Whether you’re trying to tame crazy hair, block the sun or keep the rain out of your face, these are the best running hats that I’ve found. Like all gear, some things are personal, but I’ll try to provide details to help you see which one is best for you.
It’s fair to say that since 2001, I’ve had the chance to slap a lot of different styles on this head and there are many hats that were quickly donated.
In fact, one of the most popular styles the trucker hat, I’ve found only certain ones to actually be great for running because many hold in too much heat.
In this article, you’ll learn what are the best running hats for 2023 broken down into different categories to help you pick the right one for you! You’ll also find a buying guide to help you know what you need to consider before buying one.
What is the Point of a Running Hat?
First things first, what exactly is the point of a running hat anyway? And why should you consider wearing one as a runner?
Well, there are a ton of benefits to wearing a running hat. Let’s look at the top 5 ones:
1. Running Hats Help Keep Sweat Out of Your Eyes
Let’s face it, even easy runs can be uncomfortable in some ways.
As long as you continue to sweat, there is no way to ignore the stinging feeling. And even worse, there is no way to prevent more from flowing.
Unless, of course, you keep your head covered with a running hat! So long as the lining can handle the moisture, it’s the ideal way to avoid losing your focus and prevent stinging pain from sweat while running.
2. They Keep Your Hair Out of the Way
When you go for a run, your hair is going to get in the way unless you maintain it short. And running can be challenging enough, so who wants hair distracting from it?
And when someone is just trying to enjoy some exercise, who needs another challenge?
This is most often the main reason why most runners decide to wear a running hat. To avoid having your long hair fall into your face, a simple solution is to wear a hat. And it helps even if your hair is long enough for a ponytail, braids, or other running hairstyles.
3. Running Hats Will Keep You Cool
When we’re talking about running hats here, we don’t mean just any regular baseball cap, or one you have lying around at home.
Instead, we’re referring to a particular style of cap that is both lightweight and well-ventilated to prevent sweat from building up inside.
The majority of the body heat you produce while running otherwise won’t escape. It will stay directly on top of your head, and you will feel it in the worst way possible.
So, while any hat will keep your hair out of your face, a real runner’s hat is made with lots of mesh to let the heat from your head escape and keep you cool.
4. They Provide Protection from the Elements
Wearing a hat while running is an efficient way of keeping the elements at bay. Running in the rain? A visor or hat will keep the rain out of your eyes.
One of the many times, that mentally a hat in the rain made the run better. Ya can’t avoid it, but getting slapped in the face repeatedly isn’t fun. If the hat means less of that, it helps!!
Of course, the element you need to be most concerned with is something way more common than that. Having the sun in your eyes is never fun when you’re out for a run. In fact, it may be downright harmful.
Those of us who spend a lot of time in the direct path of the sun’s UV rays run the risk of developing photokeratitis, which is an acute syndrome that occurs after UV irradiation of the eyes.
Running sunglasses are helpful with it, but a hat with a wide brim will protect your eyes even more.
5. Running Hats May Even Improve Visibility
When running in low light conditions, visibility is one of the most important things for your safety. Having reflective details on your running gear and clothing can help protect you from dangerous situations like being hit by a car.
A great way to make sure you stay visible while running in low light is to wear a running hat with reflective details!
Running hats with reflective details come in bright colors and often feature reflective strips or logos to make you visible while running at night. They can also be great for running in the early morning hours when it’s still dark outside.
17 Best Running Hats
Let’s break this down in to categories shall we….yes, we shall. Beyond simply taming our hair or blocking the sun, maybe you want a hat that provides a little more reflection or perhaps one with a hidden pocket?!
Best Running Hats for Summer
In my summer running tips, I often mention not wearing a full hat unless you can dunk it in water. That’s because we want to allow as much heat as possible to escape from our head and thus the running visor!
There is a standard Fast and Free Hat as well, if you don’t love rocking the high pony.
But I like this version because we’re getting more air to the head and with the ponytail riding higher it stays off the neck which feels cooler!
It comes in multiple colors, though I admit to being really in love with white running hats.
The adjustable strap will help you to get a good fit, while the interior mesh will help with wicking away sweat. The bill is also a good length to keep sun off the face, which can keep you from squinting and increasing your perceived exertion.
