Beginner Surf Gear

Surf Hat Buyers Guide for the Sun-Smart Surfer

Surfing is all about spending time in the water under the sun. Needless to say, you’ll need to keep your skin protected from the sun’s harmful rays. A surf hat is easily the best way to do this.

Surf hats should form an essential part of the surfing uniform. They keep your face and neck protected, and they’re not as uncool as you might think.

The biggest problem with wearing a hat while surfing is keeping it on your head. Luckily, there are many great surf hats that are designed to combat this issue. Follow this guide to help you find the perfect surf hat that stays firmly in place. 

surf hat buyers guide

What is a Surf Hat?

A surf hat is exactly what it sounds like – a hat designed for surfing. Surf hats can take many different forms, like a bucket hat, a wide brim hat, or a baseball cap. What makes a hat a surf hat is its ability to be worn in the water.

Surf hats are made from water-resistant materials, and they’re designed to stay firmly on the head in the waves. Protecting your face from the harsh sun is incredibly important while surfing and wearing a surf hat is one of the best ways to do this. 

What Makes a Surf Hat Effective?

Any good surf hat needs a few essential features. While there are many different types of surf hats out there, here’s a breakdown of the must-have features they all need.

Sun Protection

It goes without saying that any effective surf hat has got to keep you protected from the sun. The hat needs to cover your face, and preferably your neck too. It should also be made from a material with at least 50 UPF protection. If a surf hat isn’t keeping you from getting sunburned, then it’s pretty useless.


The other critical element of a good surf hat is that it stays on your head. When you’re duck diving and riding waves, you can’t just wear any hat. An effective surf hat should stay put with a drawstring or chinstrap. This should be comfortable, but firm. 

The hat shouldn’t be too loose-fitting. Some of the best surf hats have some elasticity for a snug fit. Size adjustable hats are also ideal.

Water Resistant and Durable

You’re going to be in the water and your hat is going to get wet. The last thing you want is a soaking, dripping hat dribbling water all over your face. The best surf hats dry quickly and wick any moisture away. Surf hats are generally made from a synthetic material that holds up well in the water.

Of course, these hats should be suitable for all the elements too. They’re going to be used in the harsh sun and saltwater, so they should be made from a material that won’t easily fade. 

surfing in the sun


Even though you’re wearing a surf hat, it doesn’t mean you have to look like a total kook. Good surf hats should still offer some element of style. Luckily, there are plenty of great surf brands that make some great-looking hats. 

Suitable Brim

The brim of the hat will make all the difference in the surf. You’ll be duck diving and going underwater, so you’ll need a hat that can handle this. If the brim is too firm and wide, the hat will come off as soon as you go underwater. 

The brim should be wide enough to shade your face, but not too wide that it becomes totally impractical. The brim should also be floppy enough to bend underwater, but firm enough so that it doesn’t just melt when wet. The best surf hats also have a floating brim, so if the hat does escape you’ll be able to swim after it and get it back.

8 Best Surf Hats

With all of those considerations in mind, here are eight of the best surf hats that you can find right now.

Dakine Kahu Surf Hat

  • Snap closure
  • Floating hat design
  • UPF 50+
  • Removable chin strap

The Dakine Kahu surf hat is an absolute winner. This hat is carefully designed for use in the water. It’s got a hybrid-style foam brim that lets the hat float. This brim is longer over the front of the face, and shorter on the sides. With this design, you get plenty of sun protection where you need it, but the brim isn’t as big and floppy to help you duck dive more easily. 

The hat is made from 100% nylon with a wicking inner liner. This is completely waterproof, and it won’t hold onto any water while you surf. The removable chin strap makes sure the hat stays firmly planted on your head while you surf.

With two cool colors available, the hat also looks great. You’ll be safe from the sun with the UPF 50+ protection, and you won’t feel too restricted. It’s also machine washable to make your life easier.

Dakine Kahu Surf Hat

O’Neill Mens Bucket Hat

  • Broad brim surf hat
  • Detachable drawcord
  • Lightweight poly fabric
  • UPF 50 protection

With this O’Neill surf hat, you’ll be fully protected from the sun. The hat has a wide brim all around that offers UPF 50 protection. The brim is pretty floppy, so you can still duck dive easily. 

The hat has a detachable drawcord and a bit of elasticity to fit most heads. It’s advertised as a one-size-fits-all hat, but it’s really more of a medium fit. 

Its lightweight poly fabric is ideal for use in the sea because it dries quickly and won’t take on any water. The hat also breathes really well with a couple of vents at the top. 

O'neill Men's Bucket Hat

Dakine Indo Surf Hat

  • Snap closure
  • Floating hat design
  • 100% nylon surf hat
  • Brim flips for paddling

Dakine offers some of the most well-thought-out surf hats, and this option might just be their best. The hat is carefully planned for sunny days on the water. The water-friendly hat provides complete sun coverage with a secure fit for use in the surf. Its adjustable chin strap is a lot stronger than most others to help the hat stay on in the waves.

The brim of the hat stays up when wet to offer continued shade from the sun. With a foam insert, this hat will float in case it slips off. There’s also a useful stowable flap for added neck coverage when the sun is really beating down. It’s also available in three different color options to keep you looking stylish. 

