The best running hats 2024: tested for warmth and sun protection

The best running hats, caps, visors, headbands and beanies meet the needs of runners throughout the seasons. Heading into the mountains? You'll value a warm beanie for up high, while a lightweight visor will provide protection from the sun's rays while you're lower down. For everyday runs in sunny weather, the classic cap will have you covered.

One of the best things about the best running hats is that they're often perfectly suited to other forms of adventure too, whether it's hiking or spending the day exploring the beach. Designed to be lightweight, portable and moisture wicking, they're a great addition to any trip.

Our reviewers have donned their trail running shoes and hit the dirt to test these excellent pieces of running headwear. Where caps are concerned, the Salomon XA Cap is our favorite, while winter runners will benefit from the Rab Logo Beanie, which is also a superb option as a hiking hat and for mountaineering.

The quick list

This is the quick list, a snapshot of the best running hats available in 2024. To delve deeper into the features and qualities of each featured hat, see our more detailed reviews further down the page in this guide.

The best running hats 2024

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

The best running cap overall

Man running with friend wearing Salomon XA cap

The Salomon XA Cap is a superb lightweight and breathable hat for runners (Image credit: Salomon)
The best running cap overall

Specifications

Style: Sports cap
Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: S–M / M–L / L–XL
Average weight: 40g / 1.4oz
Materials: Salomon’s AdvancedSkin Shield (100% Polyester)
Colors: Transcend blue / Clematis blue / Black / Papaya / Fuchsia red / Olive / White / Opal / Hawaiian Ocean / Almond cream / Pacific
Compatibility: Running and hiking in hot and sunny conditions

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Sun blocking
+
Breathable 
+
Quick drying

Reasons to avoid

-
Peak in eye view

The Salomon XA cap is aimed squarely at those facing warm and sunny conditions. Our running expert Fiona found it comfortable on the trails, while its long and stiff peak kept the sun’s rays out of her eyes. There are three sizes to choose from, as well as the fact that the unisex cap has an adjustable buckle closure at the rear and elastic give, which Fiona said "all combine to keep the cap firmly in place while running". 

The main material is Salomon’s AdvancedSkin Shield, which protects the head against wind but also offers a decent level of breathability. Mesh inserts on the top of the cap aid more air ventilation, while an integrated inner sweatband absorbs sweat to stop it dripping into your eyes. There is a wide color choice too, and the cap can usually be found for a good price.

Read our full Salomon XA cap review

The best running cap for breathability

Man wearing Dynafit React Visor Band

Half-cap, half-headband, the Dynafit React Visor Band is an innovative piece of running gear (Image credit: Dynafit)
Best for breathability

Specifications

Style: Sun visor
Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: One size
Average weight: 28g / 1oz
Materials: Dynadry Light Grid 90 Silver - 100% Polyester (partially recycled)
Colors: Asphalt / Black out / Cactus / Nitro / Dawn / Fluo pink / Fluorescent yellow / Legion / Methyl blue / Mykonos blue / Ocean / Silvretta / Sparta blue
Compatibility: Summer trail running and hiking

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Airy
+
Protective
+
Good color choice

Reasons to avoid

-
One size 
-
Low thermal qualities
-
Expensive

Made for summer running in bright conditions, the React visor headband is a simple and lightweight product that has a flexible mesh brim, which offers protection and shelter from the direct rays of the sun. Meanwhile, the lack of a ‘top’ to the hat – a half-cap design – meant our tester Fiona was able to feel the wind in her hair.

She adds: "Usefully, the band also effectively wicked moisture away from my head and prevented sweat dropping into my eyes". The visor stayed securely in place during our outings, which is so important when it comes to running headwear. It's made with Dynadry Light Grid 90 silver fabric, which is 100% polyester and has some recycled content.

Read our full Dynafit React Visor Band review

The best running cap for the rain

Cat Ellis wearing Sealskinz Salle Cap

The Sealskinz Salle Cap is advertised as a hiking hat, but it's also perfect for running in the rain (Image credit: Future)
The best running cap for the rain

Specifications

Style: Sports cap
Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: One size
Average weight: 62g / 2.1oz
Materials: Nylon with Aquasealz membrane
Colors: Pink, orange, mint, navy and more
Compatibility: Running and hiking in rainy weather

Reasons to buy

+
Effective waterproof membrane
+
Easy to care for
+
Folds down small

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively heavy for a cap

Admittedly, the Sealskinz Salle Cap is mainly designed for hikers, but it also works very well as a running hat to fend off rain and block UV during changeable weather. The waterproof membrane means water won't soak through to your hair, while the extra long brim keeps it well away from your eyes. The membrane doesn't need any special care, either; as Sealskinz recommends. Our run leader expert Cat said: "I threw the Salle Cap in the washing machine with non-biological detergent, and it came out good as new".

