Five Considerations When Choosing a Sport Hat or Cap

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When we go to sporting events, we soak up the sun’s rays all day-long. That is too much sun even for those of us living by the mantra, “outside is free.” Since a third of all skin cancers appear on the face, neck and ears and considering sun damage is the biggest cause of premature aging, hats and caps play an important role.

We recommend you choose a sun hat appropriate for your needs, comfortable on your head and enjoyable to wear. Also, because UV damage is cumulative, do your kid a solid and get them a proper hat too.

 

We’ve compiled five considerations (plus some bonus suggestions) for selecting a hat or cap.

Choosing a sport hat #1: Activity.

Select a hat / cap appropriate to the task. Hats come in many styles, each with a particular function in mind. The hat you choose for an outdoor wedding is not the hat to choose for rock climbing. You wouldn’t wear a helmet at your child’s soccer game. Maybe you would, but that would be a bold choice.

  • Travel. Choose a hat that is crushable, can be washed in a sink and maybe has a secret pocket for important belongings.
  • Wind. Windy activities require a chinstrap to keep your sun hat in place. Additionally, a chinstrap helps when bending over as when gardening or pool cleaning.
  • Sports. Peripheral vision is important for both safety and competitiveness. This affects your brim and drape choice.
  • Water. If you plan to be in a marine environment, pick up a waterproof hat that floats.
  • Outdoorsy. If you will be fishing, camping or hiking, find a hat that shields against insects.
  • Heat. For activities that generate body heat, wear a sun visor for total head aeration or choose a sun hat with mesh on the side of the crown. One trick for keeping a cool head in a hot, dry climate is to wet the hat for evaporative cooling.

 

Choosing a sport hat #2: Brim Size.

The minimum suggestion of a 3-inch brim all around provides reasonable protection for the nose and cheeks. A 3-inch brim blocks the direct UV rays to the sides of the face and ears. The sun’s intensity changes over the course of the day. When the sun is rising or setting the sun’s UV rays sneak under your brim. At these times of the day, wear a hat with a brim size of 4 inches. If you are comfortable with a wide brim, go for 4 inches, angled downward, every time.

 

Choosing a sport hat #3: Brim Shape.

Surfaces reflect and scatter UV radiation. For example, snow reflects as much as 80% of UV radiation. Reflected rays bounce underneath the brim and strike the chin, cheek and nose. Brims that curve down and sit closer to the face provide better protection. Caps only protect the top of the head, the forehead and the top of the nose. They do not shield the back of the neck, the tops of the ears, the sides of the cheeks or the chin and so are not sun safe. Try a flap hat instead. If you have dyed or damaged hair, stay away from visors, which allow the sun to dry out your hair and make it brittle.

 

Choosing a sport hat #4: Material.

Hats using UPF 50+ material will bock 98% of the damaging UV rays. If not labeled, hold the hat up to the light. The hat should not allow light to shine through. Natural materials include straw, raffia, cotton and hemp. Synthetic materials include nylon and polyester fabric. Straw hats allow UV rays to filter between the fibers; to provide effective sun protection, they must be tightly woven or lined with cloth. If you have thinning or closely cropped hair, consider something other than mesh, which allows UV rays to penetrate the material. If you have thick hair, mesh may help you keep your cool. Activity and environment also affect your material choice. Heat-generating activities in hot places require lighter fabric while the cold necessitates something heavier.

 

Choosing a sport hat #5: Color.

Hats / caps with white tops reflect the sun’s heat and darker colors underneath absorb rather than bounce the UV rays back to your face and eye. A hat with a dark color under brim is also cooler than light colors. Lighter colors are harder to keep clean, especially in the dusty desert, so go for khaki or beige. Your environment is also important to consider. Select an appropriate color for the occasion, such as Easter or a day to the racetrack.

 

Bonus suggestion 1: A tight hat can give you a headache and you won’t want to wear it. Many hats are adjustable, but measure your head to ensure a proper fit.

Bonus suggestion 2: Sunblock is important even if you have the perfect hat. The widest brim hat will not stop rays reflecting up from the ground. A hat with a 5-inch brim won’t offer suitable protection when the sun’s rays are diffuse or coming in from the horizon. Cold and cloudy weather still requires sun protection since the sun continues to puts out those rays. Finally, remember your lips. You’ll need to reapply sunscreen and protective lip balm throughout the day.

Bonus suggestions 3, 4 and 5: Protect your eyes with shades that include UV protection. Pay attention to the UV index scale and minimize the amount of time you spend in sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The best way to tell if your sun exposure is too high is to look at your shadow. If it’s shorter than you, seek shade.

 

Choose a hat that suits you and your needs while accentuating your attributes. Protect yourself from the harmful effects of UV rays so that you can spend more time engaged in the activities you love. If you still have questions, come see us. We’ll help you make health your fashion statement.

 

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