Top 9 Best Surf Hats | 2021 Reviews (Patagonia, FCS)

Surf trips aren’t complete without rash guards and wetsuits. But, there’s one thing that many surfers forget when it comes to sun protection – your face and your head. 

You might assume that just because you are sporting that full, thick, and layered hair, that your head is protected. It isn’t. The sun rays can still work through the strands and burn your scalp to a crisp. In addition, the bright sunlight can be harmful to your eyes and the UV rays to your face. 

One of the popular reasons why some surfers tend to forget surf hats is the difficulty in keeping them on the whole time they are surfing. This should never be an excuse. After all, skin problems can be pretty scary. In this article, we’ll talk about the best surf hats and: 

  • What a surf hat is?
  • What makes a good surf hat?
  • Why you should wear a surf hat?

What Is A Surf Hat?

A surf hat is your most straightforward protection against the sun. Like ordinary hats, it provides the necessary physical barrier between your skin and the sun. 

Surfers with hats may seem pretty unappealing. Basically, surf hats are linked to grouchy old longboarders. Then, hats can be flimsy and uncomfortable. Not to mention they can get blown in the strong ocean winds. 

Another reason why some surfers won’t wear them is its way of obstructing their lateral vision making surfing less intuitive. It is easy to ditch the hat because of these reasons. 

Not the surf hat. Over time, the surfing experience combined with intelligent approaches and technology made surf hats a practical part of your surf ensemble. In this article, we’ll discuss different surf hats appropriate for your every ride. 

What Makes A Good Surf Hat?

While the answer to this question is a matter of opinion, there are some factors that most surfers can agree on. A good surf hat provides sun protection during a hot sunny day or warmth during cold rides. It offers a stay-put technology but comes at a price that won’t make you think twice. 

A good surf hat can withstand any elements while maintaining style and fashion. It should not impede your ride. Instead, it should let you focus on what truly matters – the waves. The best surf hat is stylish, durable, and affordable. 

Top 9 Best Surf Hats Reviewed

Even an old trucker hat can help you against the sun’s harmful rays. But why be contented with a loose hat if there is one specifically intended for the sport you love most. Here are 9 of the best surf hats:

  1. Dake Surf Cap W20 – Best Overall 
  2. FCS Essential Surf Bucket Hat – Best Bucket Type Surf Hat
  3. Kaiola Surf Hat – Best in Style 
  4. Patagonia R3 Yulex Cap – Best to Pair with Wetsuits
  5. Billabong Surf Bucket Hat – Best for Men
  6. O'Neill Eclipse Bucket Surf Hat – Best Extended Protection 
  7. Dakine Kahu Surf Hat – Best All-Day Comfort Surf Hat 
  8. O'Neill Sport 2mm Cap– Best Wind-Proof Surf Cap 
  9. FCS Essential Surf Cap – Best for Keeping It Light 

#1. Dake Surf Cap W20 – Best Overall 

Dakine Surf Cap W20

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W20 is a refreshing but straightforward surf cap from a reputable brand Dakine. It is a good starting point for any surfer who has not worn any headgear in the water before. Built like the classic baseball cap, it is light and doesn’t feel intrusive. The Dakine Surf Cap W20 is easy to get used to after minimal adjustments. 

This surf cap offers features that will make you remember to wear it every surf. It has a 50+ SPF rating which you may consider an advantage, especially when paddling out at midday or when the sun is shining strongly. 

W20 won’t keep your head or ears all covered without ventilation, thanks to its mesh coverings over the ears. This feature should help you hear while you are out in the water. Its moveable brim lets you turn it upwards for a broader peripheral vision, especially when readjusting your position. 

ProsCons
Brim can be flipped from inside out or vice versaOnly offers sun protection to the front
Mesh type and quick drying
50+ SPF rating

#2. FCS Essential Surf Bucket Hat – Best Bucket Type Surf Hat

FCS Essential Surf Bucket Hat

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If you’ve been surfing for a while, you might have heard of FCS and what they mean – quality. They are well known for their range of revolutionary fin technologies. But, they’ve also ventured into some other refined surf accessories. This surf hat is one of them. 

The FCS Essential Surf Bucket Hat is designed to stay secure in the surf while protecting against the sun’s harmful rays and other elements. The generous 360-degree brim and multiple sizes available are the main reasons they make it in the best surf hats list. 