Cat reckons another of the Salle Cap's best features is its foldable brim, which allows you to tuck it into the side pocket of your running backpack in case the weather turns. Although it's not the lightest running cap we've ever tested, and you may prefer something less weighty for the height of summer, the Salle Cap is an excellent option for the shoulder seasons when you can't be sure what the weather will bring. 

Read our full Sealskinz Salle Cap review

The best running headband

Woman wearing inov-8 Race Elite Headband

A lightweight headband constructed with Meryl Hydrogen yarns (Image credit: inov-8)
The best running headband

Specifications

Style: Headband
Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s versions available
Sizes: One size
Average weight: 14g / 0.5oz
Materials: Meryl Hydrogen (94%) and Elastane (6%)
Colors: Black / Blue / Pink
Compatibility: Year-round running

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Simple
+
Comfortable
+
Price 
+
Super soft

Reasons to avoid

-
Single width all round

The inov-8 Race Elite headband is wonderfully lightweight and boasts double thickness and offers protection for the ears and forehead when out on colder days. Equally, our tester Julia found that if she was out on a warm day, the fabric effectively caught sweat and prevented it from entering her eyes. She went on to add: "whether it is hot or cold, the fabric has outstanding wicking and cooling properties".

Although there are male and female versions available, the headband is the same size for both men and women, and the design is one width all the way around the circumference, which won’t suit everyone. However, it's a stretchy piece of apparel, constructed using Meryl Hydrogen yarns (with 6% Elastane). The yarn is justifiably described as a luxury performance yarn, and Julia commented that she "liked how soft it was to the touch".

Read our full inov-8 Race Elite Headband review

The best reflective running headband

Woman wearing the running headband

The Proviz Reflect360 is a lightweight, soft microfleece headband (Image credit: Fiona Russell)
The best reflective running headband

Specifications

Style: Running headband
Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: One size
Average weight: 17g/0.6oz
Materials: Soft-touch, back-brushed microfleece
Colors: Black
Compatibility: Year-round running – especially useful on dark morning and evening runs

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Simple
+
Comfortable
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one size
-
Only one color

The Proviz Reflect360 running headband is made with a microfleece inner lining, which our tester Fiona found made it "super soft and comfortable". The design is shaped to cover the ears, which means that it can be worn in early spring and well into fall. You'll be glad of its design when the temperatures drop and extremities like ears often get a little on the cold side. It's also great in mid summer, when wearing a sweatband is the order of the day. 

The main USP is the Proviz signature REFLECT360, which is highly reflective and shines super brightly when lit by vehicle lights or the light from a headlamp. This makes it an invaluable safety belt when the evenings and mornings are darker during the colder months. The REFLECT360 is used in the logos at the back and front. The fabric is ‘sweat wicking’, however, so it is useful in the warmer months, when things get hot and sticky. There is only one size, but it is highly stretchy to fit all head sizes.

Read our full Proviz Reflect360 Running Headband review

The best running beanie hat

Man wearing Rab Logo Beanie

(Image credit: Rab)
The best running beanie hat

Specifications

Style: Beanie hat
Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: One size
Average weight: 55g / 2oz
Materials: 100% acrylic with inner fleece headband
Colors: Oxblood, Atlantic, Firecracker, Beluga, Deep Ink and more
Compatibility: Chilly winter runs

Reasons to buy

+
Close-fitting
+
Quick drying material
+
Fleecy internal headband

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
Acrylic material can release microplastics when washed

Choosing the right hat for winter running can be hard; it needs to keep your ears warm, but shouldn't leave you with sweaty hair. The Rab Logo Beanie is ideal; a lightweight, no-nonsense hat made from a lightweight single-knit fabric that keeps out the chill but dries quickly.