Best Running Hat for Heat and Humidity: Gone for a Run Ultrapocket Hat ($34)
For those who are running in the heat and humidity, I often recommend dipping your hat in water and freezing it overnight. This hat is going to take that to the next level!!
Now you have a pocket to shove ice in during your run! We know that this is a great way to keep down our temperature, plus the hat is extremely lightweight and wicking to further keep you cool.
I’m seriously beyond jealous this wasn’t available when I lived in Miami. I am going to be using it for some mid-day summer Colorado runs though! With an adjustable backstrap, it’s easy to find a good fit.
With an adjustable backstrap, it’s easy to find a good fit. Plus, it’s one of the best budget running hat you can buy that’s also from a well-known brand and is truly high-quality!
Best Running Hat for Smaller Heads: Nike Women’s Dri-FIT Aerobill Tailwind Cap ($30)
A great summer option for those who prefer the full hat! Nike’s running caps are great and known for their multiple features. I have a smaller head and like how snug it fits when I adjust it.
The AeroBill technology works seamlessly for optimal breathability and sweat-wicking comfort. It does this by moving air across your scalp thanks to a slew of ventilation holes along the front and sides of the hat.
The Dri-FIT technology allows you to stay dry and benefit from maximum comfort during hot days in the summer. The top of this running hat is closed which is great for sun protection.
Although that usually means heat build-up, this hat has a lightweight fabric that doesn’t get overly hot.
The adjustable strap at the back allows for a great fit. However, I would say this is not for runners with big heads.
RUNNER UP: On Running Lightweight Cap
I have been wearing this cap non-stop since I received it. I just like the fit and that I can get it nice and snug, so I’m not worried in the wind. Their gear is always a bit more expensive, so I know that’s a turn off.
BUT I will say anything I’ve bought has lasted me 5+ years and gets worn a ton because it actually looks good.
Best Reflective Running Hat: Nathan Sports Reflective Hat ($25)
Early mornings to beat the summer heat means we might be clocking miles in the dark and this is one easy way to ensure you’re seen without needing to don a neon outfit.
The Reflective Hat is ideal for dusk or nighttime running in urban environments. It’s made using a reflective, lightweight fabric that reflects light at night and offers extra safety.
Other hats usually only have a reflective logo on the front or back of the hat, but this one is made entirely of reflective material which helps warn approaching traffic from both directions.
It’s a breathable, light hat that also allows you to adjust the size without wrinkling things up when you size it a bit smaller. It also won’t get uncomfortable when you’re super sweaty and dries up quickly after a wash.
Best Budget Running Hat: Headsweats Performance Race Hat ($20)
The Performance Race Hat ($20) from Headsweats has been thoughtfully created to fulfill the needs of both competitive and recreational runners, down to its ponytail hole and reflective brim lining.
The sophisticated style of this hat makes it great for everyday use. You’ll forget you’re even wearing a hat since it’s so light and comfortable.
The entire hat is lined with a sweatband that wicks away moisture, and the polyester fabric shell repels mild sweat and breathes well. The strap can be changed to fit different head sizes, and it works even for those with thick or curly hair.
While it may not have all the bells and whistles of the more pricier options in this article, it does the job well and is definitely a great budget running hat.
Best Stylish Running Hat: Ciele GOCap Athletics ($45)
This stylish and functional hat from Ciele was made with runners in mind. From its pliable bill to its quick-drying performance, the GOCap fulfills every requirement of a running cap.
The GOCap hat can handle a lot of active use. It fits easily into a pack and still keeps its shape and integrity. Plus, there’s no need to worry about washing it if it gets dirty or sweaty. The front, back, and brim all have UPF 40+ sun protection, and the COOLwick fabric keeps you from sweating and getting too hot.
The GOCap’s front and back reflective detailing make it easier to be seen during early morning and evening runs. Despite the fact that it only comes in one size, it’s pretty adjustable and will suit most runners.
Some of the color options are chic enough to even complement your casual summer outfits.
Best Running Hats for Trails
Some days it feels like trail running is an entirely different world of running and one of the things I’ve noticed both a different style and a need for more protection being out there longer.
Best Trail Running Visor: Kea Peak ($45)
This new brand labels itself as the top knot trucker visor! Their range allows your head to breathe and your hair to go up seamlessly.
