Best Winter Running Hats Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Fortunately, we’re here to help with our reviews of the best winter running hats, from those beanies best for shoulder season and warmer winter days all the way to hats that’ll work for you in even the most brutal winter conditions.
- Nike Pro Hypercool Vapor Skull 4.0
- Smartwool Merino Sport
- Columbia Whirlibird
- Tough Headwear
- The North Face Bones
- Turtle Fur Midweight
- Trailheads Ponytail
- Pearl Izumi Transfer
- Carhartt Acrylic Watch
- Trailheads Power
- Mysuntown Trapper
- Timberland Watch
- The North Face Purrl Stitch
- Self Pro Balaclava
- Halo Headbands
- C.C. Beanie Tail
Criteria Used for Evaluation
A winter running hat needs to fit properly in order to be useful.
Running hats that do not fit will cause all kinds of trouble while you are running. You can experience issues with the hat slipping off of your head or not cover your ears properly. The hat may even fall down on your face and because of a nuisance. For these reasons, you will want to make sure that the hat fits your head properly prior to purchasing it.
Most winter running hats come in a one size fits all or one size fits most style hat. These hats are meant to stretch across your head and have a snug fit while you are wearing it.
If the hat does not maintain a snug fit, then you will experience a couple of different issues. For one thing, the hat could end up sliding off your head completely either from running or from blowing wind.
Even if the hat does not fall off of your head completely, it could still move around on your head. You may experience problems with the hat that could include issues such as the hat falling down into your eyes or onto your face.
Running hats that are too tight will start to scrunch up on your head and keep sliding off of your ears. Since you need your ears to stay protected while you are running in cold weather, you don’t want it to keep moving up on your head.
It is important that the hat covers your ears while you are running cold weather. Cold weather can cause your skin to freeze which is known as frostbite. Since your ears do not get a lot of blood flow and are positioned away from your head, they are susceptible to frostbite. You should always make sure that your ears are protected by covering them up which is why it is important that the hat is long enough to reach your ears.
You should also expect that the hat maintains its shape and continues to fit your head properly while you are wearing it. Many hats have a stretch fit that allows them to fit different people’s heads. You will want to make sure that the hat maintains its elasticity over time and continues to return to its original shape when you are not wearing it.
If you are a person who has long hair, then you will want to make sure that the hat is able to stay over the top of your hair. Many people with long hair may need a hat that is larger than what they would normally get so that there is enough room for their hair. Alternatively, you can always look for hats that have a port for a ponytail so that you can put your ponytail through the port and have the hat fit your head better than it could otherwise.
When we are running in the outdoors during cool or cold weather, we need a hat that can retain heat properly.
We also need to make sure that our hats can protect our ears properly since they can easily get frostbite. How well a hat protects our head can depend on a number of different factors which include how the hat fits, what area of the head is covered by the hat, and finally what kind of material the hat is made from.
You should always make sure that the hat fits your head properly. It should have a snug fit against your head since that will help it to create a thermal barrier which will help retain your body heat around your head. Furthermore, the hat should be long enough to protect cover your ears completely but it should not be so long that it starts falling down into your eyes.
It is also important that you check to see what areas of your head are covered by your head. Some hats only cover the top of your head and your ears. If you are looking for additional protection then you may want to look for hats that function as full face masks such as balaclava style hats.
Evaporation from sweat is our body’s natural way of keeping our body temperatures regulated.
The hot we get while running, the more sweat our bodies will produce. As the sweat is evaporated from our skin, heat energy is removed with the sweat which cools our body. When we are picking out hats for running in the winter, we should always be mindful of looking for hats that work with our body’s cooling mechanisms rather than against it. For this reason, you should always try and find winter running hats that are breathable and wick away moisture.
Many winter hats are made out of natural fibers such as cotton or wool. These fibers are great for the winter because they provide insulation and retain moisture. A thermal barrier is created as the hats soak up moisture which helps it retain heat. While this is a good thing if you are not exercising, it can lead to your head feeling like a swamp if you are running in the winter. You will feel much more comfortable when you are wearing a winter running hat that is moisture wicking rather than water retaining.
Synthetic materials tend to provide better moisture wicking than natural fibers. Some examples of such materials are nylon, spandex, polyester, and fleece. The fibers in these materials are polymer based and therefore do not retain water as natural fibers will. This provides you with better moisture wicking and breathability than what you may experience with natural fibers. If you are running in cool weather then you should feel ok when wearing a running hat that is made out of nylon, spandex, or polyester. However, if you are planning on running freezing or below freezing temperatures, then you should consider finding a fleece hat or at least a hat with a fleece liner. That is because fleece is a great insulator that is also moisture wicking. There are many different types of winter apparel that are made out of fleece for that reason.
