The 10 Best Running Hats to Buy in 2020

Reviews, Running

A great running hat can add so much to your performance on those outdoor runs, no matter what time of day—or year—it is. Choosing the right one to meet your needs can increase comfort, prevent sun damage and frostbite, and increase your aerodynamics to improve your performance.

We’ll talk more about the benefits of running hats later on. Now, let’s consider the key factors to keep in mind as you shop. After our mini-guide, you’ll also find our recommendations for the top 10 running hats of 2020.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Running Hat

When looking for the right running hat, you need to consider things like the season, fit, material, reflectivity, and style. In this section, we’ll take a quick look at each of those and how they’ll influence your purchase.

Season

You will need different hats depending on the season. In hotter months, the priority is breathability and sun protection. Look for a cap with a mesh or breathable top and a sturdy brim like this one.

In winter, sun protection is still important. Continue to wear a hat with a brim, especially if you burn easily. However, if you live in an especially cold climate, you may want to add a skull cap that offers ear protection, such as this one.

Keeping your head well insulated and protecting your ears from frost is important when running in cold climates, even though you start to feel warm after a few minutes of running. This is because your ears are particularly vulnerable to frostbite.

Fit and Adjustability

When buying a hat for running, it’s important to get something that will stay snug without being too restrictive. If it’s too loose, you’ll end up wasting valuable energy as you focus on repositioning your hat. If it’s too tight, the discomfort can distract you and decrease your performance.

With skull caps and beanies, the fit is a lot easier to get right. These are usually made with a stretchable material that conforms to the shape of your head.

With baseball style caps, you either need to find the right fit by trying them on in the store, or look for one with an adjustable strap at the back like this hat. Use this strap to set the hat to a size that stays on your head, so that even with movement it doesn’t feel constricting.

Material

Most of the baseball style running hats are made of synthetic materials like polyester and spandex. If they have adjustable straps or snaps, these are often made of plastic. If you are getting a hat made from synthetic materials, a breathable design is a must-have.

Synthetic materials tend to be less breathable than natural fibers like cotton. So something with a mesh or perforated design like this stylish Nike cap will provide the breathability that is usually sacrificed by going synthetic.

In beanies and skull caps, you may also see a lot of polyesters, acrylics, and other synthetic materials. Here, breathability is a little less important because you’re more concerned about keeping heat in, as it keeps your head and ears warm. Synthetics can actually help with that.

However, this is where moisture-wicking materials become important. With all that heat trapped inside, you risk breaking a sweat. In winter, that sweat can quickly freeze and become ice cold as it drips down your temple.

Look for double-lined caps like this one that will quickly wick that sweat away from your scalp before it can freeze and bring your body temperature down.

Reflectivity

This feature is really only a concern for night runners. When you run at night, you want your running gear to be reflective and bright so that drivers and cyclists don’t accidentally run you over.

Hats with reflective material like this one or even built-in headlamps like this one can provide that high visibility you need to stay safe on your nightly runs.

This is also important to consider if you typically run in a coastal climate with lots of foggy or misty mornings. Making sure drivers can spot you in the fog can save your life, especially when it’s thick enough that you may not be able to spot them so quickly.

Style

Style may not be the most important factor but it’s still one worth considering. Enclothed cognition is real and can influence your performance. Basically, if you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you’ll run better. So, choose a hat that you’ll feel good wearing.

At a bare minimum, choose a hat that will coordinate with the running clothes you own so that you’ll at least feel like your outfit is put together. Luckily, most running hats come in a wide variety of color palettes.

This beanie comes in 22 different shades, for example. Similarly, this summer running visor from Adidas offers 12 different color variations. Choose your favorite color or grab a couple of different colors so you can mix and match with your running outfits.

They also come in a variety of styles, from caps and visors to skull caps and beanies. Caps and visors are good for blocking the sun, beanies do a good job keeping off the cold and absorbing sweat, and skull caps are great for keeping the head warm but remaining breathable.

While you think about what weather you’ll be running in and what factors are most important to you, take a look at some of the best running hats you can find out there today.

