Shielding your face, eyes, and lips from the sun saves energy on the trail, increases comfort, and prevents a tough recovery later. Today’s best running hats have evolved from simple and utilitarian tools into nuanced pieces of gear. Hats for runners not only block harmful rays but also wick sweat, dry swiftly, and help regulate temperature. Some trail runners and ultrarunners also place a premium on hats that fit into running packs when not needed, pair well with our favorite running sunglasses, adjust easily on the fly, and don’t impair visibility.
To help you choose the best running hat, our crew of professional, competitive, collegiate, and recreational trail runners and ultrarunners donned a range of the most popular, top-rated running hats for hundreds of miles. We ran from dusk to dawn across the Rocky Mountains and the Western United States on dusty trails, rocky singletrack, mud-packed routes, and sandstone in all types of weather.
While this guide isn’t comprehensive of every stellar trail running hat on the market, it’s a solid launchpad to help you find the ideal hat for your needs. Scroll through to see our recommendations for the best trail running hats. You can learn more about our methodology, read our answers to your frequently asked questions, and peruse our suggestions for choosing a running hat at the end of this guide.
Best Running Hats
- Best Overall Running Hat: Black Diamond Dash Cap
- Best Overall Running Hat – Runners-Up: Janji Transit Tech Cap, Ciele Athletics ALZCap SC, and On Lightweight Cap
- Best Classic Running Hat: Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat
- Best Technical Trucker Running Hat: Boco Gear Technical Trucker
- Best Budget Running Hat: Headsweats Running Hat
- Best Sun Shade Running Hat: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
- Best Winter Running Hat: Buff Pack Merino Fleece Cap
- Best of the Rest Running Hats: Gone For a Run Pocket Hat, Territory Run Co. Long Haul Cap, and Nathan RunCool Ice Run Hat
Best Overall Running Hat: Black Diamond Dash Cap ($40)
- Excellent sun-protective brim
- Tenacious material
- Not easy to adjust while being worn
- No ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating
Why It’s a Top Pick: The Black Diamond Dash Cap is comfortable, light, and durable, with a sweeping brim that protects the face from the sun. One of our favorite features of this hat is the full-coverage bill that is slightly wider and longer than most others we tested. For that detail and more, this cap received the highest score of our product pool.
The material — a lightweight polyester dobby weave that feels tactile yet flexible — is airy, breathable, and durable. The synthetic high-tenacity yarn is water-resistant and dries fast. The cap’s external texture feels a bit coarse, but the inside of the hat is soft, with wide, flat seams between the panels and a broad, buttery sweatband that wicks sweat super well. While this hat’s material is robust, the sweatband is smooth without any itchiness or abrasive seams.
Our primary critique is that it’s not easy to adjust the plastic clip-in back closure, and we had to take the cap off to tighten or loosen it. This isn’t ideal if a huge gust of wind sneaks up on you, especially since this hat has a wide brim that acts like a sail in exposed terrain. That said, we loved that the adjustment strap slides tidily into a garage in the cap so we can wear the hat backward without a tail slapping our forehead. We just barely feel the two pressure points of the seam ends on the front panel, but they don’t create any lasting pressure and go unnoticed during runs. Ultimately, this silhouette is one of the best hats for runners.
Best Overall Running Hat – Runner-Up: Janji Transit Tech Cap ($38)
- The back strap is easy to adjust while being worn
- Weather-resistant fabric
- UPF 50
- There is no garage to hold the back strap, which isn’t ideal when wearing the hat backward
Why It’s a Top Pick: The Janji Transit Tech Cap provides a secure fit and features a smooth, weather-resistant, breathable, and highly sun-protective fabric.
This hat is very comfortable; the buttery softshell fabric is durable, and the smooth pull-through back tab makes dialing in fit easy mid-run. Despite the hat’s streamlined fit, it caused no headaches when pulled tight during a gusty ridgeline run. The robust textile blocked the chilly wind yet felt breathable in the heat, and perspiration dried fast.
The cap dries quickly, partly due to the durable water-repellent finish. To screen the sun, the material boasts UPF 50 — the second-highest possible rating in apparel — meaning less than 2% of ultraviolet (UV) radiation makes it through the fabric. The polyester is made of 91% recycled materials. There is a zipper compartment, but our testers didn’t find it useful. Goods like keys can clank against the head, and paper items get wet from perspiration. It might be a good spot for a credit card.
Overall, we loved the classic silhouette of this hat.
