The 9 Best Eco-Friendly Sun Hats

Our top pick is the Sunshield Recycled Boater Hat from Conner Hats.

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Women wearing sunhat on beach

Blend Images - Peathegee Inc / Getty

Most people have heard about the importance of wearing sunscreen (consider a reef-safe option) when we head outdoors. But whether you’re gardening, hiking, or reading a book on your deck, topping off your outfit with a hat is another crucial way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. A great sun hat helps prevent cell skin cancers that start in the top layer of skin and are commonly found in sun-damaged areas like our face, ears, and scalp.

They can also add some flair and flavor to your wardrobe. Here are the best eco-friendly hats to help you keep the sun’s rays away this summer and beyond.

Best Overall: Conner Handmade Hats Sunshield Recycled Boater Hat

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Conner Handmade Hats Sunshield Recycled Boater Hat

Conner Handmade Hats

This affordable, versatile hat made from recycled plastic bottles will leave a smile on your face rather than a sunburn. It earned top-ranking for its 3.25-inch brim, UPF 40+ rating, and hidden sun shield that can be used to cover your neck for excellent all-around sun protection. 

It is also waterproof, foldable, lined with an organic cotton sweatband, and comes with a ventilated crown and a chin cord to keep it secure.

Best Budget: Lisa Says Gah Britt Bucket Hat

Lisa Says Gah Britt Bucket Hat

Lisa Says Gah

Lisa Bühler started this anti-fast fashion, pro-community brand to partner with women designers from around the world. It uses worker-friendly factories to create whimsical, affordable, and sustainable clothing.

This fresh take on the bucket hat is crafted in San Francisco. Each design is digitally printed onto cotton fabric with 100% biodegradable inks.

Best Splurge: Ninakuru Avery

Ninakuru Avery

Ninakuru

This authentic Panama-style hat is made from sustainably harvested Ecuadorian Toquilla straw.

The hats hand-woven in the Andean highlands by women in a fair-trade cooperative. Each receives dignified wages, health benefits, and educational assistance for their children. After initial production, the hats are shipped to a workshop in California, where final touches—like this French grosgrain ribbon—are added.

Best Straw: Cuyana Wide Brim Summer Hat

Cuyana Wide Brim Summer Hat

Cuyana

A top choice for its durability and affordability, this is also a sustainable and stylish version of the classic straw hat.

All Cuyana hats are made of toquilla palm fronds, which grow among the Andes mountains. The fronds are mindfully sourced and harvested while young and without harming the tree. Made in Ecuador, each hat is handmade by craftswomen in their own homes using traditional techniques that have been identified by UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Best Hemp: Tilley TH9 Melanie Hat

Tilley TH9 Melanie Hat

Tilley

Whether you want sun protection while hiking, fishing, lounging poolside, or visiting a farmer’s market, Canada’s Tilley has you covered.

Certified UPF 50+ and constructed from eco-friendly hemp, this wide-brimmed hat also has a hidden pocket so that you can stay hands-free for summer fun. It's machine-washable and unisex.

Best Bucket Hat: Girlfriend Collective 50/50 Bucket Hat

Girlfriend Collective Provence 50/50 Bucket Hat

Girlfriend Collective

The quintessential breezy bucket hat is a summertime staple—a stylish, sun-blocking accessory for beach days or backyard barbecues.

Girlfriend Collective blends recycled cotton scraps with organic cotton to create a sustainable upgrade to the classic bucket cap, saving water and carbon dioxide emissions during the production process. The hats are also 100% biodegradable and sewn in Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production certified factories.

Best Organic Cotton: Conner Handmade Hats Aussie Surf Organic Cotton Hat

Conner Handmade Hats Aussie Surf Organic Cotton Hat

EarthHero

Top off a big day of catching waves with this organic cotton hat. Its UPF 50+ rating offers top-notch sun protection, and the adjustable chin cord secures it from the wind. Simply rinse the saltwater out with water. You can also roll it up for easy storage or packing.

Connor’s hats are also shipped in biodegradable packaging made from Algae Bloom foam.

Best Baseball Cap: Patagonia P-6 Label Trad Cap

Patagonia P-6 Label Trad Cap

Backcountry

Patagonia has been making sustainable products for decades. Now the company is using their noggin—and yours—to keep plastic out of the ocean and the sun out of your eyes. 

This classic low-crown baseball-style cap features a brim made from Bureo’s fully traceable NetPlus 100% recycled fishing nets. The panels are constructed of organic cotton canvas and are Fair Trade Certified. The buckle strap makes it easy to adjust.

Best for Kids: CHOI Organic Handmade Organic Cotton Reversible Wide Brim Bucket Hat

CHOI Organic Handmade Organic Cotton Reversible Wide Brim Bucket Hat

CHOI Organic Handmade

These dual-sided designed hats are made from organic cotton from Fair Trade cultivation projects in Uganda and Kyrgystan. Non-GMO seeds are used. The production process has been Global Organic Textile Standard certified. 

Machine-washable with mild detergent. Conveniently designed with elastic allows the hat to be adjusted to fit a head circumference of 18 to 21 inches.

Final Verdict

If you want a hat that covers your face eyes, ears, and neck, the Sunshield Recycled Boater’s Hat by Conner’s Hats ticks all the boxes with its wide brim and neck shield. If you’re looking for a fresh take on the classic bucket hat, Girlfriend’s 100% biodegradable option provides great sun protection and leaves a small environmental footprint.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What style of hat offers the best sun protection?

    According to public health experts, the best sun hat has a wide brim (about 3 inches) that shades your face, head, ears, and neck.

    The fabric the hat is made of is also essential. Choose materials that naturally block or absorb ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Darker colors are better at blocking UV rays than lighter colors. For example, a denim shirt provides SPF 1700 while a white t-shirt offers SPF 7.

    Polyester, wool, nylon, and silk are better at blocking the sun than cotton, flax, straw, or hemp, as their weaves tend to be thicker. However, many fabrics with lower ultraviolet protection factors (UPF) are also breathable, which can help keep you cool in the sun. Straw hats, for example, can be utilized with a cool organic cotton lining for added protection.

    Furthermore, many outdoor clothing companies treat their products with colorless dyes that block both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays.

  • Do I still need sunblock if I wear a hat?

    Absolutely! Wearing a hat is a great way to reduce your sun exposure, but public health experts recommend combining it with other strategies. This includes wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, clothing that covers your arms and legs, a piece of fabric that covers the back of your neck, and staying indoors or in the shade during midday hours.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Heidi Wachter has been writing about health and the environment for over a decade. An avid fair-skinned hiker and cyclist, she’s always seeking out new ways to keep her skin protected from the sun.

View Article Sources
  1. What Are Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers?: Types of Skin Cancer.American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society, Inc., 26 July 2019.

  2. UV Radiation.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 June 2021.

  3. What to Wear to Protect Your Skin from the Sun.American Academy of Dermatology, American Academy of Dermatology Association.

  4. Venosa, Ali. “5 Things That Affect How Well Your Clothes Block UV Rays.The Skin Cancer Foundation, The Skin Cancer Foundation, 9 June 2021.