This photo shows the author wearing the Shelta Seahawk hat in a kayak on a lake.
The Shelta Seahawk sun hat is built for water sports.

Shelta Hat Review: Osprey, Raptor, Seahawk, Firebird

- Field-tested -

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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 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. After extensive testing over multiple seasons, this is what I learned:

Shelta Seahawk Sun Hat Review

This photo shows the author wearing the Shelta Seahawk hat in a kayak on a lake from the front view.
Designed for action water sports, the Shelta Seahawk hat has a stiff brim to keep the sun out of your eyes, even when it’s windy and wet.

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.

Shelta Hats Are the Best Sun Hats for Water Sports

This photo shows the author testing the Shelta Firebird V2 sun hat in a river while whitewater rafting during the long-term review process.
The Shelta brim won’t sag when wet!

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.

This photo shows the Shelta Seahawk hat mesh vents and removable cord toggle system.
The Shelta Seahawk has mesh vents and a removable cord system.

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.

Shop Shelta gear direct and get free US shipping on orders over $50 + free shipping on returns!

Shelta Osprey, Raptor V2, Seahawk & Firebird V2 Explained

Shelta makes four different models of its sun hat: The Osprey, Raptor V2, Seahawk, and Firebird V2. All come in a variety of colors, but not all color options span each model.

All models have a 3″ no-flop front brim, all float, and they all have moisture management features, along with the same cord systems.

This Shelta Hat review photo shows the relative side brim sizes on the Shelta Raptor V2, Seahawk, and Firebird V2 sun hats.
Relative side brim sizes overlapped: Raptor V2 on top, Seahawk middle, Firebird V2 bottom.

The key difference between the four models is how much brim you want around your head for sun protection.

The Osprey is the narrowest sun hat. The Raptor V2 has a half-inch wider brim, the Seahawk adds another half-inch in width and the Firebird V2 is another half-inch wider than the Seahawk. Shelta has a sun hat product page that shows the shapes of each Shelta hat from the top view down.

Here are the measurements in inches:

Basically, if you want the trimmest sun hat, go with the Osprey. If you want the most sun protection, go with the Firebird v2.

Choose your options by viewing all four hats from above at Shelta right here.

Personally, I think the best all-around option for most people is the Seahawk — I think the 2.25″ side brim is worth having to help protect your ears . . . and it still results in a trim experience compared to most sun hats. On the other hand, I like the Raptor V2 for water sports when I’m falling in the water a lot . . . and the Firebird V2 is great for long hikes in relentless sun.

This review photo shows the author illustrating the sun protection from the Shelta Firebird V2 hat while SUP paddling.
Check out that shady sun protection!

What about the Osprey sun hat? It’s best for super-active water sports.

Shelta Extras: Face Gaitor, Neck Shield, Sun Gloves

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 Neck Shield is a lightweight fabric sun shield that you can attach to the rear of the Shelta hats with the toggles on the cord systems.

The sun gloves are lightweight gloves — they fit well.

This Shelta Hat review photo shows a man wearing the Shelta Raptor V2 hat while paddle boarding on a river.
The Raptor V2 on the water.

All-in-all, if you’re an adventurous outdoor person who likes to get wet, the Shelta series of sun hats and sun protection clothing 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. I taken Shelta hats backpacking, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rafting, hiking, fishing and camping. Very highly recommended.

Get the Gear:

Shelta Seahawk
No-flop brim works great
Fantastic water features
Lots of size and color choices
No real drawbacks -- it's a very versatile sun hat
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