Top 10 Best Running Hats 2020

1. Best Overall Running Hat: Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat A18

Why we like it: Cozy, soft acrylic knit coupled with an oversized length make this a great winter runner’s hat, providing style and full ear coverage.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Winter
  • Style: Beanie
  • Stretch to fit
  • 22 color choices

This thick knit construction will keep your head and ears fully protected from the wind and chill of a freezing winter night. The stretch material makes adjusting the fit as effortless as putting on the hat and letting it mold to the shape of your head.

Comfort and Protection

The rib-knit design is mainly intended to keep your head both warm and dry. It’s thick enough to block out extreme temperatures and the ribbed texture helps pull moisture away from your scalp and into the fibers of the hat. This allows you to stay comfortably dry even on your harder runs.

Another advantage of the rib knit is the adjustability. It can stretch to the shape and size of your head without the risk of wearing out the elasticity. Rather than using elastic bands that lose their stretchiness over time, the folded “ribs” collapse and expand as needed to create that perfect fit.

One downside to the size of the hat is the length. The long design allows you to get that folded-over look, which is nice and provides added warmth. However, if you start to get too hot later in your run, it’s not easy to raise this up over your ears without stopping entirely to readjust the hat.

For something with more versatility and easy adjustability, you might prefer this skull cap that you can easily lift up and pull down without interrupting your run.

Material

This 100% acrylic beanie offers an affordable alternative to wool that is just as effective at keeping you warm and dry in the winter. It’s durable and way easier to care for. You can just throw this beanie in the washing machine with the rest of your laundry.

It’s also a lighter weight than wool which is an important factor for runners to consider. You need the warmth of a thick knit cap but, come mile 5 or 6, you won’t want the bulk of wool weighing you down.

Style

The plush rib-knit and the 22 different color options make this a very stylish choice for winter. When you’re not running, you can easily pair this with a cozy sweater and winter boots for the complete winter look. It is “for men”, but there’s nothing about this that means women couldn’t wear it.

Pros
  • Soft, durable 100% acrylic for low-maintenance warmth
  • Rib-knit design offers long-lasting elastic-free adjustability
  • Easy to wash
  • Wide variety of styles available
Cons
  • May get too warm on longer runs
  • It’s ostensibly for men, though women can wear it

2. Best Premium Running Hat: Nike Authentic Dri-Fit Low Profile Perforated Baseball Cap

Why we like it: This soft mesh runner’s hat is a great example of the quality and construction you’ve come to expect from Nike.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Summer
  • Style: Cap
  • Adjustable strap
  • 6 color choices

It might look like an ordinary baseball cap from the outside but when you take a closer look, you’ll be surprised how many thoughtful design elements have been included in this construction. From the six-panel build to the glare-reducing bill, this is just a great overall hat for every runner.

Comfort and Protection

The classic hook and loop strap is softer than the Velcro straps that come with most hats of this kind. This means your hair won’t get caught or pulled by the strap but you still get the same adjustability that you need to find the optimal fit.

By closing off the top and front with solid layers of fabric and strategically placing the perforated mesh around the lower edges, this hat balances breathability with full sun protection.
That means your scalp and face will be fully shielded from UV rays. For added protection, the underside of the bill is made with a dark, non-reflective fabric. This prevents the sun glare you would experience from a hat with a lighter shade on the underbill.

Material

The back panels of the cap are made from a perforated, large mesh fabric. Meanwhile, all panels are made from a unique dri-fit polyester that wicks away moisture so that sweat doesn’t build up in your hair.

Style

The thin band of reflective material along the top edge of the bill and the signature Nike swoosh make this hat a stylish addition to your running outfit. Choose from one of six colors to perfectly coordinate with your outfit.

If you don’t want to worry about matching, you can go for one of the neutral tone black or white hats and pair it with any outfit you like.

One drawback with the lighter color options available is the appearance of sweat stains. Because of the moisture-wicking technology, sweat quickly gets drawn away from your scalp and face. However, it builds up quickly in the fabric itself. This is particularly noticeable around the bill.

Depending on how hard you run, you might notice visible sweat stains as soon as the first day. An overnight soak in soapy water coupled with some vigorous scrubbing can remove them but you’ll have to do this often with the lighter hats or else learn to live with a stained hat.

