How many trucker hats do you own? I’m guessing at least five. And rightly so. They’re cheap and perfect for adventuring, thanks to the breathable back. But what if you want more sun protection? You could go full river hat, but those are too big unless you’re actually floating the Colorado. Instead, I’ve been loving the Pantropic Explorer, which sits somewhere in between.
Hand-built in Ecuador, the Explorer is made from straw and therefore lightweight (just a few ounces) and breathable. I wouldn’t wear it during an ultramarathon, but last month the Explorer was on my head for ten days straight during a road trip, and it did just fine during a scorching hike in Arches National Park and while I soaked in the hot springs outside Idaho City. Thanks to the three-inch round brim that covered both my face and neck, I could spend all day in the sun, forget to reapply sunscreen, and not come back to camp looking like a tomato.
Straw is a lot more fragile than the cotton and synthetic yarn in your favorite trucker—the Explorer will bend out of shape if not stored on a flat surface—but I was never really worried. My kids yanked on the Explorer during hikes and I threw it in the back of my truck and never once worried about tears.
I’ve yet to take the Explorer on a river trip, but it’s made to stay planted, even in the rapids, with its leather chin strap and easily adjustable chin slider. Three weeks on the Grand might call for that traditional river hat, but the Explorer should work for anything else that involves water and rowing.
Finally, I’m no a millennial hipster (just a 37-year-old dad), but the hat adds a touch more style than your regular trucker and helps dress up a shirt and shorts out at dinner or during a concert in the park. My wife approves, and so do I.