Sun Protection Starts with the Right Hat
Protection from the sun is an important focus here at Outdoor Research. Whether you’re out paddling for the afternoon or hiking an exposed alpine ridgeline on a bluebird day, the sun — even just an hour of it — can cause damage to your skin. Luckily, advancements in textiles have allowed us to provide sun protection beyond your daily sunscreen application.
Outdoor Research headwear combines high-tech fabrics and unique features to protect against the sun. Our sun-protective hats and accessories are all designated with a sun protection rating based on the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) they provide; UPF is to clothing what SPF is to sunscreen.
“This rating is specifically designated to rate the sun protection of textiles,” says Kendra Brandenburg of Outdoor Research. The Outdoor Research Headwear Product Manager, Brandenburg sees all of the Outdoor Research headwear from concept, to design, to market, giving her a unique and in-depth view of the sun rating process.
According to Brandenburg, clothing that has a UPF rating can be achieved through the fabrication — like the denier of the fabric — through a pre-treatment, or through design — like a collar or extended sleeve length. Regarding the fabrication, the tighter the weave, the more sun protection. The type of material also affects the UPF rating — synthetic materials like polyester offer the best sun protection.
“All our sun hat styles have a 30 or UPF 50+ rating,” says Brandenburg, the difference being the percentage of UV blocking ability. “This rating is based on how much a style blocks UV radiation: UPF 30 is good, blocking 96 – 97.4 percent of UV rays; UPF 50+ is excellent, blocking 97.5 – 99 percent of rays.”
While the tighter weaves have a higher sun protection rating, it comes with a trade-off — tighter weaves generally breathe slightly less. To alleviate some of the breathability versus sun protection issues, many of our hats feature built-in vents to help keep your head cool and comfortable. In addition, “all our sun hats have wicking sweatbands,” says Brandenburg. These sweatbands are built into the underside of the hat to help manage moisture on hot, humid days.
Why sun protection is so important
Sun protection isn’t just about warding off sunburns. Skin cancer is the third most common form of cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, and 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. Your face is particularly sensitive, and the ears are one of the most sensitive parts of your face. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a wide-brimmed hat of three inches in diameter or greater provides the best sun protection.
In order to meet these standards, all of the sun hats in the Outdoor Research line have brims at least three inches. What’s more, even the area the hat does not directly cover but shields — like your face in the shadow of the brim — is protected to the equivalent to 5 SPF sunscreen.
Another feature shared by many Outdoor Research hats is a dark grey colored under-brim — basically the hat’s underside. This helps prevent excessive exposure; The darker color absorbs a portion of the UV radiation, reducing UV exposure from glare and reflection. This is especially important when you take into consideration that UV light can bounce off surfaces like water or snow. This type of light hits your skin twice and increases the intensity of UV exposure, making the grey under-brim coloring or Outdoor Research headwear a subtle but genius feature.
Down to the specifics
Whether you’re backpacking, hiking or canoeing, the Helios Sun Hat is one of our favorite UPF 50+ hats. The lightweight Helios has a wicking headband, wide brim and drawcord to keep it securely in place. Piping along the rim holds the shape and also allows it to float in the water—an extra perk for those water babies among us.
The Sombriolet Sun Hat is also geared towards use on the water. The UPF 50+ fabric in incredibly protective, while strategically placed venting panels and a wicking fabric keep your head cool. The wider brim provides even more coverage and protection from UV rays, and piping along the brim holds it in place for on-the-water breezes.
The lightweight Women’s Oasis Sombrero is a wider brimmed, sombrero-style hat ideal for hot, sunny summer days. Rated UPF 50+, the Oasis has the grey underbelly to shield reflected light and is built from a moisture-wicking fabric.
The Transit Sun Hat, which we mentioned earlier, is highly breathable. Made with a protective wide brim, the venting side panels keep your head extra comfortable in extremely hot and sunny climates. The Transit is perfect for hiking or time on the river.
Incredibly lightweight and hyper packable, the stylish Women’s Solar Roller Hat has a UPF 30 rated fabric, a wide brim and drawcord to keep the hat cinched down, perfect for working in the garden or getting out on the trail.
The breathable Sun Runner Cap is specifically designed for runners: the extended fabric on the rear of the hat protects the back of the neck from the sun while still maintaining a lightweight and streamlined silhouette.
The stylish and wide-brimmed Papyrus Brim Hat is built with woven paper straw and provides excellent breathability, while a Supplex® lining provides UPF 30 protection. A removable chinstrap keeps the hat in place when the afternoon winds pick up.
Shop these styles and more in our Sun Protection Collection.