You may also want to check out acrylic hats as a winter running hat. Many people mistake these hats for wool hats since they are usually knitted hats. However, acrylic is a synthetic fiber and so it will not retain moisture the same way that wool does. Hats made out of acrylic are still warm but they are also breathable and moisture wicking. This allows you to continue to feel warm without having to worry about feeling swampy or sweaty while you are running in these hats.
It is also possible to find hats that are made out of a blend of natural and synthetic fibers. These hats tend to feel warmer while are running in cold weather but they also do not wick away moisture as well as a hat that does not have natural fibers. Nevertheless, many people are happy with the performance of hats that are made from blended fabrics because they offer a middle ground between warmth and moisture control.
Whenever you are running outdoors, you should take some time and consider your safety.
Running and jogging is not a dangerous sport, but anytime you are exposed to cold weather, the sun, or are running near traffic, you are exposing yourself to hazards. You should always take the time to address these hazards so that you can return home safely after running.
If you are someone who plans on running anywhere near traffic, then you should always look for running hats that help make you visible to the drivers of cars and trucks. Even in broad daylight, a motorist can have trouble spotting a runner or a jogger on the side of the road or in the crosswalk. The more visible you are, the more likely they will see you while you are running and are therefore less likely to hit you.
Visibility is even more important when you are running in low light conditions such as when you run in the morning, evening, or after dark.
You can pick out hats that will make you more visible. One way to make yourself more visible is to purchase a hat that has a reflective band or even LED lights. A reflective band in the hat will reflect the light from a car or truck’s headlights back into the eyes of a driver. This naturally draws their eyes to the source of the light and makes them notice you while they are driving. Having a LED light in the hat takes this one step further by creating a light source for the driver to see rather than depending on the chance that another source of light will reflect towards the driver. In both cases, you are more likely to be spotted by the driver and are therefore less likely to get hit by a motorist while you are running.
The color of the hat can also make a difference in your visibility. If you pick out hats that have bright colors, you are more likely to be noticed. try and pick out colors such as bright red, yellow, or green. If you are running in the winter where there is snow, then you should try and avoid wearing white since it could cause you to blend into the background.
Visibility isn’t the only safety factor that you should think about when picking out a running hat. You will also need to consider warmth and UV protection. When you are running in the winter, you will lose body heat to the outdoor weather.
Some areas of your head are prone to get damaged by the cold. This would include your ears and your nose so you should always make sure that the hat at least protects your ears. If your nose and cheeks are getting cold, then you may want to look for a hat that also has a face mask to help protect your face from the cold weather as well.
Even in cold weather, the UV radiation from the sun can also damage your skin and cause a sunburn. Wearing a hat while running will block sunlight from the covered areas of your head and protect your skin from UV radiation.
17 Best Winter Running Hats
1. Nike Pro Hypercool Vapor Skull 4.0
Nike knows a thing or two about what runners need when training in all types of weather. This sleek design boasts a stylish look while working to keep your head dry and warm, even when the temperature really starts to plunge. We love that it is thin, lightweight, and composed of Nike’s patented Dri-Fit technology.
No one likes fiddling with difficult gear when you are pushing yourself to your limits, and no one knows this more than Nike. This design boasts flatlock seams that won’t dig into your head so you feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all. It also has a tight fit that prevents it from shifting around on your head, even when engaging in cold-weather HIIT training!
It is composed of a blend of 80 percent polyester, 11 percent rubber, and 9 percent spandex. What makes this design unique is that the rubber blend works to really contour to the shape of your head so that it stays put, similar to a swim cap. Rubber is also non-porous, so cold air and rain stay on the outside of the cap when training in brutal weather conditions.
If you are serious about training 12 months out of the years, this design from Nike is a mush-have for your winter weather arsenal. We love that it is composed of tough materials that keep warm air in and cold air out. Plus, the blend of stretchy materials stays firmly in place no matter how hard you train this winter.
2. Smartwool Merino Sport
Hate the idea of wearing caps as you train? While a hat is essential to locking in heat when training in the cold, some runners simply hate the feeling of a cap on their head. If that’s you, you may want to check out this ultra-lightweight Merino wool design from Smartwool.
What users love most about this design is that it is composed of a super-thin layer of stretchy fabric that feels like you aren’t wearing anything at all. Don’t worry, however, it’s still insanely warm! It is composed of Merino wool that works to hold in heat, wick away moisture, and feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all.
