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

Keep your head warm through cold weather workouts

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If your head is cold during a run, you’ll feel it all over, so it’s important to keep it covered when running in cold weather. “Runners can stay comfortable in cold weather by layering appropriately and making sure their head, hands, and feet are properly insulated,” says Timothy Lyman, a running coach and director of training programs at Fleet Feet in Pittsburgh, PA. “A warm hat and a good pair of gloves will help you retain a lot of heat, which is why you see some athletes racing in shorts and a singlet but wearing a hat and gloves at the same time.”

It's not easy to find a hat that provides the perfect balance of keeping you warm without overheating, but by researching details and scouring reviews for more than 30 hats from at least 10 different manufacturers, we found the best options for cold-weather runs. In addition to evaluating them on warmth, materials, performance, design, price, versatility, and durability, we consulted running coaches and cold-weather runners about their favorite winter hats and the most important features.

Here are the best winter running hats on the market, according to a running coach.

Our Top Picks
Made of a sweat-wicking, four-way stretch fabric that has shape retention, it won’t get stretched out after lots of wear.
Best Overall for Men:
The North Face Jim at Amazon
With a classic fit that’s not too tight, it stays in place and keeps your head warm and protected.
The affordable and classic-fitting hat is 100% recycled and has a fleece liner for soft, cozy warmth.
Made of a breathable, wicking fabric, it keeps your head warm and dry, while providing excellent head coverage.
Designed with 3D stretch technology, it stretches to fit but still maintains its shape, even with repeated wear and washings.
Gives your ears some extra warmth, and its stretchy material makes sure it fits the biggest heads.
It’s super-soft and excellent at temperature regulation, providing warmth in the cold and staying cool in the heat.
Made of lightweight, soft material, this one from Craft keeps your head warm and cozy, without overheating.
This beanie hat has a small slit to put your hair through, so your ponytail is free to easily and comfortably swing.
Increases your visibility during early morning and evening runs, while also keeping your head warm.

Best Overall for Women: Lululemon Run for It All Beanie

Lululemon Run for It All Beanie
Pros
  • Very portable

  • Sweat-wicking

  • Reflective details

  • Long-lasting material

Cons
  • Expensive

  • May not fit very large heads

Durable and soft, this water-repellant beanie from Lululemon will quickly become one of your cold-weather running wardrobe favorites. Made of sweat-wicking, four-way stretch fabric with shape retention, it won’t get stretched out after lots of wear and trips through the washer and dryer.

The reflective detailing in the stitching will help you be seen in low-light conditions, and the opening in the back is comfortable and convenient for your ponytail to stick out. Versatile and comfy, this beanie is also easy to tuck into a pocket or your waistband in case the weather changes mid-run.

Materials: Nylon, Lycra | Recommended for Temp Range: 25 to 45 degrees | Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Best Overall for Men: The North Face Jim

The North Face Jim
Pros
  • Super soft and comfortable

  • Thin but very warm

  • Packable

  • Stylish

Cons
  • May not fit very large heads

  • No reflectivity

Finding a winter running hat that stays put but isn’t constricting and is warm but doesn’t make you overheat can be a challenge, but this beanie from The North Face gets the job done. With a classic fit that’s not too tight, it stays in place and keeps your head warm and protected. The soft, fleece ear band inside the hat feels cozy and comfortable, but the material is still breathable, so you don’t overheat.

The sleek, streamlined design looks great on the run, as well as for casual wear. This durable and versatile beanie comes in a wide range of colors and is one size that fits most heads.

Materials: Wool, polyester | Recommended for Temp Range: 20 to 40 degrees | Care: Machine wash, air dry

Best Budget for Women: The North Face Bones Recycled Beanie

The North Face Bones Recycled Beanie
Pros
  • Stylish

  • Covers ears well

  • Comfortable, snug fit

  • 100 percent recycled

Cons
  • Hand wash recommended

  • Just one size

Keep your noggin warm and protected with this good-looking beanie from The North Face. The affordable and classic-fitting hat is 100 percent recycled and has a fleece liner for soft, cozy warmth. With a snug but not too constricting fit, the beanie provides good ear coverage and stays in place, even in windy conditions. It’s streamlined, not bulky, and breathable, so you won’t overheat as you warm-up or as temperatures rise.

