The 10 Best Winter Hats of 2021

From wool beanies to insulated liners

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

TRIPSAVVY-best-winter-hats

Chloe Jeong / TripSavvy

The Rundown

Best Overall: Columbia Thermarator Hat at Amazon

"The Thermarator Hat from Columbia has been a classic for years."

Best Budget: KUHL Alf Hat at REI

"A lot of extra features at a lower price than similar designs. "

Best for Running: Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie at Backcountry

"Smartwool will combat the strongest of winds and the coldest of chills."

Best for Skiing: Tough Headwear Skull Cap Helmet Beanie at Amazon

"It's part liner, part beanie, thanks to its thin construction and modern silhouette. "

Best with Pom-Pom: Helly Hansen Ridgeline Beanie at Amazon

"Winter hats with pom-poms are just more fun."

Best for Kids: Carhartt Kids Acrylic Watch Hat at Amazon

"This beanie will keep your little one toasty. "

Best for Warmth: Maine Guide Wool Cap with PrimaLoft at L.L Bean

"This unisex wool hat from L.L.Bean has ear flaps that can be pinned up or down, depending on how much protection you’re looking for. "

Best Wool: Minus33 Merino Wool Ridge Cuff Wool Beanie at Amazon

"This hat will absorb a good amount of its own weight in water without feeling wet to touch or clammy on your skin."

Best for Ear Coverage: Sunday Afternoons Alpine Quilted Trapper Hat at Backcountry

"This trapper-style hat will keep your head in a good (warm) space"

Best Style: The North Face ​​Recycled Ridge Fleece Trapper at The North Face

"The sherpa fleece lining keeps heat in, and the ear flaps can be worn down with a chin tie for extra wind protection."

Keeping your head warm in sub-freezing temperatures is serious business. Even in a slight breeze, a wool hat can make all of the difference. No matter what you’re doing—skiing, going out for a quick run, strolling through the woods and taking in the changing foliage, playing with your kids in the snow—there’s a winter hat fit for the occasion. We’ve pulled together some of our favorites for all kinds of winter activities below.

Make sure and consider the things that bother you most about winter weather. Hate that feeling of too much wind in your ears? Look into a trapper-style hat or something with ears for more coverage. Does your hat need to fit underneath a ski helmet? Need something that will stay put during your interval training? There’s a hat for each scenario.

All of the suggestions below have been researched for fit, price, material quality, and temperature control. Read on and have a cozy winter season.

Best Overall: Columbia Thermarator Hat

Columbia Women's Thermarator Hat

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Cozy material

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Runs small

The Thermarator Hat from Columbia has been a classic for years, thanks to its simple design and ultra-insulating construction. This unisex option is super soft to the touch, but that’s only one reason why it hits the top of the list. The fleece material is cozy, but the construction of the hat is pretty minimal, meaning you can fit it underneath a ski helmet, pop it on for a quick run, or toss it in your bag for a midday walk. Available in four colors, the Thermarator hat has Omni-Heat thermal reflectivity, which means it’s made to keep the heat in and the chilly wind out.

Material: Polyester | Fit: Tight, available in sizes small/medium and large/extra-large

Best Budget: KUHL Alf Hat

KUHL Alf Hat

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Ear flaps

  • Cozy material

  • Wind- and water-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • Lack of color options

While you can find less expensive winter hats out there, the unisex Alf Hat from KUHL has a lot of extra features at a lower price than similar designs. Most importantly, this hat is wind- and water-resistant, which you won’t find with a typical wool beanie. The ear flaps add extra warmth (another feature many similarly priced hats don’t have), and a chinstrap comes in handy for extra-windy days. Not only does the hat resist water, but it also dries quickly—great quality for battling spontaneous weather changes.

