Whether pounding the pavement or hitting the trail, we’ve found the best running hats for every use and budget.
Along with well-fitted shoes and a comfortable pair of shorts, a dependable running hat rounds out the go-to kit of many passionate athletes. A quality hat wicks moisture, keeps sweat out of your eyes, and also protects against wind, sun, and rain.
In 2021, running hats no longer resemble heavy and sweaty cotton baseball caps. Instead, hats are breathable, lightweight, stylish, and impressively unobtrusive. From quick jaunts to grueling ultras, the proper hat can immediately fit into your kit and add lots of benefits during runs.
Depending on the brand, materials, and design, running hats typically cost between $10 and $40. On this list, we have reviewed and compiled the best running hats of 2021.
Check out the full list, or jump ahead to the category that you’re most interested in.
The Best Running Hats of 2021
Best Overall: Headsweats Performance Race Hat
From its ponytail portal to its brim lined with reflective trim, the Performance Race Hat ($16-21) from Headsweats has been thoroughly engineered to meet the needs of competitive and recreational runners. This hat is ideal for everyday use thanks to its elegant design. With minimal weight and maximum comfort in mind, it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing a hat at all.
A moisture-wicking sweatband lines the entire hat, and the polyester fabric shell keeps light moisture out and breathes easily. The adjustable strap fits heads of various sizes, even ones covered in lots of thick or curly hair.
The Headsweats Performance Race Hat features all the traits that represent a solid modern running hat. Thanks to a price tag of $20, it’s also an excellent value.
- Adjustable strap and ponytail portal accommodate lots of head sizes and hair types
- Reflective brim for safety and visibility
- Weighs less than 2 oz.
- Moisture-wicking liner keeps sweat away
- Good value
- For follically unprotected (well, bald) runners, the thin shell may not provide adequate sun protection on its own
Runner-Up: Sunday Afternoons Aerial Cap
Ultralightweight fabrics and hardy construction combine in the Aerial Cap ($30) from Sunday Afternoons. A classic minimalist design features breathable polyester with strategic strips of mesh sewn into the hat’s crown for additional ventilation.
Like many other running hat models, the Aerial Cap comes in only one size. A secure and highly adjustable fastening system in the back fits heads between 21.6 and 24 inches in circumference. The Aerial Cap is known for its substantial sun protection and is rated to 50-plus UPF.
At $30, this hat is more expensive than other options, but a potent combination of ventilation, wicking, and sun protection makes it a good value anyway. We recommend the Sunday Afternoons Aerial Cap, especially for runners who love long outings in sunny climates.
- UPF rating: 50-plus
- Fits lots of different head sizes and shapes
- Clean-looking, handsome design
- Integrated mesh for effective ventilation
- More expensive than other options
- Adjustable band can start to wear after heavy use
Best Budget: GADIEMKENSD Outdoor Hat
This hat is ideal for runners who travel frequently. A clever folding design allows the whole hat to easily fit in a small suitcase or pants pocket without damaging the brim. Like other quality hats on this list, the GADIEMKENSD ($14) comes with thoughtful features such as a reflective brim and a UPF rating of 50-plus to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
This affordable hat is made for running in all kinds of weather. A water-repellent treatment keeps raindrops from absorbing into the fabric. If it does manage to get wet, this hat’s quick-drying polyester fabric won’t stay damp for long. Breathable mesh strips complete the design for maximum ventilation.
True to size, the elastic inner band will stretch to accommodate all but the largest heads. This hat may not wick sweat as well as other options on the list, but for $14, it’s a good feature-packed budget option.
- UPF 50-plus protects wearer from harmful UV rays
- Water-resistant treatment pools droplets and doesn’t absorb moisture
- Reflective brim and edges are good for night running
- Convenient folding system for easy transport
Best for Extra-Hot Weather: Nathan RunCool
This is the hat for running on the hottest of days. For runners based in consistently toasty regions of the world, the Nathan RunCool ($15) has been specifically designed to beat the heat, stay comfortable, and maintain your running schedule despite the blazing sun.
Most notably, the RunCool has a built-in stash pocket for ice. This unique pocket can be filled before your run begins, or at aid stations along the way.
As you run, the cooling ice melts and helps prevent overheating. For runners who are not used to extreme heat, but suddenly find themselves signed up for a hot-weather race, this hat is an invaluable piece of gear.
Along the entire inside lining of the RunCool is a soft mesh wicking sweatband that keeps sweat out of your eyes and allows you to stay focused on the path or trail ahead. The outer material is lightweight and includes two dry tech polyester mesh panels to offer ventilation.