For something with comparable style but less likely to develop sweat stains, check out the TrailHeads hat. It uses a separate sweat-wicking band that is less likely to bleed out into the rest of the hat.

Pros
  • 100% dri-fit polyester wicks away sweat
  • Perforated mesh offers breathability
  • Anti-glare bill design
Cons
  • Requires frequent cleaning to remove sweat stains

3. Most Versatile: Tough Headwear Skull Cap

Why we like it: This is a great hat for those running in more unpredictable climates because it is versatile enough to be useful in multiple seasons.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Fall/Winter
  • Style: Skull Cap
  • Stretch to fit
  • 8 color choices

You can wear it on its own as a beanie, layer it under a baseball cap, and choose a variety of different colors and patterns. This hat will take you from fall all the way through spring and help you perform your best, no matter how bad the rain, wind, or snow outside is.

Comfort and Protection

Tough Headwear uses a unique double-lined design which provides a variety of advantages. Most importantly, it’s excellent at wicking away sweat and at keeping outside moisture from getting in. Your scalp stays dry no matter how hard you’re running or how bad the weather is.

The double-lining also makes it an incredible windbreaker. Even strong gusts will get trapped in the lining, keeping your head and ears safe from wind chill.

It does this while still being thin enough that you can comfortably wear a baseball cap on top. That’s a great option to have on days that are both windy and sunny when you’ll need to keep your ears protected from the chill while keeping your eyes and face protected from UV rays.

For more severe winter days, however, it may not be warm enough. The shorter length leaves the bottom of your ears exposed. This is a nice breathability feature on milder days but may make it inadequate in below-freezing weather.

For harsh winters, you might do better with a more heavy-duty running beanie like the Carhartt acrylic hat.

Material

The polyester material offers a four-way stretch to provide a perfectly snug fit that doesn’t feel too restrictive. This allows it to be both lightweight but also highly insulated so you can stay warm without feeling weighed down.

Style

The sleek, form-fitting design looks and feels great. It also boasts a modern logo on the front, made with a reflective material that really pops at night. The eight color options are all solid, warm tones that will coordinate well with any outfit.

Pros
  • Unique double-lining design for better moisture wicking
  • Great for windy or rainy weather
  • Versatile design can be worn on its own or under another hat
Cons
  • Not heavy-duty enough for severe winters

4. Best for Summer: Adidas Adjustable Sports Performance Superlite Visor

Why we like it: This visor is a great way to keep the sun off your face while avoiding the heat build-up that can happen when wearing a full hat.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Summer
  • Style: Visor
  • Adjustable Velcro closure
  • 12 color choices

During a brutal summer heatwave, a full hat of any kind can feel like too much. This visor offers the ideal middle ground. You get the full sun-blocking benefits of a bill and the sweat-wicking benefits of the hatband, but leave the top of your head free and open to stay cool.

Comfort and Protection

This comfortable and lightweight design is great for extra hot days or as a companion to a skull cap to provide sun protection on an unexpectedly sunny winter day. The adjustable closure allows you to get that perfectly secure fit.

The only drawback to the visor style is that it does leave your scalp exposed. For those who are extra sensitive to UV rays, an exposed scalp is likely to get burned. You might be better off with the more comprehensive sun protection provided by this runner cap.

Material

The polyester and spandex blend provide a nice stretchiness that creates a form-fitting feel. This means the Velcro closure doesn’t have to do all the work of providing the perfect fit. The mesh band along the inside of the visor is also a nice touch. It will wick away sweat while you run.

Style

The modern, minimalist design of the hat itself is accented by a variety of soft pastel color options. You won’t find those fluorescent, eye-catching colors that are so common in running gear. Instead, you get subtle pinks, soft greys, warm whites, powder blues, and neutral blacks.

These can be a lot easier to pair with a more neutral running wardrobe and even add a pop of color without being too dramatic. For those with a more understated style, this Adidas visor definitely has you covered.

It’s also a good pick for those in search of something that won’t flatten their hair the way a hat or beanie would. You get the protection you need without sacrificing your hairstyle.

