Boonie Hat vs Bucket Hat: Which One to Choose?

Boonie Hat vs Bucket Hat

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Any outdoor activity needs the right gear to succeed and when it comes to hats, boonie hat vs bucket hat offer varying degrees of comfort and safety.

Many wonder what is best and often get confused between the two. Each hat type is widely used for specific outdoor activities and while they may appear similar they serve different purposes. This is mostly because they have similar exterior designs and carry multiple related functions.

Wearing an inappropriate hat can be an uncomfortable experience and may offer little or no protection for your head while you are in your outdoor activity. It’s like hiking in direct sun without sunscreen or fishing in the rain with a wettable cap. The right hat makes the activity much better.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn all the specifications to better understand which hat is best for your activity.

Understanding the Basics

Before we explore the nuances, let’s define these two hat styles:

Whats a Boonie Hat?

bucket hat vs boonie hat

A boonie hat, also called a boney hat or booney cap, is a wide-brimmed hat intended for use during hiking, fishing, and camping.

Where did the name boonie originate from? It originated from the word “boondocks – rough rural or isolated areas where these hats were first used on military personnel.

Boonie Hat Advantages: A Case Study in Sun Protection

Sun protection has always been a critical measure that attracts the attention of international organizations, governments, institutions, and ordinary citizens worldwide.

A 2019 randomized controlled trial was carried out by Tang et al published in the International Journal of Dermatology to study the level of UV protection offered by various types of hats. The study on the level of protection proved that boonie hats which are wide-brimmed covered more of the face, ears, and neck area than baseball caps and bucket hats with comparatively small brims

bucket hat vs sun hat
Boonie Hats in the U.S. Military

In car activities that require long hours of sun exposure, a boonie hat with UPF rating becomes all the more necessary. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor, and it shows how well a fabric protects one from these rays.

For instance, when it comes to boonie hats, fashion them with a UPF rating of 50+ to provide maximum protection against the sun.

Whats a Bucket Hat?

whats a bucket hat

Whereas, a bucket hat is a small rounded hat that has a slopping edge and a more elevated cylindrical top. This tree get its name from the fact that it was shaped like an upside-down bucket.

Bucket hats, in particular, can be traced back to Ireland where fishermen adapted this accessory to protect their heads and face from the elements, and this hat has managed to become popular in the present day as one of the versatile accessories that will look good whether one is in urban environment or the great outdoors.

Key Differences: Boonie hat vs bucket hat

While both hats offer sun protection and a casual, relaxed style, several notable differences set them apart:

Brim Width: Baseball caps generally have less overhang, in other words, the brim is narrower, to afford greater shade to your face, neck, and the upper part of your shoulders. Bucket hats, as the name suggests, have a round crown with a narrower brim and they give Moderate Sun Protection.

Crown Height: Bucket hats feature a much taller crown which means there are more options when it comes to having the hat worn – either on top of the head so that the top of the hat cups the ears or further down so that more of the hat covers the eyes. Boonie hats are slighter upward in the front that has slightly shorter crowns and sit closer to your head.

bucket hat vs boonie

Chin Straps and Neck Capes: Some of these boonie hats are fitted with a chin strap and neck flap which anchors the hat and offers an extra sun shield to the neck, especially when the weather is windy. The following are aspects that are found only in limited quantity in bucket hats.

Ventilation: Features such as Mesh or concealed vents at the sides and top attenuate heat build-up and aid in venting the hat when the wearer is engaged in rigorous outdoor activities. However, not all bucket hats have this function; vent(s) on a bucket hat are not as common.

Materials and Technologies: While these hats have a casual style, manufacturing them with materials like nylon or nylon poly blend and adding features like UPF sun protection, moisture control, and cooling functions where appropriate.

Depending on the material that has been used, bucket hats can also be performance fabrics and they are mostly associated with casual brands catering to the fashion-conscious market.


