The Shelta Seahawk sun hat uses a stiff brim that won’t fall and block your vision when it’s wet or windy. In fact, the Shelta sun hat, which now has four versions, was invented to handle water-focused adventure sports like standup paddling and surfing — without flopping around or getting in the way.
I’m not a surfer, but I swim, raft, kayak and fish in the water often enough to know that sometimes slathering on sunscreen just isn’t enough protection from the sun’s UV rays. For those long days on the water in relentless sun, I ordered a Shelta Seahawk sun hat and promptly put it to use. This is what I learned:
Shelta Seahawk Sun Hat Review
The Shelta claim to fame comes from its stiff brim that won’t sag when it gets wet or hit with a blast of wind. If you’re an outdoor water adventurer, you can’t have your brim blocking your vision while you’re paddling, surfing or kite boarding. In addition, you don’t want a more traditional ultra-wide brimmed sun hat getting in the way.
So Shelta founder Jurgen Schulz set out to create an amphibious sun hat with a slim profile, a stiff brim, and fabrics that won’t get waterlogged. He succeeded.
Let’s start with the brim, which Shelta calls its Winged Vision Visor. It uses dual layers of closed-cell foam to give it stability. It’s lightweight and stays put and it works well. The closed-cell foam also floats, so you won’t lose your hat in the water.
The Shelta Seahawk includes a removable cord system that you can use to cinch down your hat so you won’t lose it if you get hit with a wave or a gust of wind. In fact, the cord system includes a removable clip that you can tether to your clothing or life jacket. For safety, it will break or bend under extreme force.
The entire cord is also removable through a toggle system in the brim.
Better yet, Shelta includes a pocket in the top of the hat where you can stow the cord when not in use. Or stash your license or a credit card.
A rear toggle lets you fine-tune the fit, and mesh eyelets help with venting.
Shelta Seahawk, Osprey, Griffin & Phoenix Explained
Shelta makes four different models of its sun hat: The Seahawk, Osprey, Griffin and Phoenix. All come in a variety of colors, but not all color options span each model.
The Seahawk and Osprey are aimed at water sports with near constant exposure to water while the Griffin and Phoenix are water resistant but aimed more toward dry sun protection. The Griffin and Phoenix, for instance, have a mesh liner to help wick moisture off your head.
They all float, of course, and they can all handle plenty of water.
The other key differences are the width of the brim at the sides and back. Here are the measurements in inches:
- Shelta Osprey: front 3″ – sides 1.25″ – back 2.25″
- Shelta Seahawk: front 3″ – sides 2.25″ – back 2.5″
- Shelta Phoenix: front 3″ – sides 1.25″ – back 2.25″
- Shelta Griffin: front 3″ – sides 2.25″ – back 2.5″
Basically, if you want the trimmest sun hat, go with the Osprey for water-focused use or the Phoenix for land-focused use.
If you want more sun protection, go with the Seahawk for water or the Griffin for land.
Personally, I think the best all-around option for most people is the Seahawk or Griffin — I think the extra inch on the sides is worth having to help protect your ears . . . and it still results in a trim experience compared to most sun hats.
Shelta Extras: Face Gaitor and Shade Mullet
Because Shelta is all about sun protection for active outdoor adventurers, the company also produces lightweight Face Gaiters with a contoured shape designed to fit well.
The Shelta Shade Mullet is a lightweight fabric sun shield that you can attach to the rear of the Shelta hats with the toggles on the cord systems.
All-in-all, if you’re an adventurous outdoor person who likes to get wet, the Shelta series of sun hats should make your must-have gear list. The Shelta Seahawk is lightweight and offers far more sun protection than a standard baseball cap — and it holds up well to water sports. Its lightweight material does just fine on hikes, works great while fly fishing in waders in full sun, and I plan to take it backpacking later this month. Very highly recommended.