How to Choose a Good Running Hat

Updated:

We all love our running gear. I’m willing to bet many of us runners have an arsenal of gear… Some of which we probably don’t even use!

Of course, some equipment is more important than others. Your running shoes, for example, need to be top quality, or risk injury. Sports bras are another example of something ladies can’t do without!

But chances are you’ve never even considered how to choose a good running hat! Hats are things we don’t think much about, but they play a big role in protecting you against the elements.

Here’s everything you need to know to choose the best running hat for you!

Why Is Wearing a Running Hat Important?

Hats are often seen as nothing more than a fashion accessory! However, wearing a hat while you’re running serves multiple helpful purposes, like:

  • Protecting you from sunburn
  • Wicking sweat away from your eyes
  • Stopping heat loss in cooler weather
  • Prevents wayward hair

If you don’t usually wear a running hat, you may want to consider changing that! It doesn’t mean you have to wear one every time you go out, but it’s a great accessory for protection against the elements.

Different Types of Running Hats

You may be surprised to find that there’s a wide variety of running hats! Knowing the difference will help you choose the one that best suits your needs.

Caps

Caps—also known as baseball caps—are your classic, athletic-looking running hat. They’re what you see most runners wearing—a sleek, close-fitting head covering with a bill.

They’re popular with runners because they offer good protection against the sun, shade the eyes, and keep the face from being battered by rain. The brim is also usually foldable, so you can angle it as you wish to an extent to suit the conditions of the moment.

Truckers

A trucker hat is very similar to a baseball cap. The biggest difference is that a cap is usually more fitted and made of one material, whereas a trucker hat has fabric in the front and mesh at the back.

They’re also often worn more as a fashion statement, as they’re less fitted and sit a bit higher on the head.

As you can imagine, the mesh section at the back makes them very well-ventilated, which is ideal for runners who struggle with the heat!

Bucket Hat

Bucket hats offer a 360-degree bill, almost like a small umbrella on your head! They usually have a very soft fit around the head, with no way of tightening or adjusting the fit to suit your head better.

The wide brim offers good protection from the sun, especially for the back of the head and, in some cases, even the back of the neck, which regular caps don’t offer.

They may run a little warm, though, as they’re generally constructed of thicker material without any mesh sections for ventilation.

Visors

A visor is the most minimalist of all running hats. They offer no protection for the top of the head, having simply a band that runs around the head to keep the running visor in place.

An attached bill helps to shield your face from the sun. It’s the least protective type of running hat but may be useful for those who want the shading effect without the heat of having a full piece of fabric on top of their head.

Beanie

A beanie isn’t quite a hat, but it offers some insulation and protection for the head against the cold. They generally come in different thicknesses, so you can choose what works for you and the climate you live in.

While most beanies are brimless, you can find some beanie-cap hybrids with a small brim to protect against those harsh winter rays.

How to Choose a Good Running Hat

Not all running hats are the same, and not all options of the same type will actually provide great protection. Here’s what you should be looking at to choose a good running hat.

Consider The Closure Adjustability

It’s not so common to find elasticized caps or hats anymore. Most of them have one of these common options: a Velcro closure, a plastic snapback, or a buckle.

Buckles can be fiddly, especially if you need to loosen or tighten them slightly while you’re busy running. Velcro and plastic snapbacks are both very easy to use and simple to adjust on the go.

Some people may find Velcro annoying, as it has a habit of catching hair in it! It also wears out faster than plastic snapbacks after prolonged use, although you shouldn’t need to keep adjusting it once you’ve got your perfect fit.

If you have long hair, it’s also good to make sure there’s an opening at the back for a ponytail to fit through. Some running hats have none, making it a very uncomfortable piece of apparel for you to wear!

Make Sure It’s Breathable & Moisture-Wicking

Everyone’s breathability needs are different when choosing a good running hat! If you buy a hat that’s specifically designed for sport, it’s likely to be made of moisture-wicking material to help get sweat away from your skin.

There should also be some ventilation. While the small hole at the back closure can help, it may not be enough for some people.

It’s up to you whether you’re okay with a regular cap’s ventilation or you prefer the mesh back of a trucker hat.

Choose Reflectivity & Color

While you’re not necessarily going to wear your hat while running at night, choosing a hat with reflective detailing is still a good idea.

When you’re running on a sunny day, it doesn’t make any difference. However, this could be an invaluable safety feature in lower light conditions.

Most running hats also come in bright colors, making you more visible on the road to both motorists and other runners.

Consider Weather Protection

Weather protection is probably the primary function of most running hats, but the type of weather you’re likely to be wearing it in makes quite a difference.

Against Cold

Your regular caps and trucker hats aren’t likely to offer much protection against the cold. While they can provide a bit of a barrier to prevent heat from escaping in cooler conditions, generally, their construction is more conducive to letting cool air in.

If you’re going to wear a cap, trucker hat, or bucket hat in winter, make sure it’s thick and insulating. Otherwise, you may want to wear a beanie under your hat or by itself.

When choosing a beanie, make sure it’s thick enough to withstand the elements. If you’re running in snow or wind, you’ll need a more robust one.

If you’re just running in a mildly cold climate, you can get away with a thinner, less insulated one.

Against Rain

If it often rains in the place you run, a hat will provide some protection against the downpour. Beanies obviously aren’t going to be much help, and neither will bucket hats, as they don’t have a stiff brim and will quickly become soaked.

A regular cap or trucker hat with a stiff brim will shield your face from the rain. However, you should choose a good running hat with waterproof properties if you want the best protection against rain.

Against Sun

Most hats have built-in UV protection, although, don’t let that stop you from wearing sunscreen! Hats are primarily worn as protection against the sun’s rays, and bright, hot days are when you’re most likely to find yourself wearing one, or wishing you were.

The brim of the hat serves to shield your face from the harsh rays. The rest of the hat helps to cover the crown of your head, which is susceptible to sunburn because you can’t really add sunscreen unless you’re bald!

Some hats even go so far as to include a piece of material that hangs down to protect the back of the neck.

In Summary

There’s no right or wrong choice when choosing a good running hat. Ultimately, it comes down to individual needs and preferences.

If you don’t like the look of a traditional cap, you don’t need to go out and get one just because it keeps the sun off your face. In the end, the type of running hat you wear is really up to you.

If you choose not to wear any running hat, we advise researching other measures to prevent sunburn on your head and reduce glare (sunglasses!).

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.