The 10 Best Running Hats, Tested By Shape

From shading your face from the sun to staying warm in the snow, these running hats stood up to our tests.

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Best Running Hats

Shape / Ivy Ford

There’s nothing quite like taking your run outdoors and reaping all the benefits of outdoor exercising (think: a bigger mood boost, reduced stress, and making your workout feel easier). But sometimes, the elements just don’t want to cooperate with your plans for a run. Whether you’re crushing miles in a hot, sunny climate or challenged by winter precipitation, having the best running hat for your weather is key to making your run more comfortable, says Kaitlyn McCrystal, accessories buyer at Fleet Feet.

“A good hat can be a versatile accessory in a runner’s toolkit,” she explains. “It provides protection from a multitude of weather elements: shading your face and head from the sun, creating a shield from precipitation, and providing added warmth during colder days.”

The best running hat for you will largely depend on the weather conditions where you’re running, and running hats can range in price from as low as $15 to $50 or more. To help narrow down the choices, we tested 19 popular running hats for four weeks. We wore each hat for short runs at least three times, noting how each hat performed against the elements. We also rated each hat based on comfort, adjustability, durability, and other features. After our testing period was up, we deemed these 10 picks to be the best running hats, whether you’re a casual jogger or an experienced endurance racer.

The Winners

Best Overall: Brooks Shield Hybrid Hat 2.0

Brooks Shield Hybrid Hat 2.0


Why We Like It: The insulation and ear flaps kept us toasty warm.

It’s Worth Noting: We didn’t like the style.

Our winner for best running hat overall, the Brooks Shield Hybrid Hat 2.0, impressed us with its performance and adjustability, and they noted this hat would be an especially smart buy for runners who live in harsher, cold climates. Not only did the insulation within the cap keep us warm, but there are also ear flaps and a neck protector to shield exposed skin from the elements. We could quickly adjust hat size with the intuitive bungee cord closure, and the brim (which isn’t a feature often seen on cold weather hats) protected us from both the sun and the icicles that tend to form on eyelashes. And despite the warmth, we never had any issues with moisture-wicking.

At just under $50, this is the priciest running hat we tested, but we felt it was well worth its price tag for winter warriors. We did feel that the style of the brim and ear flaps weren’t very trend-forward, but they felt the functionality of the hat far outweighed what it lacked in the fashion department.

Price at time of publish: $46

Colors: 3 | Sizes: S/M or L/XL | Circumference: 25” for S/M | Adjustable: Yes

Brooks Shield Hybrid Hat 2.0

Shape / Holly Klamer

Best Budget: All in Motion Running Hat

All in Motion Running Hat


Why We Like It: This budget-friendly hat is especially great for sunny runs, thanks to the long, wide brim.

It’s Worth Noting: The pleats on the top of the hat don’t lay smooth, giving an awkward tufted look.

For a no-frills, basic running hat that outperforms its accessible price tag, we recommend the All in Motion Running Hat. The perforated panels provide necessary ventilation for hot, sunny days and the reflective bars on the side add a little subtle shine. The UPF 50 fabric was soft, stretchy, and lightweight, so we could wear it for hours comfortably. The hat remained durable, even after several wears, but the hand wash-only recommendation was a bit of a hassle. 

This hat is only one size, although it does have a Velcro closure in the back to adjust (and make room for a ponytail). It also has pleats on the top side panels, which puffed up a bit during wear and looked less streamlined than the rest of the hat. 

Price at time of publish: $13

Colors: 1 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: Not listed | Adjustable: Yes

Nike Running hat

Shape / Jessica Christopher

Best Adjustable: TrailHeads Women's Race Day Performance Hat

TrailHeads Women's Race Day Performance Hat


Why We Like It: This running hat is incredibly lightweight, thanks to poly mesh construction.

It’s Worth Noting: This hat runs small.

While many running hats are technically adjustable, some are easier to modify on the run than others; plus, standard hooks and straps are difficult to loop a ponytail through. The TrailHeads Women’s Race Day Performance Hat was the easiest running hat to adjust, thanks to a Velcro closure and the unstructured, lightweight cap design. It sits higher on the head than most other designs, making it ideal for wearing with a ponytail. 