It is composed of 87 percent premium Merino wool and 13 percent nylon. The wool works to hold in heat and wick away moisture where it quickly evaporates on the surface. Nylon helps to create a snug fit on your head so it won’t shift around while you run. If you want to feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all, this is one of your best options.
This design is so small and lightweight that one user proved it by storing it into a prescription bottle! It’s a great option for those that hate wearing caps but need something that prevents hot air from escaping when training in cool weather. Plus, it comes in at a super affordable price point that makes it worth checking out.
3. Columbia Whirlibird
While the Whirlibird boasts a simple design, it is packed with premium features to keep your noggin warm and comfortable on those long trail runs. Unlike many of the other simple beanie designs, the Whirlibird has a soft lining that works to wick away sweat and regulate your body temperature so you won’t be too hot or too cold when training in cool temperatures.
What makes this design stand out from the pack is that while it has a simple exterior shell, it is packed with features to keep you comfortable. It has a microfleece lining that feels incredibly soft and works to wick sweat away from your head where it quickly evaporates on the surface. Even when it’s cold, you sweat when you run. And this design works to keep your head dry and warm.
The exterior shell is composed of 100 percent acrylic material that boasts a soft finish. Users find that this design feels just like cashmere, and has a lightweight texture that will make you feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all!
If you are in the market for something that looks simple and easy, yet is packed with advanced features to keep you warm and comfortable, this design from Columbia is one of your best options. It costs slightly more than some of the other designs that we have seen, but we feel that it is worth every penny!
4. Tough Headwear
In addition to a lifetime warranty, Tough Headwear’s running beanie stretchy and breathable polyester is one-size fit all. Lightweight and comfy, it’s performance wicking fabric keeps you warm while keeping your sweat away. Because of its close fit, it can be worn on its own or under another layer, making it a fall-spring beanie.
The polyester-spandex blend (89%-11%, respectively) guarantees wicking without losing thermal insulation, meaning you stay warm and dry no matter how hard you work. Because of the cozy fit, you can wear this beanie in any condition. -30 outside? Just layer up. The snug fit makes it easy to forget you’re wearing it, which is perfect for a performance beanie.
Though Tough Hardware’s running beanie comes at a great price, the lifetime warranty means you can rest assured that you’re getting your money’s worth. This beanie lasts—and you’ll never have to pay to replace it.
5. The North Face Bones
The Bones beanie brings the same quality you’ve come to love and expect from The North Face to a fleece-lined winter running cap. The synthetic blend helps ensure great wicking, and the fleece-lined rim helps ensure ears stay warm no matter how chilly it gets. Additionally, the slim profile ensures a snug and cozy fit, making this a great choice for those cold winter morning runs.
Much like many other North Face performance gear, the synthetic wicking helps ensure you stay dry and warm, no matter how hard you’re working. The fleece-lined rim and snug, cozy fit help ensure your ears stay warm, no matter what the windchill is out there.
Like many North Face products, the cost and value can range widely depending on the retailer you use. Careful shopping, however, can make this a great value buy, as you know exactly what quality you’re getting.
6. Turtle Fur Midweight
Turtle Fur’s polyester blend is a perfect three-season beanie, guaranteed to keep you warm enough in all but the most brutal winter conditions, but still light enough to work on cool fall or spring mornings as well.
The double-layered rim helps ensure your ears stay warm, and the slim profile helps prevent slippage for a snug and comfortable fit. The water-resistant polyester also helps ensure you stay warm and dry, no matter the weather.
While many of these beanies offer a slim profile, Turtle Fur offers one of the coziest fits, and the extra ear protection is warm without risking being too warm, which can be a problem with other rim linings.
With many multi-season beanies, you risk being too warm in the spring and fall, and then too cold in the winter. Not so with this beanie, with the exception of the kind of cold in which you are more likely to want a balaclava than a beanie.
Turtle Fur is almost always a great value, and this versatile beanie is certainly no exception.
7. Trailheads Ponytail
Sometimes you don’t want to feel your ponytail squished against your head uncomfortably in a winter running beanie. With the Trailheads Ponytail beanie, you don’t have to. An integrated ponytail loop allows you to stay warm and comfortable on cold winter runs, and the soft polyester fleece helps ensure the rest of your head stays warm and cozy.
Moisture-wicking properties ensure you stay warm and dry, no matter how hard you’re working, and the beanie comes in a wide-range of colors, to best match your style.
If you’ve ever run with a ponytail scrunched under your running beanie, you know how uncomfortable it can be. With this ponytail beanie, that’s no longer an issue, as the integrated loop allows your ponytail out without sacrificing warmth.
