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Advice on hats

Hi everyone,

We are traveling to France in October. I am very fair and tend to burn very easily - especially my face. While I do wear sunscreen, I almost always wear a hat, usually a bright pink baseball hat.

Reading about not looking like a tourist, I have seen advice on not wearing baseball hats. This is not a logo one - by the way - its bright pink with a daisy on the brim.

So if you pack a hat - what do you take ? I like my hat - beause I can scrunch it up in my purse when I am indoors.

Would love some ideas.

Posted by
1841 posts

I wouldn’t worry about it. Just wear what works for you. I’m more concerned about melanoma than looking out of place or fashionable.

Posted by
1205 posts

Have you looked at Banana Republic women's hats. They are really nice and on sale right now.

Posted by
7061 posts

I'd take your favorite hat. Baseball type hats are seen all over Europe these days being worn by locals and tourists, young and old, male and female alike. As are sneakers (maybe not brand new snow white ones) and jeans. Those old tourist dress code 'rules' are passe, gone the way of high button shoes (if you even know what those were).

Posted by
6788 posts

Frankly, if you are trying to keep sun off your skin (and if you're built for the northern lattitudes like many of us, you really should), baseball hats suck. They may keep a little sun off the top of your forehead, but not much.

Get a good, wide-brim hat that goes all the way around. I like this one, it has served me well all over the world: Seattle Sombrero. I believe they have it in pink or similar colors.

Posted by
8525 posts

I have to agree that a baseball hat does very little to protect much of your face and neck. I am pretty careful due to skin cancer. I wear a hat with a wide brim that covers both neck and face.

There are "crushable" hats that pack well and provide coverage as well as being stylish.

No one will be put off by your baseball hat, but it may not be providing you the optimal coverage.

Posted by
5941 posts

Sometimes I use a really wide brimmed hat, especially for hiking. In more moderate situations, or to have something "just in case", I'll take a visor, and use the velcro to attach it to my cross body bag strap so that I at least have something on hand.

Posted by
3961 posts

As others have mentioned baseball caps do not give sun protection. A wide brimmed hat like Tilley or the "Seattle Sombrero" give good sun protection. Both good investments. is a good resource. Keep up the applications of sun screen.

Posted by
5697 posts

Wide-brimmed hat (Costco) for summer days, baseball cap in rain to keep my raincoat hood from falling in my face. I also have a black cap, sort of newsboy style that has enough of a brim to keep the sun out of my eyes.

Posted by
5941 posts

@Laura, YES, that was one of my best uses for my visor! I'd wear it with my raincoat in the rain to keep the water off my face.

Posted by
420 posts

I also wear the wide-brim Costco hat. I have to hand carry it on the plane but have decided it’s worth it. I’ve gone through a lot of hats purchased at REI. My main problem is most hats are hot and ultimately I just take it off. This hat does a great job of blocking the sun and it doesn’t make my head hot.

Do worry about looking like a tourist. You’re likely to be around hundreds of tourist.

Posted by
2768 posts

Wear whatever hat works best for you. Yes, baseball hats aren’t super fashionable, but safety comes first. If you want to change it up there are cute wide brim hats, but if those aren’t comfortable to you then stick with what works.

If you are really concerned, maybe get a neutral color plain baseball hat. Navy blue or gray or something a little less noticeable than pink. Blend in more, still get the benefits you find in baseball hats.

Really, though, wear whatever hat you want. Take it off indoors, don’t wear it to fancy occasions, and enjoy!

Posted by
1334 posts

its bright pink with a daisy on the brim

I think it depends on your gender. I can imagine areas in Europe where a man in a pink baseball cap might experience some unwanted attention. if you are a woman I don't think anyone would think twice - but I agree that it will not protect your neck, so maybe wear a scarf or something like that for very sunny days.

Posted by
166 posts

For years I thought that wearing hats as tourists was tacky, then my wife talked me into a Tilley's hat for 2 weeks in Greece in the middle of summer and I was very impressed at how well it worked keeping me cool while seeing the sights! Now I never go out in the hot sun without it, I guess you can teach an old dog a new trick.

Posted by
737 posts

I've never tried Tilley or "Seattle Sombrero" wide-brimmed hats. Will they withstand being crunched in a carry-on? I'd rather not add to my carry-on clutter.

