It’s bitter cold. The wind is blowing in your face every direction you turn. And if you dare spit, the saliva will likely freeze before it hits the ground.On those days, it’s hard to motivate yourself to run. But one thing that can make a surprisingly big difference is an excellent running hat. While there is barely any science behind the adage that most of your body heat is lost through your head, a running hat can make a painfully cold run much more bearable. Even if you own some running headbands, we want to answer your question: what running hat should I buy?
We originally wrote this blog 2 years ago, but have been updating it every season. This year, we reviewed over 50 winter running hats and came out with our favorite women’s running hats and men’s running hats. Enjoy!
Nike Therma-FIT Reversible Hat. Unisex $22 It’s not the best fitting running beanie we tried, but it’s hard to beat the value. The Nike Run Therma-Fit Reversible Hat is made 100% polyester and has a nice, comfortable fuzzy interior (Nike calls it Therma-FIT fabric) that makes sub 25 degrees bearable. Reversible with a swoosh on one side and a modern, but slick pattern on the other, this is a solid, good looking hat a great $22 value.
Best Deceptively Fun
Asics Thermopolois LT 2-N-1 Beanie. Men, Women $22 On the outside, these look like your traditional running hat (besides an Asics A emblazoned on the front). But hidden on the back (men) or interior (women) these winter running hats have Asics’ Thermopolis LT material, which provides just the right functional ventilation and fashionable pizazz. The material is made out of a midweight 92% polyester/8% Spandex, making it ideal for cold days—but not the coldest of cold days. Moreover, unlike the Nike hat these hats are meant to comfortably fit over your ears, protecting you from the January brutal wind.
Best Running/Lifestyle Crossover
Brooks Greenlight Beanie. Women $30 This is one wicked cool hat. Ever since Brooks launched their more fashion forward line, the running-focused company has designed gear that’s not just great to run in, but stylish to wear around town (it also looks shockingly similar to Janji's hat that came out in 10 months earlier, which is honestly quite the honor!). The Greenlight Beanie is no different. Coming in four colorways and made of 81% polyester and 19% spandex, Made of this hat isn’t very heavy, but is quite effective, both wearing around on both a cold day and a long run.
Best for Wicked Cold
Craft Active WS Skull Hat. Men Women $35 Do you always run in under 20 degrees throughout the winter? Do your ears freeze every single time you step outside? Then this hat is for you. With a brushed fabric interior and a nice ergonomic fit, Craft (perhaps better known for making Nordic skiing apparel) has produced one of the finest cold weather hats on the market—even though it’s not that heavy. If you live in Chicago, Minneapolis, or god-forbid northern Canada, this is a great option.
Janji Ethiopia Beanie Running Hat. Men Women $28 Yeah yeah, we at Janji are tooting our own horn. But come on… what’s cooler than a simple, yet inspired design that comes right from Ethiopia? Maybe they don’t have much snow there, but that doesn’t matter much since the design is on point. Both the men’s running hat and women’s running hat are made of a wool, polyester blend to keep you warm. Plus, this hat gives 1 year of clean water to someone in Ethiopia. Ok, we’re done being shamelessly self-promotional. Moving on…
Best Basic Wear
Pearl Izumi Thermal Run Hat Men Women $25 There’s nothing revolutionary or particularly innovative about this hat. Made out of 100% polyester and light enough that it’s perfect for those 35 degree days, the hat does the job it’s asked to do and not much else. It’s breathable, colored with a basic black (although new colors have recently come out!), and is pretty well priced at $25. If you’re looking for a simple, inexpensive start to your winter hat collection, this is a great choice.
SmartWool PhD Reversable Training Beanie Men Women $28 SmartWool built a company around selling great gear made out of (you guessed it) wool. With a lining made out of their famous Merino Wool, this hat fits snuggly but also functions well under just about any condition. Want to go for a run in 5 degree weather? It’s great. Want to wear it under your ski helmet while you’re going down a mountain? Performs perfectly. The design is nothing spectacular (come on—just black?) but it fits great, works great, and feels great.
Dave Spandorfer is the co-founder of Janji and a serious runner. You can follow his Janji and running journeys on twitter @spandorfer