Shelta: Innovative Sun Protection Hats Perfect for Paddling
Shelta Dares to be Different – and Excels
The ubiquitous trucker hat with all its various colors and screen printed logos has long been the staple head wear in the paddling community around the world. They are inexpensive, easy to customize and offer a modicum of sun protection. Trucker hats represent the status quo in an era of innovation leaving a fertile market for something new and different. Shelta, a California small business co-founded by Jurgen Schultz, has firmly stepped into the ring with a selection of performance driven sun hats packed with a range of features built around their signature, one of a kind, Winged Vision Visor.
Shelta hats currently come in four styles, the Osprey, Seahawk, Phoenix and Griffin. The Osprey and Seahawk are identical, save for the narrow brim on the former. A similar convention is followed with the Phoenix and Griffin.
The Osprey is their original hat and resembles the profile of classic, military inspired Boonie hat. It’s narrow brim is designed to stay out-of-the-way while paddling and an inspired “No Sag” headband which is sewn to the water-repellent mesh liner prevents the hat from sagging when wet.
The Phoenix differs in part from the Osprey in that it features a high-speed, low drag five panel style crown. It has the same narrow brim as the Osprey, but incorporates a moisture management mesh liner which keeps your head cooler by absorbing moisture away from your skin and dispersing it through evaporation.
Shelta Performance Features
No matter which hat you select, Shelta packs an unrivaled number of sensible and easy to use performance driven features which will quickly make their hats your favorite piece of headwear.
Incorporated into all styles are the following:
- Winged Vision Visor – it blocks the sun while remaining stiff, even when wet or in high wind.
- Eco-Tech Fabric – breathable, water-repellent and made from environmentally friendly recycled polyester.
- Convertible Cord System – removable chin cord which can be positioned in multiple configurations depending on style and preference for maximum hat retention in wind and water.
- Water Safe – they float! Each brim is made with dual layers of closed-cell foam and water-repellent fabric.
- UV Rated to UPF 50+ – certified to block 98% of UVA/UVB radiation and deliver UPF 50+ protection in all conditions.
- One Handed Size Cinch – a toggle on the rear of each hat allows you to adjust with one hand while on the go.
- Reflective Logo – great safety feature to keep you visible.
- Venting – perfectly positioned round eyelets allow heated air to disperse.
Each Shelta hat is available in two sizes: MD/LG and LG/XL.
Features Unique to the Osprey and Seahawk
- No-Sag Head Band – the head band is sewn into the water-repellent mesh liner to prevent it from sagging when wet. This makes putting your hat back on in the water a quick and easy process.
- Inside Stash Pocket – placed in the lining at the center of the hat, the pocket is designed store the convertible cord system or small items such as a credit card or ID.
- Comfort Fit Crown – classic Boonie style crown.
Features Unique to the Phoenix and Griffin
- Moisture Management – interior mesh liner designed to absorb moisture away from your skin.
- Outside Stash Pocket – seamlessly integrated into the front of the crown, it works great for storing the convertible cord system or small items such as a credit card or ID.
- Low Profile Crown – a snug fitting, five-panel crown for a high-speed, low drag look.
SUP Examiner’s Take on Shelta
Best hats in the world. Favorite hats to paddle in. Never paddle without one.
I could easily end the review there, but I’ll elaborate. I’ve had the opportunity to be a “Shelta Test Pilot” for the past few months putting an Osprey and Phoenix through their paces while stand up paddling, outrigger canoeing with the Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club and volunteering as a race organizer at the Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s annual Stand Up for Clean Water paddleboard event.
Based on my experience, Shelta hats are true to size and easily adjustable via the “One Hand Size Cinch” cord on the rear of the hat’s crown for a snug or looser fit, depending on conditions and personal preference. I spend a fair amount of time outside and regularly wear traditional Boonie hats to protect my head from the sun, however, a traditional Boonie hat, aka floppy hat, isn’t ideal for the water sports environment for the simple reason that the brim flops down when wet and blows up in the wind. In contrast to traditional wide brim hats, Shelta’s Winged Vision Visor remains stiff and in position in all manner of conditions.
