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Kaiola Surf Hat in Action

The Kaiola Surf Hat in action. Photo: Kaiola Surf Hats


The Inertia

If you’ve ever surfed with a hat, then you’ve likely lost a hat as well. Be it for warmth or sun protection, a hat is an essential surf accessory that can greatly enhance your session. Not only does a hat offer sun protection for your skin, but it protects your eyes from the sun as well, which can be particularly helpful during midday or sunset sessions. Or, if you live in a colder region, a surf cap can help prevent heat loss via the head, doing wonders to keep you warm. While an old trucker hat will certainly do the trick on occasion, a hat specifically designed for the lineup can make a world of difference.

What makes a good surf hat?

What makes a good surf hat is a matter of opinion, but there are a number of factors that most can agree on. A solid hat will offer sun protection or warmth, include stay-put technology, be available at an affordable price point, be able to withstand the elements, and be somewhat stylish.

Instead of spending your session tracking down your hat, invest in one that will stay put so you can focus on what really matters: the waves. After the sea claimed a number of my hats, I took it upon myself to test out some of the best in the game. I took into consideration style, durability, and price. Here are my seven favorite stay-put surf hats.

The Surf Hats

1. Dakine Indo Bucket Hat ($40)
2. Patagonia Surf Brim Hat ($49)
3. Dakine W20 Surf Cap ($30)
4. Kaiola Surf Hat ($65)
5. Billabong Surf Bucket Hat ($30)
6. Melin A-Game Hydro ($59)
7. Everyday California Waterproof Snapback ($32)
8. O’Neill Lancaster Hat ($25)
9. Connor Aussie Organic Surf Hat ($35-$44)
10. Patagonia R3 Yulex Cap ($49)

 

Dakine Indo Bucket Hat

1. Dakine Indo Bucket Hat ($40)

Style: 4/5
Stays Put: 5/5
Value for Price: 5/5
Overall: 4.67

If there’s one hat to rule them all it’s this one. The Indo comes with a secure chinstrap that has yet to fail me, and even if it were to get ripped free, it floats. There’s a velcro compartment inside the top of the hat. And, if you’re not worried about looking like an absolute kook, there’s a detachable neck protector flap (that stores in said velcro compartment if you are worried about such things). I would point out that the hat runs on the snug side (all the better for staying put), but if you’re having any doubts go for the M/L over the S/M.

Check Price on Evo, or on Amazon.

Patagonia surf brim

2. Patagonia Surf Brim Hat ($49)

Style: 5/5
Stays Put: 5/5
Value for Price: 4/5
Overall: 4.67

Very similar to the Indo Surf Hat, Patagonia’s Surf Brim ticks all the right boxes. It stays put incredibly well, provides great sun protection (no detachable neck flap though), and as a cool added feature it has an adjustable crown. One more style point than the Indo for the fun green color it comes in. Oh, and style points for being made by Patagonia, because using recycled nylon and going easy on the planet in general is stylish as hell.

Buy here.

3. Dakine W20 Surf Cap ($30)

Style: 3/5
Stays Put: 5/5
Value for Price: 5/5
Overall: 4.33

Be it overhead waves or blaring sunshine, the Dakine W20 Surf Cap is ready for anything and everything. Made from nylon or polyester, the cap is rated UPF 50+ and dries quickly. Standout features include an adjustable chin-strap that doesn’t rub, mesh ventilation at the ears for enhanced hearing, a brim that flips up for paddling, and an adjustable back closure. Although a fuller brim would offer more sun protection, the bill offers just enough while still maintaining a sleek design.

Buy here.

4. Kaiola Surf Hat ($65)

Style: 5/5
Stays Put: 5/5
Value for Price: 4/5
Overall: 4.67

Made by surfers for surfers, the Kaiola Surf Hat includes every detail you could want in a hat. Although the price is a little steep, the hat features a slim yet secure chin strap, a bendable but strong visor for enhanced paddling vision, a padded internal headband, and offers UPF 80 protection. Additionally, the hat floats, is lightweight, dries quickly, and the chin strap can be easily tucked in, providing for a seamless water to land transition. Available in two different sizes and a variety of color options, the hat fits securely even without the chin strap, but it’s there should you need it.

Buy here.

billabong surf bucket hat

5. Billabong Surf Bucket Hat ($30)

Style: 5/5
Stays Put: 4/5
Value for Price: 5/5
Overall: 4.67

Billabong’s take on the classic surf bucket brings the style with a bit of a wider and floppier outline than the performance-oriented Dakine Indo. It stays put well with a neoprene strap but the lack of a super snug fit means you’re going to have a bit more wiggle-room when duck diving.

