The matter of sun protection is something that most people tend to overlook. When it comes to protecting your head from the damaging rays of the sun, you just can’t go wrong with wearing your trusty hat or cap. Most of the time, choosing the right head protection all comes down to personal preference.
If you’re looking for a hat that provides the right balance of protection, style and comfort, you should definitely consider getting a boonie. Luckily for you, we have a handy guide that will help you shop for a boonie that’s worth your money.
What is a boonie hat?
For the uninitiated, boonie hats are wide-brimmed headwear that are commonly used by military forces. Also referred to as a “bush hat”, this hat’s design can be likened to a bucket hat but with a much stiffer brim. This type of hat generally comes with a fabric tape band that is sewn around the crown.
The band serves as a holding place for things such as leaves, twigs and other types of vegetation that can be used for effective camouflage. The hat also features a strap that keeps it in place and for added stability.
Boonie hats were first utilized by the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. They were first worn by the U.S. Army Green Berets along with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and members of the Australian army in the field.
Although many boonie hats come in a wide variety of camouflage designs, their application is not just limited to military use. These days, boonie hats are the headwear of choice of folks who are engaged in outdoor recreation such as fishing, hunting, camping, hiking and many more.
Why a boonie hat?
So why wear a boonie hat? Apart from making you look like a true outdoorsman, there are actually many benefits to wearing this headgear. If you are still on the fence about getting a boonie hat, these reasons might just change your mind:
- It’s the right size and shape – without entering the sombrero territory, the boonie is just the right size and shape, especially with regards to outdoor activities. The size is good enough to provide ample sun protection and the shape isn’t too unwieldy that you’re constantly whacking it against something. Despite the conservative size and shape, it still provides more coverage than a bucket hat.
- It’s comfortable – while we all want the protection that hats provide, this doesn’t mean that comfort should take a backseat in your list of headwear priorities. It’s a good thing that boonie hats don’t exactly skimp when it comes to comfort. Try wearing a 100% boonie and once they’re on, you could easily forget that you’re wearing one. They’re also washable and easy to dry.
- It’s portable – tired of hats that constantly need babysitting? If so, then you’ll have a lot to like with a boonie hat. Always on the go? Just wad it up, jam it in your backpack, suitcase or vest and you’re ready to go. Try doing that with a Stetson or straw hat. Once you need it again, just pick it up, dust it a little bit and you’re back in the sun protection business. As far as portability goes, boonie hats can’t be beat.
- It’s affordable – unlike other types of hats, a boonie hat won’t have you hanging on to your dear wallet. You can get a boonie hat for as little as $5 to $10 which simply can’t be said with most baseball hats and the like. They’re so cheap that you can buy several hats (just in case you’re forgetful or the type of person who always loses his hat) and it won’t even make a dent in your budget.
- It comes in many different colors and patterns – part of the fun of owning boonies is collecting the many different colors and patterns that they come with. While khaki tan and olive drab should suit most people’s needs, the real fun comes with collecting hats with camo patterns. Boonies are available in a wide variety of camouflage patterns like woodland, desert, urban, tiger stripe and even the digital multicam that’s favored by the U.S. Army.
As you can see, the boonie hat is not just a functional sun protection but it comes with its own set of awesome benefits as well. Let us tell you that you can’t go wrong with a good boonie.
What makes a good boonie hat?
Not all boonie hats are created equal. That’s why shopping for a boonie hat requires a little bit of thought. You can’t just choose a boonie hat and think that you’re all set. To get the most out of your solar protecting hat, you need to get one that actually meets your needs. Thankfully, we have a handy guide below on how to choose a good boonie hat.
Mind the fit
Unlike baseball caps and other types of hat, boonies are not adjustable. If you want good sun protection and comfort, it goes without saying that you should wear a boonie that’s a good fit. So ideally, you will want to shop for your boonie hat in person so you can try them on.
If you’re shopping online, a good rule of thumb is to get a hat that’s one size bigger than you measure. This can become tricky since sizing can vary depending on the style and manufacturers.