As anyone who attended or read about the 2016 Stand Up for Clean Water event knows, participants experienced strong 20+ knots of offshore wind that day. I wore the Shelta Phoenix literally from sun up to sun down at the event and when the wind picked up I simply secured the chin strap in place and my hat stayed in position. Boards were flying across the water when a few paddlers ignored instructions to wear a leash and one of the registration tents collapsed during a gust, but my Shelta hat remained securely in place.
Amazing Protection from Sun and Spray
Not only does the Winged Vision Visor provide a vastly superior level of sun protection than a trucker hat, it deflects a lot of spray from your face and remains stiff and in position when wet – even after being fully submerged. I SUP surfed wearing the Phoenix and not only did I not lose my hat during wipeouts, I also never had to readjust the hat or brush the brim out of my face after a dunk in the ocean.
The same holds true while outrigger canoeing – one of the fastest growing “cross-training” activities for stand up paddlers. I’ve worn a Osprey extensively this spring paddling with my six man club and have learned the hats truly come into their own in rough, open water conditions when wind is pumping and the surf is spraying in all directions.
Shelta hats have kept my head dry throughout numerous outrigger practices and races, which in turn helps keep me warm as the water in the Pacific off the Southern California coast is quite cold – a fact which regularly surprises visitors from out-of-state. The narrow brim on the Osprey and Phoenix is perfect for paddling as unlike a traditional wide brim hat, Shelta’s designers crafted a hat with a 360° brim that you can comfortably paddle in due to the narrow side panels which allow you to exercise the full range of motion in your stroke without bumping your shoulder into your hat.
Depending on the wind conditions, I typically start a stand up paddling session or outrigger practice with the Convertible Cord System attached, but with the cord tucked underneath the hat’s crown while warming up inside the harbor breakwall. Then, prior to heading “outside” into the Santa Monica Bay I’ll lift up the hat and allow the cord to drop down and simply secure it beneath my chin.
When using the Convertible Cord System, I’m fairly traditional in that I prefer to wear it either tucked beneath the crown (no wind) or secured beneath my chin (wind). With that in mind, the Convertible Cord System is aptly named and can be configured in a number of different ways depending on your style preferences. I don’t use the hook clip on the end of the Convertible Cord System, which is easily removed and stored in the hat’s stash pocket.
When training on my SUP, I found the Moisture Management system built into the mesh liner of the Phoenix worked exceedingly well at eliminating sweat from running down into my eyes. When wearing a traditional trucker hat, even the ones with the terry cloth head bands, I have never had a 100% solution to stopping sweat from running down my face. Shelta’s Phoenix makes that phenomenon an inconvenience of the past. Like everything on their hats, the company developed the Moisture Management system in the Phoenix with a specific intent in mind, which in this instance is high intensity sports such as SUP racing, outrigger canoeing and trail running, to name a few.
Easy to Maintain
Caring for a Shelta hat is quick and easy. I predominantly paddle in the ocean and simply rinse off my hat after each use with fresh water and hang it up to dry. The company’s’ Eco-Tech Fabric is quick drying and my hats are always dry and ready for action the following day.
I use an EXOS Bravo backpack from Tactical Intent for holding my paddling gear and like to fold my Shelta hats together like a clam shell and place them at the top of my pack where the curvature of the Winged Vision Visor nestles nicely with the contour of the pack. This places my hat in an easy to grab location in my bag for when I arrive at my paddling destination.
I really love my Shelta hats and can’t say enough good things about them. They are, in my opinion, the best hats in the world, my favorite hats to paddle in, and I never paddle without one.
Disclosure: I received two sample hats for testing and review, however, the opinions expressed are my own.
Special thanks to 404 SUP for loaning me a 12’6″ V3 to use while conducting this review.