The classic baseball-style cap will always be a favorite for both style and sun protection, but it’s not always the ideal choice when out on the water. Typical poly-cotton blends get soaked from water and sweat, take a long time to dry, and often end up stinky and salt-stained. A new generation of cool caps does it better. Here’s how their various features compare.
Huk A1A Rope Performance Stretchback
Tip O’ the Hat: Hats can reduce both evaporative and convection cooling. Look for more than just common eyelets to improve ventilation. The side and back panels of Huk’s A1A Rope Performance Stretchback are laser-perforated to add literally hundreds of tiny ventilation holes. Taller profile caps also provide room for air to move across the top of the head.
Hat Head: Steer clear of the open mesh of the classic trucker hat, particularly in summer. It lets in more radiant heat and increases risk of sunburn.
Price: $35; hukgear.com
Melin A-Game Hydro
Tip O’ the Hat: Polyester’s natural ability to shed or repel water means a good splash or even brief dunking won’t saturate the material, making it quick to dry. Melin’s A-Game Hydro adds a moisture-wicking lining and antimicrobial sweatband to also soak up and transport away sweat, helping the cap feel cool and comfortable for long hours out in the sun while avoiding unattractive sweat or salt stains.
Hat Head: Avoid cheap polyester caps that don’t offer any stretch in the fabric.
Price: $69; melin.com
Read Next: Three Types of Sun Protection for Boaters
Tip O’ the Hat: Look for a comfortable but snug fit to keep a cap on at speed. Built-in flotation will help, should it fly off while underway, and dark colors under the visor combat glare. And while any cap offers some sun protection, be aware that many let a surprising amount of UV rays through. Kuhl’s Freeflex hat offers UPF 50-plus protection, the maximum available.
Hat Head: A stretchy sweatband follows the contours of your head but requires a sized cap. Snap-backs adjust to fit many heads but aren’t always as comfortable.
Price: $35; kuhl.com