It’s difficult to find a sun hat that’s just right.
To me, the most important feature of a sun hat is a wide brim. If I’m wearing a hat for a reason other than to keep my head warm, it’s to keep the sun off my face. If I’m trying to keep the sun off my face, I want a wide brim to provide as much coverage as possible.
The second most important feature of a sun hat for me is that it’s made from natural fibers. During my search for a perfect hat, I bought on at Costco for $15. It had good coverage and it looked cute on me, but when I wore it in the beating sun of Northern New Mexico, my whole body felt overheated. I hadn’t paid attentiong to the tag which detailed the materials from which the hat had been made, but I gave it a look after feeling unexplainably much too hot for a couple of days. Yep–polyester. It was made from a polyester blend. I knew wearing clothes made from polyester (even blends!) was not for me. Polyester makes my armpits exceedingly stinky and keeps me really hot. In the winter, I can wear clothing with some polyester in it when I’m trying to stay warm (I just live with my extra stinky armpits), but in the summer? Forget about it! My Costco hat proved even polyester headgear holds in too much of my heat and makes me uncomfortable.
The third feature I want in a hat is crushability. I live a rough and tumble life, and my material possessions have to stand up to that. I need my material possession–including my sun hat–to be rugged. My hat is eventually going to be sat on or stepped on, or I’ll have to shove it into a backpack or duffle bag. My hat has to be able to bounce back from anything I put it through.
A sun hat really needs to fit the three criteria–wide brim, made from natural fibers, crushable–to mark the hat as right for me. The Costso hat had lulled me by being crushable and having a wide brim, but the synthetic fibers it was constructed from really brought me down.
Years ago, when I was in AmeriCorps and worked outside, I had a great hat to protect me from the sun. I bought it from a gardening store for $25, which was a big investment for me at the time. The money I paid was worth it for the wide sunclocking brim, the construction from natural fibers, and its ability to bounce back after being crushed. The hat held up to my use and abuse too. It was still in good shape when I left it behind during a sudden move. This hat is the one all others must measure up to.
I discovered the Costco hat wasn’t going to cut it while vending in the spring in Northern New Mexico. I had no shade and the days in the sun were hot, but I didn’t think I should feel so overheated so early in the season. When I suspected my hat was the culprit, I wanted to replace it as soon as possible.
One of the other vendors was selling sun hats. The were from Africa, the vendor told me. (As one of my textbooks in collage pointed out, Africa is a big place, but the vendor couldn’t tell me specifically in which African nation the hats had been made.) The hats were handmade, from grass. They were crushable, and they could be doused with water, then shaped. The price was $29, a little more than double what the Costco hat had cost, but I didn’t think I could make it through the summer with polyester on my head. I bought the hat woven from grass.
So far, the new hat’s held up well. I hang it next to the van’s side door for easy access, and that’s working out. Even though I think it could stand up to my butt or foot on top if it, hanging it keeps it safe and out of my way.
The hat’s a little too big for me, but I chose the one with the widest brim, which ended up being the biggest hat. If i’m wearing the hat for many hours, and I don’t want it sliding around on my head, I tie on a bandana before putting on the hat. I also make sure the chinstrap is cinched whenever I wear it so a sudden gust of wind doesn’t blow away my hat.
The hat is not only functional, it’s pretty too. The weave is nice and tight, and I like the dyed “hatband” that’s actually part of the hat.
Most importantly, the hat keeps the sun off my face and keeps my head cool. The natural fibers let my head breathe, and I don’t feel overheated when I wear it. Even for $29, it was quite a score.
I took the photo of my head and my hat. I didn’t even use a selfie stick.