Its different sizes give you the perfect shape and fit for your head. This feature is crucial if you plan to surf in rough surf spots where the set can throw you around quickly. The brim won’t easily dislodge since it fits your head correctly. Moreover, it is wide enough to cover not just your face but your neck area, too!

ProsCons
Extra stability with secure earpiecesBrim can sometimes impair vision when lay-flat paddling
Perforated panels
Adjustable strap

#3. Kaiola Surf Hat – Best in Style 

Kaiola Surf Hat - Shallow Sea

A technical surf hat is what you get when you combine style and performance – precisely what Kaiola Surf Hat is. The Kaiola Surf Hat is a stylish and smart hat that guarantees the best fit and comfort. It leaves you worry-free and always surf-ready. 

Kaiola is a brand by surfers for surfers. Thus it is confident that it includes every detail a surfer would want in a surf hat. It features a slim but secure chin strap, a flexible but firm visor for broader paddling vision, and a cushioned internal headband. 

All these features plus the UV protection of UPF 80 make this surf hat a pretty solid one. Kaiola’s aim with this surf hat is to help step up your surfing game. No doubt, they achieved it. No more burning eyes and blurred vision from the sunblock moving up to your eyes. The Kaiola Surf Hat is what you need. 

ProsCons
Floats, should you ever drop it in the waterMore expensive than other surf hats
Folds easily, so you can stash it anywhere
Soft and padded internal headband

#4. Patagonia R3 Yulex Cap – Best to Pair with Wetsuits

Patagonia R3 Yulex Cap

The Patagonia R3 Yulex Cap is more than a surf hat, but a wetsuit cap that offers additional warmth without switching to a hooded suit. This surf cap is made from stretchy 3mm 85% Yulex natural rubber and 15% synthetic rubber by polymer content. 

This surf hat is best used for waters with temperatures ranging from 9 to 13 degrees F. But, there won’t be any problems if you use it during hot summer days. It fits snug but doesn’t give you a brain squeeze. 

Patagonia is best known for making high-end outdoor and adventure gears. Therefore, you can expect only the best from R3 Yulex Cap. 

ProsCons
Best for chilly and windy daysLimits ability to hear
Secure and comfortable fit
Durable

#5. Billabong Surf Bucket Hat – Best for Men

Billabong Surf Bucket Hat

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You can’t talk about surfing without mentioning Billabong at one point. So, this brand also makes an entry to this list with their Surf Bucket Hat. The color schemes this surf hat comes with make it best for men surfers. 

What you’ll love about Billabong Surf Bucket Hat is its craftsmanship. This bucket hat is made from the same fabric their boardshorts are made from. Thus, it guarantees you get the same stretch and anti-UV filters to cover your head. 

The Billabong Surf Bucket Hat is designed with a thin-rimmed cap that protects 360 degrees from nose to neck. The adjustable neoprene strap is another thing to love. It makes sure the surf hat keeps strapped and secured the whole ride. 

ProsCons
Made with Recycler Pro Stretch board short fabricDoesn’t say UV rating 
Adjustable neoprene chin strap
Hardened front brim

#6. O'Neill Eclipse Bucket Surf Hat – Best Extended Protection 

O'Neill Eclipse Bucket Surf Hat

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This bucket surf hat from O’Neill provides sun protection not only to your face but to your chin and way down below your back of the head. Its spandex UV protection sheet attaches to the back of the bucket hat and extends a broader neck cover. 

The O’Neill Eclipse Bucket Surf Hat is your best bet for optimal protection against harmful UV rays. It is best for anyone mad enough to ride the waves in the midday sun but wants a wide surf hat with a floppy brim and neck protector. 

This bucket surf hat comes in one size but features a size adjuster strap to ensure it stays fit and snug. The poly/spandex material this hat is made of offers UV protection that is necessary during a surf ride. 

ProsCons
Adjustable Chin StrapWon’t fit big heads
Size Adjuster Strap
Zip Pockets

#7. Dakine Kahu Surf Hat – Best All-Day Comfort Surf Hat 

Dakine Kahu Surf Hat Black

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The Dakine Kahu Surf Hat is the lightest surf hat on this list. It is feeling like a feather landing on your head if you have it on. Plus, its materials are soft that it is easy to fold and pack for longer surf trips. Also, if you’re into surf hats that cover you 360, this is your hat. 

Like its Surf Cap W20, it offers a strong 50+ SPF rating. It is all synthetic; therefore, it won’t hold moisture when you toss it off your head after using it. The stiff front edge beats other bucket hats that have floppy sides. You can be sure it doesn’t go down when you use it on the waters. 