The stretchy polyester fleece helps ensure your beanie stays snug without being uncomfortable, and the wicking properties of the blend ensure you stay dry, too.
While Trailheads’ ponytail beanie is a little more expensive than some ponytail beanies, it’s also the only ponytail beanie to get such consistently good reviews. In this case, you pay a little more than you might for a beanie—but it’s worth the extra comfort.
8. Pearl Izumi Transfer
Pearl Izumi may have roots as a cycling company, but their running gear is just as top-notch, and the Transfer hat is no exception. The Transfer hat offers some of the best moisture wicking and odor absorption, and the reflective elements offer a nice touch on those dark winter mornings. Additionally, the polyester blend has just enough stretchiness to contour to your head nicely, ensuring a great cozy fit.
Not only does this hat wick better than the vast majority of beanies out there, its Minerale™ patented polyester blend fights odor better than any running hat we’ve ever seen. Be seen on those dark winter mornings, courtesy of your hat. This is another thing PI grants: visibility.
Pearl Izumi has a bit of a reputation as a pricey brand, but that isn’t the case with this beanie which can sometimes be found for no more than a few dollars.
9. Carhartt Acrylic Watch
It’s hard to find any faults in this basic and comfortable design from Carhartt. It is composed of soft and stretchy materials that contour to the shape of your head and work to hold in heat. We love that it comes in a variety of colors to keep you noticed when out there on the trails, and clocks in at a price point that is super affordable.
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it boasts a tight-knit and is composed of 100 percent acrylic materials. This stretchy material contours to the shape of your head, leaving no space for cold air to creep in as you put miles behind you. The longer frame also allows you to fold down the ends to alter how you wear it.
We also love that it comes in a myriad of color options that are unlike anything else out there on the market. If you like more neutral shades, it comes in color choices such as ash gray, black, and olive green. If you need something bright and noticeable, it also comes in neon orange and yellow tones as well.
For those in the market for something simple, effective, and affordable, this design from Carhartt is one of our favorite choices. Users love that it comes in unique color options that are sure to match your winter running gear, and comes in at a price point that allows you to buy more than one if you simply cannot decide on a color!
10. Trailheads Power
Like other Trailheads beanies, this hat comes with a customer satisfaction guarantee—that seemingly never gets used, because runners love this cap. The reflective accents are better spaced than on many of the other reflective caps, meaning you’re more likely to be seen, and the fit ensures it can work either as a layer or on its own.
Water resistance, a stretchy polyester/spandex blend, and brushed finish all lead to a great performance and fit.
This is one of the more reflective beanies on the market, as the accents run down both sides of the beanie, rather than in just a few scattered spots. The increased coverage makes it far more effective than many other comparable beanies.
While warmer than many similar polyester/spandex blends, this beanie keeps the slim profile that makes it easy to use as a liner beanie or stow away in a pocket on those days when you warm up and don’t need it anymore.
Trailheads is one of those brands still finding its place in the market, and as a result, this option is difficult to find. Prices tend to reflect that, so cost and value may vary depending on where you find it.
11. Mysuntown Trapper
Heading out in some pretty nasty weather? This design from Mysuntown is built to withstand super cold temperatures while keeping you nice and warm. The addition of a face mask covers your face and nose from stinging temps, and the windproof exterior shell blocks with wind and wicks away snowflakes and rain.
What makes this bulky design stand out from the pack is that it has quite a few features you won’t find anywhere else. The included face mask is windproof, yet still breathable. Users can also detach the mask and leave it at home, or wear it on its own when needed.
The hat boasts a waterproof and windproof exterior shell that works to really lock in heat. Inside, it has a faux fur lining that is incredibly comfortable as well as warm. What we love most about this design is that it covers your entire head. The long sides protect your ears, and the chin strap holds it securely in place as you train.
If you need something that keeps you insanely warm and you don’t care how it looks, this beefy design from Mysuntown is one of your best options. It is designed to keep your entire head and face nice and toasty when heading out into some pretty nasty weather. Plus, it comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank.
12. Timberland Watch
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this design from Timberland. If you prefer something that is a little more stylish that you will want to wear on the trails or out running errands, this design is one of your best options. It boasts a comfortable fit, and is made from materials that lock in the heat without cutting off the circulation to your brain!
Users love this design because it has an incredibly comfortable fit that works to lock in heat while out on the trails It is composed of 100 percent acrylic materials with a tight-knit so heat stays in, and cold stays out. The longer design allows users to pull it down to their brow, or fold it up to let their forehead breathe.
