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Best Running Hats 2019: Top 5 Technical Caps for Trail & Ultrarunners

Welcome to our Best Running Hats guide which features 5 of the top technical caps for trail runners and ultrarunners. It’s worth wearing a hat while running for these reasons: they wick sweat away from your face and eyes, they keep your head/face/neck shaded from the sun (and also rain), and they look cool 😝. When buying your next running hat there are a few essential features that you’ll want to look out for. For a running cap to be great, it must:

  • be comfortable to wear for long durations
  • be breathable to keep your head cool during intense exercise in the heat
  • protect the top of your head from the sun’s harmful UV rays (sorry no large meshed caps here)
  • be moisture-wicking to prevent sweat dripping down your face
  • be lightweight
  • look good when worn forwards or backward.
  • be durable to take a heavy trail beating

All technical running caps in this list are unisex and include the above 7 important design features, so either one will be a great purchase and therefore your final decision will most likely come down to how it looks. This guide is regularly updated so remember to check back before buying your next running hat.

The 5 best running hats for trail and ultrarunners

1. Nike Aerobill Tailwind Trail Cap

Nike Trail aerobill tailwind best running hats trail and kale 2

The Nike Aerobill Tailwind Trail cap is my current go-to running hat and the best running hat I’ve worn for a few reasons. Firstly, I love how effectively the Dri-Fit polyester wicks sweat away from your face, I know this because I have a tendency to sweat a lot while running at a high intensity.

Nike Aerobill Tailwind Trail Cap worn backwards best running hats trail and kaleI also like to wear my caps backward while running and the adjustment strap on the Aerobill Tailwind from Nike Trail is all fabric with no plastic clasps, making it very comfortable on my forehead and fully sweat-wicking. This hat has strategically placed laser perforations too which provides excellent breathability during hot summer runs.

I personally love the design and multiple colorways available for this running hat, looking good while out on the trails is something that matters to me, and this cap looks just as good worn forwards as it does backward. There’s a reflective “Dri-Fit” decal on the side to help make sure you’re seen during the night. Lastly, it’s very lightweight so you’ll hardly notice it’s on even if you’re running an all-day ultramarathon.

2. BUFF Pack Run Cap

BUFF Pack Run Cap front best running hats trail and kale

The BUFF Pack Run Cap is a really innovative and versatile trail running hat. BUFF is already famous for their multifunctional headwear and headbands but it won’t be long before these hats are seen all over the trails.

BUFF Pack run cap flipped up peak best running hats trail and kale
Image courtesy of Buffusa.com

One of the clever features is that you can flip the bill up when running/hiking uphill allowing you to see further towards the horizon at the top of your climb, you can then flip it back down when running on the flat or downhill. It’s definitely a stylish hat with that much-loved European flair! I wore my UTMB special edition BUFF Pack Run Cap for my OCC race this year and it performed excellently for the entire 10.5 hours of mountain running!

There’s a built-in sweatband that provides moisture control without the added bulk, and the polyester UPF protective materials wick away any perspiration. The adjustable elastic cord at the rear is a nice touch to the overall minimalism, and it provides a secure fit that’s easy to adjust on the fly.

BUFF Pack Run Hat compressed stashed trail and kale 2Adding to its minimalism, this hat is highly compressible too, which means it can be stashed in even the smallest of your hydration pack pockets, and then when you’re ready to wear it again the crushable polyurethane brim snaps back to shape. See video above for a scrunch test.

The BUFF Pack Run Cap is a very comfortable hat due to the 4-way stretch fabric it’s built with; this fabric makes it super lightweight too (1 oz.).

Alastair during UTMB OCC with his BUFF Pack Run Cap
Alastair during UTMB OCC with his BUFF Pack Run Cap

3. On Running Lightweight Cap

On Lightweight Cap front best running hats trail and kale

I love the design of the On Running Lightweight Cap, not only does it look great but it also has all the essential features that make a great technical running hat. It’s lightweight, fast-drying, and very breathable due to the laser cut ventilation holes that run along the sides. The On Lightweight Cap also comes with a reflective logo on the front to help you be seen while running in low light conditions. The fastening strap is fabric with a small plastic clip in the middle.

FULL REVIEW: On Lightweight Cap 2019

4. Janji [Re]Run Cap

Janji Run Cap


The Janji [Re]Run Cap is lightweight, breathable, has a handy zip pocket, flip-up brim, and also features a reflective front-facing logo to help you stay visible while running at night.

Matterhorn Ultraks EXTREME trail running trail and kale wm 17
Alastair Running with the Janji Run Cap

This lightweight hat is made from a perforated mesh for high breathability and with a packable brim that will retain its shape after being scrunched up or tossed around, has been designed for travel and performance. I love the cash/card/salt tablet/Venga CBD Gummies zippered pocket on the side panel too, it’s a super useful extra storage compartment.

5. Salomon Air Logo Cap

Salomon Air Logo Cap front best running hats trail and kale

Salomon really knows how to make high-performance trail running gear, and the Air Logo Cap is no exception.

Salomon air logo cap peak flipped up best running hats trail and kale
Image courtesy of Salomon.com

Similarly to the BUFF Pack Run Cap above, the Air Logo Cap has a European cycling-style peak that can be flipped up during steep mountain climbs. Like the other caps on this list, it’s very breathable, lightweight (1.2 oz.) and very comfortable for long days out in the mountains.

There’s a sweat absorbing headband built into this one too and although both are great running caps, I placed the BUFF Pack Run Cap above this one as I prefer the daring colorways that help you stand out on the trails. If you prefer to run more stealthily though, the Salomon Air Logo Cap will help you run comfortably under the radar of competitors at your next trail race.

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Last Amazon price update was: 13th November 2019 2:50 am


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Hey, I'm Alastair. 5 years ago I started Trail & Kale as a way to share the mental & physical benefits that trail running and nature had given me. Since then Trail & Kale has grown to become a thriving blog and community that inspires people to trail run, hike, adventure more, and live a healthy plant-based lifestyle.

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