Boonie Hat

Bucket Hat

Brim Width

Wider (2.5-3.5 inches)

Narrower (2 inches)

Crown Height



Chin Strap



Neck Cape




Often has mesh panels or vents



Durable, often with cooling and wicking technologies

Flexible, often soft fabrics

Use Cases

Hiking, camping, fishing, military

Urban wear, casual outdoor activities

Choosing the Right Hat for Your Needs

Now that you understand the key differences, let’s explore which hat might be the better choice for your specific activities:

When to Choose a Boonie Hat

what is a boonie hat
Army Wearing a boonie hat

Consider a boonie hat if:

  • You actively work outdoors, therefore exposure to the sun and heat must be regulated; as activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, or hunting.
  • This means you want a hat that is high-end and durable to hold firmly on your head when you are on windy terrains.
  • This specific feature can include UPF sun protection, moisture management, and cooling attributes as extended performance features.
  • The Bucket hat may also be worn on such occasions as circumcision, weddings, birthday parties, and festivals as well as other informal functions such as school, church, clubs, or at the beach.

When to Choose a Bucket Hat

A bucket hat might be the better option if:

  • You are really in search of a hat that can be conveniently worn within towns and slightly rural settings such as strolls or light hiking.
  • You would rather have an appearance that is more in tune with current trends and styles.
  • You do not need the same performance features as would be provided by an outdoor hat designed for further continuation of this type of activity.


Boonie Hat 

Bucket Hat

Sun Protection 

Superior - Wide, adjustable brim

Moderate - Shorter brim


Good - Ventilation panels or mesh

Fair - May lack ventilation


Excellent - Tougher materials 

Good - Breathable fabrics


Utilitarian - Solid colors, camo 

Casual - Wide variety of colors, patterns

Choosing the Right Size and Fit

Regardless of the type you decide on, the boonie hat or the bucket hat, it is extremely vital that the hat fits properly for it to be comfortable and functional. undefined

Boonie Hats: Using a flexible tape measure, find the measurement of your head’s circumference and then check sizing from the manufacturers’ size charts. Ideally, boonie hats ought to be sufficiently ample to wear, although not too tight.

Bucket Hats: Bucket hats are typically one-size-fits-all, although some manufacturers may provide multiple options. Adjust the size and feel the comfortable one – the hat should stay well on your head so that it cannot be too tight or too loose.

How To Care for Your Boonie Hat or Sun Hat

Its good care enables the hat to last longer and remain useful as required Proper care enables the hat to remain serviceable for as long as needed. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions: Some of the washing and drying suggestions that can be given encompass differences in the material.
  • Hand-washing is recommended: Diluted mild detergent solutions and warm water should be used for most hats.
  • Air dry the hat: Do not use a dryer as this will likely shrink the hat or damage the brim if it exists.
  • Spot clean minor stains: For minor stains or oil stains on the floor, you can wipe the area with water and mild soap.


Which one will win the Boonie hat vs. the bucket hat? The answer is not difficult to come by. It all depends on the purpose for which you want to use the hat. For a rugged outdoor adventure hat with great sun protection and cooling properties, a boonie hat is the way to go. But if you want a stylish and versatile hat for town and casual wear, a bucket hat is preferred.

Knowing the differences in each type of hat will help you make the right decision that will keep you cool and protected no matter where you are. Make the right choice and have fun wearing your preferred hat to any place. Cool.


What is the purpose of a boonie hat?

Boonie hats are known as sun-protective, wide-brimmed hats. They are also referred to as bush hats or patrol hats and sometimes are made from breathable fabrics with additional vents for additional cooling in extreme heat. Military spec may include attachment loops for camouflage.

What is another name for a boonie hat?

Boonie hat, bush hat, patrol hat, giggle hat (Australia).

They look and perform great! The wide brim protects from the sun and most are made from breathable fabric with vents for extremely hot conditions. They are very comfortable, adjustable, and can be packed flat.

Why does the military wear boonie hats?

They offer additional shade from the sun and in hot climates this helps keep military personnel cooler. Some military boonie hats have camouflage which is a big factor.

Why do hunters and fishermen wear boonie hats?

Like the military, the wide brim keeps out the sun. You can breathe and it keeps you cool. The brim also keeps the rain off to a degree. And with hunters, they might use the leaves to hold foliage onto the sides for extra camo.

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