Best Overall Running Hat – Runner-Up: Ciele Athletics ALZCap SC ($50)
- UPF 40-plus
- High price tag
- Very quick-drying but not ideal for conditions requiring water resistance
Why It’s a Top Pick: The Ciele Athletics ALZCap SC material provides excellent sun protection while being quick-drying, breathable, and packable. Ciele changed their original ALZCap model to bring runners a softer, pre-curved brim with their Softcurve design. They’ve also increased their Coolwick mesh coverage for increased visibility.
This low-profile hat is everything you want in a running cap. It is lightweight, breathable, and provides good sun protection with 40-plus UPF. Plus, it has a style that makes you look good doing what you love. The mesh cap is quick-drying and keeps our heads cool during warmer runs. The interior is lined with an absorbent sweatband. The adjustable strap has a hide-away garage, so the strap doesn’t flap around. Also, the soft brim is a bit shorter, ideal for packability, yet it shades most of our face. Compared to the popular Ciele Athletics GoCap, this hat has a shorter brim and weighs less. It’s also slightly smaller.
Best Overall Running Hat – Runner-Up: On Lightweight Cap ($45)
- Ventilation ports in sweatband
- The sweatband texture is a bit abrasive when we slide the hat on and off
- Not easy to adjust tightness while being worn
- No UPF rating
Why It’s a Top Pick: The featherlight On Lightweight Cap fits comfortably and securely and features a robust bill, making it one of our favorite workout hats. The cap is pliable and soft, while the rigid, wide brim will withstand abuse and offer consistent form and protection over time.
The cap’s sides feature uniform ventilation holes that are laser-cut into polyester fabric. The fairly soft one-inch-wide sweatband snags salty droplets well. The hat also has a garage to secure the adjustment strap’s tail. When the sun is overhead, the bill does an excellent job of blocking light from hitting the face, neck, and the top of the ears if you tuck them into the hat.
Best Classic Running Hat: Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat ($39)
- 100% recycled nylon
- The back clip is easy to adjust while being worn
- Very packable
- Super breathable
- The mesh portion on half of the cap doesn’t block sunlight from the head
- The pliable bill can curl upward over time
- No UPF rating
Why It’s a Top Pick: The Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat is a comfortable, extremely breathable, quick-drying, lightweight, and adaptive hat for running and cross-training adventures.
This running hat hardly needs an introduction. We originally bought this hat for trail running years ago and have pulled it on for nearly every other type of outdoor adventure. The cap is a nylon-foam blend and polyester mesh, which is super breathable. It’s among the best cooling hats for men and women, and the design fits seamlessly beneath climbing and mountain bike helmets. The crown and bill have a durable water-repellent finish that wards off rain, splashes, and snow. To our surprise, the material floats well, too, as discovered on a multi-day standup paddleboard trip.
The plush sweatband is soft, absorbs sweat quickly, and dries fast. If you’re looking for a comfortable, breathable, heat-releasing hat that pairs well with other activities, this is your new best friend.
Our only critique is that there’s no garage to secure the dangling adjustment strap, which is annoying when you wear the hat backward. Also, though the cap is packable, the upper can look a bit wonky after squashing it.
Best Technical Trucker Running Hat: Boco Gear Technical Trucker Hat ($34)
- Super breathable
- Mid-level price tag
- Must wash by hand
- No UPF rating
- Not the most packable
Why It’s a Top Pick: The Boco Gear Technical Trucker Hat is a solid option at a moderate price. The side and back panels have laser-cut holes to dump heat during big efforts and hot days. The front of this hat is highly breathable, and the material doesn’t easily scuff or wear. Our sunglasses do not bounce much on the hat’s brim.
For these reasons, this became our favorite trucker hat for running. The liner absorbs and catches sweat endlessly, and it never drips. Bonus: The cap dries in minutes. It also sits a trace deeper on your head and protects the tops of the ears. Adjust the hat well before use, as one of our testers experienced raw ears due to maladjustment.
Best Budget Running Hat: Headsweats Running Hat ($25)
- Lower price
- Great fit
- No UPF rating
- Limits field of vision
Why It’s a Top Pick: The Headsweats Running Hat stands out for its extreme comfort, and we experienced no bouncing or shifting of this hat during our outdoor jaunts — in fact, we barely noticed it at all. The material is soft and supple, and the cap sits lightly on your head. The brim shades well, too, and the hat never felt restrictively hot while we tested it on dusty summertime trails in southern Colorado. On top of all this, it’s available at a very budget-friendly price.
The downside is that the brim sits low over your eyes, even if you tighten the hat. This makes for excellent shading but a limited field of view, especially when looking directly above.
