You're looking for a great hat. I mean, you want the best African safari hat, for women or men, you can find, right? That's why you're here.
We're going to help you break it down. From brim size to breathability, comfort and style, we're going to help you find the best safari hat for you.
Our list includes not only the 'safari hat' style. It includes a number of styles that are great to take on safari, because we're not going to be restricted by the parameters of a fashion label.
They're also great for any other African adventures or hot weather travel you have planned.
Oh, and a quick note about Men's and Women's safari hats. Most of these hats are unisex and the styles can easily be worn by men or women. We only separated them because that's the way some of the shops do it and we wanted to be consistent in our presentation.
We're adventurers just like you, and we care about function. It's fine if it looks great, but your safari hat has to get the job done first. It needs to protect you from the sun…and the bugs…and the dust...and the heat, and sweat.
Dang, this safari hat's got a lot of work to do. Let's get started.
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Best Safari Hat for Adventurers on Safari - Reviews
Some classic safari hat styles, and some stylish hats that are great to take on safari. We're giving you the best of both worlds.
Best Safari Hats for Women - Reviews
This Panama straw fedora from Stetson is quite the looker. Airy and light, it's perfect to keep you cool whether you're out searching for lion or elephant. The larger holes in the stack provide extra ventilation while the adjustable cord will make sure you don't end up chasing it through the savannah on a windy day.
While it's inspired by the original Panama Hat from Ecuador, this Stetson version doesn't have the same crushability as its source. This means you'll have to wear it on the plane, and remove it at airport security checkpoints.
However, being a Stetson, it should have the durability to arrive in style and looking good for those wonderful giraffe selfies you're going to be taking.
The style of this woven hat lies somewhere between the American West and the Australian Outback, depending on how you choose to shape it, but functionally it is perfect hat for an African Safari.
The Sunset Hat is completely crushable and shapeable. Stuff it in your luggage, and go. Of course, the kinder you are to it, the easier it will be to get back into shape. However, even after a reckless quick-stuff in the backpack it only takes a little coaxing to get it into the desired shape again.
Light in weight and color, the Sunset Hat will also protect you in a moderate rain, should you get caught out, and it dries quickly, too. An all-around functional and stylish safari hat we predict you'll wear regularly even after you're away from the Serengeti.
This hat is a little different from the rest, being made of a waxed canvas which is a little more rugged. The not-so-wide brim is flexible and determines its own shape giving it an intentionally scruffy look. Ventilation comes from larger grommet holes rather than broad panel mesh.
One of the coolest things about this hat, besides it looking really good, is that it has a hidden pocket in the crown. Whether you need to stash a credit card, your room key, or some cash for your safari guide's tip, this is a nice feature.
The Ponderosa also has a moisture-wicking sweatband built in and it's size-adjustable.
Personally, I like the leather hat band and buckle. You'll not only look great as you ogle and photograph that herd of zebra, you'll impress back at the safari lodge as well.
Function reigns supreme in this Sahara Outback Hat from REI, which is what you're looking for in the best African safari hats.
The back and sides have a large vented panel to keep you cool as well as a moisture wicking headband. It has a 50+ UPF sun protection rating to make sure your safari doesn't end with you looking like a lobster.
All of these features reduce the likelihood of sunstroke – a very important factor to consider if you're planning multiple outings to try to capture African wildlife on camera.
This hat also flattens nicely for easy packing.
The almost requisite chin strap is simple and effective. You never know when winds will kick up. In addition, the inside the crown of the hat is a layer of foam designed to keep the hat afloat should it land in the water.
Try not to lose it over the edge of the canoe while searching for hippos or crocodiles. If you do…just be careful when you go to recover it. At least it won't sink to the bottom.
This Solar Roller hat excels when it comes to intelligent design. First, it's utterly packable. This is a hat you can fold up, stuff in your pocket, take it back out hours later, and with a snap of your wrist it's ready to wear. Lay it flat for an almost non-existent profile in your luggage. It even regains its shape after years of wear and a thorough washing.
The size is also adjustable so you can get a perfect fit.
Lightweight, with a moisture-wicking headband and UPF 50+ sun protection, the Solar Roller also has a foam-stiffened brim so that it floats in the water. This is great for a canoe safari or a kayak bird watching adventure.
The Solar Roller will serve you for many years to come.
Best Safari Hats for Men - Reviews
Straw hats have the drawback of not being crushable, so you have to allow for wearing it through the airport.
The upside of straw hats is that the inherent nature of the material they're made from is already perfectly ventilated without having to get into a bunch of tech and special design. They just work – and they look darn good doing it.
Simple, but effective, this Pendleton Safari style hat provides great sun protection and ventilation for those long days in the African bush. Whether you're looking for impalas or wildebeest this hat will keep you shaded and cool.