If style and comfort is your preference, then Kea Peak is the brand to go for. Their visors come in a ton of colors and designs; you’re bound to find one that you fall in love with! Running visors can also help provide breathability thanks to their open top.
Their hats are great for smaller and larger heads because the strap can be adjusted (no snaps!). And feature lightweight fabrics and a bill that can be molded to your favorite curve. It’s a one-fix fits all adjustment when it comes to their visors, with an approximately 21 to 24.5-inch circumference for each visor.
Their super cinch, quick tightening nylon strap works great and is great for running. I’m sure you’ll love their no snap, buckle closure!
All their visors come with an ultra-high 3.5-inch visor top. Their patented 4 panels were designed to curve with your head, which will give you a faux cap look from the front.
They also include a soft, absorbent sweatband on the inside. The sweatband will pull sweat away from your skin and keep it from running into your eyes.
What’s best is that you get all of that while supporting a great, small business!
Best Running Hat for Sun Protection: Elliewin Baseball Cap with Long Bill ($12)
This one has a full-coverage bill that’s slightly longer than other hats, which is great for that sun protection. The UPF rating of 50 for this hat also shields your skin against harmful UV rays.
It’s also well-loved for the DriFit fabric which will help to keep your head cool as you work hard. The quick-drying feature coupled with an interior headband helps wick away sweat while running.
The hat’s adjustable back closure allows you the find the perfect fit so that it stays snug during a run. It also features reflective details which improve visibility in low light conditions.
Best Lightweight Trail Running Hat: Trailheads Race Day Performance Hat ($21)
Another great option to allow the heat to escape and keep your flyaways in check, plus it comes in a wide variety of different colors in case you do want to get your neon on!
It’s lightweight, weighing only 2 ounces! The dark bill also helps keep your face shaded and reduces glare which is ideal for trail running. The front and side mesh panels deliver exceptional breathability and allow air to flow freely through the hat.
It also comes with their trail-tested guarantee, so that means it’s been tested by plenty of fellow runners.
Best Winter Running Hats
While sweat-wicking properties might seem more obvious for the summer, it’s one of the top factors to consider for even winter running apparel! Trust me, you don’t want to go for a long run in freezing temperatures with sweat covering your skin.
These winter running hat options will not only protect you against the cold weather but also sweat and keep you comfortable throughout your runs.
Best Running Hat for SERIOUS Winters: Trailhead Fleece Ponytail Hat ($36)
Helllllloooo perfect winter running item.
Covering the head, with an optional ear flap, but still a spot for our ponytail to hang out! There’s no back snap, it fits more like a beanie, which is perfect for keeping in that warmth.
The drop-down fleece design helps protect both the ears and neck from the cold and wind. As your body starts warming up during a run, you can flip the ear warmer up to help regulate body temperature.
It’s made using a stretchy polyester and spandex fleece which is comfortable and cozy during winter runs. The hat also includes silver reflective stitching at the ponytail opening and a silver reflective accent around the brim. This can help with visibility during those early morning winter runs.
Most trail runners I know aren’t put off by the weather, which just means we need the right gear to keep on enjoying what we do! And Trailhead is a brand with a great guarantee and return policy, so you know it’s an item to last.
Cold Weather Beanies
Ladies I’m also excited to say that now most of the running versions come with a spot for our ponytails to stick out…I don’t know why but this is every bit as thrilling as thumbholes!
- Winter running beanie with ponytail spot and fleece lined for maximum warmth
- Asics Headwarmer for those of you who prefer to let the top of your head keep you from overheating.
- New Balance lightweight beanie – because let’s be honest I start sweating super fast, so thermal is often too much
Running Hats for Big Heads
Admittedly in our house I’m often trying to find kids sizes to fit David’s head, but have many friends on the opposite end! But I think we also need to figure out if you actually have a big head! Many folks in the 22-23 inch range think they’re head is big, but that’s actually pretty darn normal.
For reference, mine is just over 21 inches and I have to tighten all the above hats WAYYYYY down to get them snug enough that I don’t worry about a breeze picking the hat up off my head.
SOOOO you may not need any kind of special hat at all, if you wrap a tape measure around and find you’re under say 24 inches looking for a women’s cap.
Best Running Hat for Larger Heads: Salomon XA Cap ($25)
This hat allows you to buy in different sizes, up to a L-XL, which means no one size fits all issues! It’s also going to be a light and perfect summer running hat.