One size fits most thanks to an adjustable single strap. In addition to ice, pockets on either side can be used as cargo space for credit cards, keys, and energy gels.
Compared to other hats on this list, the Nathan RunCool is thoughtfully designed and packs a notable number of features into a single lightweight running hat. For $25, it’s a stylish and practical choice for warm-weather runners.
- Nice and stylish with bi-color design
- Dual pockets carry small essentials or ice on hot days
- Interior sweat-wicking sweatband keeps sweat out of eyes
- Dark underside of bill reduces glare
- One size fits most
- UPF 50-plus sun protection
- Pockets add a little weight due to extra fabric
Best of the Rest
The Brooks Propel Mesh ($36) is highly breathable thanks to its standout lightweight mesh outer material. On sunny runs, this hat offers a cooling effect and thorough coverage, shading you from UV rays without trapping heat.
Designed to be durable and packable, this hat won’t fall apart or deform when thrown into a pack or suitcase. Made from 84% polyester and 16% spandex, the hat can stretch to accommodate various head sizes or hair types. A sweat-wicking internal headband keeps perspiration from running into your eyes.
At $36, this is one of the more expensive hats on our list. However, for those looking for lots of ventilation, the Brooks Propel Mesh hat is a high-quality product.
- Lots of mesh for excellent breathability
- Packable design
- Sewn-in, sweat-wicking headband
- UPF 50-plus sun protection
With a simple and handsome design, the REI On The Trail Cap ($26) is both a running hat and a stylish piece with everyday appeal. Although it doesn’t appear to be a technical hat on the outside, a closer look reveals a host of useful running hat features.
While trail running, this hat’s side vents and internal sweatband keep your head cool and your sweat in check. The quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabric stays cool even when the sun is beating down. Laser-cut vent holes add additional cooling, and a flexible brim can be easily adjusted for a custom fit.
A unique bungee closure adjusts to fit heads of most sizes and also cuts down on overall weight. For $27, this nice-looking option from REI is sure to satisfy.
- Comfortable, snug fit
- Laser-cut vents keep head cool
- UPF 50-plus sun protection
- Internal sweatband keeps sweat out of eyes
- Minimal color selection
- Bungee closure doesn’t hold tension for very long
Sometimes compared to a Nike running hat, the Outdoor Research Swift Cap ($27) is a water-resistant and stylish hat that is great for running, golfing, or simply hanging out in the fresh air. Packable and lightweight, this hat takes up very little space in your luggage and is sure to come in handy when you get to wherever you’re going.
With a nylon top panel and mesh sides, this hat is a little warmer than others on the list, but the mesh does offer some good and cooling breathability. A curved bill offers protection from the sun at all hours of the day.
For $27, the Outdoor Research Swift Cap isn’t strictly a running hat. It’s a do-it-all cap for any and all outdoor adventures.
- Lots of color options
- Large mesh cooling vents along sides of hat
- Durable thanks to quality materials and construction
- Not designed specifically for running
- A little less breathable than other options
Helping you minimize distraction while running, the Brooks Chaser Hat ($28) keeps sweat out of your eyes and the sun off your skin. It’s breathable and soft, for a sweet combination of comfort and performance.
Reflective accents on this hat make you more visible to others while running in the dark, which is an especially valuable feature for urban runners. For custom fit and convenience, an adjustable back can be loosened or tightened in seconds.
For $28, this sleek hat offers plenty of features to runners without drawing attention.
- Classic design is understated and handsome
- UPF 30 fabric for UV protection
- Reflective detailing improves visibility in low light
- Adjustable back for a custom fit
- More expensive than other similar options
From marathons to daily training runs to casual jaunts on the trail, the Fjallraven High Coast Vent Cap ($35) provides portable shade and plenty of cooling ventilation. With a snapback closure that fits most heads, this is a solid headwear option for all runners.
Made of exceptionally breathable lightweight polyester, this cap features mesh side panels and breezy comfort. For $35, it’s a little more expensive than similar options. But for those looking for a running hat that’s built to last, it’s a worthy selection.
- Fits a wide range of head sizes
- Very breathable
- Protects from the sun
- Holds up well
- Expensive compared to other options
The Arc’teryx Calvus Cap ($35) is intentionally designed to protect against all kinds of weather while you’re running. It’s primarily made of stretchy, breathable fabric that helps prevent overheating on long, strenuous runs.
