A running hat or workout hat is an essential piece of running gear. A good one can keep sweat and sun out of your eyes (and keep any unruly hair-dos out of your face). By "a good one," we mean light, stretchy, breathable, well-fitting and, of course, stylish. The best running hats are an ideal companion for your favorite performance sunglasses to top off your running kit, whether you're hitting the road for a PR or going for a day on the trails.
To find running hats that not only perform but look good on your dome, you have to take your search a little bit deeper than your basic, globally known brands. The big guys in the running world that make the best running shoes actually aren't always the brands that make the best apparel and accessories. In our opinion, small boutique brands lead the way when it comes to headwear (and socks and shorts and jackets), and in a handful of cases, the best come from brands that aren't even running-specific. To make your quest to find the ideal running hat a bit easier, we did the legwork and found some excellent hats that will not only keep your eyes shaded and sweat off your face but will also make you look fly.
Best Overall Running HatGOCap Ciele Athletics Read More
Best 5-Panel Running HatMomentum Cap Myles Read More
Best Upgrade Running HatTwo-Tone Nylon Runner Noah Read More
Lightweight Pacer Hat: Bolt Rnnr Read More
PeaceShell Running Cap Satisfy Read More
What to Look for
As mentioned earlier, you want a running hat to be breathable, lightweight, have a bit of stretch and fit well enough so that you’re not fussing with it throughout your runs. They also do the extremely important job of keeping the sun and sweat out of your eyes. (Pair with some performance sunglasses for ultimate protection on the sunniest days.)
Many of the best running hats incorporate mesh, laser-perforated holes or thoughtfully-placed venting to keep airflow at a high level. Even if you are running in the winter, you probably want a hat to have some ventilation — unless it's so cold that you’re opting for a beanie or a fleece running hat. Aside from mesh, you’ll want to find a hat with premium materials like ripstop (which comes in handy for trail running) or water-resistant materials that are made to withstand the occasional rainy run. A few of the hats on our list are made with nylon, which isn’t the techiest, porous material, but it is super lightweight and tough. You definitely want to be able to beat your running hats up a bit.
Another thing to consider is the brim. Some running hats, like the Nike Tailwind, skew minimal, with a fit and feel similar to a cycling cap — a short brim to keep a bit of sun from your face, but nothing obtrusive. Others, like the Lululemon cap on our list, have a longer brim for maximum coverage from the sun. This is largely a personal preference thing, but make sure you keep an eye on the brim length when buying a running hat. In addition to length, decide if you want a brim that is structured, curved or pliable; almost every hat on this list has a different brim that ranges from ones you can smash up and store in your pocket or waistband to structured brims that work well for sun-blocking but aren’t going to be easy to store if you want to remove it mid-run.
Finally, make sure the hat will fit your head. Many of the best running hats have a fairly shallow fit, so when a hat is good for those of us with large heads, we’ve tried to make a special note. The hats we’ve chosen are all adjustable at the back, though, so that shouldn’t be an issue. You may notice different ways of adjusting the size, though; some opt for velcro, some go for a nylon strap and others feature bungee-style bands. We’ve found that there isn’t really a comfort difference between them, so don’t let that deter you.
How We Tested
These hats were all worn by our testers on multiple runs in varied weather conditions, from winter to summer, on the road, the track and the trail. While in the end, a hat is a hat — these all did their job — there are a lot of options and we think comparing them side by side and taking a closer look reveals subtle differences that can make or break your run, from training days to race day.