The 11 Best Running Hats of 2021, According to a Running Coach

Block harmful rays and head sweat with these top caps

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Best Running Hats

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Our Top Picks
Best Overall for Women:
Brooks Chaser Hat at Amazon
Made with a soft, stretch-woven fabric, it’s lightweight, breathable, and has a pre-curved brim to keep the sun off your face.
Best Overall for Men:
Outdoor Research Swift Cap at Amazon
A full mesh liner provides plenty of ventilation to keep you cool, and the headband wicks away excess moisture.
Headsweats hats and visors are known for their innovative, lightweight design and fast moisture-wicking capability.
An adjustable Velcro closure delivers a snug, custom fit, and the back opening allows plenty of room for a ponytail.
With an ultra-lightweight design and a wide brim, it provides comfortable coverage from the elements, with a barely-there feel.
Extremely popular among trail runners, It’s made with durable ripstop fabric and coated with a 'Durable Water Repellent' finish.
This one keeps the sun and sweat out of your eyes, but it also neatly secures ponytails.
Whether you wear it for a run or throw it on for Saturday errands, this stylish hat is a nice accessory to any outfit.
It provides excellent breathability, while the quick-drying fabric keeps you feeling fresh.
The perfect companion for a wet run, it's water-resistant and has a large bill to protect your head from the rain.

Whether the forecast calls for light rain or intense sun, a running hat is essential for staying comfortable and safe on the run. Not only can it protect your head and face from the elements, but a good running hat can also help wick away moisture and prevent sweat from running into your eyes.

“A running hat can also be helpful if you have allergies to prevent pollen from getting into your eyes and nose,” says Lisa Selby, RRCA and VDOT certified running coach. If you have hair that constantly gets in your face when running, a running hat can pull it back while keeping your forehead shielded from the sun’s harmful rays.

Here are the best expert-approved running hats we found on the market.

Best Overall for Women: Brooks Chaser Hat

Brooks Chaser Hat
Pros
  • Adjustable fit

  • Built-in sweatband

  • Reflective accents

  • Excellent wicking capabilities

Cons
  • Runs small

  • May not work with thick hair

If you have a tough time finding a running hat that feels comfortable and stays in place, look no further than the Chaser hat from Brooks. Made with a soft, stretch-woven fabric, it’s lightweight, breathable, and has a pre-curved brim to keep the sun and rain off your face. The adjustable band in the back gives you a secure fit, even in windy conditions.

With a built-in wicking headband, it also mops off your forehead sweat. Choose from several different colors and styles, including ones with a fun “Run Happy” design emblazoned on the front.

Materials: Polyester and spandex | Closure: Adjustable strap | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry low

Best Overall for Men: Outdoor Research Swift Cap

Pros
  • Breathable with ventilation

  • Comfortable fit

  • UPF 30 sun protection

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • May not work for large heads

  • Limited color options

Lightweight and breathable, the Outdoor Research Swift Cap delivers exactly what runners need in a reliable hat. The nylon panels offer UPF 30 sun protection, while the shaped but flexible bill gives more coverage from the sun’s rays and glare.

A full mesh liner provides plenty of ventilation to keep you cool, and the headband also helps wick away moisture. You’ll get a custom, secure fit with the adjustable back strap. And if you get tired of wearing it, you can fold it up easily and stash it in your shorts or pocket.

Materials: Nylon | Closure: Adjustable quick-release back strap | Care: Machine wash cold and hang dry

Best Unisex: Headsweats Performance Race Hat

Headsweats Hat
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Lots of color options

  • Durable

  • Terry headband

Cons
  • May not fit very large heads

  • Large logo on side

The Performance Race Hat from Headsweats is known for its innovative design, lightweight composition, and fast moisture-wicking capability. Perfect for hot weather running, the hat blocks the sun from your face, while wicking away moisture, keeping your head cool and dry. When your run is complete, you can toss the hat in the wash with your other running clothes, without worrying about it losing its shape.

The hat comes in one size, but the adjustable buckle allows for a comfortable, custom fit on most sized heads. Available in more than two dozen color options, it’s reasonably priced, so you may want to pick up more than one.

