Be a Head Above with the Best Running Hats

People wearing the best running hats


After lacing up their sneakers, many runners go to the other end by donning a running hat before they start pounding the pavement. This is because the best running hats are an excellent way to protect yourself from many of the elements—scorching sun, howling wind, and driving rain—that may threaten to derail your run.

With options available to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, many running hats also have moisture-wicking properties that keep the sweat from dripping in your eyes. This is also beneficial in the summer as it keeps the sweat off your hair and skin which will keep you warm. Additionally, for runners with longer hair, hats are a great way to keep your hair off your neck and back.

If that sounds like a lot to keep up with, don’t worry. We’re here to break down what you should be looking for in the best running hats as well as our 10 favorite options. That way, you can make an informed decision about a simple, protective piece of gear that can make running more enjoyable for newbies and veterans alike.

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The Best Running Hats - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Running Hat - adidas Superlite Hat

adidas Superlite Hat

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester, spandex

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Made from recycled materials and available in a wide variety of colorways, the adidas Superlite Hat is an excellent running hat for elite runners and those enjoying a leisurely jog around their neighborhoods. The mesh is lightweight and provides excellent moisture-wicking and substantial airflow. Plus, the visor's underside has a non-glare lining which helps with visibility.

The adidas Superlite Hat also features UPF-50 to help protect your head and face from the sun's most damaging rays. Additionally, the hook and loop back closure accommodate a wide range of head sizes and hairstyles. The attention to detail coupled with adidas's reputation for creating high-quality products makes this the best overall running hat.

What We Like

  • UPF-50 protection
  • Excellent airflow
  • Adjustability

What We Don't Like

  • Some complaints of logo peeling
  • May not fit smaller heads comfortably

BUY: adidas Superlite Hat

Best Running Visor - Buff Unisex Visor

Buff Unisex Visor

SPECS

  • Material: Recycled polyester, elastane

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For those with thick hair who get hot just thinking about stuffing their hair under a hat, a running visor is an excellent choice. Visors, such as Buff, offer protection for your eyes and face to keep you protected from the sun.

Visors may be cooler simply by their design, but the Buff is our top choice for runners because it's incredibly lightweight and it wicks sweat away like a champ. Although it is not adjustable, the stretchy material conforms to most any head size, and stays in place even during intense runs.

What We Like

  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • High UPF rating
  • Easy to pack

What We Don't Like

  • Not ideal for those with smaller heads
  • Band can become smelly

BUY: Buff Running Visor

Best Running Hat for Men - Men's UA ArmourVent Core 2.0 Cap

Men's UA ArmourVent Core 2.0 Cap

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester

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Running hats typically have venting holes in them to promote airflow and keep the temperature down. However, for people with shorter hair or no hair, this can be problematic because their scalps can get sunburned. However, Under Armour infuses its hat with its "ArmourVent" which uses small, breathable vents for extra breathability and protection from harmful UV rays.

It has a classic baseball hat look and is available in different sizes. We recommend ordering the size that best suits your head measurements because there isn't an adjustable closure. This hat has a great silhouette and the sweatband on the forehead wicks moisture away effectively.

What We Like

  • Small vents
  • Classic look
  • Fits close to the top of the head

What We Don't Like

  • Not adjustable
  • No back opening for those with longer hair

BUY: Under Armor UA ArmourVent Core 2.0

Best Trail Running Hat - Outdoor Research Vantage Sprint Cap

Outdoor Research Vantage Sprint Cap

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester

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When you're tackling the steep and rocky terrain that comes with trail running, you want a hat that can handle all the elements that you throw at it. That is exactly what the Outdoor Research Vantage Sprint Cap aims to do. The cinch cord keeps the hat snuggly on your head even when the wind is roaring or you're dealing with heavy underbrush.

Additionally, this hat's construction provides excellent coverage while the UPF 50+ helps protect you from the sun's most harmful rays. And, on those particularly hot days, the evaporative cooling material that will keep you from overheating.

What We Like

  • Stowable
  • UPF 50+ protection
  • Reflective logo
  • Cinch cord

What We Don't Like

  • Not ideal for smaller heads
  • Cinch cord could be more durable

BUY: Outdoor Research Vantage Sprint Cap

Best Running Hat for Cold Weather - Craft ADV Lumen Fleece Hat

Craft ADV Lumen Fleece Hat

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester, elastane

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When the temperature dips, it is imperative to have running gear that will help you stay warm but also won't allow you to overheat. The lightweight and breathable Craft ADV Lumen Fleece Hat is made to keep you warm, but not hot.

Wicking sweat away from your body may be more important in the winter than in the summer. So the last thing you want is to end a winter run covered in sweat. If this happens and you cannot immediately strip out of your wet clothes, you're going to be very cold. Thankfully, the Craft beanie does an excellent job of keeping your hair and head dry by wicking moisture away effectively.

What We Like

  • Provides warmth
  • Wards off overheating
  • Excellent sweat-wicking properties
  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • Not suitable for extremely cold temperatures
  • Tight fit for some
  • No opening for ponytails

BUY: Craft ADV Lumen Fleece Hat

Best Running Hat for Hot Weather - Ciele Athletics ALZCap

Ciele Athletics ALZCap

SPECS

  • Material: Recycled polyester

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When the temperatures start rocketing up, you usually think about shedding as many layers as possible to help you stay cool. However, adding Ciele Athletics ALZCap can actually help you stay cool when you're pounding the pavement in warmer temps. This hat has a UPF rating of 40+, which is less than many of the hats on our list, but it’s still enough to protect you from around 97 percent of the sun's harmful rays.

