It’s the beginning of the summer, and I’ve been unsuccessfully attempting to dodge the spring rain for the past few months. I’m chomping at the bit to get out of the house and enjoy some pickleball before the mid-summer temperatures and humidity go through the roof. The weekly weather forecast is perfect for getting outside and enjoying some games.
While the sun is not at its maximum height in the sky yet, that doesn’t mean I should forego protecting my head from harmful UV rays. I checked my closet and found a few old Nike hats that could be used for pickleball, but they don’t protect me from the elements. My next logical move is to buy a specific men’s pickleball hat, but with a seemingly endless number of choices, how do I know which is best?
Luckily, I’ve done the research and can answer how to find the best men’s pickleball hat to keep you protected and cool while playing and the different hat categories that are appropriate while outside on the court. To learn more about the options, keep reading to find out!
Characteristics of a men’s outdoor pickleball hat
Without the proper pickleball hat, your experience could suck. Therefore, you need to look for the below pickleball hat characteristics before making a decision:
Having an adjustable hat is critical to comfort. As you play and sweat, your body swells due to head expansion. Therefore, when you start your matches, your hat may fit perfectly, but as you continue to play, the cap will tighten and could become uncomfortable, at which point you want to be able to adjust it, so the fit isn’t a nuisance.
It’s not advisable to use a fitted hat when playing since it will restrict the airflow to your head and be uncomfortable when your skin swells.
As a recreational pickleball player, you don’t need the highest-end hat on the market that more serious players may purchase in outdoor tournaments. Instead, finding a hat that fits well, is comfortable, offers the proper protection, and is adjustable is most important. Luckily, you can gain these attributes from a less expensive hat.
The most obvious characteristic of a pickleball hat is you want it to fit on your head comfortably. That means the inside padding is comfortable against your skin, the fit is correct, and you can adjust the hat. Wearing an uncomfortable hat in the sun while moving around the court will make your experience miserable.
Pickleball was meant to be a fun, happy, and social game, so if your hat is causing distractions, it will lower your performance and make you downright miserable.
Many outdoor fitness hats utilize breathable and moisture-wicking materials, like other fitness apparel, to keep the sweat off from collecting on your forehead and out of your hair during play. Moisture wicking also means your entire hat won’t be drenched in sweat by the end of the game. Instead, the moisture-wicking material pushes the sweat to the top of the cap, where it’s evaporated into the air.
Many men’s pickleball hat styles exist, including adjustable, visor, and structured and unstructured crown hats. Before choosing a style, you must weigh the pros and cons of each before making a purchase.
Although the hat’s purpose is to protect your head from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can traverse past your hair follicles and hit your skin, many hat materials have SPF UV-blocking capabilities. As a recreational player, this is not the most essential aspect of a men’s pickleball hat, but if you are planning to play outside often, throughout the summer, or want to become a serious player, finding a hat with SPF additives is a good idea.
Types of men’s pickleball hats
Many types of men’s pickleball hats exist, so choosing the best option to meet your needs on the court is necessary for comfort and performance. Review the below list and the pros and cons of each type to make the right decision.
1. A flashback to the 70’s headband
Headbands are just as much in style on the pickleball court and elsewhere today as they were 40 years ago. The primary purpose of the headband is to gather sweat from your forehead and hair so it doesn’t go into your eyes while keeping the top open for breathability and sweat evaporation. Headbands can also control the hair in place during play and are aesthetically pleasing with a variety of colors, designs, brands, and logos to showcase.
- Aesthetically pleasing with a variety of logos, brands, designs, patterns, and colors.
- Keep your hair in place during the game.
- Prevent sweat from falling into your eyes during gameplay.
- The top is open for sweat evaporation and breathability.
- Headbands can become water-saturated over continual play.
- Your head will remain exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
2. The aesthetically-pleasing structured crown hat
The structured crown hat is another typical hat type that pickleball players enjoy. These hats have added front support to ensure the item maintains its shape throughout gameplay. As a result, structure hats are taller and thicker than other hats on this list but present an aesthetically pleasing style.
However, given the added support, this hat type isn’t as breathable and lightweight as adjustable hats or visors.
- Added support in the front.
- Aesthetically pleasing style due to the support.