This versatile hat goes with anything, making it an excellent option for casual wear, as well as running and winter sports. It comes in a variety of neutral and fun colors, so may want to pick up more than one to coordinate with different winter running outfits.

Materials: Recycled polyester, fleece | Recommended for Temp Range: 15 to 40 degrees | Care: Hand wash, dry flat

Best Budget for Men: Tough Headwear Running Beanie

Tough Headwear Running Beanie
Pros
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking

  • Inexpensive

  • Lightweight and comfortable

  • Can be layered

Cons
  • Not warm enough for extreme cold

  • May be tight on large heads

For a versatile and inexpensive running beanie, you can’t beat this stretchy, comfy hat from Tough Headwear. Made of a breathable, wicking fabric, it keeps your head warm and dry, while providing excellent head coverage, especially over the ears. The stretchy fabric allows for a comfortable fit that conforms to most head sizes.

It’s thin enough that it can be worn under a brimmed hat for running or a helmet if you want to also use it for cycling or snow sports.  If you like to have a few dependable winter running hats on hand in case you misplace one, this is a great choice for stocking up.  It also comes in an array of color options, including high-vis yellow or orange, to increase your visibility.

Materials: Polyester, spandex | Recommended for Temp Range: 30 to 45 degrees | Care: Machine wash cold, hang dry

Best Unisex: New Balance Lightweight Skullcap

New Balance Lightweight Skullcap
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Very breathable

  • Inexpensive

  • Moisture-wicking

Cons
  • Not warm enough for extreme cold

  • Only one size and color option

When you want a quality, lightweight beanie but don’t want to break the bank, you can’t go wrong with this hat from New Balance. Designed with 3D stretch technology, it stretches to fit but still maintains its shape, even with repeated wear and washings.

Made of a blend of polyester and spandex, the hat is thick enough to protect your head and ears from the wind, but not so heavy that you’ll overheat. The moisture-wicking material keeps your head dry and comfortable, and the fit is snug enough that the hat won’t migrate up as you’re running. Cyclists and winter sports enthusiasts will also appreciate that it can fit comfortably under a helmet.

Materials: Polyester, spandex | Recommended for Temp Range: 20 to 40 degrees | Care: Machine wash, hang dry or tumble dry low

Best for Ear Coverage: Smartwool Unisex Cuffed Beanie

Smartwool Unisex Cuffed Beanie
Pros
  • Made of soft Merino wool

  • Well-insulated

  • Odor-resistant

  • Versatile

Cons
  • May not fit very large heads

  • Some prefer a thicker hat

When runners are exposed to cold temperatures for more than a few minutes, their ears can start to sting and may begin to feel numb. The bottom fold on the Smartwool Unisex Cuffed Beanie gives your ears some extra warmth, and its stretchy material makes sure it fits the biggest heads. The material is also soft enough to provide you with a cozy feeling.

This double-layered beanie from Smartwool is made with Merino wool and naturally repels odor, so you don’t need to wash it after every wear. It’s soft, not at all itchy, and wicks away moisture, keeping your head dry and comfortable. Versatile and comfortable, this beanie can be cuffed for milder days or pulled down low over your ears when the temperature drops or the wind picks up.

Materials: Merino wool | Recommended for Temp Range: 0 to 32 degrees | Care:  Machine wash gentle, lay flat to dry

Best Lightweight: Icebreaker Merino Wool Winter Beanie

Icebreaker Merino Wool Winter Beanie
Pros
  • Odor-resistant

  • Soft and comfortable

  • Unisex

  • Good temperature regulation

Cons
  • Limited colors

  • Not as warm as some other options

This lightweight hat from Icebreaker is proof that a hat doesn’t have to be bulky and thick to provide good protection from the cold. Made with Merino wool, it’s super-soft and excellent at temperature regulation, providing warmth in the cold and staying cool in the heat. While it offers good coverage, it’s very low-profile and can be worn under another layer or easily tucked in your pocket when not in use.

