Hats get a bad rap. It’s something you throw on when you’re in a rush or when you don’t feel like trying. But they’re more than a mere cloaking device—they’re an essential and versatile piece of kit for any serious runner. Think about it: The best running hats keep you warm in winter, shaded in the summer, and looking cool all the time. Can your fancy gloves do that? Didn’t think so.
For such a comparably small investment, the best running hat can be worn while jogging your favourite trail or while enjoying a soirée on the town. As you’ll see, the only time not wearing a hat makes sense is while running in slow-motion on the beach, your long, golden locks flowing in the wind. Now, I don’t know what your life is like, but those slow-mo runs happen only rarely in mine.
TL;DR: Our top pick for 2021’s best running hat is the Ciele GoCap. The GoCap offers runners a welcome intersection between function, cost, and style.
The Best Running Hats Reviewed
Best Overall Running Hat:
Between its moisture-wicking properties, reflective detailing, and UV protection (UPF 40+), the Ciele GoCap is designed with function first. That said, its classic style, ultralight design, and attractive range of zesty colors do a lot for its form, too. And, for the price, you really can’t go wrong.
- UV protection
- Too cool for school
Best Hat for Running in the Rain:
Designed for heavy downpours in the PNW, the Seattle Rain Cap by Outdoor Research offers seam-taped protection so that you can keep on running. The cap uses three layers of GORE-TEX technology to hold the elements at bay but ensure excellent breathability for when you want to push your pace. The cap also features a TransAction™ Headband that wicks away moisture in humid conditions. Lastly, the cap has a UPF rating of 50+ to reduce your sun exposure risk, keeping you safe from harmful rays. Sustainability check: This cap uses 100% bluesign® approved nylon in order to reduce environmental impact and protect workers.
- Sun safe
Best Lightweight Running Hat:
If you’re looking for a hat that breathes great and dries almost instantly, you can’t go wrong with the XA Compact Cap. It’s incredibly light, which is perfect for high-intensity activities where you don’t want to overheat. The cap also folds small enough to fit into your pocket, even with the sweat-absorbing visor. The oversized breathable mesh back panel is the secret element that maintains a breezy airflow.
- Fits in pocket
- So flexible the visor can crease
Best Running Hat for Hot Weather:
The RunCool Ice Run Hat by Nathan is our favourite for those sweltering days. As the name so eagerly implies, this hat was designed with the sole purpose of keeping your head cool. Besides its lightweight, breathable materials, you might be wondering what makes it superior to the competition. Well, a stash pocket allows you to store actual ice inside your hat. The pocket is handy for other things, as well.
- Too icy for winter
Best Trail Running Hat:
While Karpos may be relatively new to the outdoor gear scene, they’re built on a truly outstanding legacy. So it’s no surprise that their Lavaredo Cap ranks among our favourites when running trails. This cap is as ultralight and breathable as you’d expect, and even features a collapsible visor which lets you carry it in your pocket. A rear drawstring allows for precise adjustments.
- Collapsible visor
Best Running Visor:
Do you tend to overheat while running in a hat? Get the best of both worlds by cutting out the middle-man—literally—and check out the Salomon Sense Visor. A visor is a great alternative to a hat, as it offers better airflow without sacrificing UV protection. Meanwhile, the absorbent headband will keep sweat from falling into your eyes.
- No top
Best Cold Weather Running Hat:
When the frigid winds start to blow, you’ll want to grab the Ciele TRL Beanie for your run. Your head will be warm and toasty with velvety-soft material made from sourced Italian merino and merino mixed yarns. The removable pompom makes it versatile, and the reflective band keeps you safe in low-light conditions.
- Colourful options
- Warm and comfortable
- Not insulated
What to look for when buying a running hat
Choosing the best running hat isn’t complicated. Here, we make it easier still by detailing exactly which features to focus on.
Choosing something with an adjustable band is best. Velcro and drawstrings are especially good, as they give you the full range of snugness.
Especially for trail running, it’s nice to have a hat that’s not just light on your head, but can be easily folded and tucked away into a pocket. Lightweight hats also tend to be cooler, which is good for hot days.
This is true for both winter and summer running hats: get something that breathes! Be mindful that sweat needs to evaporate. Otherwise, it can accumulate on your scalp and change your core temperature.
If you’re especially fond of night and foggy weather running, opt for a hat with reflective bands. This safety feature helps ensure you stay visible to drivers in unfavorable conditions.
Imagine how much sweat accumulates inside a running hat. So make sure to choose something that’s easily washable and fast-drying. Always follow the washing instructions, especially with delicate fabrics like mesh
FAQs for running hats
Is it better to run with a hat?
It may seem counterintuitive, but the answer is actually yes. Summer running hats are designed with moisture-wicking, breathable fabrics which permit evaporative sweating. Additionally, their UV-resistant outers protect from the sun’s harmful rays, while the visor reduces glare.
Do you run hotter with a hat on?
There’s no solid evidence one way or the other—it mostly comes down to context and personal preference. Indeed, placing fabric over your head will reduce evaporation, but it will also protect your scalp from direct heat. If you are worried about running hot, consider using a visor or opt for a mesh hat.