As we head into vacation season, we are constantly asking ourselves the question “How does this hat travel,” or “How should I pack this hat?” The best way to travel with a hat really is by just wearing it, but there are lots of different hats that travel a little better than others. Some are crushable, or survive being crushed a little better than other hats, while other hats could be better for the climate to which you are traveling. There are also several techniques that can be used to help even some of your more venerable hats travel well.

So, how to travel with a hat? The real answer to this question comes off as a bit snarky, and it is “Wear it on your head.” The best and easiest way to travel with a hat is to wear it, where it belongs, on your head. This will help the hat keep its shape, avoid being lost, and also do the best job that a hat can ever do for you by keeping you protected from the elements, and looking great. We also realize that wearing a hat for the duration on a trip is not a possibility, so there are a few ways to travel with your hat, other than on your head.

While there are only so many hats that are truly “crushable” or “foldable” many hats travel very well, and withstand the wear and tear or travel. Many wool felt hats, for instance, will by marked as “crushable,” and while it isn’t recommended that you really ball these hats up and shove them in a bag, it is possible to gently collapse these hats and place them on top of a pile of bags, or with other loosely packed garments. In this way, these hats are “travel” hats.

A truly “crushable” hat, however, is something else altogether. These hats are not going to be “boxed” or formed into a fixed shape like other hats. Instead, the structure of the hat will be dictated by ribboned cloth, or some other technique. These hats can be folded any which way, and then back to their original shape, with no great harm done to them. One thing to keep in mind with these “crushable” hats is that they will still be susceptible to wrinkles, like any other piece of folded cloth. To avoid this, you should fold the hat in half along the dorsal line of the crown, and then gently roll the hat until it is small enough to store in a bag. These hats still shouldn’t be packed tightly, although it is possible to do so for short periods of time with little to no harm.

We talked a lot recently about sun hats in a previous article, so we’ll only gloss over the subject briefly. When you are looking for beach hats, it’s probably a good idea to look for “crushable” hats, so that it’ll fit in your bag, and also for a hat with a brim at least three or four inches wide, so that your whole head will be protected from the sun.

In the event that a hat is not easily packable or foldable, there is still a way that you can take a hat with you one a trip (other than wearing it, of course!) First, pack the inside of the hat with all of your “unwinkleables.” This means your underwear, undershirts, etc… things you don’t care get wrinkled. Then place your newly stuffed hat inside of a hard shell suitcase, and pack the rest of your belongings around it. In this way you have no extra baggage, and your hat is protected from being crushed or stained. Of all the ways to travel with a hat, aside from wearing it, this is the best one.