Material: Polyester microfleece | Fit: One size, with some stretch

Best for Running: Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie

Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie

Courtesy of Smartwool

What We Like
  • Warmth

  • Thin design

  • Soft material

What We Don't Like
  • Visible logo

Wool is a great material for insulating, and this beanie from Smartwool will combat the strongest of winds and the coldest of chills while you’re heading out on the trail (or street). The unisex hat is moisture wicking, so you won’t have to worry about sweat dripping into your eyes. It may seem thin at first touch, but don’t let the slight design throw you off. If anything, the minimal construction means it’s easier to toss in your running bag. It’s also small enough to wear under a bike or ski helmet, making it a great option for those who take on lots of winter sports.

Material: Merino wool | Fit: One size, with some stretch

Best for Skiing: Tough Headwear Skull Cap Helmet Beanie

Skull Cap Helmet Liner Running Beanie

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Modern silhouette

  • Lots of color options

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Can get too stretched out after lots of use

This winter hat from Tough Headwear is part liner, part beanie, thanks to its thin construction and modern silhouette. We love this unisex option since it looks just as natural under a ski helmet as it does without anything hiding it. There’s a reflective patch on the front of the hat—and added bonus for runners—and the cap has enough stretch to pull over your ears for extra protection. The flat-seam construction and added lining make it a comfortable pick for layering underneath a helmet without creating any sore spots.

Material: Polyester, spandex | Fit: One size, with lots of stretch

Best with Pom-Pom: Helly Hansen Ridgeline Beanie

Helly-Hansen Women's Ridgeline Beanie

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Warm

  • Retro design

What We Don't Like
  • Only comes in one size

Winter hats with pom-poms are just more fun. If you want to add some whimsy to your winter outfit, check out Helly Hansen’s Ridgeline beanie. We often steer clear of overt logo usage when it comes to gear, but the iconic Helly Hansen font has become a winter sports staple and something to celebrate come snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures. This particular hat comes in six colors and patterns and has a special retro flair. Don’t expect to fit it underneath a ski helmet, but it’ll look great in the lodge for a midday warm-up.

Material: Jersey knit, acrylic, spandex | Fit: One size, with some stretch

Best for Kids: Carhartt Kids Acrylic Watch Hat

Carhartt Youth Acrylic Watch Hat

Courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods

What We Like
  • Machine washable

  • Lots of color options

What We Don't Like
  • Not water resistant

Carhartt made a smaller version of its iconic Watch Hat for smaller heads, and it couldn’t be cuter. Available in eight colors, this beanie will keep your little one toasty. You can also toss it in the washing machine (cold water to prevent shrinking and tumble dry low), which is a must when it comes to anything kids will be wearing as the explore the outdoors. The acrylic material also has a good amount of stretch, so your child won’t immediately grow out of this winter staple.

Material: Acrylic | Fit: One size, with some stretch

Best for Warmth: Maine Guide Wool Cap with PrimaLoft

Maine Guide Wool Cap with PrimaLoft

Courtesy of L.L. Bean

What We Like
  •  Size variety

  • Warmth

What We Don't Like
  • No chin strap or tie

Available in sizes small through extra-large and in two colors, this unisex wool hat from L.L.Bean has ear flaps that can be pinned up or down, depending on how much protection you’re looking for. The hat runs big, meaning you can layer a thin beanie or liner underneath if you prefer. A short brim also offers some protection from sun, snow, and rain.

Material: Wool, nylon, polyester | Fit: Sizes small to extra-large, not a lot of stretch

Best Wool: Minus33 Merino Wool Ridge Cuff Wool Beanie

Minus33 Merino Wool Ridge Cuff Wool Beanie

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Color options

  • Machine washable

What We Don't Like
  • Not water repellant

This double-layered wool hat from Minus33 comes in a myriad of colors. It's also incredibly well priced—so buying a few to match all of your winter outfits won’t break the bank. Merino wool is naturally moisture-wicking and also insulates when it gets wet, meaning it will absorb a good amount of its own weight in water without feeling wet to touch or clammy on your skin. This hat also has UV protection, which will help keep sunburns at bay.

