel to more than 30 different countries, under her belt. She interviewed multiple board-certified professional dermatologists, including Dr. Melanie D. Palm, Medical Director at Art of Skin MD and assistant volunteer clinical professor at UCSD, and Dr. Ivy Lee, a board-certified dermatologist in practice in Los Angeles and member of the American Academy of Dermatology's Expert Media Team.

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Updated by
Taylor Fox
Taylor Fox, Commerce Updates Writer at Travel + Leisure
Taylor Fox is a Commerce Updates Writer at Travel + Leisure where she tests, researches, and writes about travel products. Taylor holds a Master’s in Geography and has been a writer and editor for over seven years.
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