Home > Hat Tips > Folding a Panama Hat: 5 Tips

Folding a Panama Hat: 5 Tips

By Taylor James


Updated on

Panama hats are a must-have for tropical vacations. They provide excellent sun protection while giving the wearer a stylish appearance. But considering how pricey a Panama hat is, you may be wary about folding and packing it into your luggage.

Here are 5 tips for folding a Panama hat:

  1. Check if your Panama hat is foldable.
  2. Do not roll if your hat is too dry.
  3. Roll the hat gently.
  4. Use a travel tube.
  5. Unfold as soon as possible.

Let’s take a better look at these tips so you can fold your Panama hat properly.

1. Check if Your Panama Hat Is Foldable

Not all Panama hats are foldable. There are three things you should check on your particular hat before you fold it, such as the fabric weave, brim size, and the specific style of your Panama hat. Let’s look closer at these factors:

  • Check the fabric weave, because hats with fine weaves are more supple and flexible, thus easier to fold. 
  • Consider the size of the brim. Panama hats with wide brims, such as the Plantation-style Panama, shouldn’t be folded as they may lose their shape and become floppy after folding.
  • Look at the style of the Panama hat. The classic Optimo, Fedora, and Montecristi are the ideal styles for folding.

If it turns out your Panama hat is too stiff or delicate to be folded, don’t worry. There are alternative methods you can use to bring the hat on a journey, which will be discussed later in this article.

For example, you can use it during transit, so it doesn’t need to be folded. Alternatively, you can also consider getting this convenient HappiBox Hat Travel Box from Amazon.com so you can easily carry your hat without folding it.

Panama hat
@kunnai via Twenty20

2. Do Not Roll if Your Hat Is Too Dry

Never fold your Panama hat when it’s too dry, as it can strain the hat’s fibers and damage its shape. You don’t have to splash water onto your Panama hat to make it wet, but a little bit of moisture should be enough.

You can moisten your Panama hat before folding it by placing a moist towel over it for a couple of minutes. Also, you can use a steam machine to moisten your hat. 

If that’s not available, you can also hold the hat over boiling water to catch the steam.

3. Roll the Hat Gently

Rather than folding it like you would a shirt, focus on gently rolling your Panama hat into a loose cone instead. Here are the steps to properly roll your hat:

  1. Fold the brim downward. 
  2. Turn the Panama hat on its side and carefully push the crown up. 
  3. Now your hat should have a shallow bowl-like shape. Follow that shape and gently fold it onto one side.
  4. Roll the hat into itself, starting from the front edge. Place a finger inside the roll from the crown side to prevent the roll from becoming too tight.
  5. Secure the roll with a broad elastic band, and you’re done.

4. Use a Travel Tube

After rolling your Panama hat, you need to pack it carefully, so it doesn’t get squished while in transport. 

That said, finding the perfect spot can be difficult, especially if your luggage is filled to the brim. That’s why I recommend using a travel tube, like the Borges & Scott Travel Tube from Amazon.com, as it can protect your Panama hat while traveling. 

If you decide to use a travel tube, slide the brim end inside first to keep the roll tidy and secure. Don’t forget to put the tube’s lid back into place to keep your Panama hat safe.

5. Unfold As Soon as Possible

Even if you precisely follow the previous tips, your Panama hat can still lose its shape after being folded for too long.

That’s why you should unfold your Panama hat as soon as possible. 

A genuine Panama hat should only be folded for traveling. Then, it should be stored unfolded to preserve its shape.

What To Do if You Panama Hat Loses Its Shape

Folding your Panama hat too long or too often can cause it to lose its shape. But don’t worry, you can still rescue a misshapen Panama hat.

Use a steam machine on your Panama hat and gently reshape it by hand. If you can’t get your hands on a steam machine, you can also use the steam from a hot shower or a tea kettle to help it settle back into its original shape.

Read this article for tips on shaping the brim on your Panama hat.

About Taylor James

As Philip Treacy once said, “How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.” And on that note, I hope you enjoy your hats and find the site useful. Learn more about Hat Realm's Editorial Process.