The 13 Best Packable Sun Hats of 2024

These are the most stylish, functional, and packable sun hats of the year.

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A sun hat is a crucial part of a traveler’s wardrobe, acting as both a style statement and a layer of protection from the natural elements. It’s an especially important piece for those who are conscious of the sun’s harmful effects on their skin and those who spend a significant amount of time on the beach, by the pool, or partaking in other outdoor adventures during their travels.

While donning a floppy, straw, or bucket hat is par for the course on many vacations, there is one question that regularly precedes departure: what’s the best way to travel with a sun hat? After all, many of them can be big, bulky, and awkward to maneuver through airports, or impossible to fit into a suitcase without getting destroyed. There are a variety of tips, tricks, and tools to the art of packing this type of accessory — more on that below — but the easiest answer is to find a packable hat, one that’s designed to be folded or shaped into something more transportable. Read on to discover the best packable sun hats of 2024.

San Diego Hat Company 

The collapsible crown allows the hat to be flattened and packed into a suitcase.

This style is not water-resistant.

The San Diego Hat Company Collapsible Crown Sun Hat earns our best overall pick for a few key reasons. Perhaps the most important feature is its ability to protect the wearer from the harsh light and damaging effects of the sun. This particular style is marked with a UPF 50+ rating, and its 4.5-inch brim offers an impressive amount of shade.

It also receives credit for its smart construction. The paper and polyester material is formed into a style that can be easily flattened (hence the term “collapsible” in the product name) and stored in a suitcase or other piece of hand luggage. Since you won’t have to travel with it in hand, you’ll avoid any accidental bumps, spills, or chances of damaging the hat. Finally, the sun hat’s overall look and feel can only be described as classic. The natural fibers coordinate with most summer outfits, and the white, red, or black hatband gives an interesting touch of contrast without taking away from the accessory’s versatility and wearability.

The Details: One size | 75 percent paper, 25 percent polyester

It’s under $20 and comes in seven different colors.

The thicker cotton construction is best suited for summer days with more moderate temperatures.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a good packable sun hat, a fact proven by the HZEYN Wide Brim Bucket Hat. Coming in at under $20, the casual cotton hat is defined by its protective 4-inch brim, trendy frayed edges, and various colorways (there are seven total to choose from). When it comes time to start packing for your trip, you don’t need to be concerned with how the bucket hat will fit alongside your other belongings. Simply roll it, fold it, or toss it in with the rest of the contents of your suitcase; upon arrival, remove and reshape it as needed.

The Details: One size | 100 percent cotton

It’s a casual style that isn’t just limited to vacations and trips to the beach.

The shape can become distorted from exposure to water.

Janessa Leone counts the likes of Meghan Markle, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Eva Longoria among its fans — so you know you can expect both quality and fashion points from the Los Angeles brand’s hats. Take the Felix Packable Hat, for example. Available in black, chestnut, and natural, the crochet bucket is made of a durable raffia material that’s designed to promote packability; it can be lightly folded without experiencing any long-term damage. The unique short-brim style is also extremely versatile. While you’ll want to bring it on every warm-weather vacation in the foreseeable future, it can also be worn as an everyday hat, especially if you live in a coastal city or town.

The Details: S to XL | Woven raffia

It’s designed to be rolled or folded when not in use.

The top of your head won’t have as much protection as it would when wearing a non-visor sun hat.

Anyone with thick or long hair knows beach days are usually more comfortable when you opt for a visor instead of a full sun hat. The open top leaves room for a bun or ponytail, circumventing any situation where you’d get too hot from your hair being completely tucked under the hat.

At the same time, there’s a decent amount of coverage; the Furtalk Sun Visor’s wide brim extends all the way around, and the paper straw material is certified UPF 50+. Although it only comes in one size, the sun hat can be adjusted via the velcro closure in the back. There’s also a  detachable chin strap in case you’re concerned about a breeze blowing the visor off your head and down the beach.

The Details: One size | Paper straw

The fit can be adjusted by a nifty drawstring.

It doesn’t provide as much coverage as a floppy or wide-brim hat does.

The bucket hat is said to have originated with farmers and fishermen in Ireland. While it’s gone through several iterations since its earliest days, it’s maintained its position as a piece of headgear that efficiently provides the wearer with relief from the sun’s rays. You wouldn’t necessarily wear this version from Echo on the water (it isn’t waterproof), but it's small and sturdy enough to be folded to fit into any travel bag, beach tote, or suitcase. Not to mention, the adjustable drawstring on the inside of the hat helps to maintain a comfortable, custom fit.