We also like that it comes in classic Timberland options that work with almost all shades of winter coats and gloves. It is offered in neutral colors that include olive, gray, black, and blue. If you want something that is a light more eye-catching, it also comes in Timberland’s classic orange as well.
For those in the market for something simple, stylish, and affordable, you can’t go wrong with the Timberland Watch Cap. It is made from premium materials that keep your head nice and warm, while still maintaining a lightweight and comfortable fit as well. Plus, it comes in at a price point that is super affordable for those on a budget.
13. The North Face Purrl Stitch
In true North Face fashion, the Purrl Stitch effortlessly combines comfort, function, and style all in one compact cap. Users love that this design is a little slouchy, which makes it ideal for wearing out on the trails or off running errands on cool days. The classic purl stitch design offers a homemade look while working to keep your head nice and toasty during chilly winter workouts.
While it may look like a classic tight-fitting beanie, it actually has a looser fit compared to some of the others that we have seen. If you like the function of a beanie but hate gear that fits too tightly to your body, this design from The North Face is a wonderful compromise. Plus, it is made from premium materials that work to hold warm air inside.
This design boasts a purl stitch on the top which is incredibly lightweight and won’t squeeze your head. What makes this design unique is that it has a double layer of basic knitting on the cuff that creates a secure fit so that it doesn’t bounce around on your head as your move, and it also helps to lock in heat as well.
If you are looking for the perfect blend of style and function, this slouchy beanie from The North Face is a great choice. Users love that it doesn’t fit as tightly, and it is made from super stretchy acrylic fabric that is super soft as well as lightweight. While it costs more than other similar designs, we feel that it is well worth it.
14. Self Pro Balaclava
Sometimes you need to protect more than just the top of your head while you are running or jogging. This balaclava made by Self Pro will protect your head, face, and your neck. The material is hypo-allergenic so that you can breathe through it while running and it is also moisture wicking so that you can feel warm without having a pool of sweat build up on your face.
You can wear this balaclava as a full mask, hat, scarf, face mask, or any other way that you can think of. The flexibility of this balaclava is an excellent feature because you can adjust it to your running conditions.
Even in cold weather you still need to protect your skin against UV radiation so that you do not get sunburned. This balaclava offers natural UV protection for your head because it covers your entire face and blocks the sun.
You will see this item sold at a price that is slightly below the average price for winter running hats. It is an excellent value because you can adjust it to fit your needs depending on the outdoor condition.
15. Halo Headbands
This running skullcap is great for winter and cold weather running. It has a dryline fabric which causes moisture to quickly evaporate away from your head. This prevents you from feeling hot and sweaty while you are running because sweat won't build up under the hat.
The hat also has features that prevent your sweat from running down your face and getting into your eyes while you are running. This option has a proprietary SweatBlock Seal which is designed to channel sweat away from your eyes and your face.
You won't need to worry about this hat shifting or moving around while you are running or jogging thanks to the grip technology. It's designed to stay in place once you have positioned it on your head.
You should plan on spending a higher than the average price for this hat due to its advanced features. The hat justifies it's higher price by offering features such as moisture wicking, sweat protection, and gripping technology which makes it a great running hat.
16. C.C. Beanie Tail
People who have long hair can have trouble finding a running hat that works with their hair. This ponytail hat solves the problem by providing an opening in the back of the hat for a ponytail.
There is an opening in the back of this hat where you can slide a ponytail through the opening. This allows people who have long hair to wear this hat without having to worry about it slipping off due to long hair.
The hat features a stretchy material that wraps around the circumference of the head. This improves your warmth while running because it makes it more likely that the hat will stay on and comfortable throughout your entire run.
You should plan on paying a price that is higher than the average for this hat. It gets its value by being made out of a high-quality knit material that keeps your head warm while wicking away moisture.
If you are someone who loves to listen to music while you are running or jogging then you will love this hat by Rotibox. This hat features Bluetooth speakers that are built right into the hot so that you can pair your Bluetooth device with the hat and listen to music. There is no need to try and tuck headphones underneath the hat while you are running in the morning.
The hat includes a pair of Bluetooth enabled speakers around the ears. This allows you to listen to your Bluetooth enabled device while you are exercising without having to worry about headphones slipping out from under the hat while you run.
You can wash this hat like you would any other hat once you have removed the electronic controls from it. The electronic components fit into pouches that make them easily accessible so that you can take them out quickly.
You should plan on paying a price that is well above the average for a running hat thanks to the Bluetooth controls. The speakers, battery, and control panel are an added value considering that you can use this hat instead of headphones.