Posted by
11354 posts

Wear whatever you want, however, for sun protection wear a hat that has sun protective fabric like ones sold by Coolibar. My dermatologist at Mayo Clinic
recommended them.

Posted by
2475 posts

I like my Tilley hat a lot, and it does scrunch into a bag or suitcase really well. I'm also trying out a Foxgloves C3 hat (crocheted cotton), which is similarly practical, and prettier.

Posted by
3941 posts

Last trip we did (well, all of them) I always take my beige baseball hat (it's a Reebok one, but the logo is the same colour as the fabric). For me, it's to keep the sun out of my eyes and to keep my long hair from flying about. Also great to keep any raindrops off my glasses.

I also had a crushable, bucket type, slightly dressier (it has some embroidered flowers) hat. I wore it a little more often this time, as I was wearing dressier short sleeved shirts and thought the ball cap didn't really go with the outfit. The bad thing about the bucket hat is I found it was getting really sweaty and damp, as was my hair/head.

We were in a little town in the south of France and I picked up a woven hat that combined the best of both worlds - a bigger brim than the ball cap and bucket hat, but a little more open to help keep my head air conditioned and dressier as it has a cute leopard print scarf tied around it - and it looked nice with my dressier tops. It incorporates the baseball hat look, so it doesn't have the brim all the way around, which would be getting caught on my purse/camera whenever I was unslinging them. Once we hit London and slightly cooler temps, I was back into my t-shirts and wore the ball hat again as it is more casual. Similar to this

But you should wear what you like - my husband is def not fond of the ball cap and encouraged me to buy the woven one...but it's def not as packable as the ball or bucket hat. And honestly, I don't really care if the hat makes me look like a 'tourist' or not - it's about my comfort level, not looking super fashionable.

Posted by
3240 posts

I have a wide brim Wallaroo hat that crunches up into a purse or suitcase. Just this week I bought a wide brim darker woven hat by Columbia at REI , which will look better with my darker travel clothes (off season). This 2nd one also seems to fold up well, but proof will be when I pull it out of the suitcase after 24 hours or so. Coolibar has great products. These hats shield the back, sides and front of my neck as well.

Posted by
5042 posts

DH and I both prefer a wider brim hat for sun protection. Not just for the face, but for ears and neck as well. We've been using Tilley hats for years. We both have several. I have one for gardening alone.
They come in several styles for men or women, scrunch flat, and have a great guarantee. And they really last a long time. My gardening hat is almost 10 years old.

Posted by
6788 posts
  1. It's your life. Wear what you want. If what you want is to protect your skin from the sun, ditch the baseball cap, which is pretty useless for that.

  2. I've never tried Tilley or "Seattle Sombrero" wide-brimmed hats. Will they withstand being crunched in a carry-on? I'd rather not add to my carry-on clutter.

Can't help you with the Tilley, but the Sea Som is just soft (though 100% water-proof and sun-proof) Gore-Tex cloth. It scrunces like any cloth, handkerchief, t-shirt, etc. I've taken mine everywhere, it has shed large ocean waves and torrential rains, intense blazing sun (South Pacific islands to the Sahara Desert), snow, hail, freezing rain, and everything in between. Stuff it in your daypack or fold it up and put it in your back pocket, it always pulls out ready to keep sun and moisture off your head in an instant. They're indestructible. I love mine. I never leave home without it on me or within reach. Wonderful item.

Posted by
2252 posts

Like Wray, I also have a Walleroo hat and I love it. It's treated with something that blocks the sun (50upf), skin cancer foundation recommended, rolls easily into a small parcel so easily packed and always comes out looking great. It also is adjustable, can be tied under your chin and comes in a variety of colors and styles. Since I have also had skin cancer, I bought this hat on the recommendation of my dermatologist.

Here's a link for the hats:

Posted by
14580 posts

No problems...wear the type of hat that is comfortable and suits your purpose. I don't wear any type of hat, never have in Europe.

Posted by
2712 posts

Tilley hats are “scrunchable” and another benefit-washable. Mine is over 15 years old, has been washed multiple times, looks new.

Posted by
7654 posts

My problem with hats over the years has been either pack a "pack-able" hat or try to take a more fashionable hat and risk wrecking it, or as likely, due to having to set it aside, lose it somewhere along the way.

