It’s a mission to find the best possible safari hat. My first search for a good safari hat turned up very little and left me struggling to find a great hat for a life of safari. We wanted a stylish hat that looked great in photos not because of its functional purpose. For my generation, the idea of protecting ourselves from the very scary sun is almost a joke. However, on safari, we have come to learn you’re faced with long days out in a strong equatorial sun.
Despite loads of stylish safari gear, a good safari hat serves a purpose. Anyone who’s spent time in the African sun can attest to the power of the rays and a good hat is the first line of defense from sun damage. I became obsessed with the idea of the perfect hat and found my self-asking to try total strangers hats.
With all of this testing and searching, I made some headway (pun intended). After all that effort, my six-month mission to find the best safari hat money can buy was a total success.
What Makes A Great Safari Hat?
Everything that comprises a great sun hat is found in a safari hat, essentially they’re the same thing. The one exception with a safari hat is that you can get away with more rugged materials look stylish and not like a Crocodile Dundee impersonator.
- Wide Brim: The primary reason for wearing a hat on safari is to provide protection from the sun while you’re out in the African bush in search of wildlife
- Waterproof: It may seem silly to have a waterproof hat in the dry season, but you’re probably going to be sweating a lot. Not to mention there is no point in buying a flimsy cotton hat that will only last a short while. We’ve been caught in rain showers while on safari in both South Luangwa and the Masai Mara, without a hat and it sucked.
- Comfort: If you’re going to be wearing something on your head all day making sure that it is comfortable is a no brainer. Although, safari pith helmets are world famous for being the headwear of famous British explorers they’re terribly uncomfortable. Yes, we’ve tried them.
- Material: Leather, rubber, or synthetic all have their own advantages. What you pick for your safari hat depends on personal preference. My pick was for leather because it has the classic safari adventure feel and look – and with maintenance and care, they can last forever.
- Style: What you wear on your head says a lot about you. I had my idea of what the perfect safari hat would like and I was set on finding the perfect fit.
Why You Need A Safari Hat
Unlike safari clothes or safari boots we would say everyone needs a hat when on safari. Especially in East Africa! The majority of people coming on safari are from more Northern climates away from the equator. The sun near the center of the earth is intense.
You spend a lot of time outside on a safari. As I said we probably do not take sun protection seriously enough, but meet anyone who has spent their days in Africa and they all wear a hat. After spending a year traveling the continent we can’t suggest a hat more, and consider it an essential item to our Africa packing list.
On our first safari, I ended up paying for it with a nice sunburn turned into scab on my face because I didn’t think about sun protection. Do yourself a favor and invest in sun protection.
There are only a few things we absolutely stand by in packing for a safari and a good hat is one of them. At the very least bring a baseball cap. There is a reason every game ranger and guide we meet wears a hat. Safari attire often goes beyond style and serve an important purpose.
The Best Safari Hats
Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat
Tilley has long been famed for their hats. They’re seen the world over and have seen more than a few adventures. It holds its shape and the material has a stylish look to it. What sets Tilley apart is that they guarantee their hats for life against wear and tear.
A wide brim keeps the sun off your hat. What I love in addition to the guarantee are the features such as its ability to float in the water and a hidden pocket to store and I.D. or money. It has everything you could want in a great safari hat. Although, the price point may deter some – just keep in mind it has a lifetime guarantee.
Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora
I talk a lot about a stylish hat, but this, in my opinion, is the least attractive. However, this hat is probably the most practical hat out of our selection of safari hats. That being said for a synthetic floppy hat it looks pretty good. The Bora Bora is made out of nylon, is well vented, packs well, and features UPF technology. Comfort is the strongest characteristic of this hat as it keeps your head cool while sitting snuggly on your head. Unlike leather that can be itchy you’ll forget you’re even wearing this hat while out in the bush. I love the built-in sweatband to keep moisture out of your eyes.
Panama Jack Sun Hat
This hat may not be the classic safari hat, but it still looks great and serves it’s purpose. A leather hat may look good on safari, but once you get to the coastline of Africa it may be time to put it away. The Panama Jack Hat has the ability to look great on the beach and in the bush. It’s probably one of the best all around hats on this list, and it’s rugged cotton construction means you can stick it in your bag without fear of damaging it.
Conner Hats Men’s Bounty Hunter
This is one of my favorite hats on the list, but it’s also one of the most expensive. The hat is rugged and stylish. It still is highly practical being made out of sturdy organic cotton. You wouldn’t even guess the headwear is made out of cotton upon first look. A wide brim with built-in wire that can be adjusted assures that it accomplishes the task of sun protection. The distressed cotton wins me over for looks and could fool some for leather. This is a great winner for those who don’t like to wear animals products.
Dorfman-Pacific Weathered Cotton Outback Hat
This hat is a contender for the best hat on the list, at least according to user reviews across the internet. It’s a great looking hat that is sturdy and offers plenty of protection. The wide brim will be sure to protect you from long days in the bush and despite being black, the thick cotton material remains cool. I could try and sell you on this hat or I can let the reviews on Amazon do the talking.
If you’re doing you’re shopping in Southern Africa you will come across this hat. It’s the hat I personally wear and it’s one of my favorite safari fashion items. The Rogue hats are manufactured in Southern Africa and can be difficult to find off the continent. However, it’s all made with great quality leather and built to last. These hats are simply amazing and mine will likely last a lifetime. The only downside is finding them, granted there is one listed on Amazon.
Outback Trading Co Men’s Co. Kodiak Oilskin Hat
This is the perfect hat for those going into the outback, or the African bush. Like most of the hats on this list it’s made out of cotton. The cotton has been treated with oil making meaning it is water resistant. So when you get caught in a thunderstorm you don’t need to worry about the safety of your hat or getting uncomfortable. It’s a stylish hat and probably one of my favorites on the list.
Now sit back with your safari hat, a sundowner, and enjoy the bush!