When I set out to test a structured straw hat for travel, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I figured I’d come up with some tips for traveling with a hat that you can’t just smash into the bottom of a day pack or suitcase, and weigh the pros and cons. But traveling with the Tilley Rebecca Straw Sun Hat actually changed the way I use hats—for the better.
For context: I’ve had basal cell carcinoma—which makes me far more diligent than I used to be about sun coverage—and my dermatologist told me that there’s a direct correlation between sun exposure and wrinkles, so it’s usually my intention to wear a hat when I’m outside. But it’s often crammed in the bottom of my day bag, waiting until I remember it’s there (or until the heat of the sun reminds me).
When I got the Rebecca Straw Sun Hat, I realized that smooshing it into the bottom of a bag was not going to be an option. It’s not a huge hat, but it’s also not meant to be folded or flattened (though it can pretty successfully be folded from side to side for shorter periods of time). Which meant … I just put it on and kept it on. Though it has a 360-degree brim, the hat was comfortable to wear in the car. It was rugged enough for hikes, but stylish enough for alfresco lunches. And while the brim offered good coverage (and could be flipped up or down), I never got that trapped-under-a-hat claustrophobic feeling. I thought I’d find ways to get a structured straw hat to work for me, but instead the hat changed the way I travel, and because I—by necessity—wore it more instead of stashing it in a bag, I ended up more protected.
Price and Where to Buy: The Rebecca Straw Sun Hat is $120 on Tilley.com.
How the Tilley Rebecca Straw Sun Hat Rates:
- Usefulness: 9/10. Because this hat can’t easily be stowed and forgotten, I found I spent more time actually wearing it, which meant I was shielded from the sun more of the time. Features like a stowable wind cord, a secret pocket, and a removable sweatband insert (that can be removed for cleaning) make it comfortable and super functional. Its UPF 50+ rating means you’re actually protected from the sun. Its poseable brim can be flipped up or down for variations in coverage and style.
- Value: 8/10. This is not the cheapest straw sun hat option out there. But it is one that’s built to last, and its features set it apart from competitors.
- Durability: 8/10. After months of bringing this hat on trips and using it in daily life, it still looks great. It has maintained its shape, even though I’ve experimented with the folding-from-the-sides compression for packing in a suitcase. And I’ve successfully spot cleaned small areas that have gotten dirty. The only issue—and this is one that Tilley mentions in the write-up for this hat—is that the raffia material gets some minor “picks,” those tiny, wispy flyaways where a bit of the fiber breaks away and flips up. Tilley notes that these “are natural and should not be trimmed.”
- Cool Factor: 9/10. This is an elegant hat that garners me compliments from a wide cross-section of people.
Final Verdict: Packed with signature Tilley features, the Rebecca Straw Hat is comfortable, stylish, and useful.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 9 Packable Sun Hats for Your Summer Adventures
- The Essential Beach Packing List
- 8 Best Travel Sunglasses for Summer
Editor’s Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and “cool factor.” Some review products are sent to us to test free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.