These hats might look dorky, but they’re crucial for sun protection.
These hats might look dorky, but they’re crucial for sun protection. (Jakob Schiller)

Why Every Dad Needs a Dorky Sun Hat

Stay healthy by protecting yourself from the sun

These hats might look dorky, but they’re crucial for sun protection.

A little over a year ago, I went into my dermatologist’s office, laid down on a table, and watched out of the side of my eye as she stuck a needle in my right ear to numb it. Then she took a large scalpel and scooped a raisin-sized mole out of my ear. I bled everywhere, was cauterized immediately, and walked out of the office with my entire ear wrapped in white gauze like a character out of a bad comedy.

I’m not trying to gross you out, but I do want to get your attention. My ear went under the knife because the doctor had found an almost-cancerous mole and wanted it out immediately. She told me I was just days away from skin cancer and harangued me (nicely) about taking every precaution I could to prevent further problems.

The thought of getting cancer and possibly dying before my kids grow up scared the shit out of me. I now get a skin exam every six months, religiously apply sunscreen, and wear a sun hoody and dorky hat every time I go outside for an extended period of time. 

Truthfully, it’s been fun to track down the most absurd sun hats I can find. There are a lot to choose from, and I’ve amassed a small collection. My favorite and most-used is the Patagonia Baggies Brimmer ($50), which looks like a safari hat and should probably be matched with one of those tan, multi-pocket vests.

The Brimmer has become the first hat I reach for because it’s big enough to cover my entire face and neck, breathes well even on sweltering days, and can also be folded up and stuffed in my bag before and after an adventure. Adjustable head and chin straps have kept the hat on my head in 40-mile-per-hour winds. It also floats if I lose it in a river, and as you might expect from Patagonia gear, it’s made from 100 percent recycled nylon. I’ve sweated profusely into the Brimmer, scraped it against tree branches, and thrown it in the wash several times and the hat still looks fine. It doesn’t look new, but I like a used look when it comes to something like a sun hat because it ups the dorky dad cred.

(Jakob Schiller)

My favorite for casual wear is the Flylow River Cowboy ($20). It’s made of straw and nearly twice the size of the Brimmer, so I use it for more stationary activities like beach days or backyard BBQs. I love the look of the Cowboy because it’s so damn big and silly. I also get a little chuckle out of wearing a summer hat that says “Ski Bum.” The straw is fragile and I’ve ruined a couple River Cowboys already from travel, but at just $20, they’re easy to replace if they get torn up.

If neither of these options get you excited about sun hats, here are two more I’ve tested and recommend:

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap ($38)—By far the most ridiculous-looking option on the market, the Sun Runner is great because it keeps you fully protected but can also be turned into a “normal” hat by removing the neck protector.

Stetson Cumberland Palm Hat ($55)—This sun hat from one of the world’s most famous hat makers wins all the style points and looks great when paired with a short-sleeve buttoned shirt and khaki shorts.

Lead Photo: Jakob Schiller

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