- Highly durable due to the thicker material.
- Bulkier and taller than other hats on this list.
- Doesn’t absorb sweat well.
- Not as flexible and lightweight.
3. The functional unstructured crown hat
The unstructured crown hat is the opposite of the structure; it lacks additional front panel support and collapses when worn. Without the support, the cap is more flexible than its structured cousin and comfortably conforms to the player’s head. Most unstructured hats have a mesh backing and are commonly constructed from cotton or a cotton blend.
- Comfortable cotton material.
- Flexible fit that conforms to your head shape.
- Mesh backing allows for excellent airflow and breathability.
- Doesn’t absorb sweat well.
- Lacks front crown support.
4. The necessary adjustable hat
The adjustable hat is the most common type of pickleball hat players wear. These hats are most commonly constructed from a lightweight mesh material that allows moisture absorption and airflow to your head. In addition, some are made with moisture-wicking material properties since moisture-absorbing hats will pull moisture into the fabric, thus leaving the cap soaked with sweat.
The primary purpose of this hat is the adjustability aspect to fit your head perfectly and to adjust during play. You can even find these hats in recycled material to maintain an environmental sustainability aspect.
- Adjustable back hat closure fits most heads.
- Generally affordable pickleball hat.
- The lightweight mesh material allows for moisture absorption and airflow during play.
- Although affordable for a hat, these can become very expensive depending on the materials and features you want.
- Moisture absorption will oversaturate the hat with water instead of wicking it off, which can become uncomfortable.
5. The open-top visor that you see the pros wearing
Visors are another one of the most popular hats worn by pickleball players inside and outside. This hat type protects your eyes and face from the sun. Visors are similar to standard adjustable hats, except the top of the head remains uncovered, allowing maximum airflow and sweat evaporation, and there’s no crown in the front.
Due to their lack of material on the crown and top, visors are incredibly lightweight and have a price tag range consistent with adjustable hats.
- Adjustability in the back using a Velcro strap to fit most head sizes and adjust during the game.
- Allows maximum airflow and breathability, as if you weren’t wearing a hat.
- Lightweight due to the lack of crown, top, and front support.
- Protects your eyes and face from the sun.
- The Head is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- Lacks a crown on the front of the hat.
6. The other flashback bandana headgear
Any pickleball players don’t want the annoyance of dealing with or sweating through a hat. Therefore, depending on how the bandana is worn, it can be an excellent option for the court. Bandanas are similar to visors, but they are significantly lighter-weight materials.
They can be worn similarly to a headband or with the top covering the forehead and extending backward, with the back open. Bandanas are an excellent option for soaking up sweat while looking flashy because they can be color matched to the rest of your outfit. If you have long hair, a banana will help tame your locks, so they don’t get in the way of your performance.
- Aesthetically pleasing, it can be matched to the rest of your outfit.
- It covers bald sports or can tame your locks.
- The lightweight material is so easy to wear during exercise.
- Open in the back or top to allow for maximum airflow and sweat evaporation.
- Bandanas could still expose your head to harmful sun rays depending on how you wear them.
- Lacks a supported crown in the front.
Q: Is a visor better than a hat for outdoor pickleball?
A: While each option has pros and cons, visors are much cooler than hats. However, the glaringly obvious drawback is your head is directly exposed to the sun for extended periods. On the other hand, both protect your eyes from sweat dripping in mid-game and protect your face.
Therefore, it’s a matter of preference and depends on the amount of hair you have. Women tend to wear visors in athletic court competitions more than men because they have more hair that needs to breathe.
Q: Do pickleball hats make you hotter or colder?
A: Hats offer the major benefit of protecting your scalp from the sun and radiant heat. However, hats can lessen convection and evaporative cooling since the material blocks direct exposure to the air. Researchers have found that while your head’s skin temperature increases and you feel hotter when wearing a hat, your core body temperature remains the same.
Q: Do black pickleball hats make your head hotter?
A: It’s a common myth that wearing black makes you hotter. Black pickleball hats absorb the heat from your skin and wick it to the outside of the material, where it quickly evaporates, thus keeping you cool. That means wearing a black hat is the ideal pickleball accessory when out in the sun.
A bonus is that black goes with every outfit.