Breathable and moisture-wicking, this beanie with odor protection keeps you dry and comfortable. The hat is one-size-fits-all but has enough stretch in it to provide a secure fit for small to large heads.

Materials: Merino wool, Lycra | Recommended for Temp Range: 25 to 45 degrees | Care: Machine wash, hang dry

Best Beanie: Craft Thermal Outdoor Training Beanie

Craft Thermal Outdoor Training Beanie
Pros
  • Lightweight and well-ventilated

  • Sweat-wicking

  • Portable

  • Two sizes

Cons
  • Not suitable for extreme cold

  • May not fit large heads

A snug and comfortable beanie is a versatile item for any cold-weather running wardrobe. Made of lightweight, soft material, this one from Craft keeps your head warm and cozy, without overheating. It’s also extremely breathable and quickly wicks away moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable.

Unlike some other beanies that are “one size fits most,” the beanie comes in two sizes. With a secure fit, it stays in position, providing ample ear coverage and good protection, even in blustery conditions. This stylish hat also works for casual wear, so you definitely get a lot of bang for your buck.

Materials: Polyester, elastane | Recommended for Temp Range: 20 to 40 degrees | Care: Machine wash gentle, hang dry

Best for Ponytail: TrailHeads Ponytail Hat

TrailHeads Ponytail Hat
Pros
  • Great for ponytails

  • Good insulation

  • Excellent ear coverage

  • Comfortable fit

Cons
  • May not fit very small heads

  • Not for high ponytails

Anyone with long hair knows how uncomfortable and annoying it can be when their ponytail gets bunched up and tangled under a winter hat. This beanie hat has a small slit to put your hair through, so your ponytail is free to easily and comfortably swing.

Made of mid-weight polyester fleece, it provides excellent insulation and feels soft and cozy on your head. The fabric also effectively wicks away moisture and has a durable water repellent finish to shed snow and rain. Plus, the polyester and spandex trim offers just enough stretch for a secure, comfortable fit that accommodates most head sizes. An added bonus is the hat’s reflective band, which provides a full 360 degrees of reflectivity.

Materials: Polyester fleece, spandex | Recommended for Temp Range: 20 to 40 degrees | Care: Machine wash, hang dry

Best for Reflectivity: Nathan Reflective Beanie Hat

Nathan Reflective Beanie Hat
Pros
  • 360-degree reflectivity

  • Breathable

  • Soft and comfortable

  • Regular or ponytail opening versions available

Cons
  • Not good for extreme conditions

  • May not work for very large heads

With a reflective design all over, this beanie hat from Nathan increases your visibility during early morning and evening, while also keeping your head warm. The brushed thermal lining retains heat, and a breathable outer layer wicks away sweat. 

Designed with a blend of stretchy polyester and spandex, it fits snugly but isn’t so tight that it will leave a mark or give you a headache. And if you do need to take it off once you warm up, it’s compact and can be easily tucked in a pocket or waistband. It’s available in two different versions—one regular beanie and one beanie with a ponytail opening.

Materials: Polyester, spandex | Recommended for Temp Range: 25 to 40 degrees | Care: Machine wash cold, air dry

Best for Snow Running: TrailHeads Fleece Cap With Drop Down Ear Warmer

TrailHeads Fleece Cap With Drop Down Ear Warmer
Pros
  • Very warm

  • Bill blocks out snow, rain, and sun

  • Excellent ear coverage

  • Comfortable fit

Cons
  • Too warm for cool days

  • Not easy to stash in a pocket

Running in the snow can be fun and invigorating, but getting pounded in the face with falling flakes can also make it annoying and even dangerous. With a small brim, this winter running hat from TrailHeads keeps the snow or rain off your face, so you’re prepared for any weather condition. It also blocks out blinding sun glare, which can be another cold-weather running hazard. Plus, reflective accents on the bill provide extra visibility for early morning or evening runs.

