Welcome to our Best Running Hats guide which features the top technical running cap choices for all runners, including trail runners and ultra marathon runners. It’s worth wearing a technical running hat during your run rather than a regular hat 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 trail running hat there are a few essential features that you’ll want to look out for. For a trail running hat to be great, and be worthy of making it onto this list, it must:
- be comfortable to wear for long durations
- be breathable to keep your head cool during intense exercise in the heat
- provide sun protection for your head and especially the top of your head (sorry no large meshed caps here)
- be moisture-wicking and quick-dry to prevent sweat dripping down your face
- be lightweight (much lighter than a regular baseball cap, for example)
- look good when worn forwards or backwards
- be durable to take a heavy trail beating
All technical running caps in this list are for both men and women (unisex), and include the above 7 important design features – they are also available in more colorways which can be explored when you click the buttons below.
With that said, either one of these running hats 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 trail running hat.
1. BUFF Pack Run Cap (Best Running Hat WINNER!)
The BUFF Pack Run Cap is a really innovative and versatile trail running hat. BUFF is already famous for its multifunctional headwear and headbands but it won’t be long before these hats are seen all over the trails.
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!
This trail running hat also has a built-in sweatband that provides moisture control without the added bulk, and the polyester UPF protective materials wick away any perspiration and is quick-drying. 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.
Adding to its minimalism, this running 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.).
3 new from $17.97
1 used from $7.14
2. Nike Aerobill Tailwind (Best Running Hat RUNNER UP)
The Nike Aerobill Tailwind running cap is one of my current go-to running hats and one of the best running hats 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.
I also like to wear my running cap 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 Nike trail 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 Nike running hat, looking good while out on the trails is something that matters to me, and this running cap looks just as good worn forwards as it does backward. The cap has a reflective trim (the “Dri-Fit” decal on the side) to help make sure you’re seen during the night. Lastly, it’s very lightweight and has mesh sides so you’ll hardly notice it’s on even if you’re running an all-day ultra marathon.
3. On Running Lightweight Running Cap
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 cap’s fastening strap is fabric with a small plastic clip in the middle. Read my detailed On Running Cap review.
4. Janji AFO Hyperlight Cap
The AFO Hyperlight Cap running hat is super lightweight (29g), breathable, packable, and has a flip brim much like the BUFF Pack Run Cap above.
This running cap is made from a stretch woven fabric for a super minimal feeling hat with a fast dry time, high breathability + impressive sweat wicking capabilities for cool comfort while running.
I really like the crushable foam brim which allows you to scrunch up the running hat for quick storage in your hydration running vest with no-fuss, as the brim retains it’s shape when you un-scrunch it.
The brim can also be securely flipped up when not needing to shield from the sun, and you want visibility while climbing steep hills. And finally, there’s an adjustable reflective bungee cord with a rubber toggle at the rear for a lightweight, adaptable fit.
5. Lululemon Running Hat (men’s and women’s)
This Lululemon hat is perfect for road and trail running, as well as other outdoor sports when you want a really lightweight, packable cap. This running cap is designed for men and women and comes in a regular black or a bright salmon / fluorescent color, which looks striking on the trails!
The fabric used to make this Lululemon hat is super lightweight, sweat-wicking and breathable – similar to the Buff Pack Run Cap above.
Although it doesn’t appear to be designed for you to flip the visor up like the Buff Cap, you can actually do it if the cap is snug on your head!
This Lulu cap also features perforation to help with breathability, attaches with a clip and fabric strap similar to the On Running cap above, and has reflective details for running in low light.