A little over a year ago, I went to my dermatologist’s office, lay down on a table, and watched from the side of my eye as she stuck a needle into my right ear to numb it. Then she took a large scalpel and shoveled a raisin-sized mole out of my ear. I was bleeding all over the place, was immediately cauterized and left the office, my whole ear wrapped in white gauze like a character from a bad comedy.
I don’t want to upset you, but I want to get your attention. My ear went under the knife because the doctor had found an almost cancerous birthmark and wanted to remove it immediately. She told me I was only a few days away from skin cancer and was charged me (nice) about taking every possible precaution to avoid further problems.
The thought of developing cancer and possibly dying before my children grow up scared me. I now have a skin check-up every six months, regularly put on sunscreen, and wear a sun hood and hat every time I go outside for long periods of time.
Honestly, it was fun tracking down the most absurd sun hats I can find. There’s a lot to choose from, and I’ve put together a small collection. My favorite and most used one is the Patagonia Baggies Brimmer ($ 50), which looks like a safari hat and should probably be paired with one of those brown multi-pocket vests.
The Brimmer is the first hat I wear because it is big enough to cover my entire face and neck, breathes well even on hot days, and can be folded up and stowed in my pocket before and after an adventure. Adjustable head and chin straps kept the hat on my head in 40 mph winds. It also floats if I lose it in a river, and as you can expect from Patagonia gear, it’s made from 100 percent recycled nylon. I’ve sweated profusely into the brimmer, scraped it on branches and threw it into the laundry several times and the hat still looks good. It doesn’t look new, but I like a used look when it comes to something like a sun hat because it adds stupid dad credibility.
(Photo: Jakob Schiller)
My favorite for casual wear is the Flylow River Cowboy ($ 20). It’s made of straw and almost twice the size of the Brimmer, so I use it for more stationary activities such as beach days or barbecues in the garden. I love the look of the cowboy because he’s so damn big and silly. I also get a little smile when I wear a summer hat that says “Ski Bum”. The straw is fragile and I’ve already ruined a few river cowboys from the trip, but for only $ 20 they are easy to replace if they get torn.
If none of these sun hat options inspire you, here are two more that I tested and recommend:
Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap ($ 38) – The Sun Runner is by far the most ridiculous option on the market as it fully protects you, but it can also be turned into a “regular” hat by removing the neck protector.
Stetson Cumberland Palm Hat ($ 55) – From one of the world’s most famous hatters, this sun hat wins all style points and looks great when paired with a short-sleeved buttoned shirt and khaki shorts.
Main photo: Jakob Schiller