We tested this hat both outside in colder weather and inside the gym, and we rated this hat’s moisture-wicking abilities highly in both instances. We also appreciated the dark underbill, which helps keep our face shaded and reduces glare on sunny days. Plus, this hat is frequently sold in packs of two or three at a better value, so it’s easy to rotate through running hats while one’s in the wash.

Though this hat comes in an eye-catching array of colors, the style is very basic. We did feel that this hat runs small, even considering the adjustability (FYI, the circumference is listed at 20.5 to 23.6 inches, which is smaller than our best running hat overall pick, the Brooks Shield Hybrid Hat 2.0).

Price at time of publish: $22

Colors: 9 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: 20.5 to 23.6 inches | Adjustable: Yes

TrailHeads Women's Race Day Performance Hat

Shape / Michal Hanover

Best Sweat-Wicking: Nike Dri-FIT Aerobill Featherlight Hat

Nike Dri-FIT Aerobill Featherlight Hat


Why We Like It: The breathable, sweat-wicking fabric and perforations kept us cool — even in the sauna.

It’s Worth Noting: The hat feels overpriced for its features, so consider waiting for a sale to purchase.

Nike is one of the leaders in running apparel and accessories, and the Dri-FIT Aerobill Featherlight Hat lives up to the brand’s reputation for reliable, athlete-friendly activewear. This running hat stood out for its sweat-wicking and moisture control; we even wore it for a few minutes in the sauna, and though it did capture the inevitable sweat, the hat wasn’t soaked through. The hat comfortably stayed in place throughout workouts, and it was easy to adjust the Velcro closure on the run (literally). Overall, it was a solid choice for a running hat that didn’t distract us or slide around during use.

The hat does feel a little big (likely due to unisex sizing), and it feels a little overpriced for not offering any truly outstanding features. If you’re a Nike loyalist, consider waiting for one of their frequent sales to purchase this staple at a better price.

Price at time of publish: $22

Colors: 8 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: 21.1 to 22.6 inches | Adjustable: Yes

Nike Dri-FIT Aerobill Featherlight Hat

Shape / Mike Navarro

Best Lightweight: Asics Mad Dash Cap

ASICS Mad Dash Cap


Why We Like It: It’s so light, you’ll barely notice you’re wearing it.

It’s Worth Noting: The unisex sizing runs a bit large.

If you’ve avoided wearing running hats for fear that they’ll be too heavy or annoying to run with, the Asics Mad Dash Cap has a featherlight, barely-there feel that impressed us. We found it both light and unobtrusive, with thoughtfully placed mesh panels to wick sweat. It’s also a great option if you’re packing for a run-cation; this running hat is flexible and packs down easily, and it also dries quickly without lingering odors (perfect for hotel sink handwashing).  

Heads up that this running hat only comes in one, unisex size. We noticed that it slid around a little bit when testing, but not so much that it was distracting. Still, for people with small heads, the Lululemon Fast and Free Women’s Run Hat would be a better fit (literally).

Price at time of publish: $25

Colors: 2 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: 22.6 inches | Adjustable: Yes

Asics Mad Dash Cap

Shape / Tracy Spangler

Best for Summer: New Balance 5-Panel Performance Hat

New Balance 5 Panel Performance Hat


Why We Like It: The fabric has built-in sun protection.

It’s Worth Noting: It’s not machine-washable.

There’s no such thing as too much sun protection during summer running, and the New Balance 5-Panel Performance Hat provides extra backup if runners forget sunscreen. It’s made with a UPF 50 fabric, which is the maximum sun protective rating achievable for fabrics (basically, that means only up to 2% of ultraviolet radiation is able to penetrate the hat’s fabric). The hat felt substantial, but not heavy, and it never needed mid-run adjusting (no matter how sweaty we got).

On the downside, the hat isn’t machine-washable, which may lead to some odor build-up after several sweaty summer runs. However, it can be wiped down with a damp cloth or hand-washed quickly after each run, and the quick-drying fabric will air out before the next sweat sesh. We also weren’t ever able to easily adjust the hat while running, but when we took the time to find the correct fit pre-run, we never had to readjust.