Our reviewer Matthew Jones noted that it's not waterproof, unlike some more technical beanie hats from the likes of Sealskinz, but nor will it cause your head to overheat mid-run. "Unlike cheaper imitations, it also has a fleecy internal headband that keeps ears toasty, minimizes irritation, and generally adds to the performance levels and overall sensation of cosy comfort," he said.

Read our full Rab Logo Beanie review

The best running hats comparison table

Swipe to scroll horizontally
HeadwearList priceWeightStyleBest use
Salomon XA cap$25 (US) / £22 (UK)40g / 1.4ozCapRunning and hiking in hot and sunny conditions
Sealskinz Salle Cap$42.50 (US) / £30 (UK)62g / 2.1ozCapRunning and hiking in rain
Dynafit React Visor Band$40 (US) / £27 (UK)28g / 1ozSun visorSummer trail running and hiking
inov-8 Race Elite Headband$19 (US) / £15 (UK)14g / 0.5ozHeadbandYear-round running
Proviz Reflect360 Running Headband$25 (US) / £15 (UK)17g/0.6ozRunning headbandYear-round running – especially useful on dark morning and evening runs
Rab Logo Beanie$20 (US) / £15 (UK) 55g / 2ozBeanieWinter running

How we test the best running hats

To test the best running hats, our reviewers wore the hats on their runs, heading out in the conditions that the caps, headbands and beanies were designed for. This enables our reviewers to asses the quality of each hat against claims made by the manufacturers, considering qualities like protection, warmth, moisture wicking capability and the ability to stop perspiration dripping into their eyes.

Meet the testers

best running hats: Fiona Russell
Fiona Russell

Fiona loves running in all its forms. Based in the Scottish Central Belt, just a stone's throw from the Southern Highlands, she has a wealth of excellent road and trail running right on her doorstep.

best hiking boots: Matthew Jones
Matt Jones

Based in Wales' Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park, Matt has a huge passion for the mountains and wild running. He enjoys running throughout the seasons, whether in bright sunshine or the icy grip of winter.

best running hats: Cat
Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.

How to choose the best running hat

Choosing the best running hat, like choosing a pair of trail shoes, is always a very subjective matter. Many runners like to don some form of headwear year round, but of course they will be looking for different features depending on the season and the prevailing conditions. Personal factors – such as style preferences, taste and how much hair you do or don’t have (and how long it is) – will also play into your decision-making process for these trail running essentials. Following are some pointers to help you choose the best running hat for you.

What protection do running hats provide?

If you are someone who likes to use headwear while exercising, you will probably have a best running hat for hot weather and a best running hat for cold weather. If it’s cold and windy, you will most likely be looking for thermal protection for your ears, and to stop heat escaping from your head. When it’s hot and sunny, you’ll want running headwear that keeps the sun off your face and the sweat from your eyes, as well as protecting your ears, scalp, face and neck from sunburn (see: hiking injuries and ailments, which apply equally to runners!). If you’re running in areas where there is no shade, consider a cap with extended neck protection (French Foreign Legion style). Some hats will also have reflective elements, to help keep you visible to vehicles when running on roads and lanes in the dusk and darkness.

What design features should I look for when choosing a running hat?

Running headwear usually comes in two types: band or full cap, although there are lots of variations on these themes, such as bands with visors. Most runners have a preference between the two basic styles. The advantages of a band, buff or bandana is multifunctional versatility and greater ventilation, while a full cap is a good choice for days when you need more protection from the sun or rain.

What fabrics are best for running hats?

Look for lightweight and breathable fabrics. Whether it’s cold or warm weather, you are likely to sweat when running so the fabric choice will determine comfort levels. Fabric that allows sweat to evaporate or ‘wick away’ is vital in the best running headwear. Cotton should be avoided because it soaks up moisture but stays damp and cold.

How should a running hat fit?

Check sizes for new running headwear because you want the item to fit neatly; not too tight, nor too big. A stretch fabric or adjustors and elastic straps will help with fit, especially if it’s a one-size-fits-all product, or a unisex hat. If you know you have a small or large head, pay particular attention to the sizing of the headwear.

What extra details should I look for in a running hat?

Look for air vents or mesh fabrics for extra ventilation on hot days. A sweatband is also a great idea if you often find the perspiration dripping down your forehead. Some headwear brands add anti-bacterial treatments and/or DWR (What is DWR?). Another attractive detail might be mosquito repellency if you are running in areas where these biting insects live. The small details can make a big difference when it comes to comfort during trail runs.