Material: Merino wool | Fit: One size, with lots of stretch

Best for Ear Coverage: Sunday Afternoons Alpine Quilted Trapper Hat

Sunday Afternoons Alpine Quilted Trapper Hat

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Packable

  • Super warm

What We Don't Like
  • Lack of size variety

If you plan on spending a good amount of time in sub-freezing temperatures, this trapper-style hat from Sunday Afternoons will keep your head in a good (warm) space. It has a water-repelling finish and PrimaLoft insulation and features reflective design elements, making it a good option for night strolls. The ear flaps can be worn up or down; when worn down, the fabric provides coverage along the jawline for extra protection from the elements. The hat can withstand being crushed and balled up, as well. Perfect for packing or tossing in your hike pack!

Material: Polyester | Fit: One size, with very little stretch

Best Style: The North Face ​​Recycled Ridge Fleece Trapper

The North Face ​​Recycled Ridge Fleece Trapper

Courtesy of North Face

What We Like
  • Sherpa texture

  • Warmth

What We Don't Like
  • Not water resistant

You can always get by with a basic beanie, but if you’re looking for a statement winter hat, consider a retro silhouette in a bold texture. This unisex fleece trapper from The North Face stands out in four neutral colors (black, white, brown, and a less-neutral camo pattern) and would look great atop a monochromatic winter outfit. Plus, it’s really warm. The sherpa fleece lining keeps heat in, and the ear flaps can be worn down with a chin tie for extra wind protection.

Material: Polyester, fleece | Fit: One size, with little stretch

Final Verdict

For a workhorse winter hat that you can wear on a run, fit under a ski helmet, and toss on for a casual stroll, the Columbia Thermarator Hat is best (view at Amazon). For something a bit more stylish, consider the The North Face Recycled Ridge Fleece Trapper (view at The North Face) or the Minus33 Merino Wool Ridge Cuff Wool Beanie (view at Amazon), the latter of which has an impressive array of color options.

What To Look for When Shopping for a Winter Hat

Material

When choosing a winter hat, make sure to consider the environment in which you’ll be wearing the hat most often. Wool in insulating and moisture wicking, but not exactly water resistant. Look for sports-focused hats with water-resistant finishes if you want to stay dry or expect heavy rainfall while wearing it. There are different types of wool, as well. If the itchiness of the material gets to you, look for merino wool, which is finer and not as scratchy while still trapping heat.

Price

Winter hats can get quite expensive, but at a certain point you’re paying for the branding, not necessarily the features or materials. If you aren’t worried about representing a certain brand, you can find winter hats made of merino wool and other luxe materials for under $30.

Fit

Wool hats will have a bit of stretch, especially beanie-style hats. You’ll have to consider size and fit when looking at trapper-style hats, which have ear flaps and less stretch. Some hats also have adjustable chin straps, which helps keep the hat in place on especially windy days. Polyester and nylon fabrics tend to have less stretch.

FAQs

How do I wash my winter hat?

Many hats are machine washable using cool temperatures and tumbling dry low to avoid shrinking, especially wool hats. Hats with a heavy-duty lining like sherpa or PrimaLoft may not be machine washable and should be spot cleaned with soap and water. Make sure to check with the manufacturer for washing instructions before washing your hat.

Do I need a hat with an extra layer of insulation?

This depends on what you will be doing while you wear the hat. If you tend to have a cold head during the winter or heavy winds bother you, look for an option with an insulation layer. You can also buy liners to wear separately if you’d like the option of extra warmth.

Is one style of hat better for warmth than others?

Trapper-style winter hats have ear flaps, which provide more protection from the wind. Hats with sherpa or other fleece linings will also be warmer. Beanie-style hats don’t provide much protection to the ears unless worn over the ears.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Erika Owen is a travel writer and a fan of all kinds of cold environments. She has a beanie on hand at all times during the winter months and loves a good trapper-style hat for extreme environments. She spent more than eight hours researching these hats with all kinds of winter environments in mind.

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