Buy here.

Melin A-Game Hydro Surf Hat

Melin A-Game Hydro Surf Hat. Sleek, water-proof. Floats. It’s a good one.

6. Melin A-Game Hydro ($59)

Style: 5/5
Stays Put: 3/5
Value for Price: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

The Melin A-Game Hydro, simply put, is one of the best hats I’ve ever owned. I think I left it in transit shifting between a car and a plane at some point, and any and every time I think about the genre of surf hats, I miss this one dearly. It was a sleek black, waterproof, and it floated. It was also more comfortable than most hats that I wear for some reason. It’s made of lightweight poly with perforated side and rear panels to assist with breathability. The interior lining is moisture-wicking, and also has a hidden pocket…for whatever you want to stash in there. The only thing I felt slightly self-conscious about was how tall the crown of the hat appeared on my head. For some reason, it seemed a bit fuller than other options I’ve explored. That said, Melin is known for their premium, Rolls Royce style hats, and the attention to detail and elevated nature of the A-Game Hydro is vastly apparent. If you’re looking for a great hat that can also hit the water, the buck stops here.

Buy here.

 

7. Everyday California Waterproof Snapback ($32)

Style: 5/5
Stays Put: 2/5
Value for Price: 4/5
Overall: 3.66

While surf hats are ideal for sun protection, they are often lacking in the style department. Everyday California’s Waterproof Snapback looks like your favorite snapback but it is waterproof and better yet, it floats. The adjustable hat is made from Aviator-grade satin fabric, which allows it be waterproof and prevents it from getting waterlogged during sessions. The absences of a drawstring means you may still be playing fetch from time to time, but the floating ability comes in clutch because if you look hard enough, you will find it eventually. Insider tip: if you have long hair, pull half of your hair through the hole and secure it with a rubberband to the remaining hair to prevent ever losing your hat again.

Buy here.

8. O’Neill Lancaster Hat ($25)

Style: 4/5
Stays Put: 4/5
Value for Price: 5/5
Overall: 4.33

O’Neill’s Lancaster Hat is a classic bucket style surf hat featuring a fun camouflage print as well as other colors. Made in the USA from 100% polyester, the hat has a lightweight poly feel and offers UPF 50 protection. The hat features a moisture wicking sweatband, which was much appreciated during hot days on the beach but easily soaked up water, resulting in some drippage while waiting for waves. Although the hat flopped around a bit when turtling or duck diving on bigger sets, the detachable drawcord ensured it never made an actual getaway. Like the Dakine Indo, the Lancaster Hat includes an internal Velcro pocket, perfect for stashing wax, chapstick, or whatever else you may need.

Buy here.

 

9. Connor Aussie Organic Surf Hat ($35-$44)

Style: 4/5
Stays Put: 4/5
Value for Price: 5/5
Overall: 4.33

Reminiscent of a day in the bush, the Connor Aussie Organic Surf Hat offers a classic surf style and easily rolls up, making it well suited for travel. Made from organic cotton, the hat ensures full sun protection in the form of a 3.25” brim and is rated UPF 50+. While the hat may flop around in heavier surf, the chin cord with a secure toggle makes it ideal for beach hangs or smaller days. In an effort to be as eco-conscious as possible, the hat is made with algae bloom foam, features biodegradable tag connectors and 100% recycled paper tags, and is delivered in water-soluble garment bags and biodegradable packaging.

Buy here. 

 

10. Patagonia R3 Yulex Cap ($49)

Style: 3/5
Stays Put: 5/5
Value for Price: 3/5
Overall: 3.67

If you live somewhere where the water gets chilly and you plan to surf year-round, you’ll need something to keep your noggin warm, plain, and simple. Patagonia is in the business of making top of the line outdoor and adventure gear and their R3 Yulex Cap is no exception. Made from Yulex natural rubber and Fair Trade certified sewn, the cap is sustainably made without sacrificing performance. Best suited for water temps from 48-55 degree Fahrenheit, the cap fits snug without giving you a brain squeeze and provides essential added warmth without fully committing to a hooded suit. Like most surf caps, socializing can prove to be challenging as the cap limits hearing ability but when it comes to staying warm, something’s got to give.

Buy here. 

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and gear features from The Inertia, click here.

Disclosure: The Inertia may receive a small commission if you make a purchase from the affiliate links included in this feature at no additional cost to you. Our goal is always to entertain, educate, and inspire, and we hope you find this feature useful.

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