Truth be told, I first reconsidered the idea of wearing hats while marathon training (read: running outdoors for hours and hours each week). Frankly, sunglasses—however chic, sporty and stable they may be—were just not cutting it. And so, I decided to take a deep dive into the head accessory I would normally wear only to conceal my hair on its greasiest days.
Whether you’re exercising or walking outside, or simply want some shade while sitting still, here are some cute and functional running caps.
Best running hats and caps
This stretchy cap is another pick from O’Neil, who says is breathable, form-fitting, and has a reflective logo so people can see you if you’re an early morning or late evening runner. It also has UPF 30, mesh panels for ventilation, and a low profile hook and loop closure that won’t snag on your hair.
Not only does this cap provide UPF 50 sun protection, but it also is made of recycled materials. It’s perforated on the side to give you airflow as you move, and there’s a hook and look back closure for easy adjustability.
Stay comfy and cool with this cap that’s made with breathable, sweat-wicking fabric. There’s perforation around the hat to optimize for air flow and a knit sweatband to keep sweat off your brow. Bonus: the hat is made from at least 50 percent recycled polyester fibers.
Day or night, this hat makes a great running companion. It has a dark underbill to reduce glare in the bright sun, and a reflective trim to help you stay visible in low light. It has mesh construction that’s super breathable, comes in a variety of colors, and is machine washable.
Hot days aren’t the only time we should all be thinking about protecting our heads while exercising. When it gets colder out, O’Neil says this super fitted beanie will keep your noggin and ears warm yet dry. The fabric is both heat reflective and moisture-wicking, and the beanie is super lightweight and packable.
What to look for in a running hat
When it comes to running hats, you want something that's lightweight, cool-wicking, form fitting, and breathable, says O'Neil. "I sweat a LOT when I run, so I want a lightweight hat that ventilates well and doesn't keep moisture or heat in," she says. "Notice that these are different then your stylish typical baseball caps that are made of wool or cotton that DO not breathe well and collect sweat stains." Instead, O'Neil recommends looking for polyester or other fabrics that breathe well, as well as something with an adjustable strap so you don't have to keep readjusting the hat while you're in the middle of a run.
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