So many hats… so much hat-head. Here’s a run-down on the hats that are out there and why you might choose one over the other. Plus, a short note on hair management.
The Classic Baseball Hat
It’s a winner. These hats are easily available and fairly cute. They seem to breed in the back of my car, but on the rare occasion that I can’t find one, they’re $3 at Walmart. Good for keeping the sun off your skin and out of your eyes, and okay for light rain protection.
The Foreign Legion Hat
Like a baseball hat, but with light fabric hanging down to protect the neck and hair. I have two of these and I love them. They’re great for those hot, sunny days that reflect a lot of rays on the water. They’re not good for cooler rainy days, because they just get wet and stick to your neck in a clammy embrace. Brrr!
The Cowboy Hat
I love cowboy hats, and every time I’m in some rural convenience store and see a rack of cheap ones, I walk out the door with one on my head (yes, after paying for it). It soon ends up crushed under the mass of gear in the back of my kayak wagon because, even though they’re adorable and provide excellent sun protection, they’re not comfortable on the water. A little breeze grabs the brim and tugs it out of kilter or into the water. How did those cowboys do it? They must have glued them onto their heads.
Various Kayaker Hats
I lose hats, so I don’t buy the expensive kayak-specific types.
And, of course, there is the ever-popular Tilley hat. They float, they’re crushable, they have a lifetime guarantee, they’re suitable for exploring the Amazon, and they come with a 4-page instruction manual. I do want to explore the Amazon, but I never want to own a hat that needs an instruction manual. Life is complicated enough. But here’s a picture of one, in case you do want a hat that requires an instruction manual.
Protecting your hair from the sun and general hat-head drama
Every woman knows to keep the sun off her face, but women with longer hair also need to protect their hair. Ponytails break the strands, so tying it into a pony and sticking on top of your head under your hat isn’t great for it, either. My hair management practice is to stick it onto the back of my head in a French twist and secure it with some big U-shaped pins. I use bent DPNs—double-pointed knitting needles. They’re less than $3 for a pack of 5, they come in colors, and I don’t care if I lose them. Then I jam a hat over the whole shebang.
For post-paddling, who knows what the hair situation will be? It might look okay or it might look like hell. So I carry a few Buff headbands in my car. A headband will hide a lot of hair horror.
— Jay Gitomer