Price at time of publish: $25

Colors: 2 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: 20.75 to 24.5 inches | Adjustable: Yes

New Balance 5-Panel Performance Hat

Shape / Anna Knief

Best for Small Heads: Lululemon Fast and Free Women’s Run Hat

Lululemon Fast and Free Women’s Run Hat


Why We Like It: The streamlined design doesn’t look as clearly sporty as other hats we tested.

It’s Worth Noting: People with thicker hair might find this hat doesn’t sit as securely.

Lululemon has always toed the line between activewear and fashion, and the Fast and Free Women’s Run Hat has a chic, streamlined design that we’d proudly wear for a run and brunch afterward (and they’re constantly rolling out new colorways, too). We think this hat is best suited for runners with small heads and/or fine hair, as we noticed the sides didn’t come down as much as other hats we tested. The moisture-wicking also stands up to the challenge of sweaty runs, too.

The brim is slightly curved, but very sturdy, so it may resist further molding or attempts to bend. The material also seems really durable and snag-proof, which makes the higher price point worth it — and the “you get what you pay for” quality that lululemon is known for.

Price at time of publish: $38

Colors: 10 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: 22 to 24 inches | Adjustable: Yes

Lululemon Fast and Free Women’s Run Hat

Shape / Ivy Ford

Best Ventilation: Path Projects Muir Cap

Path Projects Muir Cap

Path Projects

Why We Like It: 94 laser-cut ventilation holes cover the cap to keep the head as cool as possible.

It’s Worth Noting: It’s not warm enough for cold climate runs.

It doesn’t get much more ventilated than the Path Projects Muir Cap, thanks to 94 laser-cut holes on the top and side panels. The five-panel hat is high-performance and impressed us with its durability, and the simple Velcro closure is easy to adjust without missing a step. The fabric is also rated UPF 50+, which offsets the perforated holes nicely so we felt protected and cooled.

Of course, all that ventilation means that this hat didn’t keep us warm in chillier temps. Save this one for warm days only, and try the Brooks Shield Hybrid Hat 2.0 when temperatures drop.

Price at time of publish: $30

Colors: 3 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: Unlisted | Adjustable: Yes

Path Projects Muir Cap

Shape / Abigail Moore

Best Beanie: Patagonia Overlook Beanie

Patagonia Overlook Merino Wool Liner Beanie


Why We Like It: It’s versatile enough to wear as a running hat or a helmet liner.

It’s Worth Noting: There’s no ponytail hole or adjustability.

We found the Patagonia Overlook Beanie to be the best beanie we tested. “I liked how soft and thin the fabric was,” says Shannon Bauer, senior beauty editor at Shape. “I get hot on runs so unless it's frigid I don't like to wear hats. This was the ideal weight for mild to moderate temps and wind.” The hat was a little big and bunched up a bit when we tested it, but it still stayed in place for the duration of the run. We were also impressed that the hat dried quickly after a rain shower, likely thanks to the 65% merino wool and 35% recycled polyester blend. 

Runners with ponytails, take note. “This hat is hard with long hair,” shares Bauer. “I find thicker hats I can create a bun or pony right next to the edge and it holds it, but if my hair was too high (mid-head) with this hat, it would push it off. The pony had to be super low as far away from the edge of the hat as possible to work.” There’s also no size choices or adjustability for this hat, which makes ordering online a bit of a risk.

Price at time of publish: $45

Colors: 1 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: Unlisted | Adjustable: No

Patagonia Overlook Beanie

Shape / Shannon Bauer

Best Mesh: Outdoor Research Swift Cap

Outdoor Research Swift Cap


Why We Like It: The mesh material makes this unstructured cap very travel-friendly.

It’s Worth Noting: The fit of the hat was a little low over the eyes, restricting visibility a bit.

The best mesh running hat we tested was the Outdoor Research Swift Cap, which features all-mesh side panels to wick sweat and vent heat (while still using UPF 50+ fabric on the areas of the head that need protection). It’s also one of the most travel-friendly running hats we tested, along with the Asics Mad Dash Cap (thanks to the mesh structure, which doesn’t lose shape when crammed in a suitcase). 

