Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is a measure of the amount of the sun's ultraviolet rays that reach your skin. Our MaraTech™ & BUGTech™ fabric both have an UPF of 50+, which is the highest UPF rating available today for clothing. Back that level of protection up by wearing a wide-brimmed hat & accessories such as sunscreens - but only use those which are proven to really work. Staying safe in the sun means many more hours of fun in the sun. Bad sun burns are no fun at all.
As part of your sun protection strategy, we definitely recommend that you pack a wide-brim safari hat for your next safari - or for any time spent outside in the sun. With average high temperatures reaching mid-20 to mid-30 degrees Celsius on most safaris and with many safari areas - such as in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, and Zambia - high above sea level, the effects of the sun will be pronounced and the risk of being burnt by the sun will be high. The same is true during summer time when you venture outside at home.
The following advice may be used to decide on which men's safari hats, women's safari hats, and children's safari hats to shop for and pack. To make finding the best safari hat really simple for you, we have also included our safari hat range below this advice section. Shop knowing that you are buying a hat designed and tested for the sun of Africa - which makes them perfect for anywhere where the harsh ray's of the sun becomes a factor.
What features should a safari hat have?
Wide-brim: First and foremost a safari hat must prevent your face and neck from being burnt by the sun. While some people do wear baseball-style safari caps, they simply are not as effective at protecting you from the sun as a wide-brimmed safari hat is. So please do the sensitive skin of your neck & face a favour and opt for a wide-brim safari hat. The brim itself on your safari hat should not be too flimsy nor too stiff. A flimsy brim does not provide adequate shade, and a stiff brim will catch more wind when you move, and is harder to pack. Our safari hats all have brims which stay horizontal when they need to, but are soft enough to pack. Rain & the benefits of wide-brim safari hats: There is also another unexpected benefit to wearing a wide-brim safari hat: wide-brimmed safari hats offer a measure of shelter when it rains. We find that a wide-brimmed safari hat definitely makes it slightly less uncomfortable when you are caught out outside on a walk - or on a game drive on safari - and it starts to rain. Whether the rain is just a drizzle, or a heavy downpour, wearing a wide-brim hat means that your face - or most of it - remains dry.
High Ultra-violet protection rating: As your hat is your main protection from the sun, always opt for safari hats which have as a high an Ultra-violet protection factor (UPF) rating as possible. The UPF rating is a measure of the protection the hat affords your skin from ultra-violet radiation. The majority of our safari hats have a UPF of 50+ - which is the highest rating we know of today. Please also always wear a very good sunscreen whenever you go into the sun.
Safari-suitable colour: Colour is important when choosing a safari hat - with neutral shades such as khaki, green, or brown the best. Your safari hat will often be the most conspicuous part of you quite simply as it is your highest point - and it is rarely hidden behind bushes or grass. While darker colour hats also have the advantage of staying cleaner for longer, a balance between safari-suitable colours and selecting colours which are cooler in the sun is the ideal. This is why all our Rufiji & Mara&Meru hats are made in various shades of brown and khaki - and we have not gone for too dark a shade in selecting our hat fabrics.
Packable: Modern wide-brimmed safari hats are conveniently packable too and so do not lose their shape when you take them out of your luggage. If they have lost a bit of shape, you are usually easily able to manipulate them back into shape. Hats made from soft leather tend to be the most packable, while canvas hats should be placed with the brim flat on the surface of your other clothing in your bag. Please use commong sense when packing your hat and never crush your safari hat under a hard object - such as shoes or binoculars - when packing. A few of trial and error practice runs should be used to work out the best way to pack your hat.
Adjustable: While many safari hats made from leather do sit quite firmly on your head once you have the fit just right, we recommend safari hats which have some way of adjusting the fit so that it will always sit comfortably on your head - and stay there when things get a little windier or active. All our Rufiji & Mara&Meru safari hats have a built in adjustable band on the inside of the hat for this very reason.