Ciele's COOLwick mesh does an excellent job of keeping the air moving around your head. And, this hat also earns a gold medal in wicking away your sweat. This helps keep your hair dry and the sweat out of your eyes while the lightweight material makes it easy to forget that you're even wearing a running hat.

What We Like

  • COOLwick keeps sweat away
  • Breathability
  • Can wear sunglasses with flat brim
  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • May not be great for larger heads
  • Pricey

BUY: Ciele Athletics ALZCap

Best Women's Running Hat - Lululemon Women's Fast and Free Running Hat

lululemon Women's Fast and Free Running Hat

SPECS

  • Material: Nylon, lycra, elastane

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Like many of the other hats on this list, the Lululemon Women's Fast and Free Running Hat is lightweight and does a great job wicking sweat away. What makes this hat the top pick for women runners is the wide opening in the back. A common complaint about hats for women runners, particularly those with longer hair, is having to lower their ponytail so that it will fit through the back opening.

The Lululemon Women's Fast and Free Running Hat addressed that issue. It has an excellent wide opening that allows for a variety of different hairstyles including buns. This hat has a comfortable, stretchy band that keeps the hat secure while you run.

What We Like

  • Wide back opening
  • Stretchy band keeps it secure
  • Excellent sweat-wicking properties

What We Don't Like

  • Complaints of rubbing the ears
  • Expensive
  • Not great for larger heads

BUY: Lululemon Women's Fast and Free Running Hat

Best Lightweight Running Hat - ON Lightweight Cap

ON Lightweight Cap

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester

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ON has built a name for itself by making extremely lightweight gear that still holds up remarkably well, and the ON Lightweight Cap is no exception. Admittedly, most running hats are lightweight, but ON runs the extra mile by making sure this hat dries quickly so that it doesn't become weighty.

Even on very hot days when you are ticking mile after mile off of your training, this hat keeps its shape and weight. This hat adjusts well making it suitable for many head sizes.

What We Like

  • Great size ventilation
  • Very lightweight
  • Dries quickly
  • Wide adjustment range

What We Don't Like

  • Strap can be hard to adjust
  • Head can be sunburnt through vent
  • Expensive

BUY: ON Lightweight Cap

Best Running Bucket Hat - Nike Dri-Fit Perforated Bucket Hat

Nike Dri-Fit Perforated Bucket Hat

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester, spandex, elastane

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Nike knows running and Nike knows athleisure style so it’s no surprise that the brand combined both areas of its expertise in the Nike Dri-Fit Perforated Bucket Hat. By using Nike’s dri-fit technology in combination with perforated vents along the sides allow air to circulate freely around your head.

Additionally, this bucket hat has an adjustable cord in the back so that you can keep it secured during your runs. The biggest downside to this hat when compared to others is that it has a small brim and doesn't offer as much protection as hats with wide brims.

What We Like

  • Stylish
  • Adjustable cord
  • Breathability
  • Dri-Fit Technology

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't off great sun protection
  • Expensive

BUY: Nike Dri-Fit Perforated Bucket Hat

Most Breathable Running Hat - Brooks Propel Hat

Brooks Propel Hat

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester, spandex

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If you’re prioritizing breathability in your running hat, check out the Brooks Propel Running Hat. A large amount of mesh helps keep your head cool by allowing air to circulate freely while you run. It also does an excellent job of wicking the sweat away thanks to the internal headband.

The adjustable back closure makes this an excellent choice for a wide range of head sizes. And, don't worry about this hat getting stinky because this washes up well without losing shape.

What We Like

  • Excellent breathability
  • Sweat-wicking headband
  • Packs away

What We Don't Like

  • Runs
  • Could use more UPF

BUY: Brooks Propel Hat

How to Choose the Best Running Hat

Considering running hat styles are as varied as head sizes, finding the exact right running hat may be a little frustrating. However, if you consider a few key aspects, you can find a hat that keeps the sun out of your eyes while deftly wicking away sweat so that you can tick mile after mile off without worry. From baseball to bucket to visor, the style of running hat you initially choose is based largely on your preference as most are adjustable in some way.

Adjustability

Although a few running hats are fitted, most are adjustable. However, there are several different adjustability features available and it is important that you find the one that suits you and your running style best. The hook and loop closure style, which often uses Velcro, is a great choice for many because it is easy to get it to fit securely to your head. Also, runners with longer hair can pull a ponytail through the opening. The bungee pull style is great for tightening your hat when you're on the move, while snapbacks and sliders can make this aspect frustrating.

Sweat-Wicking

One of the main functions of a running hat is to control sweat. The last thing you want when you're pounding the pavement or zipping over a trail is for your eyes to start burning from sweat dripping into them. The material and ventilation of running hats help with this greatly.

UPF

Blocking out harmful sun rays not only makes running more enjoyable, it also makes it safer. The design of most hats provides some protection, but running hats usually go a step further and use a UPF material. Nonetheless, your running hat shouldn't replace sunscreen, but rather serve as another layer of protection.

FAQs About Running Hats


Do running hats work?

Running hats are lightweight hats that help wick sweat away from your head. They are ventilated which allows air to circulate freely around your head. This means that you don't get overheated. They also help protect you from the sun through the bill and UPF.

Should I run with a hat in the summer?

Although this is largely a personal preference, running in a hat during the hot summer months has several advantages. Running hats help block the sun's harmful rays, they wick sweat away and circulate air around your head.

Is a running hat or running visor better?

When it comes to running in a hat or a visor, it is up to the individual to decide what is better for them. Both running hats and running visors offer protection from the sun through the bills. Visors do leave the scalp more exposed than hats, but they may also be a better choice for runners with long or thick hair.

Are mesh hats good for running?

Mesh is generally a good material for running hats. However, you will still want to check the style of the hat, as trucker hats usually utilize a lot of mesh, but they also can be stiff.

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