what hat to wear on safari

So you’re going on a Safari, maybe for the first time, and you’re looking for the best safari hat. You’ve come to the right place.

I’ve been traveling to Africa for 30 years, and have been designing and leading tours to Africa since 2004. There is a lot to know before you go. This post focuses on the perfect safari hat, but check out my other safari tips, and sign up to SavingWild.com to receive stories, interviews with leading conservationists like Jane Goodall, and more.






First, you need to know there is the all important issue of weight restrictions on the small bush planes (30-44 lbs maximum depending on the country). Not knowing what you will need when you have never been on an African safari before often means travelers overpack, or worse, bring the wrong things.

I would love to send you my custom Packing List. Let me know you signed up to SavingWild.com by sending me an email (savingwildblog@gmail.com) and I will send you my free custom Safari Packing List. 


One of the most important items to pack for Africa may be your safari hat. It doesn’t matter if you are going on safari to witness the wildebeest migration, trek to see the chimpanzees, journey down into the Ngorongoro Crater, or sit on your verandah enjoying a cocktail while watching elephants in a watering hole only feet away from you. 



You have the benefit of avoiding my trials and tribulations before I found the perfect safari hat. But just in case you want to know what it took…

Or you can skip all of this and go to the bottom to find my recommendation for the best hat for any safari. But then you will miss all the fun. 

Lori Robinson in the Galapagos
A good hat is necessary even for non-safari trips like this one to the Galapagos. The tortoise has the hat thing down.



1. Protection from the sun

2. To keep your hair from becoming a matted mess from the dust and wind

3. To hide your hair once it becomes matted mess

4. and sometimes (surprise, surprise) you wear a hat for warmth (yes it can be cold in Africa)


Lori Robinson leads Kenyan safari
Yes, it gets cold in Africa!



No matter your reasons, it’s nice if your safari hat can be stylish, and practical, and lightweight.

I have a large head so it’s been hard for me to find a hat. Period.

Lori Robinson on safari in Kenya
Wearing part of a dead lion is not an option for me.

When people loan me their baseball cap, I have to let it out two sizes.

(I tell people my head is big because my brain is big.)

The point is, it’s always been difficult to find a good hat that fits over my large brain. 

Whatever the reason, I have had years of trail and error searching for the perfect safari hat.



A couple of years ago I was shopping in Denver for a hat figuring if I can’t find a hat for my big head at the biggest REI on the planet, I won’t be able to find one anywhere.

I looked and looked until my friends exasperated daughter Lily took all the hats away from me and said, “Just pick one, they’re all good. See?” 

Thanks Lily for your help. Sorry none of them fit MY head.

Lily will be happy to know that I finally found the perfect hat.

It happens to be well made, lightweight, functional and stylish, and even comes in large sizes.

I would recommend it for anyone packing for an African safari, or for going outside anywhere in the world for that matter.



Lori Robinson with Masai children, Kenya
I added the green scarf touch just for extra style.










The brand is called TILLEY (press this link for the exact style I own – T4MO Eco-Airflo in Olive).

There are many styles and colors, all of them great.  

Tilley’s have built in sunblock, and guarantees! They’re made of Organic Cotton, and. . .

they even float (as one fan brought to my attention in the comments below).

 I could go on and on, but why don’t you go to this link and see for yourself:  TILLEY .


Great news. For ANY products you buy using our Amazon Link a  small % will go to Saving Wild to protect wildlife all over the world. It costs you nothing extra. All you need to do is use this TILLEY LINK for all your safari (and any other) Amazon purchases.  


Now that you’ve got your perfect safari hat covered, you may want to get some other advice.

1- My custom Safari Packing List,  the same list I have been giving my clients for years, with updates as needed so it’s always current, is free to all my followers. Just ask for it by sending me an email (savingwildblog@gmail.com) and telling me you have signed up to our email list.

2- Get my best tips for staying Healthy while traveling. Sign up to SavingWild.com below and then shoot me an email to let me know you signed up and that you want the tips. They are Great and found nowhere else.


Sign up Here-


3) Great Wildlife books to read before, during and after your safari.

4) Great Safari Guide Books


Let me know if you agree that Tilley is the best safari hat.


Safari Njema!

Lori Robinson



smart, and courageous
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14 Replies to “The Perfect Safari Hat”

  1. Tilley hats are the BEST! I’ve had 2 over the last 25+ years (yes the first one was replaced at no charge) and although not the most stylish, (although you look good in yours) they are functional, tough and you get to be part of the Tilley Club (other Tilley wearers). Although now that there are more and more Tilley hats the club is less exclusive. And don’t forget–it floats!

  2. Dear Tilley club member, I am so happy to hear from you and thanks for the info on floating. Who knew? You, obviously. I am happy to be a new member to the Tilley club. The less exclusive the better, because that means we all got the memo. What took ME so long?

  3. Tilley hats are great….. I discovered them many years ago in Canada, when a director friend and the entire film crew were wearing them on location!! A great advertisement for the brand!
    But… in recent months, I must admit that I’ve found my favorite hat, to date, at a local nursery!
    It provides terrific sun protection and literally weighs almost nothing – doesn’t even register on my scale.
    But, I don’t believe it will float as it has a mesh headband for ventilation!!

    A trade-off?

  4. Well you are ahead of the curve and since I happen to know you used to have a hat business I take your word about hats seriously. Are you going to share the brand you have found and love that is now replacing your Tilley’s?

  5. yes i know the San Diego Hat Co and love them. I have used their hats as well for Africa but the Tilleys seem longer lasting, more sturdy and rugged.

  6. I love that people are so passionate about hats. I’d add that the Tilley with a vented strip around the crown still floats. But then I’m hopelessly in love with my Tilley so i have a bias. Has anyone read the manual? Hilarious. Oh yea, I also have HUGE head but for sure its not the hair…

  7. Hats are important and want to add to this discussion that a cap (as in baseball as seen in one of the photos on the post) is not a hat, and really provides no sun protection whatsoever. What manual are you referring to Steve?

  8. thanks for looking out for us big headed hat wearers. From the responses to this post, there appears to be quite a few of us. Hat manufacturers take notice.

  9. I’ve had Tilley hats for 30 years and currently have six in different styles. I love them and the people at Tilley are great.

  10. Well Gary, I wish I would have talked to you 30 years ago so I too could have been wearing Tilleys for that long. 6? You win. There is no contest but if there were, I am sure you would be the winner. Thanks for commenting. Loved hearing from you.

  11. Going to Kenya in late November..elephant camp! Please send me your packing list with best type of luggage to use.

    Many thanks,


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