The hat is incredibly lightweight, almost to a fault; we felt that if we didn’t wear it tightly, it might fly off our heads, which led to a more constrictive feeling during longer runs. We felt that this running hat sat a little low on our heads and restricted visibility at times, so you’d only want to wear this to run in low-traffic areas. 

Price at time of publish: $30

Colors: 14 | Sizes: One size fits most | Circumference: 21.5 to 24 inches | Adjustable: No

Outdoor Research Swift Cap

Shape / Carrie Gavit

Our Testing Process

With hundreds of running hats available from a wide variety of brands, we researched the most popular and highest rated options and curated a list of 19 top contenders to test for a longer period of time. Our real-world test lasted four weeks, during which time we wore each hat at least three times for runs of at least 10 to 15 minutes or longer. During each run, we noticed how the hat stood up to the elements (whether running in rain, wind, snow, or sun), as well as whether it stayed put and how easy it was to adjust while moving. We washed each hat at least once according to the manufacturer's directions and noted any damage, discoloration, or loss of shape. After the testing period concluded, we rated each hat on fit, adjustability, moisture-wicking, design, durability, and overall value. Our editors then analyzed each rating to create a composite score and determine the winning categories for best running hats. Finally, we interviewed Kaitlyn McCrystal, accessories buyer at Fleet Feet, to learn more about how running hats can impact performance and what features are important to know about when shopping.

Best Hats Testing Image

Shape / Billy Pennant

What to Know About Running Hats

Sizing and Fit

Most technical running hats are unisex or one size fits all with an adjustable closure in the back. “The ability to adjust the fit of a hat will play a big part in the comfort of it, so play around with different closures (Velcro, snap, clasp, elastic cords, pull strap) to find the style that works best with your head and hair, and ultimately your comfort,” advises McCrystal. Make sure to try on running hats with sunglasses, headphones, and your usual hairstyle to make sure the fit works with your usual accessories.

Material and Fabric

Similar to regular running apparel (such as running jackets), running hats should be made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics, such as polyester and nylon. Look for ventilation via features such as mesh or laser-cut paneling or perforations (such as the Path Projects Muir Cap). These ventilation details should be along the sides and back of the cap to best cool the head.


A good running hat needs to be able to wick moisture efficiently, whether it’s sweat, rain, or snow. Most technical running hats have an inner sweatband to do just that and prevent sweat from getting in your eyes, points out McCrystal. A running hat also shouldn’t cause chafing, and it should stay light and comfortable in all weather conditions.


Climate plays a major factor in choosing the best running hat. For hot, sunny runs, consider a hat made with UPF-rated materials to block UV rays, as well as a dark or black underbill to reduce glare from the sun. The best running hats for hot weather should also be lightweight, quick-drying, well-ventilated, and breathable. Some of the best running hats for summer we tested were the New Balance 5-Panel Performance Hat and the Nike Dri-FIT Aerobill Featherlight Hat.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you wash running hats?

    Follow the manufacturer’s directions to wash running hats without damaging the fabric or shape. Many running hats require hand-washing or wiping down with a damp cloth. Washing your running hat immediately after a workout will reduce lingering odors or stains.

  • How should running hats fit?

    Running hats should be snug but comfortable, with enough room for a ponytail, headphones, and/or sunglasses. They should also be adjustable or stretchy to fit different sizes of heads.

Why Trust Shape

At Shape, our goal is to give readers all the information they need to start, continue, or adjust their wellness journey, and our product testing and recommendations are an essential part of that mission. As an industry leader in health and wellness, we have years of experience trying the latest wellness trends and fitness gear to share real, unfiltered opinions and results. Kristen Geil is a senior fitness editor who’s spent seven years in the fitness industry and 12 years as a regular runner. She recently led Shape’s first-ever Best in Fitness Awards, the industry’s biggest accolades program, and she personally tested and/or chose winning products for nearly 170 categories (including best running hats and accessories). She lives in the Midwest, where she’s run in every weather condition imaginable.

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