Pros
  • Unique combination of stretchable fabric and adjustable closure for the ideal fit
  • A range of 12 beautifully understated colors
  • Sweat-wicking mesh lining
  • Great for those who overheat quickly wearing a full hat
Cons
  • Not enough sun protection for those who burn easily
  • For women, so men might struggle to get it to fit

5. Best Budget Running Hat: GADIEMKENSD UPF 50+ Folding Reflective Running Cap

Why we like it: Breathability, reflectivity, and a compact design all make this a surprisingly feature-rich choice at this price point.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Summer
  • Style: Cap
  • Adjustable strap
  • 7 color choices

This affordable option comes with mesh strips for breathability, a reflective rim, and a unique foldable design for easy carrying. It’s a great pick for those in warm or mild climates who mainly deal with sun or rain more than wind.

Comfort and Protection

The mesh strips are located along the outer edges of your head so that the top, particularly where your scalp is exposed by the part in your hair is still fully blocked from the sun. We also appreciate the highly reflective strip that runs around the entire rim of the hat, making it a good choice for night runners.

The foldable design also means that if the rain stops or the sun sets during your run, you can fold this up and stick it in your fanny pack or runner’s backpack for easy carrying without killing your momentum.

One potential issue is the height of the hat. The cap portion sits higher on your head than most baseball cap designs. This might make it feel less secure than caps that come down lower. On windy days, it might even be at the risk of blowing off your head.

For a baseball-style with a deeper cap portion that will stay more securely in place, even on windy days, check out this one from Nike.

Material

The thin polyester that forms the main portions of this hat is specially crafted to act as a water repellant barrier so that you can run in the rain without getting soaked. It also dries fast so you can avoid unsightly stains and there’s no risk of mold or mildew.

Style

In addition to being practical, the placement of the mesh strips and the reflective lining add a futuristic style to this hat that will go well with both neutral palettes and bright, fluorescent colors.

Pros
  • Breathable mesh strips
  • Lightweight and foldable design for easy carrying when not being worn
  • Reflective tape makes it suitable for night runs
  • Water-repellant polyester material
Cons
  • Shorter cap size sits higher on your head than other baseball caps

6. Most Stylish: TrailHeads Race Day Performance Running Hat

Why we like it: The sleek, mesh design and the well-placed reflective strip make this hat as stylish as it is functional. Perfect for that race day look!

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Summer
  • Style: Cap
  • Adjustable Velcro closure
  • 9 color choices

This race day hat is built with both performance and style in mind. The all mesh cap combined with the light-absorbing bill will keep you cool and shielded from the sun so that all you need to do is focus on your run.

Comfort and Protection

The entire top of the hat is made from a highly breathable, perforated mesh so that you won’t overheat, even if you’re running a full marathon. And at just two ounces, this is one of the most lightweight hats you can find. It’s definitely designed for endurance runners who need something that won’t get uncomfortable during longer runs.

The dark fabric used under the bill is another nice touch. This helps absorb light and prevent it from reflecting down into your eyes.

Material

The hat is made from 100% polyester that dries quickly and offers maximum breathability. This also makes it safe to put in the washing machine. Just make sure to use the delicate cycle and cold water. Also, wash it by itself rather than putting it in with your other laundry.

Style

With the sleek, modern shape and the range of nine colors, the more fashion-conscious runners will definitely be able to pair this hat well with their running outfits. The color choices are somewhere between pastel and neon. They’re bright but not over the top.

As stylish and well-designed as this hat is, it does sit higher on the head than some people prefer. There’s about an inch to an inch and a half of space between the bottom of the hat and the top of your ear.

If you prefer something that sits lower and feels more secure, consider this Nike low profile hat. The cap portion covers most of your head, sitting just above your ears.

Pros
  • Ultra-lightweight construction
  • Large mesh top for maximum breathability
  • Nice color options
  • Stylish design
  • Dark underbill to keep light out of your eyes
Cons
  • Cap sits high on your head
  • Ostensibly for women, but men could wear larger sizes

7. Best for Night Runs: Unisex LED Beanie Hat

Why we like it: The LED light makes this beanie the perfect accessory for your nighttime run.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Winter
  • Style: Beanie
  • Stretch to fit
  • 15 color choices

This LED light beanie comes in 15 different colors and boasts a thick, rib-knit construction that will keep you warm on those chilly winter nights. The headlamp will make sure drivers see you and help you better navigate during those off-the-beaten-path trail runs.

