We were on a mission to find the best possible safari hat and African hat for the bush. My first search for a good safari hat turned up very little and left me struggling to find a great hat for safari. We wanted a stylish hat that looked great in photos while in Africa, and not just solely because of its functional purpose.
For my generation, the idea of protecting ourselves from the sun can be a joke. However, on safari, we have come to learn you’re faced with long days out in the strong equatorial sun and to avoid skin damage, a packable safari sun hat is a necessity.
Despite loads of stylish safari gear, all the good safari hats serves a purpose. Anyone who’s spent time in the African sun can attest to the rays’ power, and a safari hat is the first line of defense from sun damage. I became obsessed with the idea of the perfect safari cap and found myself self-asking to try total strangers’ hats to find the perfect fit.
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 that money can buy was a total success.
The Best Safari Hats
Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat ($99)
Tilley has long been famed for its sun protection hats. They’ve seen the world over and have seen more than a few adventures. The Tilley LTM6 Airflo holds its shape, and the material has a stylish look to it. Tilley is set apart because 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 an I.D. or money. It has everything you could want in a great safari hat. Although the higher price point may deter some – just keep in mind it has a lifetime guarantee.
Shop For Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat ($90)
Columbia Bora Bora Booney II ($30)
I talk a lot about stylish safari hats, but this Columbia safari cap is the least attractive. However, this hat is the most practical hat and definitely a cheap safari hat out of our selection. For a synthetic floppy hat that you can stuff and crush anytime, it still looks pretty good.
The Bora Bora is made 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, which 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.
Shop For Bora Bora Booney II
Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero ($60)
The Seattle Sombrero is a hat designed to do it all. It will repel rain and then protect you from the sun. It’s durable, lightweight, and can even float should you drop it in the water. You can take it anywhere with you and stuff it in your suitcase without worrying that you will ruin the shape.
This safari hat will keep the sun off your face and dry in the inevitable African rainstorm. The Sombrero has a wide brim and waterproof GoreTex. It’s the most technology-packed safari hat on this list.
It also floats in the water, which will come in handy if you decide to dip in one of the Zanzibar beaches or while white water rafting on the Nile River. A cinch strap in the headband allows for a tight fit to keep the hat on your head in windy conditions.
Shop For Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero
Henschel Hats Aussie Breezer ($38)
This is one of those stylish hats that aren’t just great for safari, but for everyday wear and protection from the sun. It’s made out of cotton and mesh, so it provides breathability and won’t have your whole head sweating out the day.
It also has an adjustable chin strap which will be useful if your safari guide hauling it to see a pack of wild dogs or some other amazing safari animal.
Shop For Henschel Hats Aussie Breezer
Scala All-Season Crushable Hat ($59)
We love the Scala All-Season Crushable Hat. It’s made of wool felt and is an all-around great-looking olive green stylish safari hat. The style is similar to a fedora with a very Western vibe. It looks great, and the price point isn’t bad, either.
The best part about it is that for such a good-looking hat the material still allows you to crush the hat to fit inside your luggage. Because no one likes to have to wear their hat home on a 15-hour flight. Once you take it out of your luggage, it snaps right back into shape!
Shop For Scala All-Season Crushable Hat
Panama Jack Safari Hat ($39)
This hat may not be the classic safari hat, but it still looks great and serves its 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 can look great on the beach and in the bush. It’s probably one of the best all-around hats on this list, and its rugged cotton construction means you can stick it in your bag without fear of damaging it.
Shop For Panama Jack Safari Hat
Filson Tin Packer Hat ($70)
The Tin Packer is a great go-to all-around safari hat for women and is the perfect item to add to your safari clothes for women. Filson makes a great product, which is no exception with the tin packer hat. It’s water-repellent and wear-resistant, so it will last for many years.
Shop For Tin Packer
Conner Hats Men’s Bounty Hunter ($46)
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 and a great sun hat for men. 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 as it looks very high dollar.
A wide brim with a 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 animal products but still want an awesome jungle hat.
Shop For Conner Hats Men’s Bounty Hunter
Dorfman Hat Co. Weathered Outback Hat ($39)
This hat is a contender for the best safari 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.
The brim is shapeable and broad, so you can bend it exactly how you would like. I could try and sell you this hat, or I can let the reviews on Amazon do the talking.
Shop For Dorfman Hat Co. Weathered Outback Hat
Outback Trading Co. Kodiak Oilskin Hat ($50)
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.
Shop For Outback Trading Co. Kodiak Oilskin Hat
Features In The Best Safari Hats
Everything that comprises a great sun hat is found in a safari cap, essentially, they’re the same thing. The one exception with a safari hat is that you can get away with more rugged materials that look stylish and not like a Crocodile Dundee impersonator.
The primary reason for wearing a cap on safari is to provide protection from the sun while you’re searching for wildlife in the African bush. Some of the best African hats for women in this post have very wide brims!
Having a waterproof hat in the dry season may seem silly, but you’ll probably 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 safari hat, and it sucked.
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 and look great in safari photos, they’re terribly uncomfortable. Yes, we’ve tried them.
Leather, rubber, and 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.
What you wear on your head says a lot about you. I had my idea of what the perfect safari cap would look 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! Most people coming on safari are from more Northern climates away from the equator and are unaware of the sun’s damage around Africa. The sun near the center of the earth is intense and can leave you sunburned in a matter of minutes.
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, sunglasses, and long-sleeved breathable shirt. After spending a year traveling the continent, we can’t suggest a safari 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 that turned into a scab on my face because I didn’t think about sun protection too seriously, which cost me my face dearly. Do yourself a favor and invest in sun cream and a hat.
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 or cheap packable sun hat. Safari attire often goes beyond style and cool vacation photos – it serves an important purpose. Below are our recommendations for the best safari hat. They are separated by unisex sun protection hats, men’s and women’s safari hats – but in reality, it’s a hat and can go on equally on men and women!
Book A Safari in Africa
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They suggest camps and lodges then present you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing to select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent.
Our Favorite Lodges in Africa
We’ve spent over a year on safari, tried out dozens of lodges, and visited nearly every park in Africa. While it’s impossible to say we’ve visited every lodge, we’ve seen a fair amount. Check out our list of favorite lodges in Africa. Have you visited any yourself?
Plan Your Trip to Africa
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
- Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
- Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
- Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
- Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
- Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.