Bucket Hats: New Love for an Old Classic

a couple sitting on a boat on the ocean, the woman wearing a bucket hat and sun protective clothing, the man with his arms around her

 

Bucket hats are a fashion phenomenon that have made an appearance nearly every decade since the early 1900’s. From functional gear for fishermen, to hip-hop style and clubwear – every era has had its own rendition. With many major designers jumping on board in 2021, bucket hats are once again rising in popularity. 

In this article, we’ll take a brief look back at where bucket hats originated. We’ll look at their recent rise in fashion and what to look for in a bucket hat today. We’ll discuss the difference between regular and UPF 50+ bucket hats, and what sets UVwise apart. 

Let’s get started! 

What is a Bucket Hat?

Before going any further, we should touch on what a bucket hat is. Though the name is fairly self-explanatory, let’s quickly get into the specifics. 

Bucket hats are known for having a full brim, characteristically sloping down from the crown. The general structure has varied over the years. In the 1960s, bucket hat crowns were elongated to fit the extended hairstyles of the time. Today, a relaxed fit on the head is most popular. 

In certain styles, the brim is rigid to allow for folding; in others, soft and foldable for ease of travel. Many styles have ventilation holes for breathing. For outdoor-use, they are often made with water-resistant fabric. When intended for activity or children on the go, a chin strap is used to hold the hat in place. 

an african american man holding the rim of a black bucket hat, wearing a black tshirt and black sunglasses, against a bright motif

A Brief History of the Bucket Hat

Bucket hats are thought to have originated in the early 1900’s, used primarily by Irish and Australian fishermen. Their original design was purely functional, constructed from durable raw wool. Natural wool contains a waterproof element known as wool-yolk, or more commonly, lanolin.  This feature, along with the downward sloping brim, provided protection from the rain and sun. The hats were easily portable and washable, adding to their everyday functionality.    

A military version of the bucket hat appeared in the 1940s. It was used to shield soldiers from the elements and continued to be standard issue into the 1970s. Its structure varied slightly to become a “giggle” or “boonie hat”, which is still used today by armed forces across the globe. 

From function to fashion, bucket hats grew in popularity in the general public. Popularized by celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, they were embraced by civilians in a variety of fabrics such as tweed, felt and cotton.

In the 80’s and 90’s, bucket hats experienced another cultural shift into US hip-hop counterculture and the UK rave scene. Famous rappers like LL Cool J and Jay-Z sported cool bucket hats, creating a signature look that was adopted by many high-end labels. 

Today, bucket hats are a mainstream fashion staple. Celebrities like Rihanna and Kylie Jenner are frequently spotted donning them, along with runway models for the major fashion houses. While the popularity of bucket hats seems to fluctuate over time, like the classic t-shirt, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

What to Look for in a Bucket Hat

Bucket hats can range from a few dollars to a few thousand, depending on the brand, material and function. Fashion houses like Gucci and Prada rely on prestige and brand recognition for their high price point, but what really makes a bucket hat worthy?

Because bucket hats vary in form and function, what to look for heavily depends on how you’re going to use it. For anything more than a fashion statement, it’s important to consider the fabric.

Water resistant fabrics can help to keep you dry from the rain. If you’re in a cooler climate, a wool or insulating layer can help to keep you warm. For the outdoors, fabrics with built-in sun protection help to block UV rays. This is where UPF 50+ fabrics offer the best protection.

Regular vs. UPF50+ Bucket Hats

a fisherman casting a fishing rod into a lake, while wearing a bucket hat and uv protective clothing

UV Protection 

Many people think of sun protection as a summer activity. While UVB rays are weaker during the winter months, the sun's harmful UVA rays are just as strong. Even on a cloudy day, UV rays reach the earth's surface. If you’re outdoors in any season, UV protection is important.

UVA and UVB rays have the ability to damage the DNA in skin cells. This can cause mutations that lead to skin cancer, eye damage and premature aging. Most coverings will help to protect you from UV damage, but fabrics designed to block UV rays are significantly more effective. 

Functional Fabrics

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) ratings indicate how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin. For example, a hat with UPF 50 fabric allows just 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation (2 percent) to pass through. This significantly reduces the risk of UV exposure. 

To qualify for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, a fabric must have at least a UPF 30 rating. Good protection falls in the range of 30-49, while UPF50+ is rated as excellent. 

Hats made with everyday fabrics, like cotton with a UPF of 5, offer significantly less protection. Wearing a hat is a great start in blocking UV rays, but fabrics that are not designed for this can be deceiving in how much protection they offer. 

The UVwise Advantage

UVwise is a supplier of sun protective clothing and accessories that fit active outdoor lifestyles. Owned and operated by two Canadian skin cancer physicians, only the top performing UPF products are selected. In addition to using high-quality UPF 50+ materials, our bucket hats are chlorine and saltwater resistant.

With moisture-wicking, 4-way stretch material in a variety of colours and patterns, there is no need to sacrifice comfort or style. For all ages and outdoor activities, UVwise has a bucket hat to offer. Explore some of our best selling hats below.

woman wearing a white sun protective shirt and a UVwise womens bucket hat
product image of the UVwise kids bucket hat in white and blue stripesman wearing a white sun protective shirt and a black UVwise mens bucket hatproduct image of a UVwise baby bucket hat in blue camo with a chin strap