Comfort and Protection

What stands out most about this hat is the LED light. It’s a nice feature to have for night runs. Not only does it make you highly visible to cars and cyclists, it also allows you to see what’s in front of you. If you run on trails or in parks where street lamps are few and far between, having a headlamp can be a huge help.

Another cool thing about the headlamp is that it is rechargeable. You can just remove it and plug it into the USB port on your laptop to charge it. The light lasts for up to eight hours on a single charge.

Material

Aside from the light, winter runners will also appreciate the rib-knit construction and the acrylic blend that offers insulation while still being lightweight. The rib-knit allows you to get the optimal, form-fitting functionality without worrying about stretching out or breaking the elastic. It also helps to wick away moisture, keeping your head dry as you run.

Although the acrylic blend is lightweight for a rib-knit hat, it’s still bulkier than some of the sleeker skull caps on the market. Combine that bulkier fabric with the LED lamp and some runners might find this too heavy for longer runs.

If you’d prefer something more lightweight, try the Tough Headwear skull cap. It provides great insulation and over-the-ear protection without as much bulk.

Style

This beanie is long enough that you can fold it over to get the exact fit you want. Although, you are slightly limited by the placement of the LED light. If you want to use it, you’ll have to fold the hat up enough to expose the light underneath.

It’s easy to adjust this to fit either over or above your ears, depending on the weather. And the 15 color choices give you plenty of styling options to choose from.

Pros
  • LED lamp makes you more visible and increases your range of sight
  • Rib-knit design keeps you warm and dry
  • Optional over the ear or above the ear styling options
  • 15 different colors to choose from
Cons
  • May be too bulky for longer runs or for warmer climates

8. Best Cooling Technology: Mission Cooling Skull Cap

Why we like it: With the unique instant-cool technology, wearing this skull cap is like putting an air conditioner on your head. It’s ideal for those extra hot days.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Spring/Summer
  • Style: Skull Cap
  • Stretch to fit
  • 4 color choices

This skull cap is unique in that it’s actually made for warmer weather rather than cold weather. Where most beanies and skull caps aim to keep heat in, this one works to lock the cold in instead. It’s great for runners who tend to get hot when they run.

Comfort and Protection

This skull cap is impressive but it requires a bit of preparation. In order to get the proprietary cooling features to work fully, you need to dunk this hat in cool water before you leave for your run.

After you dunk it, wring it out to get any excess water out. Then, snap it three or four times to activate the cooling features. Finally, put it on as you normally would.

The cap is then going to use that water along with the mesh and the proprietary design of the hat to keep cool air circulating around your head. This way, you can stay cool on those long runs or those hot days.

Material

The body of this skull cap is made from a polyester and spandex blend that allows it to stretch and form fit to the shape of your head. This means you get a secure fit, even though it does sit a little higher on the head.

Inside the hat, you have a 100% polyester mesh lining that allows the hat to keep air circulating, cooling your head down. It’s also fully machine washable.

Style

This skull cap has a very sporty and minimalist design. The black or white models will go well with any outfit. Either of the two patterned options will add a pop of color and act as a statement piece to your ensemble.

If you’re running in severe winter conditions, this above-the-ear design may not be adequate to protect you from the elements. You might be better off with something a little longer and more heavy-duty, like this beanie.

Pros
  • Advanced cooling technology helps maintain a lower body temperature on hot days
  • Sporty, modern style goes well with a wide range of outfits
  • Breathable, lightweight construction
  • Machine washable
Cons
  • Not suitable for severe winter weather

9. Best Sun Protection: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

Why we like it: The classic researcher hat design provides complete protection from the sun for your face, ears, and neck.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Summer
  • Style: Hat
  • Adjustable straps and strings
  • 7 color choices

The broad mesh sections and the lightweight nylon make this hat surprisingly breathable given how much coverage it provides. It will keep you both sunburn-free and sweat-free while you run.

Comfort and Protection

The removable “cape” that comes with this hat provides full protection from the sun, blocking it from your neck, ears, and cheeks. The dark material underneath the bill also absorbs light so that it doesn’t reflect down onto your face. For runners who can get a sunburn just from thinking about the sun a little too long, this hat is a must-have.