It’s breathable and fast-drying with extra venting on the top for even the hottest weather conditions. This lightweight cap also comes with a reflective logo and an adjustable hook-and-loop strap at the back for the best fit.
Best Winter Running Hat for Larger Heads: Mountain Hardware Type 2 Dome
This winter fleece lined beanie also comes in multiple sizes and the brand is often touted by fellow big head hat wearers as one that works for them. It’s definitely a very warm option, so probably only suitable on really cold days.
How to Choose the Right Running Hat for You
Comfort and Fit
Most running hats are one-size-fits-all, with a range of tightness and size adjustability. The back adjustment is typically a snap, elastic, Velcro, or buckle-and-slide closure that also functions as a tightening mechanism.
Consider which closure is ideal for you, your hair, and your hands. Some people find the tiny pull-through elastic closures more difficult to adjust. Others like classic snap closures since they feel they’re easier to adjust and don’t get tangled in their hair as much. Consider all these factors.
Some running caps are also more sleek and tight in their fit. Other running caps have a little more space and structure in the cap but may weigh slightly more. Some hats go further down your forehead, which can help secure the hat while also providing extra shade from the sun.
The ideal fit is determined by the size and shape of your head and forehead, hair type, as well as your personal preferences. It may take some trial and error to find the types of caps that work best for your head and running needs.
A running hat with a long or broad bill offers greater shade, which will block a larger portion of your face, neck, ears, and chest from direct sun.
The downside for a broader bill is that it has more surface area to capture wind, so be sure you can tighten it to your head. Hats with wider bills typically have a cap that has a more relaxed fit but can still be tightened down.
It is important to remember that a handful of wider bills, depending on their specific shape, can obscure the field of vision for some runners.
Additionally, the color of your hat might reduce the amount of light that reaches your skin. Dark or bright colors absorb and restrict UV rays from reaching you, providing more protection than lighter shades.
A growing number of hats also include a UPF label, which indicates how effective the material is at blocking UV A and B rays. A UPF rating of 15 or 20 indicates that the material provides good sun protection. UPF 25, 30, or 35 provides medium-level sun protection. The highest levels of protection are UPF 40, 45, 50, and 50+.
Ventilation and Breathability
Running caps are designed for workouts and are made of synthetic material that wicks sweat, is breathable, and fast-drying.
To avoid sweat from falling into the eyes, the interior is frequently lined with a wide, absorbent sweatband. Additional ventilation features, such as laser-cut holes and mesh panels, are included in a number of different designs.
Reflective panels on a running cap are a useful safety feature that allows others to see you approaching while running in low-light environments.
If you’re running near traffic, it’s critical that cars see you as well. Reflective material on the front and back of a hat aid in warning approaching traffic from both directions.
However, many hats just have a reflective logo on the front or back of the hat or none at all. Keep this in mind as you decide whether you need reflective details or material on your running hat.
Why Do I Get Headaches When Wearing a Running Hat?
External compression headaches are induced by headwear when the material applies constant pressure to the forehead or scalp. The majority of running caps are one size fits all and include an adjustable band at the back.
Adjust the back strap to loosen it if you get a headache. Make sure your hat fits comfortably on your head without being too loose. It shouldn’t move about or be too tight and constricting.
Normally, you should not have forehead imprints or red markings after wearing your hat so adjust it if it feels too tight.
If you’re consistently getting headaches after running <<<– read this.
How Do I Make My Hat Fit Perfectly?
Before buying a hat, measure your head to ensure that the hat you choose will fit. After you’ve purchased the hat, you can alter the fit by using the back adjustment.
If you wrap a tape measure around your head and find that you’re over 24 inches, you may need to look for a hat that comes in bigger sizes. I have a whole section in this article dedicated to helping you find a good running hat if you have a bigger head.
While running, you want a snug but comfortable fit. It’s a good idea to tighten the hat in windy situations to keep it from blowing off your head.
Looking for more reviews to find the best things for your run?
Checkout our full page of my must have running gear reviews and guides to save you time searching and money! I share what’s worked for me and fellow runners, along with what wasn’t worth the price tag.
A few common requests:
- Choosing the Best Foam Roller
- Comparing GPS Watches
- Best running socks (lightweight to compression)
- Best compression tights for runners
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