Using a lightweight bucket hat during the summer months is a nice way to get sun protection without trapping in a lot of extra heat. Some summer bucket hats just have a breathable mesh design, while others will be cooling bucket hats made with material designed to help pull heat away from the body.
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These are our choices for best breathable bucket hats for summer work:
- MISSION Wide Brim Cooling Bucket Hat (click here to view)
- Columbia Bora Bora Summer Booney Hat (click here to view)
- Einskey Vented Wide Brim Bucket Hat for Summer (click here to view)
- Ergodyne Cooling Ranger Wide Brim Summer Hat (click here to view)
- Arctic Cool Instant Cooling Bucket Hat Moisture Wicking Boonie (click here to view)
- Coolibar UPF 50+ Chase Featherweight Bucket Hat (click here to view)
- NY Golden Fashion Hi-Vis Breathable Buck Hat w/ Neck Flap (click here to view)
We will discuss this at greater length later in the article, but it is important to understand that cooling bucket hats won’t feel like an ice pack on your head. The effect will only be minor, but in my experience it does help.
Although the information can be a bit vague, most companies trigger a cooling effect by allowing the evaporation process to naturally pull heat away from your body, helping to regulate (to a minor degree) your body temperature. Some companies may allow sweat wicked away by the fabric to trigger this, while other companies encourage you to soak the hat with water prior to use.
Don’t worry, if you have to soak the hat first, you ring the water out before putting it on your head, which means you won’t have water running down all over your face. Also, these types of material are made to dry quickly, so the hat won’t feel soaked for long, and it will trigger the cooling effect.
Again, not all the hats on this list will be cooling bucket hats. Some of these are simply lightweight, breathable bucket hats that have mesh paneling to allow heat to escape. Let’s take a closer look at the summer bucket hats on this list so you can find an option that fits your needs.
Best Summer Bucket Hats for Work
MISSION Wide Brim Cooling Bucket Hat
MISSION is a company that specializes in making cooling headwear and other accessories, including this cooling bucket hat. They encourage you to wet the hat with water, stating that “when activated with water it cools to 30 degrees below average body temperature in under 30 seconds”.
Here’s what this MISSION Cooling Bucket Hat looks like:
This is the current price of this MISSION cooling, lightweight bucket hat at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about this hat:
- Design – This cooling hat is made of lightweight, 100% polyester. The fabric remains soft wet or dry, and is easily foldable for convenience, but is reinforced with quilted stitching that ensures the brim does not hang down over your face.
- Cooling – This hat uses chemical-free, cooling technology that works by improving upon the natural process of evaporation. When the fabric is activated with water, it can cool down to 30 degrees below the average body temperature in under 30 seconds and stays cool for up to two hours. If extended cooling is needed, simply re-wet.
- Adjustable – An adjustable, elastic cord chin strap and brass pin snaps that allow the brim to be pinned up increase both function and ease-of-wear.
- UV Protection – The wide, three-inch brim of this hat, in addition to the UPF 50-enhanced fabric, is ideal for protecting the ears, face, and neck from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Click here to buy this MISSION summer bucket hat at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This is a one size fits most bucket hat.
Columbia Bora Bora Summer Booney Hat
Columbia is a popular outdoor brand, and they offer this summer booney hat. This hat has a large, breathable mesh vent that wraps around the back side of the hat.
Here’s what this Columbia Bora Bora Summer Booney Hat looks like:
This is the current price of this Columbia breathable bucket hat available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about this hat:
- Material – This sun hat is constructed of 100% textured nylon poplin on the top, sides, and brim and a mesh vent panel. The adjustable drawcord and rear toggle allow for a custom fit.
- Cooling – The Omni-Wick sweatband pulls moisture away from the skin, keeping you comfortably cool and dry. This hat has a large, breathable mesh vent that wraps around the back side of the hat.
- UV Protection – A three-inch brim protects your face and ears while the Omni-Shade UPF 50 guards against the sun’s harmful rays.
Click here to buy this Columbia lightweight bucket hat available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This is a one size fits most bucket hat.