Best Sun Shade Hat: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap ($40)
- UPF 50 rating that is extremely UV protective
- Convertible hat that pairs with a breezy sun cape
- Great value
- Bill is an iota smaller compared to other hats tested
Why It’s a Top Pick: The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap adapts to provide an incredible level of skin protection of the head, face, and neck with a breathable, moisture-wicking, and detachable sun cape. This hat is made with a water-resistant, breathable, moisture-wicking, and fast-drying material. While testing the hat and cape, we experienced no issues with the field of vision, and it didn’t feel claustrophobic or hot.
Overall, this is a very comfortable setup, and the cape fabric hangs around, and not against, your face. A chin cord can be tightened so that the fabric of the cape won’t flap around, keeping it from being distracting and noisy. Superior to many hats here, the 100% nylon fabric is treated to protect skin against harmful UV rays. The hat’s wide sweatband absorbs sweat and feels soft against the forehead. The hat’s mesh side panels help release heat. As a bonus, the design is light and packable, too.
If you need to protect your skin from fierce sunlight or want to take extra good care of your health, this hat is a great choice.
Best Winter Running Hat: Buff Pack Merino Fleece Cap ($60)
- Merino and fleece fabric is oh-so-cozy
- Packs down small while retaining shape
- Secure yet comfortable fit
- Not quite enough ear coverage when also wearing headphones or glasses
Why It’s a Top Pick: The Buff Pack Merino Fleece Cap is a unique combination of a brimmed hat, winter hat, and headband. And, hello, it’s made of fleece and merino wool, our favorite fabrics for warmth!
Fleece and merino wool pair together to provide quick-drying warmth and shade; plus, it’s super soft to the touch and feels cozy around our ears. It also has a sweat-wicking inner headband to help keep sweat off your face once you get warmed up and start generating heat.
This hat is adjustable via the elastic band on the back, and it even has a hidden ponytail hole to ensure a secure fit on blustery winter days. We only wish the side flaps came down slightly lower in the front, as this would provide a little more coverage when wearing headphones or glasses. Finally, we love how light and packable this hat is. We know it’ll keep its shape if we get too hot mid-run and have to stuff it in a pocket.
We also named this the best brimmed hat for winter running in our best cold-weather running gear guide.
Best of the Rest Running Hats: Gone For a Run Pocket Hat ($35)
- Moisture-wicking fabric catches tons of sweat
- Material dries fast
- Velcro closure is testy with thick or long hair
- Must be washed by hand
- No UPF rating
The Gone For a Run Pocket Hat is a lightweight, sweat-absorbing, and quick-drying running hat — with storage. It stays on in the wind, and the adjustable strap is easy to use. The interior liner doesn’t have any pinch or rub points and catches sweat before it hits our brows. Even for our sweatiest runners, the hat didn’t feel stuffy. The brim provides decent sun protection for the upper face and eyes without blocking periphery views.
Though this hat has two pockets, our testers didn’t find them very functional. Items like key fobs can move around, and cash can get wet from sweat. The pocket would be most useful for an identification card if you’re heading to the cafè or brewery post-run.
Best of the Rest Running Hats: Territory Run Co. Long Haul Cap ($39)
- Great fit
- No UPF rating
The Territory Run Co. Long Haul Cap is light and breathable, and it stays put throughout long runs, including on fast descents and blustery mountain trails. Its five-panel design offers an excellent fit for a wide range of head shapes and sizes.
We were quickly able to adjust the hat and never experienced any headaches or irritations, even when wearing this hat for many hours while training for and racing the IMTUF 100. This breathable hat with laser-cut perforations is nice and cool even during intense efforts, and we’d often dunk it in the water during creek crossings on especially hot runs. This hat also provides more sun protection than a minimalist mold, and its brim can be stuffed into a pocket without getting creased or losing shape. Overall, it’s a comfortable hat you can forget you’re wearing, even after dozens of miles.
Best of the Rest Running Hats: Nathan RunCool Ice Run Hat ($25)
- Great fit
- Lightweight and breathable
- Good price
- The pockets aren’t the most practical
Long runs in hot weather call for strategic cooling and the Nathan RunCool Ice Run Hat is designed for precisely these conditions. With lightweight mesh fabric that’s breathable and quick-drying, a light blue color palette that reflects the sun’s rays, and pockets for holding ice cubes, this is a highly functional hat, especially for race day when you have regular access to ice.
