From Vietnam to Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers working in hot environments have relied on the "Boonie Hat" to cover their heads from the sun.
A Boonie Hat is essentially a wide brimmed bucket hat used to shade American soldiers working in extremely hot, sunny places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The hat typically has a camouflage pattern, as well as several mesh side vents to allow the head to breathe. A strap under the chin keeps the hat affixed firmly in place. U.S. soldiers began wearing Boonie Hats during the Vietnam Conflict in the 1960s.
U.S. Army Green Berets began purchasing tiger striped Boonie Hats at local Vietnamese markets and wearing them in the jungles during combat missions. The hats quickly caught on with other soldiers, and the U.S. military began manufacturing them and calling them “Jungle Hats.” Today, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to wear the hats, which now come in a variety of camouflage patterns. A soldier’s rank is often pinned to the front of the hat.
Invented in Australia
It is widely believed that the Boonie Hat originated in Australia. Soldiers in Australia had worn similar head covers referred to as "Bush Hats" as far back as World War One. There are stories that U.S. soldiers began wearing these hats in Vietnam after seeing them on Australian soldiers. The Australians often refer to the head covers as "Giggle Hats" and today they are issued to every person serving in the Australian Defense Forces, which is responsible for homeland security and defense.