If you don’t burn easy or you don’t live in an especially sunny climate, the long flaps might be more of a nuisance than a benefit. Instead, you might prefer a more traditional baseball cap like this TrailHeads race day hat.

Material

As bulky as it might look, this 100% nylon hat is fully breathable and lightweight to wear. Nylon makes it both water-resistant and quick drying so you don’t have to worry about sweat or rain build up weighing you down either. Plus, it’s machine washable for easy cleaning.

Style

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s safe to say this is not the most stylish hat on the market. It’s much more about function than fashion. With that said, you can choose from seven different colors to better coordinate with the rest of your running outfit. And when you’re able to get through the rest of your day free of redness on your face, neck, and ears, it will all be worth it.

Pros
  • Great, full coverage sun protection
  • Lightweight, breathable design
  • Water repellant and quick-drying
  • Machine washable
Cons
  • Sun blocking cape can feel cumbersome if you don’t really need it
  • Not the most fashionable look

10. Best For Hair Protection: Hairbrella Women’s Rain Hat

Why we like it: This is the dream hat for runners with tight curls or long locks that are easily victim to that dreaded hat hair. Use this hat to keep your hair fully protected while you run.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Season: Year-round
  • Style: Hat
  • Stretch to fit elastic band
  • 4 color choices

The Hairbrella is a unique product designed specifically for runners with difficult-to-manage hair that is prone to getting flat or frizzy when wearing regular hats. This special design keeps your hair away from your face, protected from the elements, and gently wrapped in an anti-frizz satin case.

Comfort and Protection

Among the many unique features of this running hat is the UV-blocking visor that helps to block out sun without sacrificing visibility. It’s as broad as a baseball cap bill but angled downward to better protect your eyes from both rain and sun.

The elastic band around the base has an adjustable closure to keep it securely in place on your head. It also has the option of going over your ears or resting behind them so you can wear it on both warm and cold days.

However, this is more suited to rainy climates than sunny ones. While the visor does have UV-blocking tint in it, it’s not as strong as a pair of sunglasses or as a full bill on a baseball cap. For more substantial sun protection, you’ll probably do better with this running cap.

Material

The satin material reduces friction to prevent frizz while keeping your hair protected from rain. It keeps your hair safe from the weather without bending it out of shape or flattening it down. Once you’ve finished your run, remove the hat to reveal frizz-free, ready-to-leave-the-house locks.

Style

The satin wrap for your hair adds an element of glamor to your running outfit and the four different color options allow you to customize it to your style.

Pros
  • Satin-lined wrap for ultimate frizz control and hat hair prevention
  • Versatile design allows you to wear it over the ear or behind the ear
  • Ideal for rainy climates
  • Best choice for curly hair
Cons
  • UV-protection is not as high as other running hats

A Guide to Running Hats

Now you’ve seen a variety of great hats that you can use to pound that pavement, you might want a little more information about why a running hat is useful or what you can get out of it. This guide is here to do just that.

The Benefits of Wearing Running Hats

There are a lot of benefits to wearing a hat while running but they tend to get overlooked. Don’t make the same mistake others do of neglecting to invest in a good running hat! Here are some of the advantages you’ll enjoy over your hatless running buddies.

Sun Protection

Even if you weren’t running, proper sun protection would be important. But when you combine sun exposure with a sweat-inducing activity like running, it becomes absolutely essential. Moisture attracts sunlight, which means those already vulnerable areas like your forehead and cheeks become targets for UV rays.

Sunscreen helps, but even the best sunscreen can’t provide the level of protection that the bill of a hat can. Especially when you consider that excess sweat can remove sunscreen.

Weather Protection

In warmer months, a breathable and light-colored cap can act as a barrier to the heat, keeping the sun from beating down directly on your scalp. It’s not going to change a 90+ degree day but every little bit helps.

In colder months, a well-insulated skull cap or beanie will help keep your own body heat in and block out wind, rain, and snow. If you get one that covers the ears, you’ll instantly feel much warmer.

When you run outdoors, any weather can be intensified by the activity. On hot days, you feel even hotter because you’re exercising. On cold and windy days, you might feel even more of a wind chill because you’re running and creating wind around yourself. A good running hat minimizes these effects.

