The Ultimate Guide to Boonie Hats

It is very important to keep your head protected when you go outdoors, especially when fishing or boating. It is one of the most overlooked parts of preparation when it comes to outdoor activities, but it should not be. One of the best ways to protect your head from serious sunburn is by wearing a boonie hat. It can help cut back glare and keep your head cool. It features a wide brim that covers the head and neck. Most of them also have some kind of retention strap string to prevent them from being blown by strong winds. 

Before boonie hats became widely used for outdoor activities, they were used by the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. At the present time, you will be able to find many different styles and designs of boonie hats in stores and online. But what exactly are boonie hats, and why is it good to wear them outdoors? If you are also curious, you’re in the right place. Read on as we’re giving you the ultimate guide to boonie hats.

The History of Boonie Hats

a military boonie hat

The origin of the actual design of boonie hats is difficult to pinpoint. You could go back to around 100 years to fisherman hats, called “bucket hats,” which were made of tweed or wool and looked similar to the modern boonie hat. 

Back in the 1930s, the United States military was provided with a wide brim hat that went all around the head. It was first made of denim and later herringbone twill. During those times, they were called “Daisy Mae” hats, which were based on a comic-strip character of the time. That hat also resembled what we know today as the boonie hat. 

However, the United States troops were not alone in using those types of hats. The British Commonwealth and its forces also had a hot-climate uniform that included a “bush hat.” It was widely used by Commonwealth forces during World War II and later during the Malayan Emergency that took place in the 1950s and 1960s. 

In Australia, their version of a similar-looking hat was called “giggle hats” due to the shorter brim and more or less outlandish look. The design of the hat was very popular among the troops due to its practical use and comfortable feel, especially in warmer climates. 

Boonie hats became popular during the Vietnam War, when it was widely used by special forces, including the Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrols and the MACV-SOG. Before, the hats were created in different styles and were bought from local sewing shops that use recycled fabric. They come in Tigerstripe ERDL camouflage and Olive Green. 

When 1967 came, the United States military started issuing boonie hats regularly. They officially designated them in usual military terminology as “hat, jungle, with insect net.” They complemented regular patrol and baseball caps that were used by soldiers on the military base, which paved the way to the success of boonie hats. 

During the Vietnam war, the boonie hat acquired its popular name. However, it was not quite clear why it ended up being called boonie. Some believe that it is a reference to the Tagalog word “bundok,” which means mountain. Though it may seem far-fetched, it makes sense considering that “bundok” morphed into “boondocks,” which is a slang word introduced by Americans who fought in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, which referred to the people coming from the mountains. 

Later on, the term evolved into a description for anything that comes out of a wilderness area and eventually shortened to boonie, which is a rather fitting name with Vietnam’s spectrum of landscape, ranging from mountainous ground to jungle estuaries. 

Boonie hats went on to become a typical item and were part of all main conflicts in hot and jungle climates, caught by many different nations and non-state actors. The hats can be seen in photos taken of the Gulf wars and the war in Afghanistan. 

At the present time, boonie hats are very common, and it’s quite challenging to imagine a time when they were not worn by some forces somewhere. Today, they are widely used as outdoor hats for different activities and as well as fashionable pieces. 

How are Boonie Hats Worn?

two boonie hats

Wearing a boonie hat is different from wearing a ball cap. It features a retention string that you can use in different ways. To give you some ideas, here are the different ways on how you can wear a boonie hat.

Wear the strap in front.

The string on the boonie hat can be worn loose in front. This way, when the wind blows in your face, the hat will not be blown away even if it blows back. However, wearing it this way can blow the hat right off of your head by a rear wind. Also, if you are in the bush, snags are another concern because when you get caught on a tree, the strap might choke you. To prevent this, you can tighten the strap. 

Try the rear strap loose method.

You can also leave the retention string on a boonie hat at the back, hanging to the back of your head. This way, if a wind picks up from the rear, it will blow the hat forward but not off of your head. However, this style can cause issues, such as annoyance when it gets under your collar. 

Tie the strap at the back of your head.

Doing this will help the hat resist wind and snags. But you need to make sure that it is right enough and comfortable. 

Tie the strap on top.

There are some who prefer to wear a boonie hat without the strap. If you are one of them, you can tie the strap on top of the hat. This will give it a cowboy look. However, during sunny days, you will be at a greater risk of burns. It’s because the tied strap is going to pull up the brim at the sides. Also, this is not advisable during windy days as any wind will pull your boonie hat off of your head. 

Keep the strings under the hat.

If you do not want to tie the strings on top of the hat, you can also keep it under the hat. This is better if you do not like to use the strings but want your head to be protected from the sun. This might be slightly uncomfortable for tight-fitting boonie hats. 

If you are looking for more information about wearing boonie hats, you can also read our list of the Best Ways to Wear a Boonie Hat.

The Benefits of Wearing Boonie Hats

a soldier wearing a boonie hat

Wearing boonie hats come with many different benefits. Here are some of them:

Boonie hats can provide UV protection.

One of the most common ways to acquire skin diseases is by exposing yourself to the harmful rays of the sun. This is why it is very important to cover up when going outdoors on a hot, sunny day. One of the best ways to prevent sunburn is by wearing a boonie hat. They are very helpful in protecting you from the sun as it covers both your face and the back of your neck. 

Boonie hats can protect you from cold.

When you go out hiking during the cold season, a boonie hat can also help in keeping your head warm. This will provide you comfort and warmth and help you avoid flu as you will not lose too much heat. 

Boonie hats can provide protection to your hair.

Wind, sun, and snow can all cause damage to your hair. Therefore, wearing a boonie hat is a great way to protect your hair from these harmful aspects. 

Boonie hats are very stylish.

In addition to the protection that boonie hats can provide, they also look good. They come in many different colors and designs, making them look stylish. Therefore, wearing one will not only protect you from outdoor elements but as well as make you look more gorgeous. 


Boonie hats are indeed useful and stylish. It is not only a fashion statement but a product that is made out of necessity. They are more comfortable to wear in hot and humid climates and are the perfect protection against sun and rain. It is amazing to know that this simple piece of headwear has provided a lot of soldiers protection from the elements and as well as helped them conceal themselves from their enemies.

We hope this helped you learn more about boonie hats. If you are looking for more information, you can also read the following articles: