The most important tropical surf trip accessory: a surf hat

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If you are going to a tropical surf destination, it is likely that you will need to pack light. Most surfers load their gear into a small backpack or directly into their surfboard bag. This means that space is at a premium, and only the essentials make it on your dream surf trip. Fancy eveningwear or accouterments are out.

So what do you keep, and what do you leave? First and foremost, you’ll take a surfboard or two and appropriate activewear. You’ve also packed your leg rope and some warm water wax. Fins—check. Sun protection? There are so many options to choose from…

Now we get to the nitty-gritty.

Get a surf hat

Surf brand, Kaiola, creates some of the best surf hats the world has ever seen. These are not just flimsy fashion accessories, designed to look funky while you longboard sloppy waves at a beach break. Instead, Kaiola surf hats are hard-core, robust pieces of equipment that will keep your head and face well clear of the sun. And that is precisely what you need if you go somewhere tropical—because if the reef doesn’t damage you, the sun will.

If you’ve got dark skin, you’re much more protected, so happy days for you. But if you have fair or medium-tone skin, take care. Getting sunburned just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer compared to never being burnt. 

The benefits of a surf hat

One of the best things about wearing a surf hat is that you use less sunscreen. Sunscreen might protect your skin, but many of the chemical ingredients are seriously bad for reefs. It is tragic to think that surfers have caused so much damage to fragile coral ecosystems worldwide while simply trying to protect their epidermis. Mineral zinc is a much better option if you are going to wear sunscreen and should be your first choice for sun protection—after your hat, of course.

I remember wearing a Rip Curl surf cap at Cloudbreak in Fiji. First wave of the session, and that cap was gone. The flimsy clasp never stood a chance. In contrast, I have tested Kaiola gear across a range of conditions, and these surf caps never come off. This includes surfing in places like Fiji, Tahiti and my local beachie on a solid day.

What I love about Kaiola hats is their stiff yet flexible brim. Even after multiple years of surfing, they retain their rigidity. They’re also designed to enable you to see either side of you. It makes a huge difference having access to your peripheral vision when you’re bottom turning, especially backhand. So many surf hats—particularly of the bucket variety—block your vision and result in poorly executed maneuvers.

Kaiola brand hats have an exceptionally robust clasp that is nevertheless pretty easy to open. You get the sense that the designers at Kaiola surf with their own products. There are way too many products where the design looks cool, but the product is brought to market without being adequately tested. This is not the case with Kaiola, and you really get the sense that they use these products just as much as their customers. The best products are created by founders who have solved a problem not only for the market but for themselves. 

The latest Kaiola range

We were delighted to test out the latest Kaiola designs. While you can choose the original range featuring bright colors, they’ve also introduced models for those who prefer simplicity in aesthetics.

Get on board with a surf hat that will protect you from the sun, reduce reliance on sunscreen and be an invaluable accessory in the water and on land. When you’re packing for a surf trip, after boards, swimwear and wax take a Kaiola surf hat.

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