Bucket Hats vs Sun Hats Compared [Different Types Explained]

Hats are as functional as they are stylish, and there are many different types that you can wear, including the popular styles of bucket hats and sun hats. If you are wondering what the difference is between bucket hats vs sun hats, you probably are not alone.

Bucket hats and sun hats are similar in that they both provide coverage from the elements in the form of a brim around the entire hat. However, bucket hats are typically more suited toward sporting or fashion, whereas sun hats are meant for leisure, such as time spent on the beach or gardening. Also, sun hats often have a wider brim for more coverage.

Both bucket hats and sun hats have their distinct attributes that make them popular choices for hat-wearers everywhere. In this article let’s discuss the pros and cons of each, and talk more about the different types of bucket hats and sun hats that you can buy.

How Do Bucket Hats Compare to Sun Hats?

These two types of hats are emblematic of time spent enjoying the outdoors. If you are wondering how you can begin to compare the two styles, take a look at the following list:

  • Material: Bucket hats can be made from various materials, such as leather, canvas, or even winter-appropriate fleeces and furs. On the other hand, traditional sun hats are typically made from wicker or some other type of natural fiber.
  • Purpose: Bucket hats originated as fishing hats, and are still commonly used for outdoor sport today. In addition, celebrities in the past decades have made bucket hats an iconic fashion statement. Sun hats are commonly seen on the beach or in the garden and are used more for relaxing and sun protection than style or sport.
  • Size: Sunhats come in various sizes, but the traditional sunhat has a wide, floppy brim to provide maximum sun coverage. Bucket hats typically have a narrower brim that is used more for the direct protection of the neck and face than ample shade. Sun hats typically provide more protection.

Although you really cannot go wrong with either option, bucket hats are overall used more for fashion and sport and sun hats are used for beach styles and relaxing by the pool or in your backyard.

Types of Sun Hats

Woven Straw Hats

This fashion-forward style of sun hat typically has a wide brim and is made from woven straw fibers. Considered an iconic look by many, these straw hats can sometimes be adorned with a ribbon or sash for an extra dose of style.

They usually have a large brim, which makes them ideal for sun protection.

Boater Hats

These distinctive hats are also typically made from straw, but are more square in shape and have a flat crown and brim. This originated as a men’s hat but has since become unisex. 

You may associate these unique hats with old-time boating competitions or early 20th century socialites, but they have made quite the comeback in the fashion sphere.

Linen Sun Hats

A popular alternative to natural fibers, linen hats provide the same sun protection but with a softer and durable linen coating. Linen hats are usually breathable and good for a hot day on the beach.

Although these are the most common types of sun hats, each different designer and clothing retailer will likely have different options to serve a wide variety of tastes. If you are on the hunt for the perfect sun hat, you are sure to find a style and material that works for you due to the plethora of options.

Types of Bucket Hats

Boonie Hat

A Boonie hat is a type of bucket hat that originated with the U.S. Army. The Boonie hat gained popularity for its wide brim as U.S. forces adopted it for wearing in hot, jungle climates.

Boonie hats typically have these features:

  • A chin strap to keep the hat secure even with movement or in weather conditions.
  • A “foliage ring” around the base of the hat to hold leaves or other vegetation materials used for camouflage.
  • A distinctive camouflage pattern, typically in shades of green and brown.

Fishing Hats

The bucket hat was initially created as a fishing hat, and this trend continues to this day. Though they were first created in Ireland, fishing bucket hats have proliferated all over the world and many people enjoy this style still for their outdoor sporting needs.

High-quality fishing hats are waterproof and were traditionally made from cotton or tweed. The wide, circular brim allowed fishermen to protect their faces and necks from the rain and became an iconic symbol of maritime life. Many movies depict fishermen wearing these classic hats.

Today’s fishing hats carry these same characteristics, though they are usually made from khaki or waterproof synthetic materials now. Fishing hats will often have a chin strap too for ease of use even when fishing in fast-moving rivers or on stormy seas. Their only weakness is they may not always look as stylish as other types.

Fashion Bucket Hats

You may now know bucket hats as an emblem of fashion, with everyone wearing them from youth to A-list celebrities. Bucket hats are a mainstay of the fashion industry, and although no two types of fashion bucket hats will look alike, they often come in a variety of:

  • Colors
  • Patterns
  • Materials
  • Shapes

Although the deemed “stylishness” of bucket hats has changed over the years, they have had a surge in popularity in recent times. Unfortunately, fashion bucket hats can get a bit expensive and may not be as well-suited for practical purposes as other bucket hats.

Winter Bucket Hats

Though you may picture traditional winter hats as beanies or knitwear, winterized bucket hats have recently emerged onto the global clothing stage and have been embraced for their stylishness and functionality alike.

Cold-weather bucket hats are usually fuzzy or made from thick, warm material. Although a high-quality winter bucket hat will be very useful, they are a stylish creation, too, and you can find a wide variety of patterns and colors to satisfy every winter hat preference.

Though you may be worried they won’t keep you as warm as a regular hat, rest assured that a winter bucket hat can do wonders for keeping your head warm provided that it covers your ears. It may be helpful to try on a winter hat before choosing to purchase one.

With many celebrity icons now sporting winter bucket hats for their cold-weather outings, you can be sure that they will continue to be popular for some time to come. Check your nearest department store or cold-weather retailer to find one of these cozy hats that could work for you.

Summer Bucket Hats

Although many types of sun hats are used for gardening or outdoor work, sometimes the large brim of sun hats can be distracting for workers. Therefore, some people prefer the small, compact design of a bucket hat for outdoor work.


For summer, you can find lightweight bucket hats that have breathable mesh panels to help increase air flow. You can also find some options that are designed to have a cooling effect. To read more, visit my article about the best cooling bucket hats.

Pros and Cons of Bucket and Sun Hats

If you are on the fence regarding which style of hat to buy, there are several factors that can help you make your decision. Although the price range for bucket hats and sun hats varies so widely that it can be hard to use this as a point of comparison, other things such as functionality and versatility can be taken into account.

The Pros and Cons of Bucket Hats

One undeniable pro of bucket hats is their durability. Originally designed as an outdoor sporting hat, these are still the foremost leaders for fishing, camping, and other outdoor pursuits. If you buy an outdoor-oriented bucket hat, you will probably get something that is waterproof and very durable for all of your adventures.

Additionally, there are many winter options for bucket hats that provide cozy covering on the coldest of days. In recent years, fleece and fur bucket hats have surged in popularity and become a fashionable alternative to the traditional winter beanie.

One drawback is some types of bucket hats have smaller brims when compared to other types of sun hats, and therefore may not provide as much coverage.

The Pros and Cons of Sun Hats

Sun hats are known for their foremost feature: keeping the sun out. This is a great option if you’re planning to spend a lot of leisure time outdoors and need wide coverage for the following:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Shoulders

If your summer activities trend more toward laying on the beach or working in the garden, this is the perfect hat for you. Additionally, their natural fabrics and materials mean they are often breathable and appropriate for hot days.

However, sun hats are not always ideal because many do not have a chin strap that can keep them from blowing away in the wind. When comparing sun hats vs bucket hats, sun hats are not as appropriate for vigorous outdoor activities as bucket hats, and are often not waterproof.

Additionally, as a true summer hat, these do not have any winter options. While they are perfect for warm climates, you will probably need to find a different option if you are looking for a hat that can provide warmth as well as style.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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