The Essential Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Hats

When it comes to jet-setting across the globe, the right hat can make all the difference. Whether you're exploring the urban jungles near home or the actual jungles on an exotic getaway, a good travel hat not only protects you from the elements, but also adds a touch of style.  In this guide, we'll share the secrets behind selecting the perfect travel hats that combine functionality with fashion. Plus, discover packable, crushable, and wrinkle-resistant options that will ensure you look your best, no matter where your adventures may take you.

What Makes a Great Travel Hat?

First thing's first: what makes ‘the best’ travel hats—is it the style, the fabric, the brand? While these factors might catch your eye initially, the true hallmark of a superior travel hat actually goes beyond aesthetics. Its beauty lies in its functionality and its ability to meet the many demands of the journey ahead. When selecting a hat to accompany you across various destinations, look for attributes that emphasize comfort, durability, and versatility. 
  • Packable: The ability to fold or roll your hat without damaging its shape is just plain crucial for travel. Look for designs that can be easily stowed away in your luggage or carry-on, ensuring they take up minimal space.
  • Durable: After a long flight or car ride, a hat that can shake off the rigors of a travel bag is a winner. Wrinkle-resistant materials can ensure a hat that always looks fresh and ready for any photo op, while performance materials can ensure you’re covered in any sort of weather scenario.
  • Versatile: Finally, a travel hat worth its brim is one that you can wear anywhere. Choose a hat that fits the climate and culture of your destination. Whether it's offering shade under the tropical sun or warmth in a cooler climate, it must adapt as quickly as you do.

Packability and Durability

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the first two traits, as they are critical to the long-term performance and utility of a travel hat. The simple fact is that packability and durability are not mere conveniences, but essentials. You need a hat that can be squeezed into the last available space in your suitcase or hastily packed into a day bag, but still retain its shape and style upon arrival. Materials like tightly woven felt, paper braid straw and innovative synthetics have revolutionized travel-friendly headwear. These materials are chosen for their elasticity and memory—capable of being compressed or folded, yet able to return to their original form. Durability also encompasses the hat's ability to resist wear and tear. Weather-resistant features are crucial, and UV protection, such as featured in our line of UPF 50+ hats, is key to ensuring your comfort and protection throughout each day.

How to Pack Your Hat

Knowing how to properly pack your hat is just as important as selecting the right one. A hat that arrives in perfect condition sets the tone for a worry-free trip from the moment you step off the plane or pull into your destination. Here’s how to make sure your travel hat stays in peak form, so you can step out in style wherever you may find yourself next:
  • If you have a butterfly-style suitcase that opens from the middle into two equal halves, lay the hat flat at the bottom of the suitcase on the side that’s opposite the telescoping handle. This becomes the outside or front-facing side of the suitcase once closed, keeping your hat away from the weight of heavier items. 
  • If you have a top-lid suitcase that has one large chamber, pack your hat full of soft items to preserve its shape, then place it near the top of your suitcase rather than the bottom.
  • In either case, surround your hat with soft, malleable, and low-weight items such as cotton tees, socks and sweaters to help hold its shape. Then carefully pack clothes around the brim to bolster the hat's position, ensuring it won't get squashed or jostled too much as your luggage moves.
  • For hats that are known for their crushability, you may opt to gently roll or lay them flat instead. Be sure to do this loosely, and pack them with your softest garments to avoid any creasing.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your hat will arrive at your destination in pristine condition, and ready for your adventures ahead. 

Caring for Your Travel Hats

Just as important as knowing how to pack your hat, understanding the best ways to care for it can go a long way toward ensuring it remains a viable part of your travel wardrobe for years to come. Follow these three tips as a general rule, and check out our blog on hat care for everything you need to know about cleaning and maintaining your hat
  • Always allow your hat to air out after a day’s wear.
  • Spot clean as necessary, being careful with water on certain materials.
  • For straw hats, keep them dry and avoid crushing; for felt or fabric hats, steam can help work out any creases.

Time to Cap Off Your Trip

Choosing the right travel hat truly is an art, and our Ultimate Hat Guide is a great place to start when it comes to selecting the right one for you. We’ll help you understand the basics of hat materials, styles and fit, as well as show you how you can elevate your style with hats. With these tips and a little extra room in your suitcase, you’ll be ready to embark on your next trip.