Material: Eventure fabric shell and Eventure fabric headband | Closure: Adjustable rear buckle | Care: Machine wash and air dry

Best Budget: TrailHeads Women's Race Day Performance Hat

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Reflective trim

  • Lots of color options

  • Good wicking fabric

Cons
  • May not work for large heads

  • Lacks structure

The TrailHeads Race Day Performance Hat has the comfort, fit, and performance that runners need in a quality running hat, at a budget-friendly price. Super lightweight, the hat allows air to flow freely through it—preventing overheating and increasing breathability. The dark underbill reduces glare and shades your face, while the polyester fabric wicks away moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable. With reflective trim, the hat also makes you more visible in low-light conditions.

The adjustable Velcro closure delivers a snug, custom fit, and the back opening allows plenty of room for a ponytail. This hat is available in a variety of colors and with such a reasonable price tag, you may decide to pick up more than one to coordinate with different running outfits.

Materials: Polyester | Closure: Adjustable Velcro | Care: Machine wash delicate cycle or hand wash in cold water, and air dry

Best for Long Runs: Nike Dri-FIT Aerobill Featherlight Hat

Nike Dri-FIT Aerobill Featherlight
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Well-ventilated

  • Good wicking capability

  • Adjustable

Cons
  • May not work for small heads

  • Limited color choices

If you’re training for an upcoming marathon, check out this versatile hat from Nike that’s popular with distance runners. With an ultra-lightweight design and a wide brim, it provides comfortable coverage from the sun and elements, with a barely-there feel.

Strategically placed perforations throughout the hat provide cooling ventilation, and the sweat-wicking polyester fabric keeps you feeling fresh and dry. The hat comes in several color options and one size, but an adjustable back strap allows for a customized fit.

Materials: Polyester | Closure: Adjustable back strap | Care: Hand wash and air dry

Best for Trail Running: Patagonia Airdini Cap

Patagonia Airdini Cap
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Durable

  • Water-repellent

  • Breathable

Cons
  • Only comes in black

  • Not adjustable

The Patagonia Airdini Cap is extremely popular among trail runners, and with good reason. Protecting you from the elements, it's lightweight, breathable, and it won't weigh you down. It’s made of durable ripstop fabric that’s coated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish, so you’re ready to handle the weather no matter how harsh.

For hot days, you’ll get great ventilation from the hat’s breathable, quick-drying side panels. A stretchy panel in the back can be used to hold your keys and also doubles as a storage sack if you decide to stash your hat in your pocket or shorts mid-run.

Materials: Nylon and polyester | Closure: None | Care: Machine wash and air dry

Best for Long Hair: Lululemon Fast and Free Women’s Run Hat

Lululemon Fast and Free Women's Run Hat
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Good for ponytails

  • Quick-drying

  • Reflective details

Cons
  • More expensive

  • Limited color options

Like other running hats, this one from Lululemon keeps the sun and sweat out of your eyes, but it also neatly secures your ponytail. The lightweight, stretchy fabric wicks away moisture and is extremely quick-drying, so it’s a nice choice for long, sweaty runs. With an adjustable back closure, you can get a customized, comfortable fit with every wear. 

The hat also has reflective details for running in low-light conditions. It comes in a few different colors and is a bit more expensive than some other women’s hats, but the quality and durability won't dissapoint.

Materials: Polyester, nylon, elastane, and Lycra | Closure: Adjustable Velcro | Care: Hand wash and air dry

Best for Summer: Athleta Ultra Light Run Cap

Athleta Ultra Light Run Cap
Pros
  • Very breathable

  • Lightweight

  • Good ventilation

  • Stylish

Cons
  • More expensive

  • Not a lot of color options

If you’re looking for a lightweight, breathable, and comfortable hat that you can wear all summer long, this one from Athleta is an excellent choice. The brim protects you from the sun’s rays and glare, while the durable nylon fabric quickly wicks away moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable.

Whether you wear it for a run or throw it on for Saturday errands, this stylish hat is a nice accessory to any outfit. It comes in white or black and the adjustable strap helps it fit all size heads.

Material: Ripstop nylon | Closure: Adjustable back strap | Care: Hand wash and hang dry

Best for Big Heads: Under Armour Men's Launch ArmourVent Running Hat

Under Armour Men's Launch ArmourVent Running Hat
Pros
  • Good for large heads

  • Quick-drying

  • Stylish

  • Reflective accents

Cons
  • Limited colors

  • Big logo

If you have a large head or a very thick head of hair, finding a comfortable running hat can be a challenge. With an unstructured, adjustable fit, this one from Under Armour is a nice choice for those who struggle with too-tight hats. UA’s AmourVent technology provides excellent breathability, while the quick-drying fabric keeps you feeling fresh. 

