Buff Merino Active Beanie review: a high performer with a laidback look

Versatile headgear that has a cool vibe but can hold up to the demands of cold weather adventures

Buff Active Merino Beanie
(Image: © Future)

Advnture Verdict

This beanie hat has a relaxed look that’s at home around town, but when you start picking up the pace on a chilly mountainside, its merino fibers work wonders to keep you comfortable


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    Comfortable, stay-put fit

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    Not too warm when you get moving

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    Breathable and moisture-wicking

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    Ethically sourced Merino Wool


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    Hand wash only

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Buff Merino Active Beanie: first impressions 

Buff was born in Barcelona, a place where you don’t often go searching for a beanie, but founder Joan Rojas created their iconic tubular neckwear to keep himself warm on chilly motorcycle runs, it became a smash hit and now the brand has built a reputation as a leader for headgear. This beanie hat is the latest in their line of gear designed for those who keep hiking and running through all weather.

Because it’s designed for the active person, this hat strikes a great balance between cozy warmth and moisture management and it’s all thanks to the magic of merino wool. A medium weight and snug, stay-put fit means that it blocks a cold wind and keeps your head warm without being too tight or itchy. If it’s cold enough to need a hat for a winter trail run, once you break a sweat it does a great job of wicking moisture off your forehead, so you won’t find yourself needing to take it off after a few miles.


• RRP: $199 / £42.95
• Gender specification: Unisex
• Sizes: One size
• Materials: 56% Merino Wool 35% Polycolon® 7% Glass beads 2% Polyester
• Colors: Black, Pale pink, Garnet, Solid cobalt, Light gray
• Best use: Hiking, Trail running, Winter sports 

A laidback look means you’ll be happy wearing this around town as well as on a hill or on belay, and it’s versatile enough for cool to cold weather hikes as well as cold runs, making this a contender for your favorite hat. It comes at a premium price, owing to the ethically sourced merino no doubt, so you’d have to love it to buy it, and it’s hand wash only so a little higher maintenance than your regular hat, but bear in mind that you might wear it year-round and won’t get stinky with use. 

Buff Merino Active Beanie: in the field 

Buff Active Merino Beanie

Because it’s designed for the active person, this hat strikes a great balance between cozy warmth and moisture management (Image credit: Future)

Sizing and fit

This hat comes in one size, and on my head it feels right, but snug. As far as I’m aware I don’t have either a big or a small head, and since this isn’t the stretchiest fabric, I do wonder if it would be suitable for someone with a large head. For me, though, it’s comfortably snug so it stays put when it’s really windy at the summit, but it doesn’t get uncomfortable or leave me with weird marks on my forehead. 

I really like the fit. It’s not quite slouchy with loads of extra fabric, but it’s also not a total skullcap, and the turn up is wide enough to look great.

Comfort and temperature regulation 

Despite the wool content, this hat doesn’t get itchy, even when I get sweaty. It feels quite smooth against my skin, though like I said, it could be too tight if you have a larger head.

The blend of merino and synthetic materials seems to be perfect for temperature management, keeping me nice and warm recently when I was up a Munro in a biting wind, but when I wore it out on a chilly run I didn’t feel the need to take it off. That said, for cold trail runs I rarely wear a hat,preferring instead my Buff headband, but if you need something for really icy runs, this does perform under sweaty conditions.

Buff merino hat

This hat only comes in one size (Image credit: Future)

Odor control and durability 

Synthetic materials can get smelly with use, but merino wool doesn’t and this one seems to have captured more of the merino properties when it comes to odor-control and mine still smells fresh. That’s good news, since it’s hand wash only and I’ll admit that means I’ll be less likely to wash it frequently.

It’s also good news because less washing should extend the lifespan of this hat, though that’s not something I am worried about. The knit isn’t prone to rubbing, pilling or pulling and without elastane, I’m not concerned about it losing its shape. I think this is one of those hats that will look as good as new until I inevitably, sadly, lose it. But I like it enough that I might sew my name and number into the lining…

Buff Merino Active Beanie: the bottom line 

If you expect a lot from your beanie hats – must perform well under aerobic duress in cold conditions, but also look good enough to wear to the bar afterwards – there’s a lot to like about this stylish, but surprisingly technical hat. That said, it comes at a fairly high price and if you’re prone to losing hats, you might want to spend a little less and can find similar performance and style for less spend in the Helly Hansen Wool Beanie

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.