Dakine Indo Surf Hat

Dakine Surf Trucker Baseball Cap

  • Trucker style cap with performance mesh back
  • Adjustable chin strap
  • Adjustable snapback
  • UPF 50+

If a broad brim is not for you, then this trucker baseball cap is the perfect choice for surfing. Being a trucker cap, it’s a lot less restricting in the water. The cap is very easy to wear while duck diving, the brim stays up in the water, and the hat stays securely on your head with its strong adjustable chin strap.

Just like a regular trucker cap, it’s got an adjustable snapback to make it a perfect fit for most heads. The performance mesh back helps the cap stay lightweight and easy to wear while in the water. It also breathes well for hot days.

This cap has all of the great features of a regular baseball cap, but it’s designed for water use. With a 100% nylon design and UPF 50+ protection, the hat is as practical as it gets.

Dakine Surf Trucker Baseball Cap

Quiksilver Men’s Bushmaster Surf Hat

  • 100% cotton
  • Wide brim floppy hat
  • Adjustable chin strap
  • Available in a wide range of colors

Quicksilver is well known for its high-quality surf gear, and this hat is no exception. First of all, this hat isn’t as water-resistant as others. It’s made from cotton, not a synthetic waterproof material. The chin strap doesn’t hold down as strongly as others. That being said, it’s an awesome sun hat that still holds up well in the water.

The floppy brim won’t cause any restrictions while you go underwater. The hat is also very lightweight and snug-fitting. Three different sizes are available to help you get the perfect fit.

It’s a classic wide brim hat that will keep you protected without looking too goofy. If you want a surf hat with a more natural fabric, then this is a good choice. 

Quiksilver Men's Bushmaster Floppy Visor Bucket Hat

FCS Essential Surf Bucket Hat

  • Surf bucket hat
  • Adjustable chin strap
  • Neck strap to avoid losing the hat
  • Perforated panels

FCS is known for its world-class surf fins, and now they’ve released one of the best surf hats out there. This bucket hat offers just the right amount of sun protection without being too large or restricting. The brim also stays stiff while wet to keep you covered.

The hat has been designed with the world’s leading surf athletes and shapers to make sure it’s a high performance product. It stays secure on your head thanks to the comfortable chin strap, and it’s got perforated panels for more practical use in the water.

The hat floats, so you don’t have to worry about it disappearing if it comes off. It’s also got a loose neck strap to keep you from losing the hat.

FCS surf hat

airSUP Bucket Hat

  • Surf bucket hat
  • 100% polyester
  • Adjustable size with chin strap
  • Semi-hard brim

This is a really well thought out surf hat to keep you covered in the water. The bucket hat is fully adjustable with a comfortable chin strap. It’s made from a fast-drying polyester fabric that offers excellent sun protection without being too heavy to wear. 

The hat has a semi-hard brim, so it keeps its shape while surfing. This is an easy hat to wear while waves wash over you. And if you want extra sun protection, the hat has a removable neck flap to keep you fully covered. 

With mesh ear covers and vents on the side, the hat stays cool during even the hottest days. It’s a smart choice for any kind of watersport.

airSUP surf hat

Columbia Bora Bora Booney

  • Floppy broad brim hat
  • Advanced moisture management design
  • UPF protection
  • Drawstring closure

The Columbia Bora Bora Booney is an excellent outdoors hat with many practical features. The 100% nylon hat blocks UVA and UVB rays to provide complete protection from the sun. The broad brim gives you plenty of shade, making sure you’re fully protected. The brim is stiff enough to keep its shape while you surf but flexible enough to duck dive with ease. 

This hat features an advanced moisture-wicking system. It stays dry and keeps your head cool, so it’s ideal for use in the water. The hat is also a great choice for hiking, fishing, or any other outdoor activity. 

There’s a drawstring cord to keep the hat in place, and an adjustable toggle at the back to help you get a perfect fit. The hat is also available in many different colors – there’s a style for everyone. 

Columbia Bora Bora Booney

Benefits of Wearing a Surf Hat

If you’re worried that wearing a surf hat will make you look goofy, know that the benefits far outweigh this. A good surf hat offers total sun protection. Looking after your skin is incredibly important, and a surf hat will make sure this is the case. You won’t have to worry about sunburn, and you’ll feel great after every surf. This makes surf hats one of the most important pieces of surf safety equipment.

Surf hats will also protect your eyes from the sun, which is important when the sun is shining down brightly on the water. Some surf hats also offer neck protection to keep your exposed neck safe.

You can also wear your surf hat on land. The best surf hats are versatile and will offer you plenty of use whenever the sun shines.  


If the sun is blaring, it’s best to take a hat into the water with you. Surf hats will protect you from the sun and make you enjoy your sessions so much more. As soon as you experience the glory of surfing with a hat, you’ll never look back! 


Can I wear a hat while surfing?

Hats should be an essential part of surfing because they keep you protected from the sun. There are many great surf hats available that are specially designed for use in the water.

How do I keep my hat on while surfing?

A surf hat should have an adjustable strap to keep it tight on your head. If you just wear a regular hat, it will quickly fly off. 

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