Most importantly, this hat is comfortable and easy to adjust on the fly. The brim provides shading, but it also flips up easily if the day is overcast and you want a broader field of vision. The hat does an excellent job of wicking sweat and keeping it out of your eyes. While the pockets are nice for momentary relief during hot races when you have ice on hand, this cooling strategy won’t be as effective as dumping ice in your hydration vest, sports bra, or gaiter around your neck. And since the pockets don’t zip closed, they’re not really practical for carrying anything else, such as cash. That said, this is a great everyday running hat with the bonus of being designed for cooling.Shop the Nathan RunCool Ice Run Hat
Buying Advice: How to Choose a Running Hat
The majority of the best running hats are one-size-fits-all with a spectrum of tightness and size adjustability. The back adjustment is usually a Velcro, snap, elastic, or buckle-and-slide closure, which also serves as the tightening system. Consider what type of closure works best for you, your hair, and your hands. One of this guide’s authors, Morgan Tilton, has small hands, yet she finds the tiny pull-through elastic closures more challenging to adjust. Traditional snap closures, like the one on the Boco Gear Technical Trucker Hat, are easy to alter on the fly and don’t get stuck in her long, thick hair.
It’s nice to have the ability to loosen a hat if you need to add a buff underneath it if a cold wind picks up, especially for those of us with sensitive ears. Though it also works to layer a buff around the hat’s exterior, having it on the inside is often more cozy.
Some running hats are more streamlined and precise-fitting, while others provide a smidge more space and structure in the cap but weigh a bit more. Some hats reach further down your forehead, which can help stabilize the fit and make it feel more secure while providing additional shade.
The best fit hinges on a runner’s head and forehead size, shape, hair type, and personal preference. It might take some experimentation to narrow down the types of hats that pair well with your head and your physical needs. We found that the Black Diamond Dash Cap had the best combination of features of all of the hats that we tested.
A long or wide bill on a running hat provides more shade, protecting a larger portion of your face, neck, ears, and chest from direct light. The tradeoff with a wider bill is that it has more surface area to catch the wind, so you definitely want to be sure you can tighten it down to your head when needed. Hats with wider bills generally feature a cap with a more relaxed fit, too, yet still can be tightened down.
Wider bills, depending on the exact shape, can obstruct the field of vision for some runners, which is important to keep in mind if you are running heavily vegetated routes. Runners with wider heads might prefer a wide-billed hat due to the overall coverage — wider bills, whether soft or firm, will add a little more weight to the cap.
Alternatively, a narrow bill provides less sun shade but doesn’t catch wind gusts as easily as a wide bill. Often, a narrower bill has a more streamlined, snug cap. Hats with narrower bills are typically lighter, and runners with thinner faces might prefer this style due to the overall fit.
Some running hats, like the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap, which features a snap-on cape made of breathable fabric, also protect the entire neck.
A hat’s color can also keep sunlight from reaching your skin. Dark or bright colors absorb UV rays and prevent them from hitting you, so they offer more protection than lighter shades, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In general, synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are more protective than sheer cloth or natural fibers. The density of the construction plays a role, too. If the fabric is loose, or you can see through it, UV radiation can more easily reach the skin. Shiny polyester fabrics can reflect radiation; other fabrics are treated with chemicals or dyes that absorb or reflect UV rays.
Increasingly, many hats also offer a UPF label, which informs shoppers how effective the material is at blocking ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B light. A UPF 15 or 20 rating indicates the fabric provides good protection, UPF 25, 30, or 35 delivers mid-level protection, and UPF 40, 45, 50, and 50-plus are the highest tiers of protection possible.
Ventilation, Breathability, and Moisture Wicking
The best running hats are specialized for high-effort workouts with synthetic materials that wick sweat, are breathable, and dry rapidly. The interior is usually lined with a wide, absorbent sweatband to prevent stinging sweat from falling into the eyes. Various designs have additional ventilation features like laser-cut holes, mesh panels, and streamlined eyelets. Some internal sweatbands have ventilation ports, too. Our team found that the Boco Gear Technical Trucker Hat provided plenty of ventilation, even on hot days.
Reflective panels on a running hat are an excellent safety addition so that other people can see you approaching on a trail in the dark. If you’re running near road traffic, motorists must also see you. Ideally, reflective material on the front and back of a hat would help warn approaching traffic from both directions. However, many hats only feature a reflective logo on the front, like the Black Diamond Dash Cap, or back of the hat — or don’t have reflectivity at all.
Price and Durability
The best running hats in this guide range from $25 to $50. The material should withstand years of use if you purchase a well-constructed hat and follow its care instructions. If you sweat a ton, consider buying a darker-colored hat so it doesn’t retain sweat stains. We voted the Headsweats Running Hat the best budget hat because it delivers a great fit and ample shade for just $25.
Why You Should Trust Us
To create this guide of the best running hats, we first polled members of the 20-plus-person iRunFar team about their favorite — and less favorite — running hats. We also researched dozens of the highest-ranked, most popular, and top-selling hats for runners. In doing so, we honed a list of 17 running hats for regimented testing.