The Details: One size | Raffia and cotton

The fabric is certified UPF 50+, and a soft taco fold can be used to pack it away in your suitcase.

Any dirt or stains will need to be spot cleaned.

A fedora hat might be synonymous with a city aesthetic, but it can also be used as a way to elevate a beachy look; you just need to opt for one made of a more warm-weather-friendly material. The Wallaroo Hat Company Outback Fedora Sun Hat is the perfect example. The paper braid fabric is certified UPF 50+, and both colors (brown and natural) wouldn’t look out of place by the beach or pool. The fedora style comes in two sizes, M/L and L/XL, but the inner drawstring can also be adjusted to find the ideal fit. If you take the proper precautions — don’t overpack, and be sure to support the brim — you can use a taco fold to gently store it in your suitcase during your travel days.

The Details: M/L and L/XL | Paper braid (exclusive of trim)

The built-in sweatband and mesh panels help keep sweat at bay.

It can’t be thrown in the laundry when it needs a refresh; you’ll need to wash it by hand.

The Einskey Waterproof Wide Brim Bucket Hat is every outdoor adventurer’s dream. The unisex style has multiple features and characteristics that align with hiking, camping, or any extended period of time spent outside. For starters, the water-repellent polyester material is incredibly lightweight and effective at preventing rain from getting through the barrier.

The hat maintains a UPF rating of 50+, and the brim measures nearly 4 inches, which means it works wonders to shield your eyes, face, and neck from the sun. Additional attributes include breathable mesh panels, a built-in sweatband, and a convenient ponytail hole. To ensure a proper fit, adjust the elastic drawstring and chin strap as needed. When not in use, it can be folded and stored in your hiking backpack.

The Details: One size | Water-repellent polyester

The neck drape comes in handy on sunny days, but it can also be folded up when it’s not needed.

It’s not the most fashion-forward style.

When hunting for a hat to bring on a boat, you’ll want to look for styles with three specific features. For starters, it needs chin straps; without a way to secure the hat, there’s a very good chance you’ll lose it the second the captain shifts the boat into high gear. You’ll also need a sun hat that provides significant coverage, preferably a style that notes a UPF 50+ rating. Finally, given the nature of boating, the hat should be water-resistant. The Coolibar Unisex Convertible Boating Hat checks each of those boxes and still manages to take it several steps further.

Not only is the polyester hat crushable and packable, but it also comes with an internal cooling mesh sweatband, a removable neck drape, an adjustable elastic cord and toggle, and an anti-glare under-brim lining. Plus, the foam brim is floatable — a feature any regular boater will very much appreciate.

The Details: S to L | Polyester

The removable ties will keep it on your head, even when a breeze catches the extra-wide brim.

The thicker cotton material isn’t designed to wick away moisture.

A wide brim often means the hat itself will take up a lot of precious suitcase real estate, but that’s not the case with the Free People Shoreline Bucket Hat. The slouchy cotton silhouette can be folded as easily as your favorite T-shirt, so it’s perfect for taking along on your next trip to the beach, pool, or lake. It’s especially notable for its exaggerated wide brim — read: your entire face will be shaded — and the removable ties that can be used to secure the hat on your head. It also serves as a closet staple; the two neutral colorways, black and sand, will go with just about everything in your summer wardrobe.

The Details: One size | 100 percent cotton

The extra-large brim can be reshaped or adjusted based on personal preference.

The 8-inch brim is larger and significantly floppier than your average sun hat.

The appeal of a floppy sun hat — particularly this one from Free People — can be broken down into two categories: fashion and function. The former is all about the chic silhouette; there’s an elegance to the floppy hat that has transcended decades of summer getaways. The latter takes into account how the wide brim (this one measures in at 8 inches) expertly fulfills its duty of shading your face from the bright sunlight. This style, which comes in four different shades, is especially great as its unstructured design allows the wearer to pack it away in a suitcase without ruining any of its noteworthy floppiness.

The Details: One size | Paper and polyester

The 5-inch brim creates a dramatic silhouette (and provides plenty of shade).

It’s pricier than some of the other styles on this list.

A good sun hat should never sacrifice function in the name of style — and the Harlow Open Weave Straw Hat from Janessa Leone gets top marks in both categories. The brim is completely shapeable, meaning you can lie back in a beach chair without taking off the hat, or pack it without worrying about irrevocably altering its shape. Plus, the open-crown design ensures breathability is never an issue. You’ll just want to be wary of any activities where the hat could get dirty, as you can’t toss it in the wash. Given the construction and raffia material, it’s spot clean only.