As a bonus, the fabric is treated with a weather-resistant coating to give you extra protection on wet and rainy days. Mesh side panels boost the quick-drying capabilities of the Calvus, resulting in a hat that delivers lots of active-focused comfort.
A sweatband liner is woven into the hat’s material, which is impressive given the entire product weighs just 1.8 ounces. It’s a bit pricey at $35, but it fully lives up to the kind of quality that we have grown to expect from Arc’teryx.
- Super light at 1.8 oz.
- Integrated sweatband liner
- Stretchy and breathable
- Treated with DWR for water resistance
- Simple strapback adjustment
- Expensive compared to other options
The Black Diamond Distance Hat ($32) packs into its own integrated pocket. Once it’s compressed and thrown into a pack, it’s so light that you’ll hardly notice it’s there.
Similarly, while it’s on your head, this hat is unobtrusive and comfortable. Combine this with a water-repellent DWR treatment and ventilated side panels, and the Distance Hat is a top-tier running hat for all kinds of training.
A stretchy liner helps the hat fit comfortably on various head shapes. It’s also low-profile enough to fit underneath a helmet. At $32, it’s a high-quality hat and an excellent buy.
- Lightweight and breathable
- DWR coating resists rain and moisture
- Stuffs into its own integrated pocket
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Running Hat
A running hat is a handy tool that offers several functions as a part of your running kit. A well-made cap can provide sun protection, warmth, visibility, moisture-wicking, and water resistance. When shopping for the best hat for you, some key considerations to keep in mind include ventilation, comfort, moisture transfer, and reflectivity.
After considering these features and determining your present and future needs as a runner, look over this list to find the option that best meets your criteria. We recommend every hat on the list, but some will suit certain runners better than others.
Ventilation & Breathability
Even when it isn’t especially warm out, runners tend to get hot and sweat. In the hot sun, this reality becomes all the more challenging, and it becomes especially important to utilize gear with plenty of ventilation.
Choose a hat with lightweight fabric such as mesh or thin polyester, especially if you spend a lot of time running in warm conditions. Choosing a light color may also help to keep your head cool during your run. Some hats, like the Nathan RunCool, are specifically designed for hot weather running.
Comfort & Fit
It is helpful to have a good sense of the size of your own head when purchasing a hat. Once you know your head size, compare it to the dimensions of the hats you are considering. Next, look for a hat with superior adjustability. Brooks hats are known to accommodate larger heads.
Weight also affects a hat’s comfort. Arc’teryx products are notoriously well-designed and light. Their Calvus hat is featured on our list.
Moisture transfer is a hat’s ability to quickly dry after becoming saturated with sweat or other moisture. Many hats on our list include sweat-wicking internal liners that help to pull sweat away from your skin and eyes.
Hats made from mesh and thin polyester tend to dry quickly. When shopping for a running hat, avoid materials like wool and cotton.
A high-visibility running cap reflects light and helps others see you when you are out running in low-light conditions. Good reflectivity increases your safety while running, especially in high-traffic areas.
On this list, the GADIEMKENSD Running Hat includes some excellent reflective detailing and increases visibility.
Price & Durability
Running hats range in price from $10 to about $40. Depending on your budget, you will want to purchase the highest quality and most durable hat that you can. Durability comes from the quality of the materials used in the hat.
Some hats on this list, like the Black Diamond Distance, are well-known for their high-end durability. If affordability is your biggest concern, the GADIEMKENSD Running Hat is just $14 and still offers lots of features.
Do Running Hats Make You Hot While Running?
Good-quality workout hats like the ones featured on this list are meant to be worn during strenuous exercise and in warm, sunny conditions. Because of their strategic polyester and mesh construction, these hats are designed to breathe and remain well-ventilated throughout your run.
Some cooling hats for men and women, like the Nathan RunCool, even come with integrated pockets to store ice during your run. While these hats are designed to stay cool, you may want to choose a light-colored hat if you are concerned about heat.
Which Is Better, a Visor or a Running Hat?
Choosing a visor versus a running hat comes down to your needs and preferences as a runner. A visor will not protect the top of your head from harmful UV rays, nor will it protect your head from rain or snow.
Because a visor is fully open on the top, it is a good option in warm weather for those who are not concerned about UV exposure on the top of their head.
How Do I Make My Hat Fit Perfectly?
Measure your head before your purchase to make sure the hat you are interested in will fit. Once you have purchased the hat, use the closure system to customize your fit.
While running, you will want a nice snug fit that is also comfortable. In windy conditions, it’s wise to tighten the hat to prevent it from flying off your head.
Have a favorite running hat? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.