Our seven product testers covered hundreds of miles with those 17 hats to pinpoint the best of the best. We followed rocky and smooth trails through high-altitude desert and mountain slopes, sandy singletrack, steep granite canyons, sun-beaten loops, dense aspen groves, crusty post-holing ventures, and mud-caked routes. On some runs, we pounded pavement and packed dirt. Our runners managed frigid rain, blasts of snow, sunshine at 10,000 feet above sea level, and lip-chapping gales. We tracked miles through a range of environments across the San Juan Mountains, Elk Mountains, and Front Range of Colorado, as well as peaks and deserts throughout Utah, Wyoming, and Montana.
During each trail run, we meticulously examined the hats and ranked each product on a 90-point scale that included nine essential qualities, including breathability, sun protection, field of vision, comfort, and overall durability. Based on the scores, these hats were the frontrunners: Black Diamond Dash Cap, Janji Transit Tech Cap, Ciele Athletics ALZCap SC, On Lightweight Cap, and Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat. Many hats scored high in multiple traits, while others we tested didn’t make the top-tier cut. None of our testers’ foreheads were sunburned during the creation of this guide, but we apologize for any strawberry-colored chins and chafed upper ears.
Please note that product models are routinely discontinued in the running world, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often use our top picks in our daily running … they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes, that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this — product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures — in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing and research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. When we update any buyer’s guide, most products will likely remain the same. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear you’ll be using for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Running Hats
What is the best running hat?
The best running hat is one that fits your head well, is breathable, dries fast, and provides adequate sun and weather protection for extreme conditions. For trail runners and ultrarunners, having a hat that doesn’t impede visibility for trail obstacles is clutch. A hat’s ability to pack down during outings that continue after sunset is also important. The look and style of a hat also need consideration.
While this guide can’t possibly cover every great running hat on the market, it’s a good starting point for finding the best one that works for your needs. Our team voted the Black Diamond Dash Cap the best running hat we tested for its fit, functionality, and style.
Which is better, a visor or a running hat?
Using a visor versus a hat comes down to personal preference, which might change based on the season and environment. A visor blocks the sun from your face and eyes, prevents sweat from dripping into your face, and is also more breathable than a hat because it doesn’t have a cap. They are generally more lightweight and packable than most hats because they are made of less material. However, a running hat can help prevent UV radiation from reaching your scalp, which is especially important for folks with thin hair or no hair coverage at all. The hat’s crown also protects the top of your head from incoming rain or snow. If dense enough, the material can even protect the top of your head from insects. If you want to increase the ventilation on the top of your head, the Boco Gear Technical Trucker Hat has plenty of mesh to allow for airflow while still providing protection.
Why not just run in your ball cap?
A ball cap should suffice for a short run, so if that’s what you have, go for it! However, most baseball caps are 100% cotton, which retains moisture. Cotton is a hydrophilic fabric that attracts or absorbs precipitation, water, and perspiration, and it doesn’t dry fast either, so it wouldn’t be very comfortable during a sweaty jaunt or one during tumultuous weather. Traditional ball cap designs are also not well-ventilated. The more time you spend running, the more returns you’ll see from an investment in a running-specific hat. If you are interested in wearing a hat while running that looks more like an everyday hat, look at the Boco Gear Technical Trucker Hat or the Territory Run Co. Long Haul Cap, both of which offer technical specifications in a trucker-style hat.
Why do I get headaches when wearing a running hat?
External compression headaches caused by headwear occur when the material places continuous pressure on the forehead or scalp. Most running hats are one-size-fits-all with an adjustable strap in the back. If you experience a headache, adjust the back strap to loosen it. Be sure your hat fits nicely on your head without being too loose. It shouldn’t jostle around or be too tight and restrictive. Normally, you should not have forehead imprints or red marks after wearing your hat unless you encounter serious wind and need to buckle down for a while. We found that the Territory Run Co. Long Haul Cap did a great job staying in place without being too tight.
Why is it important to wear a hat when I run?
A hat protects your skin from sunburn and your eyes from strain. Hats also have an interior sweatband that wicks sweat, preventing salty droplets from blurring your vision or burning your eyes. They can also help protect your face and sunglasses from weather, like rain and snow. For runners with lots of hair, a hat can also secure wisps from flying into their eyes, especially on windy days. And on a hot day, dunking your running hat in an alpine stream can help cool you down. Those looking to maximize their protection against the sun will appreciate the side flaps of the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap.
Call for Comments
- Is there a hat that has made your running that much better? Share it in the comments below for us to consider for future updates to this guide.
- Is there a hat that has lasted you years longer than you thought it would?