My strategy has been to take a pack-able hat as back-up, then just pick up a reasonably priced hat once there that is a bit more interesting, maybe even a bit more local, and use that until I lose it.

Posted by
2354 posts

Wear what works for you. Who cares if you look like a tourist? Most of the people you run into will probably be tourists, unless you’re far off the beaten path (which is getting harder and harder to find). Even then (maybe especially then) nobody really cares. We spent 3 weeks in touristy places in June/July. Never got pickpocketed for looking like a tourist. Never turned away for not dressing appropriately. Just wear whatever works for you and have a good time!

Posted by
5697 posts

One positive thing about the pink hat -- makes you easier to find in a crowd! I wore one to Niagara Falls and my travel companion was able to spot me from a distance.

Posted by
82 posts

I love my Tilley hat...lifetime warranty, crushable, rain resistant as well...if you lose it they will replace it. It shades more of my face, forehead and ears than anything else. I also have to be careful as I am fair skin and burn easily. It also has a string that keeps it from blowing away. Highly recommend.

Posted by
2122 posts

Absolutely take the ballcap. We each take one on every trip.

For sun protection, I have several Sloggers hats. They fold up (mine has been stuffed in a suitcase and a tote bag multiple times, and it bounces back beautifully without creasing), or can be packed flat....have a chin strap (great for when out on the water or where it might be windy). Mine are about 10 years (or older), so the colors I have (black with just a smidge of white in the braid (favorite for travels) and also a dark tan one (hardly ever wear) do not appear to still be available, but if black/white would work for you, here is one of the current model ones:

Amazon also carries Sloggers. I originally purchased mine at a garden center attached to a large True Value Hardware store.

But, definitely take a hat of some sort, and a comfortable one is best.

Forget all the don't wear hats because you will look like a tourist advice, and follow the protect-yourself-from-the-sun. Pink with a daisy will likely make the French smile :)

Posted by
439 posts

I like a baseball hat, there may be some better hats for sun protection but you are going in Oct. Sunscreen will help. We are also going in October, was struggling with the idea of not using one and realized I would be totally uncomfortable without it. In addition to liking it for rain (which we probably will get in Oct), I like it because when I travel, I shower at night...just get up and go in the mornings. I don't do anything with my hair. I picked up some plain, autumn colored hats in the Nordstrom's anniversary sale. Also picked up a black on black Steeler hat, can't go without a Pittsburgh hat! I loop several on my day bag, that way I don't look the same in every picture. I know, this goes against the principle of packing light but I just can't break the habit.

Posted by
59 posts

I am fair and always wear a baseball cap too. If I’m out to long even with sunscreen and a baseball hat for a few days in a row I get sun rash on my cheeks. I also wear tank tops with a long sleeve shirt to cover my arms because even with sunscreen I tend to get heat or sun rashes.
I bring a baseball cap to every country I go to. I also bring a scarf I can drape over my hat if I’m sittin directly in the sun for to long during heat of the day. I also use a scarf to go over my arms when walking out in the sun if I don’t want to wear a long sleeve shirt. A pretty light gray with a little texture that scrunches up to nothing is useful.

As for wide brimmed hats. I’ve had a few. My favorite was a woven straw hat from target. It was light on my head and looked cute but not obnoxious. Only thing is I had to carry it ... seems the really airy lightweight ones do not pack.
I really think it is better to just take your baseball cap and buy a lightweight hat there if you find you need one.
Or go shopping now and start trying on packable hats at every store around.
I think buying a hat online is like buying unknown shoes online.

I do have a safari hat from Disneyland that I take in winter which is made by henschel hat company, very cute but heavy also packable.
Here is a lightweight one that may work.

Again I have the hardest time finding a decent looking lightweight airy packable hat. It’s so much easier just to buy one where you are going and using the trusty baseball cap you love :)

Posted by
1048 posts

Personally I prefer a felt wide brimmed hat. The one I use most is crushable and comes right back to shape. It's a Stetson from the gun club collection, and I've worn it enough that it's been back for a new sweatband and liner. The problem with most "cowboy" hats is they are too stiff. And they look out of place anywhere other than the SW. Orvis sells a nice version of this as their "Packable" hat for women. Look around, other companies offer a like product. I suggest getting one in a light tan.

Don't worry about it getting too hot. Do realize you'll never need an umbrella again. And you'll look good.