Better Performance

Weather can greatly impact how well you do on a run. Anyone who’s run a couple of miles on a cool day and then run the same couple miles on a blisteringly hot day can tell you that weather makes a huge difference to the amount of effort required to complete the run.

If you’re constantly battling the elements, you’re not focused on performance. Hats help eliminate some of the most distracting elements you’ll be battling. Namely: sunlight, rain, and wind.

With a good, wide-brimmed hat, you can block the sun from beating down on you. It might still be hot outside but a lot of the tension and distraction will be removed.

Hats also make you more aerodynamic! When you got hat free, your hair flies freely and can end up catching the wind, creating a slight drag that translates to more effort on your part to propel yourself forward. The effect is mild but if it’s race day and you’re neck and neck with a hatless competitor, your hat might give you that split-second advantage you need to pull ahead.

More Comfort

The alternatives to running hats are generally less comfortable and take away focus from the run. Sunglasses can start sliding down your nose as you sweat or just generally jostle around from the movement.

Ear warmers can be a little too effective as your body starts to generate more of its own heat over the course of the run. They often aren’t as breathable or moisture-wicking. If your ears begin to collect sweat and you remove the ear warmers, that sudden blast of cold air on the moisture could quickly turn into icy discomfort.

Skull caps like this one tend to offer a better balance of warmth and breathability. They’re fitted enough to block out wind and snow yet thin enough to allow some breathing room and avoid sweat build-up. Your ears stay warm but not too warm.

Keep Hair Off Face

For anyone with longer hair, you know the struggle is real. You can pull your hair back into a ponytail but the combination of movement and sweat weighing down your strands can lead to those annoying stray locks sticking to your cheeks or getting in your eyes. If it happens to be a windy day, the problem is even worse. It’s not fun.

With a hat, skull caps and baseball caps included, you’ve got that added barrier keeping hair on top of your head and away from your eyes and nose. If you’re worried about frizz and hat hair, you might consider a running hat like this one that keeps hair out of your face but also protects it in a satin wrap to keep it from getting frizzy and out of control.

Frequently Asked Questions About Running Hats

Do you really need a running hat? How do you tell which one is the best? What about hat hair? In this section, we’ll answer these and other common questions people have when they’re shopping for the running gear they need to have a great outdoor run.

Should I Wear A Hat When Running?

If you’re running outdoors, the answer is yes. Factors like temperature, sunlight, and weather conditions can all impact your performance while running. All of these factors can be helped by wearing the appropriate hat for the season.

The benefits of wearing a running hat are many and really do make a difference. So, if you plan to run outdoors, finding a quality hat is essential. The longer that outdoor run will be, the more important that running hat will become.

If you’re running a marathon, for example, you will be outside in the sunlight for at least four hours and, if you’re not a record-breaking marathon runner, closer to seven or eight hours – including time spent checking in and prepping for the run. Proper sun protection will be essential.

What Is the Best Running Hat?

The best running hat is the one that fits your head and is appropriate to the season. For clear days when the sun is shining down, you need something with a brim that will keep the sun off your face. If you burn easily, you may even want something with flaps like this researcher’s hat that will keep the sun off your neck and ears as well.

On cloudy days or cold nights, the brim is less important. Your bigger concern will be warmth. On especially cold days, you need something that covers your ears. On more mild winter days, something that leaves your ears exposed but insulates the rest of your head might be more suitable.

Basically, the best running hat is the one that adequately protects you from the elements you’ll be exposed to on your run.

Do Hats Make You Sweat?

This really depends on the material. Earlier, you read about different hat materials and how they affect breathability and moisture build-up. If you get a more breathable hat in the summer and a moisture-wicking cap for the winter, you can avoid sweat from becoming a problem all year round.

As long as you choose the right materials, wearing a hat shouldn’t cause you to sweat any more than you usually would without a hat.

Is It Bad for Your Hair to Wear a Hat While Working Out?

Hat hair can definitely happen, especially if you add the extra friction and sweat that can be caused by running. However, fear of hat hair shouldn’t stop you from wearing proper sun or wind protection. Instead, just take the proper steps to decrease the effects of wearing a hat. Below, we’ll give you a few preventative tips followed by a few things you can do to fix hat hair if it’s already too late.