Consider the fabric
Most boonie hats are available in cotton and cotton blends. This makes them machine washable which is a huge benefit for many folks. For the best comfort, an all-cotton boonie should get the job done. However, cotton boonies have the tendency to shrink after getting wet when compared to a cotton blend.
Again, it would be preferable to choose half a size higher when buying an all-cotton hat. After a couple of wash, the hat should feel more snug. When drying a 100% cotton boonie, opt for an air dry than throwing it into a dryer.
Reversible is good
Consider getting a boonie with a darker brim because it won’t bounce the sunlight back into your eyes. This is an issue with many baseball caps as the sunlight tends to bounce off the underside of the brim which can blind you. In this case, it’s recommended that you get a two-tone boonie with a light outer covering and a darker inner covering. This is why it’s good to consider a reversible boonie hat.
Check for air vents
Boonies have vents for that much-needed breathability. If you are around a very hot and humid area, then there’s not much that these vents can do. However, it’s not saying that the vents don’t have their purpose. If you tend to sweat a lot in your head, look for a boonie that features larger vents for better ventilation.
Check for the strap
Most if not all boonies have a chinstrap that’s attached to the hat. Again, you will want to fit the hat in person to make sure that the strap wraps around your chin just right. However, there are boonies that feature adjustable chinstraps which would be ideal in general. The strip adds stability and will prevent your hat from being blown away in case things get rough.
That’s pretty much it! Buying a boonie hat is a no-nonsense affair but it really helps if you know what to look for in a good boonie.
What’s the best boonie in the market?
Again, choosing a boonie hat is a fairly simple affair but with the number of options out there, it’s hard not to get confused. If you are in the mood for recommendations, we have a number of top-rated boonies below that’s definitely worth checking out.
Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hats
Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 3 inches
Specific features: 100% nylon, Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection, Omni-wick sweatband and mesh, adjustable chin strap
Best use: travel, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation
Columbia is a name that’s associated with high quality outerwear and sportswear. Thus, it’s not hard to have high expectations of the Bora Bora Booney II. Fortunately, Columbia has managed to deliver once again with the Bora Bora Booney II.
The hat is made from 100% textured nylon on the brim, sides and top which provides top-notch comfort and sun protection. The patented Omni-Shade UPF 50 ensures that you’re well protected from the sun despite extended periods of exposure. The Omni-Wick sweatband and mesh ensures good breathability while keeping moisture at bay which keeps your head cool at all times.
The sweat management technology of this boonie is nothing short of impressive and it’s clear that it is designed for the outdoor life. On top of it all, the hat only weighs 4 oz which is not just light but won’t make you look like a dork while wearing it.
Dimensions: – N/A
Specific features: Lightweight and crushable with flat top and floppy brim, 45% Polyester, 55% Cotton, Military specs, Chin strap with cord lock to keep secure
Best use: hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, travel
The hat is made from 45% polyester and 55% cotton which in a sense, allows you to get the best of both worlds. The cotton gives the hat great breathability and it’s good for absorbing sweat. On the other hand, the polyster provides the much-needed durability and makes the hat resistant to stretching and shrinking. The boonie features military specs which means that you can use it from activities like fishing to field training.
Another thing worth pointing out is that the Rapiddominance Boonie is very lightweight. The floppy brim allows you to wad it up and throw it in your jacket or backpack without concerning about damage. It comes with a chinstrap and leather cord lock to ensure that the thing stays in your head. Overall, it’s a great boonie that should suit most people’s needs.
Cosmos Tactical Boonie
Dimensions: Inner Diameter: 7 1/2″, Brim: 2 1/2″ Wide, Crown: 3 1/4″ High.
Specific features: Adjustable chin strap ensures a secure fit, Foldable, very convenient to take it anywhere, Wide brim and screened side vents are sure to keep you cool in the blazing sun
Best use: hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, travel
The Tactical Jungle Hat from Cosmos can only be described as a no-nonsense headwear and it’s about as accurate as it gets. For less than $10, you get one of the best all-around boonies in the market. This boonie provides great comfort and secure fit as you go about your outdoor adventures.