This surf hat also comes with ear flaps, so if you are an ear junkie, you can simply pull it down and tighten it by connecting each end like a removable strap. These ear flaps are breathable, just like the sides of the hat, making it an all-day comfort hat. 

ProsCons
Removable adjustable chin strapSnug fit on the smaller sizes
Doubles as a hiking/sports hat
Fast-drying lining

#8. O'Neill Sport 2mm Cap– Best Wind-Proof Surf Cap 

O'Neill Sport 2 MM Cap

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Best for surfers who love surfing in colder places, O’Neill Sport 2mm Cap keeps you not only warm but protected against the sun, too. It is perfect for many water sports – from alleviating ice cream headaches in the surf, breaking the windchill during kite surfing, and eliminating icy ears during kayaking. 

The O’Neill Sport 2mm Cap is one of the creations of the R&D Team at Area 52. With years of extensive research and experience, they were able to come up with a cap that allows you to perform in the harshest conditions. 

Its minimalist design allows you to customize it according to your preference. You can trim the visor for a broader peripheral vision, or you may keep it that way to block the sun and channel the water away from your eyes. 

ProsCons
Adjustable strapChinstrap is a little short
Anatomical fit
Lightweight

#9. FCS Essential Surf Cap – Best for Keeping It Light 

FCS Essential Surf Cap

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FCS Essential Surf Cap checks all the boxes of a basic surf cap that is not too heavy or fancy. What’s more, is it doesn’t break the bank! You get the fanciness and effectiveness without spending too much. FCS has been known for competitive products with affordable price tags.

This surf cap offers a single peak of shade coverage with a nice elasticated strap to fix it on. You can go on and finish an extended surf session under the sun without worrying it gets flown away. It also lets you block out the sun as you enjoy a kayak ride. Use it on any water sport you are into!

This surf cap is FCS’s second entry on this list. Not a lot of brands can have two of their brainchildren be in a list of the best. This tells you a lot about what to expect with this cap. 

ProsCons
Perforated panelsSmall shade cover
Easy to wear
Very light

Why Should You Wear A Surf Hat

Not every surfer is fond of wearing a hat in the water. They slip, get blown away, or washed off by a strong current. We simply don’t want to run or swim after them. Also, watching out skin darken is like having something to show off our pals after a surf session – like proof that you did something incredible. 

That’s cool until you hit your 30s, and you start showing laugh lines slowly becoming permanent crevices. Then comes uneven pigmentation that you first thought of as tanned skin. You get your first melanoma scare. If you haven’t yet, here’s letting you in a bit of your skin’s future. 

Melanoma is one of the most common cancer – fifth in the US and third in Australia. Surfers are six times more susceptible to acquire melanoma than the general population. The usual spots melanoma hits are those where the skin is usually exposed to sunshine, like the chest, legs, and face. 

Although the survival rate in melanoma is high, the treatment may leave significant scarring from surgery involved. If melanoma gets detected in its very late stage and has spread to lymph nodes or remote body parts, the survival rate may drop to as low as 25% after five years. 


Final Thoughts on Surf Hats

So, do you need surf hats when you surf? That choice is entirely up to you. 

Some might be worried about how they look with a surf hat when they surf. Because in reality, there are not many surf videos where you see a surfer wearing a surfer hat. But, if you care about your skin and you don’t want to look wrinkly and twice as old as your actual age, then you should. 

Our top pick – Dakine Surf Cap W20, offers you the protection your face needs against the sun’s harmful rays. It is easy to use and looks very casual, so you won’t have to worry about looking awkward with a hat while ripping. This surf cap is highly recommended. But, if the others on the list tickle your fancy, you are free to consider them, too. 

Just wear a surf hat!

The cost of a surfing hat ranges between $20-$50. The cost of melanoma treatment ranges from $11,863 to $13,588. Think about it; a surfing hat is but a small price to pay for extra protection from the sun. 


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Do surf hats dry fast enough even if you are in the water for a long time?

A: The best surf hats have to be quick drying. You may be careful the entire ride, but it won’t guarantee that your hat won’t get wet. And, when it does, it can get pretty uncomfortable. A soggy fabric beating down and rubbing against your face can be annoying, too. Be sure to pick a surf hat made from quick-drying material to avoid these annoyances from happening. 

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