Removable neck strap: If your safari hat has a removable neck strap, you will feel a little less worried about losing your safari hat on windy days, while boating, days at the beach, and of course while driving around after elusive wildlife on the back of an open-topped 4x4 safari vehicle. Seeing a hat drift away in the wake of a boat, or flying up off a vehicle into a thorn tree is at the very least inconvenient. It is worth noting too that not all safari hats come standard with removable neck straps, but fortunately our Rufiji & Mara&Meru safari hats do - at no extra cost to you. They are also very easy to remove from the hat should you prefer not to wear a neck strap.
Summary of safari hat key features:
Your safari hat should have a wide-brim
Choose a safari hat with a high UPF rating
Select a safari hat made in safari-suitable colours
A safari hat should also be lightweight, packable, adjustable, & have a removable neck strap
Safari hat questions & answers
We provide answers to questions we are frequently asked about safari hats
How many safari hats should I pack for my safari?
1 x wide-brimmed safari hat per person.
Note: *Don't forget to pack and use a safari beanie for the winter time too.
Can I wear white hats on safari?
The same rule which applies to clothing, applies even more so to safari hats - and so the answer is "no, please do not wear a white hat on safari". From a game viewing perspective white and black are the two most conspicuous colours on safari and so are best avoided - and of course your hat is by far the most visible part of your body in the bush. As a worst case scenario, your guide may not allow you to go on a walk if you are wearing a white hat. From a practical perspective white gets dirty quickly and can be ruined by the dust & mud on a safari.
What type of safari hats should I avoid?
While the romantic in us all may wish to wear a traditional pith helmet on safari, these are impractical as they are difficult to travel with and are much heavier than modern hats. Ironically, they are now one of the worst hats to wear on safari. White hats should be avoided too (see the question above this one), as are baseball caps which offer very little protection from the sun.
What is the best safari hat for sun protection?
Any safari hat which combines these two features will provide high-level sun protection: Made from fabric which offers an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating of 50+; a wide-brim which affords good shade. It really is as simple as that. Of course the other features listed above all add to the equation of what makes a great safari hat. For example a hat is no good if it does not stay on your head and so an adjustable hat with a neck strap is better than a safari hat which is not adjustable and has no neck strap.
Can I look stylish in my safari hat?
Classically designed safari hats always look great. Made in safari colours - and with designs which feed back into the bygone era of travel for inspiratin - safari hats are always in fashion and have a timelessness. They are also suitable headwear for more than just safari of course.
Are safari hats good for the outdoors too?
Absolutely, and here is why: with Africa as our testing ground - and expeditions our preferred testing method - our safari hats have passed the ultimate testing regime with flying colours. All the technical features listed above ensure that our hats are the best you can buy for general outdoor & adventure wear too. If they are good enough for Africa, they are superb for everywhere else too.
Our safari hat advice is advice you can trust. Our safari hats are designed & expedition-tested to be the best
Our main reason for existing - and the very reason why Steve founded The Safari Store - is to improve the enjoyment for all our clients of the safari & outdoor experience. To achieve this we are constantly testing and trying new designs, ideas - and make it our primary focus to study new technologies and apply them through clever garment engineering in the products we make for your next adventure. Our process can be summarized as: research, design, sample, discuss & expedition test, refine sampling, wearer test for comfort, and then make and stock ready for your next adventure.
We also have a unique understanding of safari. We have experienced Africa & Safari not only from birth - as we were all born & raised in Africa - but also on every level. Steve spends two to three months of each year camped in a tent under a tree with his partner Claire - with no back-up or facilities - in the wildest places he can find in Africa just to live in our clothing and gear. This provides another layer of lifestyle & comfort testing for our products and it is an invaluable part of our process. We have also done it all: from grassroots sweating it out on expeditions to staying at the finest lodges. We have broken down, got lost, been stuck in mud/sand, had tyres puncture, walked our way out of car trouble, paddled, walked, ridden bicycles and horses, climbed sand dunes and mountains - just to understand Africa and the outdoors better. We have needed cotton wool to stop bleeding from cuts and scrapes on expedition, and experienced what it is like to be treated like cotton wool by luxury lodges. This grass roots to gold taps understanding of safari is what sets us apart. We apply all this knowledge into creating quite simply the best products and providing unbiased, well thought out advice. We sweat, so that you don't have to.
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