This cool-looking hat will keep you cool as well. The wide floppy brim offers extra sun protection for those who need it while remaining light and cool with a poly/cotton blend fabric.
With the wide brim creating greater surface area, the Hatfield Hat is well served by its sturdy draw-cord to keep it from flying off your head. Out in the scrub of Africa, you'll be happy to have both the added sun protection and the wind thwarting cord.
The Hatfield is cozy and comfy, and a bit floppy, with a neat little leather logo as well as several subdued colors to choose from – none of which are bright enough to scare off the safari wildlife.
This is the hat you want if you're going for that Indiana Jones look. Even if it's not an exact replica, everyone accepts it that way. It's one of the most stylish safari hats you're going to find.
This hat is quite crushable and can fold up neatly in your suitcase, even with the thin leather band. It holds up pretty well in the rain, though that does seem to be a weakness of most crushable felt hats, losing some of their form in the rain. This one is better than most. If you're not worried about rain on your safari, then it's not much of an issue.
Tim used to wear this hat all the time, before we left for our world tour. The one thing that kept him from choosing it for our travels is that color, Dark Olive. It starts out looking brown.
However, after it's had a lot of time in the sun (2-3 years of continuous use), it fades into a greenish color. Knowing this, it wasn't the right choice since we are on a continuous travel journey and can't replace it easily when this happens.
Despite the eventual fade, it's a good-looking, high-performing crushable safari hat that we can recommend.
If you prefer bucket hats, this Brushline Bucket Hat with its upbeat styling, is a smart one to get.
The large ventilation panel in the crown you creates superior air flow and they've included a handy-dandy wicking sweatband to keep the sweat from dripping in your eyes. Depending on where you choose to go on safari, and the time of day, this could be very necessary.
The adjustable sizing system has some flex in it to keep you comfortable all day while keeping the hat securely on your head. You can tell just by looking at it that it'll fold up well should you want to stuff it on your backpack, or stow it in your luggage for getting through the airport.
All in all, an intelligent design, perfect for an African safari bush hat.
Best Tilley Hat to Take on Safari - Reviews
You can't talk about safari hats and not include Tilley hats. They've been making top quality, well-designed hats since 1980. They're especially focused on hiking and other outdoor activities and the details in their designs show their expertise. Some people say they're the best safari hat brand.
In addition to being well made, Tilley hats have a lot of little extra features that make their hats stand out from the rest, like front and back wind cords and a hidden pocket in the crown of many of their hats.
Besides all of this, Tilley backs their workmanship (on most hats) with a lifetime guarantee - their hats will not wear out, shrink or fall apart. They stand by their product because they believe in it.
Best Tilley Hat for Women on Safari - Reviews
This recycled hemp and organic cotton Tilley Mash-Up hat is soft and lightweight with a mesh crown for an easy-breezy hat wearing experience.
There's a stash pocket in this hat, perfect for your hotel key or a good luck charm for finding that elusive cheetah. The chin cord makes sure this attractive hat doesn't blow off your head, of course. What else would it be for?
The contrasting brown rim is a nice style touch that's lacking from some safari hats. Not that they all need a contrasting rim, but sometimes a little more style would be appreciated. This natural-toned hat has that little extra that makes it highly wearable not only in the African scrub, but also to a Sunday afternoon barbecue.
This hemp hat is extremely breathable, and rather cute to boot.
Light, airy and with a wide brim, you'll be well protected from the sun. It's perfect for traveling in hot climates and being your natural self.
This is one of those hats where style leads its advantages, but it's still quite functional as well. If you're primarily doing a jeep safari in moderate weather, this simple but stylish hat may be right for you.
If you need an extra-wide brim for sun protection, this is the hat for you. It's got a double wire to support the wider brim, a nifty moisture-wicking headband and the mesh ventilation system around the crown that ensures you stay cool.
It's got all the other Tilley bells and whistles, too: the hidden stash pocket, front and back wind cords, and a water repellent finish in case you get caught in the rain. And don't forget, it floats, too.
Oh, and the double wind cord set-up is great for preventing theft by monkey. No guarantees, because some monkeys are wily buggers, but it doesn't make it easy for them. (By the way, the baboons in Ghana are downright criminals.)
Best Tilley Hat for Men on Safari - Reviews
The cotton duck canvas of the Tilley Wanderer Hat gives it a cozy feel as well as having a water repellant coating. The large grommets give plenty of ventilation for your head and this green safari hat has front and back wind cords for those especially breezy days.
What's really makes this a great African safari hat is its versatility.