The innovative design also features drop-down fleece ear covers for additional protection, keeping your head warm even on extremely cold days. If the weather changes or you start to heat up, simply flip up the ear covers for more ventilation. The elastic inner band stretches to accommodate different sizes, allowing for a secure, comfortable fit.

Materials: Polyester fleece, spandex | Recommended for Temp Range: 0 to 32 degrees | Care: Machine wash gentle, air dry

Final Verdict

For a breathable, lightweight hat that offers plenty of warmth, female runners can’t go wrong with the Lululemon’s Run for It All Beanie (view at Lululemon), which provides the perfect balance of material and warmth. From a snug fit to a ponytail opening, it has everything women need in a durable winter running hat.

For men, the versatile Jim Beanie from The North Face (view at Amazon) offers excellent protection and comfort. A great option for winter running and casual wear, it's lightweight, quick-drying, and warm.

What to Look for in a Winter Running Hat

Materials

When choosing a winter running hat, you should look for ones made of moisture-wicking materials that will keep you dry, warm, and protected, according to Michele Canon, CPT, and coach for STRIDE GO, an online training platform for runners. “If sweat hangs on your skin, your body temperature will drop,” she says. 

Merino wool or synthetic blends such as polyester, spandex, and nylon are all good options for breathable but quick-drying fabrics. Stay away from hats made of materials that dry slowly, such as cotton, since a wet head can make you more susceptible to the dangerous effects of the cold, such as hypothermia or frostbite.

Fit

Getting the right fit is crucial because you want to make sure the hat has adequate coverage but isn’t so tight that you get a pressure headache. “The hat should be lightweight, comfortable, and cover your ears,” says Canon. 

Many hats are one size fits all, but you still should review the manufacturer’s size information and read reviews to get a sense of the fit.

Reflectivity

To stay safe when running outdoors, you need to make sure you’re seen. “Reflectivity is a key component of winter weather running gear since it stays darker for longer in the mornings and later in the evenings,” says Lyman. Some winter running hats have reflective elements, such as stripes, patterns, or logos, to increase runners’ visibility in low-light conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it better to run with or without a hat?

    Whether or not you should run with a hat really depends on the weather conditions. “In cold temperatures, we can lose heat quickly through our head,” says Canon. “Keeping our head and ears insulated will help us keep our body temperature regulated and reduce risk of hypothermia.” 

  • How should a running hat fit?

    A running hat should feel snug, so it’s not sliding around and distracting or annoying you as you’re running. That being said, make sure that it’s not so tight that it’s going to feel uncomfortable.

  • How to clean a winter running hat

    Unlike some other cold weather running clothes, you don’t necessarily have to wash a running hat after every use. If you sweat a lot or the hat starts to stink, you can probably toss it in the washing machine with your running clothes and then tumble dry on low, or hang dry.

    You should always check the hat’s label for the recommended care instructions. Some manufacturers recommend hand-washing or air-drying running hats, depending on the materials.

  • What size hat should you get?

    Many running hats are one size fits all and made of stretchy material that can accommodate most head sizes. In other cases, there may be a few sizes available and the manufacturer will have a size chart with head measurements for each size. Use a tape measure to take the recommended measurements in order to determine the right size hat for you.

  • What should you wear for winter runs?

    Wearing lightweight layers that are made from wicking materials is key to staying comfortable and safe when running in the winter. “Runners should use a layering system when selecting cold-weather running gear,” says Lyman. “A base layer is important to wick moisture while hugging the body and retaining heat. A mid-layer can help provide additional insulation when necessary, while a shell helps protect you from the elements like wind or rain.”

    A winter running hat and gloves are also recommended since most heat loss comes from your head and hands.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a marathon runner and certified running coach, Christine Luff has researched and recommended lots of winter running hats, as well as personally tested them during frigid training runs and races. Christine understands the importance of thoroughly researching products to only recommend the best in class.

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