Ergodyne Cooling Ranger Wide Brim Summer Hat
Ergodyne is well known for making safety workwear, and they make this wide brim bucket hat in hi-vis colors. Here’s what this Ergodyne Cooling Ranger Wide Brim Summer Hat looks like:
This is the current price of this Ergodyne summer bucket hat at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about this hat:
- Material – This Ergodyne hat is constructed of lightweight ANSI certified polyester and reflective tape for increased visibility (1” reflective tape). A drawstring cord secures the hat under the chin.
- Cooling – This hat features 360-degree mesh venting for optimal airflow and breathability. The hyper-evaporative, advanced PVA cooling technology that lines the rim is (as we’ve discussed) activated with water, providing cooling relief on those hot days.
- UV Protection – The wide brim shades the head, face, and ears against sun damage.
Click here to buy this Ergodyne summer bucket hat available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This is a one size fits most bucket hat. I also like to use Ergodyne’s cooling neck bandana.
Arctic Cool Instant Cooling Bucket Hat
Arctic Cool is a company that specializes in making summer friendly clothing. Yes, this is a cooling bucket hat that is designed in a way that helps keep you cool and comfortable on the job.
Here’s what this Arctic Cool Instant Cooling Bucket Hat looks like:
This is the current price of this Arctic Cool breathable bucket hat at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about this hat:
- Material – The four-way stretch of this super-soft, lightweight polyester-blend provides superior comfort while the mesh ventilation panels allow for excellent breathability, helping to keep you cool. This hat uses antimicrobial fabric to help you stay as odor-free as possible.
- Cooling – HydroFreeze X technology cools your body temperature as you sweat while ActiveWick moisture-wicking technology pulls moisture away from the skin and disperses it throughout the hat, helping to keep you cool and dry.
- UV Protection – The soft-yet-flexible brim is durable and stays put without drooping over your face, allowing your face, neck, and ears to stay protected from harmful UV rays.
Click here to buy this Arctic Cool summer bucket hat available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This is a one size fits most bucket hat.
Other Breathable Bucket Hats for Summer to Consider
- Einskey Vented Wide Brim Bucket Hat for Summer – Looking for a wide brim bucket hat? This hat has a wide 3.7-3.9 inch brim to help protect your face and skin. Water-repellent design with breathable mesh panels to allow heat to escape. Very lightweight and easy to pack. Click here to view this breathable bucket hat available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Coolibar UPF 50+ Chase Featherweight Bucket Hat – Coolibar is well known for making sun-protective clothing. This hat is rated UPF 50+ for sun protection and is made with a lightweight, breathable fabric. Side snaps allow your to raise brim of hat when needed. Made with 3.25-inch brim. Click here to view this breathable bucket hat at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- NY Golden Fashion Hi-Vis Bucket Hat w/ Neck Flap – Do you prefer a neck flap for extra sun protection on the job? This lightweight bucket hat has a breathable mesh design that allows heat to escape. Made with a 3-inch wide brim. Hi-vis color with reflective strips for safety on the job. Click here to view this lightweight bucket hat available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
Moisture Wicking Bucket Hats vs Cooling Bucket Hats
You will see both moisture wicking bucket hats and cooling bucket hats. The truth is, these types are hats are very similar.
Moisture wicking bucket hats are designed to pull sweat away from the body and disperse it across the fabric in a way that allows it to dry quickly. The evaporation process naturally pulls body heat away from the skin, and helps regulate your temperature.
But to be clear, there are other types of bucket hats that are marketed as “cooling bucket hats” that actually ask you to soak the hat (and ring it out) prior to use to help jump start the evaporation process. Yes, your sweat can also trigger evaporation when wicked away, but soaking a hat first gives you much quicker and stronger results.
Not all moisture wicking bucket hats are designed to be soaked. If you are looking for a bucket hat that helps regulate temperature, my advice is to buy one that asks you to first soak the hat. This will lead to greater results in temperature management.
Again, no, a cooling bucket hat won’t feel like an ice pack on your head. The results are minor, but in my experience it does help.