You might sign up for a regular land safari and then discover the option of a canoe ride to do some bird and crocodile watching. Simply snap up the sides of this hat and you're set for your paddling adventure. It floats, too. Just in case.
Functionality is designed into every part of this sharp-looking, and possibly best safari hat.
You start with the ventilated panel along the top edge that keeps your head cool, and of course the band inside is moisture-wicking. Beyond that, there's a small pocket in the crown for hiding essentials or things you don't want to carry in your pockets.
Then you have the wide, stiff brim that excels at sun protection, and the specialized strap that offers two points of security should you get caught in a wind storm, or find yourself atop a windy escarpment watching a migration.
It'll even float if you drop it overboard. AND after you've put it through its paces, it's machine washable.
The only thing this hat doesn't do is give you a massage at the end of a long safari day.
Where the Tilley Wanderer can accommodate paddling adventures, the Paddler's hat is made for just that (obviously).
In addition to the flip-up sides that keep your hat out of the way when you're paddling, the front brim is stiffened to prevent it from flapping wildly in that on-the-water breeze.
The fabrics and color choices are also designed to reduce the glare from the water's surface, making a full day of paddling easier on your eyes.
If you know your African safari adventure includes a paddling adventure you should take a good look at the Tilley Paddler.
This is another one of those Tilley hats that has it all. It's quick-drying and adjustable, and just look at the major vent panels in the crown. This one's all about air circulation.
It's a nylon fabric, so not as cozy as cotton, but more practical and water resistant. This hat will float if you happen to lose it over water, though with an adjustable fit, that's unlikely.
Of course, the nice, wide brim does a great job of shielding you from the sun as well as reducing glare so it's easier to see the kob and bushback in the brush.
Best Boonie Hat for Safari - Reviews
Boonie hats have a unique style, and a lot of times when you think of them, you think of something more military in nature. While we love a good army surplus store, there are some countries, especially African ones, that don't take kindly to civilians wearing military gear, especially foreigners.
For this reason, we are not recommending military-themed boonie hats for your African safari. You just don't need the headache of soldiers, or police (which are often the same thing), taking an extra interest in you.
But the boonie hat is classic for safari terrain and should not be ignored. So here are some great, non-military, choices for boonie hats.
Best Boonie Hat for Women to Take on Safari - Reviews
Organically grown cotton is the main fabric for the crown of the REI Vented Explorer hat which ensures a soft, comfortable surface as well as a light and breathable. It's a really nice touch if you're not a fan of nylon or other synthetic fabrics.
There is some polyester in the mesh venting around the top of the crown and the side vents, but that's providing added ventilation, an important feature when you're on an African safari, or a camel trek in the Sahara. We should know.
The Explorer hat also has a great stash pocket, moisture-wicking headband and the good old reliable chin strap. It's soft and pliable and will fold or smoosh nicely into your luggage.
This is a solid adventuring hat designed with function, and some style, in mind. You can go wrong with a strong basic hat like this.
This is what you call a comfort hat. It's made from a lightweight hemp, recycled polyester and organically grown cotton fabric blend that's soft and cushy but great for ventilation and coolness.
The large brim keeps you shaded, the chin strap keeps it secure and the whole time, you get to look good wearing it.
Well-designed, but low-tech, this hat doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles but it'll do exactly what you need it to do – protect you from the sun.
Basic and straightforward,this Custom Tech Boonie is easily packable and eminently stylin'. If this is your type of look, then this hat is for you.
The woven damask patch adds a nice urban industrial touch that might seem counter-indicated on a safari but the simple function of sun protection and practicality will outweigh any counter comment with its incredible irony.
What's that all mean? It's a good hat if that's your style. Go for it.
Best Boonie Hat for Men to Take on Safari - Reviews
This super lightweight Boonie Hat is also superventilated, making it aces for doing anything outdoors, like watching cheetahs take down an antelope. This hat is so lightweight, it's like it's barely there. But it does its job and keeps you cool.
The other great thing is that it's adjustable and will fit most people. The toggle adjuster is especially nice because it's gentle. You don't have to cinch it down real tight and give yourself a headache just because you have a smaller hear. It's comfortable for everyone.
Brilliantly-designed, well-made. This is definitely one of the best African safari hats on this list.
Hidden in the crown of this hat is a little cape – seriously – to cover the back of your neck to protect it from sunburn, blowing sand and excessive heat. It's an excellent feature for a safari hat that not only provides an extra layer of shade, but more protection from bugs as well.
That bug protection? I was once walking down the street in a village in Eritrea. Out of nowhere, an inch-long bitey, stingy bug flew in, bit me in the neck and flew off. It all happened so fast I was stunned. A nasty bug like that wouldn't have been able to get to me if I'd had a hat with a cape, like this one.
