Welcome to our best winter running hats buyer’s guide, which features the best running beanies, headbands and ear warmers to keep your ears and head warm during those cold weather runs.
While the old saying that you lose up to 50% of your body heat through your head has been disproven (it’s closer to 10%, in case you were wondering), a good winter running hat will still help trap body heat and help keep your head warm.
Wearing a hat also helps you keep your body temperature regulated as it’s not working so hard to stay warm during cold runs.
As well as providing insulation and extra warmth, for a hat to be suitable for wearing in cold temperatures, it should also:
1. Be made from moisture-wicking technical fabric that’s breathable, effectively wicks sweat away from your head and doesn’t hold onto moisture from rain, sleet and snow
2. Use stretchy material so it fits comfortably on your head even during your longer runs (you definitely don’t want to get a pressure headache from wearing an overly firm or tight hat!)
3. (Optional) Have reflective detailing to provide increased visibility, if this is important to you, which may be the case if you run in the dark, on or near roads, and need to help ensure you’re seen by other road users. Several of the hats on this list have reflective features.
For these reasons, the most popular style of cold weather running headwear is a beanie. Great running beanies are super soft, stretchy, cover your ears, made from Merino wool (or an alternative synthetic moisture-wicking material), and will effectively wick moisture from your head while also keeping it warm.
This buyer’s guide also includes our recommendations for running headbands and ear warmers, which can be great alternatives to a beanie or cap.
If you’re looking for a technical running hat you can wear year-round to keep the sun, wind and rain off your face and help keep you cool, head over to our best running caps buyer’s guide.
Many people find warm running headbands to be a great option for keeping their forehead and ears warm (and still wick moisture) when they don’t need to fully cover their heads.
A headband can also be more comfortable for people with longer hair because they can easily be worn without getting in the way of a ponytail – although many of the beanie hat options on this list have a hole or ‘portal’ specifically for accommodating one.
Fractel S-Series Running Beanie ($35)
Australian running headgear company Fractel offers a wide range of cool running hats, including this bright beanie for running in the cold and biting winds.
These Fractel winter beanies are made from a mid-weight, ultra-soft recycled blend of polyester and spandex, for wind-resistant, heat-trapping, temperature-regulating warmth.
This purple and blue color option with reflective branding is one of several great color combos, check Fractel’s website for the current selection.
By the way, if you often run in the wet and would like tips on how to dry out your shoes quickly, read how to dry running shoes the right way.
Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible Headband Ear Warmer ($22)
This soft, warm Smartwool headband is made with 100% Merino Wool. Why Merino? It’s thinner and softer than regular wool, making it easy to wear next to the skin. It wicks moisture, and regulates body temperature to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.
This lightweight ear warmer headband is suitable for men and women, and you can also wear it around your neck as a neck gaiter.
It comes in 4 colors, one size, and at a very reasonable price of $22, plus it’s perfect for other winter activities, including snow sports such as skiing, or just day-to-day outings when it’s cold outside.
5 new from $21.99
Lululemon Run For It All Beanie ($38)
This warm lululemon running beanie is made from water-repellent, stretchy technical fleece material that wicks sweat away from your head.
As well as insulating your head, it will also keep ears warm on those early morning and evening runs when the weather is especially cold.
Another great feature of this cozy lululemon hat is the reflective accents that provide some visibility to other road and path users.
For more about lululemon running apparel and shoes, you may be interested to check out our posts featuring the best lululemon leggings for running, and a comparison of lululemon’s women’s athletic shoes.
Arc’teryx Men’s Bird Head Toque Beanie ($45)
This beanie is made from a 50% Merino, 50% acrylic blend that provides it with the sweat-wicking, breathable and temp-regulating properties of Merino and the softness of acrylic fibers.
This men’s Arc’teryx beanie would make a great gift for yourself or a runner in your life, especially if they enjoy winter snow sports and appreciate the design and style of Arc’teryx’s outdoor gear.
Speaking of gifting, if you’re here because you’re looking to buy a gift for someone who loves running, also check out our list of the best gifts for runners for some more suggestions – it’s packed full of running gear we’ve personally used and rate highly!
Trailheads Women’s Adventure Hat ($38) | Best Winter Running Hats with Ear Warmers
This cozy winter hat is a hybrid between a cap and a beanie, with a cap-like bill plus a soft drop-down ear warmer that you can put down when you feel the cold, and fold back up when you get warmer or need to hear more clearly (for example, when crossing a road).
It’s truly great for running in a wide temp range or in changeable weather conditions, and has some reflective details on the back and brim.
The ponytail portal on this Trailheads running hat is thoughtfully located so you can comfortably wear this hat with your hair tied up and back.
The bill helps shield your face and eyes from the elements, whether that’s sun, snow or rain.
Like several other hat and headband options on this list, it’s made from a blend of polyester and spandex, for warmth, stretch and sweat wicking. It comes in one size, which is designed to fit most head sizes.
3 new from $29.77
On Running Explorer Merino Headband ($40)
You’ve probably heard of (or maybe you already wear) On Running’s popular running shoes (and if you haven’t, learn more about them in our On Running Shoes Comparison Guide).
What you may not know is that On also sells a range of high-end men’s and women’s running apparel, socks and accessories, including this delightful On Explorer Merino headband.
The headband is made from 50% recycled polyester and 50% Merino, which makes it lightweight, moisture-wicking and breathable.
The one size is designed to fit most men’s and women’s heads in a snug, yet comfortable fit, that will stay put and not ride up or slide down as you run.
Patagonia Overlook Merino Wool Beanie ($45) | Best Merino Wool Knit Hats
Made using a soft, warm yet thin blend of responsibly-sourced Merino wool and recycled polyester, this lightweight men’s Patagonia Merino knit beanie naturally wicks sweat and resists odor.
It’s a great option if you want a hat with a low-profile silhouette that packs down small, which is useful when you take it off and need to stuff it in a running hydration pack or pocket without too much bulk.
This is one of the best running hats to buy if you want a beanie you can wear not just for running, but to help you stay comfortable during other outdoor activities in cold temperatures.
Other sports it’s great for include snow sports and mountain biking, because it’s thin enough to wear under a helmet!
Brooks Notch Thermal Beanie ($30)
This insulated running beanie from Brooks Running offers a secure fit that covers your ears, with stink-resistant material that holds in warmth while managing moisture.
The bright yellow colorway, pictured, is a great choice for higher visibility on dark night and morning runs.
out of stock
If you run (or plan to run) in the dark and low-light conditions and could do with more reflective apparel to help you be seen, our reflective running gear and running headlamps buyer’s guides should help.
Patagonia Women’s Re-Tool Fleece Headband ($25)
If you prefer a synthetic fleece fabric to wool, this lightweight Patagonia headband will do a great job of trapping heat to keep your ears and forehead warm.
It’s made with 51% recycled materials, comes in one size and 5 colors (see the current selection on Patagonia’s website).