The Details: S to XL | Raffia

It has a simple, timeless design, but the fringed brim adds a touch of personality.

With a price tag of nearly $300, it’s an investment piece.

At first glance, you might think the Eric Javits Squishee® A-List Packable Fedora Hat — with its high-quality material and traditional indented crown — is the type of accessory you’ll need to wear on the plane in order to avoid in-transit damage. But when you look closer, or read the design details, you’ll realize the trademarked straw material can be easily rolled and folded to fit in a suitcase or hand luggage.

Don’t store it too far away, though; as soon as you arrive at your sunny destination, you’ll want to don the hat to protect your face and eyes. The Squishee® straw and 4-inch brim take their job of blocking the sun’s ultraviolet rays seriously; when wearing the straw hat, 95 percent of UVA/UVB rays won’t reach your skin.

The Details: One size | Squishee® straw

It offers the most possible sun protection (with a UPF 50+ rating), and the brim shape is customizable.

It might not be as breathable as a straw hat.

If your main priority is finding a packable sun hat that shields you from the sun, you’ll love all of the coverage and travel-friendly features of the Solbari Holiday Sun Hat. The linen and cotton hat boasts a UPF 50+ rating, and its 4-inch brim can be adjusted to block the sun as needed.

The customizability doesn’t end there, though. Feel free to adjust or remove the chin strap, or flip the hat inside out to show off a different color and entirely new look. You’ll also never have to worry about fitting the wide-brim sun hat in your suitcase; the packable construction can be folded as needed.

The Details: S/M and L/XL | 50 percent linen, 50 percent cotton

A summer hat’s first job is to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. To determine just how well it will perform, look for its UPF (UV Protection Factor) rating. This number indicates how much a piece of clothing or accessory will protect against ultraviolet energy — and how much UV radiation could reach your skin. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a sun hat with a UPF of 30 or higher; the higher the UPF, the better. The highest UPF rating is 50+, which means the hat will block at least 98 percent of UV radiation. You’ll also want to consider a sun hat that has adjustable features — whether the brim itself can be molded to your preference, the chin straps can be tightened or loosened, or the band can be taken in or out to perfect the fit. This flexibility guarantees the hat will sit atop your head properly, and you’ll get the most wear from your purchase.

Before you purchase a new sun hat for your Caribbean trip or Florida vacation, take a look at your itinerary. While a wide-brim sun hat is ideal for lounging at the beach, you may want something more secure for more active pursuits like hiking or running. Visors combine protection with ventilation (and they’re more comfortable for lying back in a chair). And if you’re going to be on a boat or somewhere especially windy, choose a hat with a chin strap to ensure it doesn’t blow away.

Sun hats come in a variety of different materials and fabrics, but some will keep you cooler and more covered than others. For the most part, you’ll want to stick with breathable, quick-drying, and lightweight materials, such as nylon, linen, straw, palm, and cotton. You can then narrow down your selection based on the materials’ qualities: straw is one of the most breathable options, but it’s harder to clean. Nylon, palm, and linen all serve to wick away moisture; cotton, although comfortable, doesn’t hold its shape when wet.

There’s a reason many of the summer hats you’ll find are made of straw. Thanks to its open weave and overall better circulation, straw tends to keep you the coolest while in the sun. Straw, however, isn’t every traveler’s first choice for a sun hat (as it’s more susceptible to damage caused by moisture and general wear and tear). Travelers in search of an alternative material should look for hats made out of linen, cotton, or sweat-wicking polyester.

There are a few ways to transport a packable sun hat. For the most part, you’ll be able to fold or roll the hat into a more manageable shape; just be sure to check the brand or manufacturer’s instructions first. Another packing hack is to lay the upside-down hat in your suitcase and support the inside of the crown and the brim with clothes (filled packing cubes are also great for this trick). If neither of those strategies works for your particular hat, consider investing in a hat clip; this one from Lindsay Albanese uses magnets and a clip to secure the hat to your tote or luggage.

The wider the hat brim, the more sun protection you can expect. Most travelers should aim to wear a hat with a brim of 3 or more inches; this size usually falls in the “wide brim” category. Of course, wide brims aren’t suitable for all activities, but a wide-brim hat is highly recommended for anyone who will experience prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.

Lydia Mansel is a travel journalist and the founder of the packing site, Just Packed. She chose the sun hats featured on this list based on thorough research, customer reviews, and her own on-the-ground experience in some of the world’s sunniest destinations — including Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Barts.

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