Summertime fun is right around the corner, and with it we’re all making plans to enjoy time out and about–whether it be hiking, boating, enjoying time at the beach or pool-side relaxation.
Just don’t forget your hat!
Look, we know we may have some bias here because we’re hat lovers and will tell you a hat’s a great addition any season of the year, but hear us out: they’re a pretty useful summer accessory, and rather important to consider if you’re going to be out for several hours.
Well, sun protection, of course!
Let’s dive into some of the nitty gritty of how hats can help you enjoy yourself while you’re taking advantage of the beautiful days of summer!
Clearing Up UPF vs SPF
This is probably the most confusing element when it comes to hunting for a solid, protective hat, so let’s get this covered first and foremost.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. You’ll see clothes and hats with ratings of say–”UPF 50+” on them, and not much else to go off of, but what does that even mean?
UPF ratings indicate how much UVB and UVA rays penetrate the fabric of your clothes or hat to reach your skin. A UPF rating of 50 means the material is blocking up to 98% of those harmful rays, making it the optimal choice, though you may see UPF ratings of 30-40 out and about which are pretty good as well.
SPF meanwhile means Sun Protection Factor. SPF ratings indicate the length of time it takes for skin to redden as it is exposed to UV rays. So basically, if you apply an SPF 30 sunscreen, it would take your skin 30 times the usual length of time to begin to redden from being exposed to the sun. Also, while UPF protects against both UVB and UVA rays, SPF sunscreens usually only protect against UVB unless it is dictated to be a broad spectrum sunscreen.
We get a lot of folks confused thinking that UPF ratings mean the hats have a sort of chemical like an SPF sunscreen added to the material, and it’s not at all the case. Think of a UPF rating as more along the lines of how solidly knit or woven the material is. However, it is always a good idea to make sure you’re still applying sunscreen for extra protection against reflected light especially if you’re at the beach where all that sand makes handy reflectors!
Bring On Big Brims!
So now that UPF ratings are cleared up, something else to consider is brim length. This seems rather obvious, but a bigger brim is going to provide more coverage and thus, more protection to your face, ears, and neck.
… Or shoulders, if you get really wild with them.
A brim of at least 3 inches like our Belfry Priscilla seems to be the where you want to try and shoot for if you’re seeking protection, but don’t want to feel overwhelmed by your hat. Anything past that of course will only add to how much shade you’re getting, so you can have some fun playing around with some different styles like our Belfry Mussi for a bit of glam!
For our fedora lovers that want to keep a pinched crown, you may find more protection from our safari brims like the Belfry Rolando. The sloped nature of these brims is meant to provide more casted shade than the traditional snap brim of a fedora, making them a good alternative for your summer look.
When In Doubt, Shade Check!
No matter the style of hat you opt for, floppy brimmed or safari brimmed and beyond, if you’re ever unsure about how much light is getting through the material, hold it up to the light to see how much you observe coming through or even just slip your hand beneath the brim to see how many specks of light you find on your hand, if at all.
We show folks this quick brim trick in the shop all the time during the warmer months, and it’s rather handy to utilize anytime there’s even the slightest inkling of doubt.
Something else to look for, especially in the paper and natural straws, is how flat a weave the material is.
Solid flat weaves as seen in Belfry Zealand (which also boasts a bit of woven-in venting in the crown to help you stay cool) block more light than a crocheted straw like the Belfry Gabriele. If you’re wanting the best of both worlds in regards to sun protection and packability, you might want to check out linen options or crushable paper braids like the Belfry Serio..
Hopefully with all of that you feel better armed with some hatty knowledge to help you find your perfect hat for the summer and, you know, why you should be wearing one in the first place besides just beating the heat looking extra cool!
If you have any questions always feel free to reach out to us at 888-999-HATS or better yet, if you enjoy shopping in person, come visit us at 103 Main Street, Annapolis MD!