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As the cold weather settles in, you'll want to retire your go-to baseball caps for something warmer. Many of us reach for whatever beanie we happen to have on hand, but there's a case to be made for carefully selecting a winter hat. There are many factors to consider when purchasing a winter hat, but we'll focus on three: warmth, comfort, and breathability.
When considering materials, keep in mind that fleeces made from wool and polyester are very warm, and some winter hats even have a thermo-conductive coating to help your head retain heat. Design-wise, most people appreciate something that covers their ears, which are especially sensitive to the cold. Besides warmth, comfort also matters. Whatever hat that you get, you want to make sure that it fits snugly on your head. Beanies are usually stretchy, but they can also fit poorly if the opening for the head is too small. No matter what weather your travels bring, here, we help you discover the best headgear for all of your fun winter treks.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Mountain Hardwear Unisex Dome Perignon II
Whether you're rock climbing or snowboarding, Mountain Hardware's Perignon II Hat is a workhorse hat that's comfortable and keeps you dry and warm throughout winter's inclement weather. This hat gets the job done — it completely covers your ears and has an inner fleece-lined ear band for extra warmth. The Perignon II also reaches the back of your neck, which is also particularly sensitive to the cold. The beanie, made from 100-percent polyester Toasty Tweed Fleece, has Mountain Hardwear's Windbloc technology so it's breathable and resistant against biting winds. It's also stretchy, so it can accommodate different head sizes. The beanie does weigh four ounces, so it's a hair heavier than many of the selections on this list that weigh one to two ounces.
Best Wool: Minus33 Merino Wool Ridge Cuff Beanie
The Minus33 Merino Wool Ridge Cuff Beanie is a stylish cap with unmatched softness, comfort, and breathability. Merino wool is incredibly soft, as well as moisture wicking, odor resistant, and insulating. Even when you start to sweat while participating in winter sports or a brisk walk, you'll be able to rely on this beanie to keep you warm, dry, and fresh. In fact, you can wear it while playing in the snow — the wool can absorb up to 30-percent its weight in moisture. The lightweight material is naturally elastic, and the circumference ranges from 17 to 25 inches, so you won't need to worry about fit. Best of all? You can toss it in your washer and dryer when you want to clean it. The collection has 11 different colors, including all the hues of the rainbow and more.
Best for Wearing Under a Helmet: Under Armour Storm ColdGear Infrared Elements 2.0 Beanie
If you need something that will fit under your helmet and keep your head warm, look no further than Under Armour's Storm ColdGear Infrared Elements 2.0 Beanie. The "infrared" part of the title refers to the thermo-conductive inner coating of the beanie which absorbs and retains about 10-percent of body heat to your head. The beanie is soft, consisting of ultrasoft, brushed fleece. The one-size-fits-all winter hat also has a UA Storm technology coating that keeps it breathable and expels water. There are 12 different colors to choose from, including various shades of reds, blues, and grays. Some things to consider are that the beanie isn't windproof and that it doesn't cover the ears completely, which can be very sensitive to the cold during the winter.
Best Design: Coal Yukon Chunky Knit Warm Beanie
A stylish beanie isn't hard to find, but one of our favorites is the Yukon Chunky Knit Warm Beanie by Coal. While it's marketed towards men, the winter hat looks great on everybody. It sports a beautiful crossed cable knit pattern and ribbed cuff made from 100-percent wool. On the inside, you'll find a soft polyester and fleece bottom liner. You can also see the logo displayed on a minimalist suede tag. The neutral colors are sophisticated, including selections such as black, creme, dark red, grey, navy, olive, and oatmeal.
Besides its trendy look, the beanie will keep you warm in cold weather around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. It covers the ears quite nicely, protecting them in freezing temperatures. However, reviewers have commented on how the top of the hat feels scratchy. Those sensitive to tough wool will want to keep this in mind before making a purchase.
Best Down Hat: Outdoor Research Transcendent Beanie
Since down jackets exist, why not down hats? Outdoor Research’s Transcendent Beanie, which hails from the same product line as the popular Transcendent jacket, has an ultralight and water-resistant ripstop shell. Inside, it uses responsibly sourced 650-fill power goose down. The beanie helps you retain heat during winter treks, and when the temperature gets warm, all you need to do is stuff it into its hidden pocket or compress it. The winter hat won't be too heavy to carry around as it weighs a mere ounce in total. One thing to keep in mind is that reviewers have mentioned sizing issues. To play it safe, go with a large/x-large size as opposed to a small/medium one.
Best Headband: The North Face Women's Denali Thermal Ear Gear
People with voluminous and natural hair understand the struggle when it comes to finding suitable cold weather gear to keep their ears warm. This headband from The North Face will keep your ears protected from harsh cold weather and biting winds. Reviewers love how soft and comfortable the polyester fleece lining feels against their skin. Whatever size your head, the headband is one-size-fits-all. Since it only covers your ears, the winter accessory is light and will fit effortlessly inside your travel bag. However, the drawback to its small size is that it won't protect you against precipitation, so it's best suited for those winter days when it's cold, but not pouring. The color selection is straightforward, coming in black and white.
Best Trapper Hat: mysuntown New Winter Trapper Hat
Most people will recognize a trapper hat (also known as a bomber or aviator hat) for its furry build and floppy ears. If you plan on doing any outdoor activities in very cold weather, you'll want to reach for one from mysuntown. The brand's stylish black trapper hat combines design with warmth, coming with a comfortable flock lining and an easy-to-clean polyester outer shell. Fasten the ear flaps with chin straps and buttons to secure them. Pull them back when the weather is warm — the faux fur on them looks great both up and down.
In addition to covering your head, this product also includes a removable face mask to keep you guarded against extreme wind during snow sports like snowboarding. It attaches to your hat with two snap buttons on the side. It's fairly cozy and warm, and one reviewer even mentioned that they prefer it over thinly knitted ski masks.
Best Billed Cap: REI Co-op Insulated Waterproof Hat
REI's Co-op Insulated Waterproof Hat sports a bill that keeps your face shaded from the sun and protected against precipitation. The brim and crown, made from stretchy fabric, are soft, so they fit different head sizes and pack easily into your suitcase. In windy weather, this is also a great hat to wear, since its five-panel design and short brim allow for a snug, secure fit. Many reviewers loved how the cap stayed on their heads, no matter how hard it is for them to find a good fit.
While it shares the shape and weight of a regular baseball cap, it's quite warm. The hat has PrimaLoft Silver Eco insulation that consists of 70-percent post-consumer recycled materials. The PrimaLoft is water resistant and breathable, but also warm and insulating even when bad weather comes your way. Designed like a winter jacket, the REI hat has a 2.5-layer construction with a waterproof outer shell and fully taped seams so that your head always stays toasty and dry. You can also pull down the ear flaps on cold days and tuck them away in warmer weather. Colorwise, choose between black and a green-brown color called rockwall.