The 2 ½ inches brim ensures that your face, ears and neck are protected from the hot sun. For the matter of ventilation, the Cosmos hat features side vents that should keep your head cool even when you are exposed to sunlight for an extended amount of time. The chinstrap is made of fabric so it won’t cause any chafing or discomfort.
This hat is also very portable because you can just roll it up, stuff it in your back and be on your merry way. You can trust that the hat will be free from any damage later on. Definitely one of the best budget boonies out there.
The Go-to Boonie Hat
Dimensions: Brim: 2 1/2″ Wide
Specific features: 55% Cotton / 45% Poly, Completely crushable and packable, Ventilation Side Holes, One Size Fits Most
Best use: camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, beach, outdoor recreation, travel, backpacking
Here’s another “bang for the buck” boonie that everybody should check out. KBETHOS’ signature boonie hat is made from 55% Cotton and 45% Polyester. The cotton should make the hat more breathable and the polyster will make the hat more durable and resistant to many elements.
The overall construction of the hat can only be described as high quality. It’s a one size fits all hat, so it should be a good fit for most people. Like all good boonies, this signature hat comes with side holes for excellent ventilation. To add to the comfort value and stability, it also comes with a fabric chin cord.
With all that said, the best feature of the Go-to Boonie Hat is that it comes with a wide variety of colors and patterns. From standard khaki to desert camo, there something here for everyone. As the name implies, it’s your go-to boonie if you’re in doubt.
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat
Dimensions: 9 x 10 x 6 inches
Specific features: SolarShield construction, UPF 50, Foam-stiffened brim, Flexible, circumferential piping on brim edge, Mesh-lined crown, Ripstop nylon/polyester blended fabric, Vents in crown
Best use: camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, outdoor recreation, travel, backpacking
Looking for a hat that’s more on the high end side and would make you look like an explorer to boot? Well, you should definitely take a look at the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat. This Sombriolet hat features SolarShield construction and UPF 50 certified for that ultimate solar protection.
The strategically placed vents in the crown along with the moisture wicking mesh lining will provide breathability and keep your head cool and dry. The brim is equipped with piping along the edge that adds wind resistance. The hat also comes with a TransAction headband that will ensure a good fit while wicking away moisture. The chin cord is removable and adjustable which is great for making sure the hat stays in place.
It’s also made from Nylon / polyester blended fabric so you can trust that it’s both comfortable, quick drying and durable. Again, it’s a solid high-end boonie that delivers on all fronts.
Sunday Afternoons Adult Adventure Hat
Dimensions: – N/A
Specific features: 100% Polyester, 4″ down-sloping front brim, 33/4″ sides with floatable foam core and Poly brim wire, 71/2 inch back veil neck flap with lift-up tab, UPF 50+ Certified, Strategic mesh ventilation
Best use: camping, beach, hunting, fishing, gardening, hiking, outdoor recreation, travel, backpacking
At first look, one of the things you’ll immediately notice is that this adventure hat is just oozing in style. Made from 100% polyster, this hat is strong, durable and can withstand most chemicals and elements. This gives the hat quick drying properties as well.
The UPF 50+ Certified rating assures you that you get superior protection from the sun. What makes the Sunday Afternoons Adult Adventure Hat different from the rest is its back veil neck flab which means that your entire neck area gets total coverage as well. The mesh ventilation around the crown ensures that your head will stay cool despite the hot sun. If you sweat too much in the head, don’t worry because this hat has moisture wicking properties as well.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the hat is actually available in many different colors but not in your standard camo patterns. For the money, you’ll be hard pressed to find a hat that’s as durable, comfortable and with good coverage as this one.
And there you go! These are some of the top-rated boonie hats that you can actually buy. Hopefully, you have found a good one based on our recommendations.
To finalize things…
If you consider yourself to be a true outdoorsman, it’s imperative that you add a boonie hat (or two) in your outdoor wear. They’re long lasting, comfortable, affordable and gives you excellent sun protection, what’s not to like? Take into account the tips that we have provided in this post and you should find a boonie that best fits your needs.
Are you a fan of boonie hats? What’s your favorite brand or model? Let us know in the comments to get some discussions going. Be sure to share this post with your traveling, fishing and outdoor pals as well.