The Ultimate Straw (Hat) Breakdown: Understanding the Many Kinds of Straw

Think all straw hats are essentially the same? Think again. The truth is, there are many different types of straw that are used to create our favorite headwear, with variations in everything from fibers to finishing. To highlight the differences between them, along with their unique benefits, we’ve compiled a list of common straw types that you’ll find in a variety of our best-selling Panama Jack straw hats. Which one is right for you? Read on to find out.


Raffia straw is a natural material derived from the leaves of the Raffia palm, hailing from the island of Madagascar. Known for its resilience and durability, it’s generally able to withstand years of wear and tear. As a result, Raffia hats are widely considered to be versatile as well as dependable, and they are a consistently popular choice for a variety of occasions and activities.

The material can be hand-woven, crocheted, or braided into intricate patterns and designs, and the finished hat can be a stylish addition to just about any casual outfit. What’s more, the material is resilient, lightweight and breathable, so it’s practically made to bring along on adventures—and it’s especially excellent for festivals, picnics, and other outdoor events. Those in search of a reliable hat that’s also stylish, unique, and highly portable just may consider raffia to be the perfect material. 

Raffia Straw Is Perfect For: Anyone in need of a stylish and functional accessory for a wide variety of outdoor activities and adventures.


Toquilla straw is a premium material that comes from the Toquilla palm, which is grown in Ecuador and across much of Central and South America. Interestingly, the Toquilla palm (Carludovica palmata) is not actually a true palm, but rather a palm-like “monocot” (short for monocotyledon) grassy flowering plant, since it doesn’t possess a wooden trunk like a palm would.

This high-end straw is used to create some of the world's most coveted hats, including the traditional Panama Hat. The hand-woven nature of this material means that no two hat bodies are ever identical, making each hat a truly unique work of art. These hats can cost much more than those with other straw materials due to the level of craftsmanship and skill that’s required to create them. Our genuine Premium Panama Hats are handwoven by master craftsmen and women in Ecuador, using time-honored techniques that date back to the time of the Incas. 

Toquilla Straw Is Perfect For: Anyone looking to make a statement with a unique, handcrafted  straw hat that’s both elegant and functional. 

Mexico Palm

As the name suggests, Mexico Palms are indigenous to Mexico, and the palm straw made from these plants is used by artisans and manufacturers around the world to create a variety of woven goods—in particular, rough and rugged hats. Mexico palm straw hats, also commonly referred to as cowboy hats, are a traditional style worn throughout Mexico, thanks to their high-quality craftsmanship and relative sun protection at a reasonable price. 

Mexico palm straw is known for its strength and flexibility, allowing it to be woven into intricate designs and patterns while still retaining its shape and structure. As the material can be tricky to manipulate, though, these hats are typically hand-woven by skilled craftspeople, using traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations. The end result is a hat that is not only attractive and stylish, but also incredibly durable and long-lasting. 

Mexico Palm Straw Is Perfect For: Anyone looking for a handcrafted and one-of-a-kind hat that’s durable and functional on those scorching, full-sun days. 

Rush Straw

Rush straw, also known as Lindu straw, is a type of natural dried stalk that is indigenous to China. Highly prized around the world thanks to its durability and versatility, it only makes sense that it’s also a popular choice for many hats. Rush straw hats are hand-woven by skilled artisans who have been perfecting their craft for generations, resulting in high-quality hats that are both stylish and functional. In fact, rush straw hats pair perfectly with both casual and formal attire. 

In addition to their excellent craftsmanship, rush straw hats offer great value because they derive from a relatively abundant natural resource. The rush plant grows quickly, and can be sustainably harvested and produced at a lower cost than some other materials, making rush straw hats an excellent choice for anyone looking for a budget-friendly option that’s also reliable and built to last.

Rush Straw Is Perfect For: Anyone who’s sustainability-minded and in search of a lightweight and stylish hat to wear to an outdoor function or event. 

Toyo Straw

Toyo straw is a lightweight and flexible material made from cellulose fiber and nylon that are joined together in a tightly braided fashion. The combination of these materials sewn together in this way gives the end material added strength and structure. This type of straw is known for its durability, as well as its ability to mitigate the sun’s rays.

The unique density and sun protection of this kind of straw hat makes it a popular choice for summer. What’s more, toyo straw hats are comfortable to wear and easily mold to the shape of the wearer's head, ensuring a snug and comfortable fit. And because the material absorbs dye well, these straw hats are available in a wide range of colors and styles, making them a versatile choice for any outfit or occasion.

Toyo Straw Is Perfect For: Anyone looking for a bit of added sun protection for their outdoor events or activities, from a wedding reception to a beach barbecue.

Paper Braid

Paper braid straw—also known as paper straw or sometimes as woven paper—is a type of synthetic material that’s made from tightly-woven paper fibers, which are typically derived from wood pulp, then treated with starch or resin to reinforce the material’s durability. This same finishing process can also help to improve the material’s water resistance, making paper braid straw a popular choice for many summer hats, as well as others that are designed to be worn on or near the water. 

Though paper braid straw is not as durable as some other natural materials in the long run, paper braid hats frequently come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and at a relatively reasonable price point. When factoring the material’s lightweight feel, affordable price point, and ease of shaping, it’s easy to see why so many hat makers (and customers, too!) consider it to be a go-to summer hat material. 

Paper Braid Straw Is Perfect For: Anyone who likes to stay on trend with a variety of colors, patterns and styles, without spending a fortune on individual pieces. 

The Hat’s Out of the Bag

Now you know more about the most common straw types for hats—but there’s so much more to know about hats in general, from how to find the right size hat for you, to how to care for your favorite hats at home. Follow our blog for these and other great tips, and stay tuned for more hat tips and tricks to come in the future. In the meantime, still can’t decide which straw hat is right for you? Browse our wide selection of high-quality hats and let your own style be your guide.