There are also ways that some companies design fabric to help trap cooled air near the skin. Unfortunately, most of the science behind this is vaguely described by companies, and is often hard to understand.
In general, even though most all moisture wicking bucket hats can provide some relief, I tend to lean towards the products that specifically mention a cooling effect, and ask to be soaked to trigger that cooling effect. These, in my experience, produce the best results.
7 Things to Consider When Buying a Summer Bucket Hat
Cooling Bucket Hat
As we’ve discussed above, a cooling bucket hat asks you to first soak the hat in water, ring it out, and allow the evaporation process to begin. The evaporation process naturally pulls heat away from your head.
Some people are apprehensive because they don’t love the idea of soaking a hat in water (although doesn’t sound that bad in the brutal heat…), but you have to remember that you do ring the hat out (so water won’t be running everywhere) and also, the material is designed to dry quickly.
This isn’t like place a soaking wet rag on your head. Yes, you can tell the material is moist, but in my experience it doesn’t drip everywhere and still feels pretty lightweight, and dries quickly.
Yes, a cooling effect is triggered through evaporation, but the results, although helpful, are relatively minor. Don’t expect it to feel like an ice pack. If you spend many hours in the sun, you will likely need to soak the hat multiple times. The length of time the cooling effect lasts can vary by brand.
Lightweight Bucket Hat
How important is material to you? Most of these summer bucket hats use a very lightweight design to allow heat to escape.
Although this is generally the point of a summer hat, lightweight material obviously is not as durable as other types of fabrics, so for some types of work these hats may not last as long. If you need something more durable, visit our article about the best waxed canvas hats.
If you don’t like your summer bucket hat options, then perhaps a summer flat cap will fit your style better. To read more, visit our article about the best linen flat caps for summer.
Breathable Bucket Hat
If you don’t want a cooling bucket hat for summer, another option you have is to simply buy a breathable bucket hat. These hats generally just have mesh paneling that allows heat to easily escape.
This is a nice way to stay cool while also getting some sun protection and on top of that you don’t have to worry about soaking your hat to trigger a cooling effect. Although cooling bucket hats will provide relief, these vented types of hats also are lightweight, breathable and summer friendly.
Moisture Wicking Bucket Hat
It is nice to have a moisture wicking bucket hat that has material designed to wick sweat away from the skin and disperse it in a way that allows it to dry quickly.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, this itself can trigger a minor cooling effect because when your sweat evaporates, a small amount of heat is naturally pulled away from the body.
But cooling bucket hats don’t just rely on sweat for evaporation, they ask you to soak the hat to help jump start and increase the evaporation process. Some hats may not be cooling hats, and may just simply wick sweat away to help keep your head dry, but as I said there may still be a small cooling effect from your sweat evaporating.
Wide Brim Bucket Hat
How wide of a brim do you need for your bucket work hat? Yes, a wide brim offers additional sun protection, but it can also get in the way at times while you work.
Most bucket hats have brims that range from 2.5 to 3.5 inches, although there are exceptions. You also have the option of buying a bucket hat with neck flap attached. If you want to minimize the brim, a flat hat might be a nice option (leather flat hats).
Bucket Hat with Neck Flap
Do you want a bucket hat with neck flap for additional sun protection down the backside of your neck? The positive is, yes, this does provide extra protection, but it can also trap extra heat.
Often times you can find bucket hats that also use a very breathable mesh for the neck flap, which lets heat escape. Another option you have is to use a cooling towel or cooling gaiter around your neck for extra sun protection.
Obviously, summer bucket hats are very useful because they help keep the sun off your head, face, and (to some degree) your neck. The amount of protection can vary hat to hat.
UPF is the rating system used to detail the amount of protection a garment provides while in the sun. Even the strongest rating of UPF 50+ won’t protect you against 100% of harmful UV rays, but UPF-rated garments are useful in protecting against long term skin damage.
***To read more about summer workwear, visit our article about the Best Work Pants for Summer. For tank tops, visit our article about the Best Tank Top Work Shirts. For t-shirts, Best Work T-Shirts for Summer.