The curved visor shields your face from the sun’s rays, while reflective details are ideal for low-light conditions. With a sleek, modern look, this hat is a great accent to any outfit—sporty or casual.

Materials: Polyester | Closure: Adjustable Velcro | Care: Hand wash and air dry

Best for Rain: Arc’Teryx Calvus Cap

Backcountry Hat
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Water-resistant

  • Large bill for protection

  • Reliable fit

Cons
  • More expensive

  • Limited color options

Wearing a hat with a brim helps keep the rain off your face, and the Arc’Teryx Calvus Cap is the perfect companion for a wet run. The water-resistant hat has a large bill that also keeps the sun out of your eyes when the weather clears up. Lightweight and stretchy, it’s extremely breathable to keep you cool on long runs, with mesh side panels for extra ventilation.

The sweatband also wicks away moisture and keeps sweat from dripping into your eyes. And while it's only available in a couple of sizes, this hat has an adjustable strap for a custom fit.

Material: Polyester with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish | Closure: Adjustable buckle | Care: Hand wash and hang dry

Best Reflective: ASICS Mad Dash Cap

Asics MAD DASH CAP
Pros
  • Reflective elements

  • Unisex fit

  • Good ventilation

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Not easy to fold up and stick in pocket

  • Not a lot of color options

This versatile hat from Asics features a stylish, unisex fit and mesh panels to keep you cool and comfortable. The wicking material pulls moisture away from your head, which helps control odors while preventing sweat from running into your eyes.

With reflective accents, it’s ideal for added safety when running in low-light conditions, but it also has a dark underbill that helps to reduce glare on bright, sunny days. The adjustable back allows for a secure and custom fit, even accommodating larger heads.

Material: Polyester | Closure: Adjustable | Care: Machine wash and air dry

Final Verdict

All of these hats are solid picks, but the Brooks Chaser Hat for women (view at Amazon) and Outdoor Research Swift Cap for men (view at Amazon) stand out for their fit, comfort, and performance. Both hats feature excellent ventilation, moisture-wicking capabilities, good coverage from the sun, and have an adjustable fit.

What to Look for in a Running Hat

Materials

If you consistently run in the heat, choose a running hat that’s lightweight, breathable, and has excellent moisture-wicking ability. Typically, any hat crafted with non-cotton fabric such as nylon, polyester, and mesh should be a good option.

Purpose

“Consider the purpose of your hat,” says Selby. “If it’s to keep the sun and rain off your face, you want to make sure the rim shapes your face well.”

For long runs, you may want a hat that can easily be stored in your pocket or shorts, so you can take it off when you don’t need it. If you usually run in sunny weather, a hat with UV protection is a great option. For safety reasons, runners who frequently run in low-light conditions should look for hats with some reflective elements.

Fit

Some running hats come in multiple sizes, while others are one-size-fits-all with a strap in the back. Adjustable hats are ideal, since you can get a very comfortable, secure fit every time.

FAQs

How do I wash a running hat?

While some running hats can be tossed in the washing machine, many should be hand-washed to maintain their shape and extend their life. To wash by hand, fill a small plastic tub or sink with cold water. Mix in about a teaspoon of detergent and soak the hat. Rinse it off under running water to ensure all of the detergent is removed. Remove excess water by gently squeezing the hat and then hang it to air dry.

How do I protect myself from the sun when running?

Wearing sunscreen is the simplest way you can protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays when you’re running. Beyond that, you can try to run in the shade and before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are not as strong. You can also wear running clothes with UPF protection, a hat or visor to help shield your head and face, and running sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.

Is it bad to run in hot weather?

While running in hot weather can be risky for some people, including the elderly and pregnant women, most people can run safely in hot weather if they take extra precautions. Runners need to properly hydrate before and during hot weather runs and wear loose, non-restrictive clothing with good ventilation and moisture-wicking capabilities to stay cool and dry.

They should also scale back their performance goals and slow their usual pace and effort when the weather is hot and humid.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

Certified running coach and fitness writer Christine Luff has spent years researching, testing, and recommending fitness and athletic products and knows that the right gear can tremendously improve performance and comfort.

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