Tips to Prevent Hat Hair

Hat hair doesn’t have to be an inevitable tradeoff for proper protection from the sun and wind. Here are a few things you can do to prevent it from happening in the first place:

Wear the Right Fit

The most common reason people get hat hair (and that crook in your hair form wearing a ponytail) is by wearing something that’s too small. The more the band constricts around your hair, the more likely your hair will bend under the pressure.

When you combine that bending pressure with the natural heat radiating from your head while you run, you’re essentially “curling” your hair with your hat—and ponytail, if you’re wearing one.

If the baseball-style cap is the one giving you trouble, adjust the strap out a notch or two to loosen it a bit. If it’s a beanie or skull cap that’s causing the problem, you may need to invest in a larger size.

Dry Your Hair Completely

Wet hair is much more malleable than dry hair. So even if your hat is the right fit, you’re going to see a similar “curling” effect happen if you put that hat on top of damp hair. This is one reason breathability and moisture-wicking are so important. If sweat builds up in your hair, it could make it more malleable and it’s more likely to lose its shape.

Choose a Smooth Fabric

Coarse knit or rough fabrics are more likely to create fiction which leads to frizz. If you’ve got curls, this is an especially big problem. Pick a hat made from a smoother, softer material to reduce that friction and the frizz that results from it.

This satin wrap-style hat is designed specifically to reduce frizz and breakage that results from rougher materials. If you need something for shorter hair, this skull cap is made from a smooth, double-lined spandex blend that reduces friction and wicks away moisture. You can put it underneath a baseball-style cap to reduce the friction of that second hat while still getting the sun protection you need.

Moisturize Your Hair

Wet hair will make hat hair worse but hydrated hair will do the opposite. This isn’t a quick fix tip but more of a long-term prevention strategy. Make sure you are conditioning your hair regularly and actually leaving the conditioner in for the recommended 2-5 minutes to do its work.

Well-moisturized locks are smooth and less likely to create fiction. It’s the same logic behind choosing a smooth fabric for your hat. In a pinch, you can invest in a static control spray or even rub a dryer sheet in your hair. But long term, condition your hair regularly!

Change Up Your Hair Style

Those with longer hair might be tempted to slick their hair back into a tight pony to keep it out of their face. This can make hat hair worse. Instead, opt for a low pony and go as loose as you can without worrying about it coming undone on the run.

Another alternative is a loose braid. Braids keep the hair under control and away from your face while also minimizing movement which helps minimize friction.

Tips to Fix Hat Hair

If it’s too late to prevent hat hair or your hair is just particularly uncooperative, don’t worry. You’re not doomed just yet. Here are some tips to fix hat hair that’s already happened:

Don’t Brush It

If the misshapen hair is already there, a brush or comb won’t help you. In fact, all they will do is add frizz to your hat-shaped style. Your best bet, at this point, is to go with the flow. Use your hands to loosen your locks and try to go for a messy “bed head” look. This tip works better on shorter hair or curly hair.

Use a Volumizing Spray

If it’s the flatness and loss of volume more than the weird hat-shaped kinks causing you problems, a little hair spray or texturizer can usually fix the problem. Spray the product onto your hands first and then massage it into your roots to add some lift without going full pompadour—unless you want to go full pompadour, of course.

Use a Wet Towel

If you have very curly hair, you may want to ignore this tip. For everyone else, run a towel under hot water. Wring it out. Wrap it around your head and gently massage your hair. The heat and water will help to “undo” the hat hair and restore your hair to its normal state.

Jump in the Shower

If your hair is too far gone for the other tips, it’s time to throw in the towel (literally). Hop in the shower and quickly soak your hair in the water. Make sure it’s fully saturated. Then, dry and style it as you normally would. Any bumps or flatness created by the hat should disappear.

Final Word

A running hat is a great way to provide the protection you need while also adding that final touch to complete your running look. Choose something that makes sense for the climate where you live and try to get a style that will coordinate with the rest of your outfit. Above all, make sure it fits comfortably and frees you up to enjoy your run!