By: Laura Albert
Ok, so I’m going to be real here. I’m red-haired, freckled, and fair skinned. But I love being outside! And honestly when you are battling the sun above and snow underfoot, the task of not being fried like a chicken in Kentucky can be quite daunting. I mean, finding the perfect hat that covers all your bases in the wilderness can be tricky! But I have found a solution that not only works for me, but helps me uphold SROM’s treasured rule number 1: Look Good.
May I present…. The Fedora!
I know the fedora has been used by boaters and posers alike in the world at large. It is particularly used often in the European markets of fashion. But while I do enjoy a good fashion statement, let me here and now defend why the fedora makes the perfect adventure hat.
Protection from the Sun
The Fedora style hat is perfect for backpacking and protecting your face and head from long hours of UV rays. The brim goes all the way around and covers your ears. Baseball caps won’t protect your ears or provide as a comprehensive coverage to protect your nose and chin from the sun’s wrath.
Unlike most wide brimmed hats, the Fedora is flipped up in the back creating a comfortable hat wearing experience while wearing a multi day expedition size backpack. No more will you have to strain your neck forward or do this awkward neck move to adjust where the brim sits in relation to your backpack. And, you don’t have to look down all the time to create that room either. You can keep your head up, and hike along with confidence down the trail knowing your skin is protected and your hat will not create discomfort.
Fedoras will fit over many base layer hoods, but will also fit under many hoods of technical rain gear. This helps provide some stability to the hood, as well as breathing room around your neck so in a deluge, your hood doesn’t stick to the back of your neck.
There are many styles of Fedoras out there from felted wool to straw. Many are made with natural materials and they are lightweight. In an age when plastics are a major problem to our local and global ecosystems, having a product that is made with natural fibers and materials is a big deal!
You have to admit, 10 days into an adventure, you are looking a little rough around the edges. Even after sweating, freezing, and damp weather, you are still going to look like the “bees knees” in your fedora trucking along down the trail! I once had someone ask me how long I’d been out on the trail. And when I told them 14 days, they were astonished at how perfectly un-hobo like I looked. While I’ll grant you, I do laundry on the trail, but nothing can beat that dapper I-just-stepped-out-of-the-car look like a Fedora.
Where they are lacking….
Now I do admit, I’m biased when it comes to my Fedora. But there are some places where they are lacking.
They aren’t adjustable. Most fedoras are made either to size or a “one size fits most”. Which, if you have a larger head like mine, can be tricky to find one that works. I’d say spend the money, time, and the energy finding one that has multiple sizes and go from there.
Not Helmet Compatible
If you are looking for a hat to wear under a bike or climbing helmet, these won’t work. They work well being worn alone or under a jacket hood and that’s about it.
Back of Neck Exposed
While my fedora does an incredible job of protecting a lot of my skin, a lot of times the back of your neck is still exposed with most styles. Especially if you are just day hiking and not doing a full on multi day trip. You have to make special arrangements to either lather up the sunscreen or slip a bandanna under it to cover up. There are styles that flip down too that help, but your standard ones don’t always give that option. Only the more “high end” fedoras will.
All in all though, my fedora hasn’t led me wrong. I have worn it on kayak trips, hiking trips, and it has pulled through so many times in so many different environments that I just can’t go with another style to take with me on all my adventures! So whether your adventure hat is something else or a fedora, make it your own and be sure to get out make your own epic memories while wearing it!
Or if you’re thinking about finding a good fedora for your next adventure, here are a couple links of places that have some awesome ones. Happy adventuring and happy hat hunting!
Wylder Goods: Female focused outdoor goods page and sustainably sourced products and companies. Wool fedoras.
Outdoor Research: Lifetime warranty on all products, lightweight straw fedora
Stetson: Higher end hats, quality made in the USA. Wool, felted fur, hemp, and straw fedoras sustainably sourced.