The best running hats worth wearing

These caps go on your head, not your potential.

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Most people wear a running hat when they are racing or on training runs. Hats have a rich tradition of serving a functional purpose, yet often turn into fashion statements. Running hats are no different than any other that has come before them. These are meant to shade you from the sun while keeping you cool, or warm depending on the weather. It seems like almost every brand has a hat and they come in tons of colors and themes, so there’s no limit to the options waiting for you. We can all agree that the right hat can turn anyone from zero to a hero.

To that end, here are our selections for the best running caps for your next outdoor excursion. Take a gander and never be without cover ever again.

Best Overall

Under Armour Blitzing 3.0 Cap

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Best Value

Gadiemkensd Sports Hat

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Editor’s Choice

Flexfit Ultrafibre Airmesh Fitted Cap

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Best for Women

Trailheads Race Day Performance Hat

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Best Trucker Hat

Running Partner Trucker Hat

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Best for Winter

Tough Outfitters Skull Cap

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Best for Summer

Headsweats Supervisor

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Best for Sun Protection

Coolibar Sunbreaker

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Best for Big Heads

Outdoor Research Swift Cap

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Best for Sweat

Saaka Lightweight Sports Hat

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Best with Sunglasses

Notch Classic Adjustable Snapback

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Why you should trust us 

Running may not be my specialty anymore, but I have many friends who abide by the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other fitness regimen from when I was a runner. My background for the past 20 years has been in sports, the military, and general fitness. My experiences and those of other runners have taught me what to look for in a good running hat. 

Types of running hats

Hats have been a fundamental piece of clothing for about as long as humans have been able to make clothes. Every hat has its purpose and there are tons of designs of hats for every style and function. To make things easy, we are going to focus on the shape a running hat takes since they all have the same function.

Structured

This is typically what most people think of when you mention a hat. The traditional hat that only has a brim in the front is commonly referred to as a “ball cap” because of how popular baseball made them. What makes them structured is how the front panel(s) are reinforced with a stiff material to give them a specific profile. Because of this reinforcement, these hats are best worn by themselves. On the top of these hats, you will normally find a fabric-covered button that keeps the center of the panels held together. 

Unstructured

Unlike structured hats, unstructured hats do not have reinforced panels. The typical profile of one of these hats is a natural curve to fit closely to the scalp. This is closer to how the first ball caps were made. One advantage of this design is that they can be worn under helmets or other headwear if necessary. Part of this is because many of these unstructured designs do not include the button at the top of the hat, this can cause discomfort if worn with other headgear. 

Beanie

This particular style goes by many names like beanie, skullcap, or watch cap. While most people think of beanies as warm-weather gear, they can also be designed and used for any weather. This will depend on the material and specific features of the hat. Beanies are actually a type of unstructured hat since they conform to the natural shape of the head, but they most commonly don’t have a brim. While these hats aren’t ideal for keeping the sun out of your eyes, they pair nicely with sunglasses, and they are great in cold weather or for sweat-wicking purposes. 

Key features of running hats

Fabrics

As with all clothing, the fabrics and materials used to make a hat play a crucial role in how effective and comfortable it will be. No one wants to run for fives in a hat made from itchy straw. Things to keep in mind are that materials like cotton will soak in moisture, while microfibers will wick it away. 

Visor/brim

The brim of the hat extends out to protect your head and neck from the elements, but when it’s only in the front, you call it a bill or visor, and those are meant to protect your eyes and face. 

Closure 

The closure is how a hat secures to your brain housing group and it comes in two styles: either non-adjustable or adjustable. The former refers to hats made to fit a specific size head, otherwise known as a fitted hat, while the latter breaks down even further. An adjustable closure is called a backstrap. You’ll often see it as a plastic snapback, Velcro strap, a loop and buckle, or an elastic band. 

Benefits of running hats

Protection from the elements

The primary reason for wearing a running hat — or any hat for that matter — is to keep the sun, rain, snow, and wind off of your face and out of your eyes. If you want your ears and neck covered, then you should consider wearing a full-brim hat. 

Keeping cool 

While a hat can protect your head from the elements, it can also keep you cool. Many hats are made from materials that wick away sweat and moisture from your head so that you stay cool. It also keeps sweat out of your eyes. 

Keeping warm

While it’s an urban myth that you lose 80 percent of your body heat through your head, it’s still important to keep your head warm. Medical researchers say wearing a hat in the cold will help keep the rest of your body warm because consistent temperatures throughout your body will help maintain normal blood flow. 

Comfort

Anyone with long hair knows how hot it can be with all that hair covering your neck. Wearing a hat could help keep that hair off the neck to provide an extra cooling surface. There are even specially designed hats with ponytail openings so that the hair is kept high off the neck and not smushed up inside the hat. 

Pricing considerations for running hats

Bargain

When it comes to bargain-priced running hats, you don’t have to worry about performance or durability nearly as much as other products. The overall size and shape of the hat make it fairly easy to manufacture, which means lower market prices. Any hat under $15 is a bargain price and you can easily find quality hats in this category. 

Reasonable

The average price for a great running hat is between $15 and $30, which is pretty reasonable. These hats will often have higher-quality materials, stitching, or more aesthetic options. Some will even have popular brand names or logos. Purchasing a hat from this category will guarantee a long time of use. 

Premium

We’ve already covered that hats tend to be less expensive than other products, so any hat priced above $30 is expensive. While some may feature state-of-the-art materials or a proprietary feature, most will be on par in their quality as lower-priced hats. What makes these hats so spendy is the brand name, logo, and status that comes with wearing them. 

How we chose our top picks

Each running hat was selected for performance criteria and functionality. We avoided hats that were ridiculously priced or had a function that would interfere with your ability to run. Brim size and shape were taken into consideration, as well as materials used and the type of closure. Additional features and accessories were evaluated for feasibility and ease of use.  

FAQs about running hats

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q. Is it bad to wear a hat while running?

A. No. Wearing a hat is a personal preference, just like wearing a long sleeve or short sleeve shirt. 

Q. How do I keep my head warm while running?

A. Wear a hat or beanie.

Q. Are running hats washable? 

A. Most should be. Make sure to check the tag on your hats for detailed care instructions. 

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Scott Whisler

Contributing Writer

Scott Whisler is a Marine Corps veteran and family man. He’s an avid student of philosophy who strives for self-growth and challenge, both found in his outdoor adventures.  As a new Okie, his focus is on exploring the South Central region. His lifetime goal is to have excursions in all of the National Parks.