Note: You can also spray the cape with natural insect repellent for maximum bug-repelling effectiveness.
This safari hat with neck flap has all of the other practical features you'd expect in an REI hat: very packable, mesh ventilation panels, chin strap, wicking headband and…drumroll please…it floats!
One thing we like about REI is that you can count on them to both create and sell good products. Quality is their thing.
Ultimate Safari Hat Buying Guide
You have hats made primarily from organic fabrics, like cotton and hemp. Then you have the ones made from more synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. Many are a combination of the two.
You might have a cotton had with a polyester mesh side-panel. Or the hat is mostly hemp, but some structural bits are synthetic. Generally, hat-makers use whatever material is best for the job for the function of that part.
Beware of the handsome leather safari hat. It may look good, but it gets awfully hot.
The main thing to keep in mind is that natural fibers are usually softer, and cozier, while synthetic fabrics are lighter, and usually more water-resistant and quicker-drying.
Shape and Style
This is the question of form vs function, isn't it? I mean any decent hat is going to protect you from the sun, but the question is how well will it do that?
Some of the hats here are more stylish while still doing a good job of providing sun protection, but maybe without all the little performance extras. That's okay. As long as it does a good job of its primary function, it can both look great and make a great African safari hat.
On the flip side, some of these hats are super-designed with so many features you don't know if you're buying a hat or a new car. They're very functional features, though, and we like the idea that someone who really knows hiking, safaris and outdoor sports has put a lot of thought in to making the perfect hat.
The most important thing is to find the balance between function and style that's right for you. All of these hats will protect you from the sun. Which one will do all the other things you want it to?
You'd think that wider is automatically better for sun protection, but that's not always the case. If the brim gets in the way, or makes you uncomfortable, and you choose not to wear the hat because of it, then it's not doing its job.
Too Wide – a brim that's extra wide, without sufficient support, will be floppy and for some people, irritating. While a large floppy brim has advantages like added shade and repelling bugs, it doesn't work for everyone.
Too Narrow – If the brim is too narrow, the hat won't do its job of protecting you from the sun. It also may not be good for cutting down glare or shielding your eyes when the sun is at just the wrong level for where you're looking. I don't think any of the hats on this list risk too narrow of a brim.
Just Right - The brim is an appropriate width to serve all of its functions without interfering in other tasks. Essentially it's doing great if you have all the protection you need and you forget it's there. Moderate brim width, 2.5-3.5" works for most people, in most situations.
Breathability can come from several factors.
If the material itself is light and breathable, then the hat will be too. This should be obvious. A light cotton, hemp or straw is breathable by its very nature.
Other, less breathable fabrics can make up the difference with special features like mesh panels and ventilation grommets. Sometimes these can be opened and closed for maximum control of airflow.
When looking for a hat that's going to keep you cool, breathability is a major factor. That's why leather hats don't make the cut. You want either a breathable fabric, or a ventilated structure, or both, for maximum coolness.
Packability vs Crushability
Packability and crushability are almost the same thing, but we think there should be a bit of a distinction.
Some hats are soft, maybe a bit floppy and are inherently packable because they lay flat, or nearly flat naturally. This is wonderful. My safari hat is like this. It lays completely flat and adds almost nothing to my carry-on.
Hats like this are often free-form and don't necessarily have much shape to lose. They make for a wonderfully packable safari hat.
Crushability, however, is when you have a hat with a distinct shape, but it's been made with materials, or sometimes by a design, that allow you to fold or crush the hat, stow it in your backpack or luggage and when you take it out, it returns to its original form.
A good example of a crushable safari hat is the Dorfman Pacific All-Season Crushable Hat listed above.
A crushable safari hat is also a very packable safari hat. That's the whole point, of course.
Water resistance may, or may not, be important to you. If your African safari isn't threatened by the rainy season, and you don't have any water activities, like a kayak adventure, planned, it may not matter how your hat handles water.
Do ask yourself, though, depending on where you live, is it likely I might want my hat to be water resistant when I wear it at home? Or on other travel adventures?
We lived in LA, so there wasn't much concern about rain most of the time.
However, in our travels in Southeast Asia, we've found ourselves caught out in unexpected rain a number of times. Once it starts looking like rain here, it's too late. You're not going to make it home before it starts.
If you want water resistance, look for natural fibers to be wax coated or otherwise specially treated. And look for synthetic materials to simply say water resistant.
Topping It off
There's a lot of information here, and a lot of hats to look at. As we always say, the best African safari hat is the one that's right for you.
So get something you love, that you're going to feel great in. You're going on a big adventure, dang it. Your hat should make you happy.
Psst...share your hat choice, and your safari plans, with your friends.