The 9 Best Running Caps in 2023

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A good running cap is an important part of your gear when you regularly train outdoors.

It offers protection from the elements – keeping either the rain or the sun out of your eyes – and can help keep your hair off your face on windy days.

But it’s not always easy to find a cap with the sweat-wicking properties, ventilation, and comfortable fit you’ll need for running.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of our favorite running caps on the market right now.

Designed to help you pick the perfect hat for your needs, it outlines the features that make them ideal for athletes and the conditions they’re most suitable for.

Before we get to our recommendations, let’s look at the things to consider before making your choice.

Let’s jump in!

Best running caps visual

Features to Look For in a Running Cap

Before choosing a cap, think about whether you will want to pair it with sunglasses. If so, make sure you pick a hat that will accommodate them comfortably.

You’ll also want to ensure the style you opt for won’t limit your visibility in any way, particularly if you’re a trail runner.

Other things to think about include:

Woman running in forest with cap

Fit

Comfort is everything when you’re running and your cap should fit you so well that you can almost forget you’re wearing it!

Either pick a run cap in a size that will fit securely against your scalp without being too tight, or choose one that’s adjustable.

An adjustable hat may use Velcro, snaps, or a buckle and slide closure, so make sure you select one that you’ll find easy to adjust on the fly.

Woman with cap next to sea

Running conditions

If you regularly run in bright sunshine, consider a cap that offers protection against the sun’s rays.

A broad bill is useful for protecting your eyes from both sunlight and rain.

However, the larger surface area means it’s more likely to be affected by the wind – so make sure it can be tightened if needed.

The fabric should effectively wick away perspiration and dry quickly. It should also be breathable enough to keep you cool on long runs.

Some models even provide extra ventilation features, like mesh panels and laser-cut holes.

Woman with cap running next to sea

weight and Packability

The biggest difference between a regular cap and a running cap is the weight.

A good run cap should be made with a lightweight design and fabric that will remain cool and comfortable as you clock up the miles.

If you are a trail runner or ultrarunner, look for a hat that you can easily pack away into your running backpack when the sun goes down.

The 9 Best Running Caps

#1. Nike Unisex Tailwind Aerobill DRI-FIT Running Cap – Best for Ultrarunners

Fabric: 100% polyester, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: Yes

The 9 Best Running Caps in 2023 1
ProsCons
Well ventilatedMight be too tight for larger heads
Quickly wicks away sweat
Sustainably produced with recycled materials

With a classic style that looks great whether worn forwards or backwards, this cap excels at keeping the sweat out of your eyes, no matter how intense your run!

There are lasered perforations on the front and side panels that keep the air flowing and a reflective decal on one side to help with your visibility at night.

The closure is easy to adjust when needed for a customized, snug fit. That being said, the size is a little restrictive, especially if you have lots of hair!

Nevertheless, the lightweight construction and breathability make this one of the most comfortable hats we’ve tried over long distances.

#2. Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat – Best for Trail Running

Fabric: 100% organic cotton crown/bill plus recycled nylon & polyester mesh, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: No

Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat
ProsCons
Quick-wicking internal sweatbandRuns small
Easy to stow awayLimited color options
Highly breathablePricey

Designed for off-road running and other outdoor adventures, this incredibly comfortable cap is made with so much mesh you’re guaranteed to keep your cool!

It’s a dream to pack away—you can simply squash it into whatever space you have, and it will pop right back into shape when you need it again.

Although it’s hand-wash only it’s actually pretty easy to clean, and it features an elastic buckle at the back that helps you achieve a perfect fit.

The bill is large enough to effectively keep out the sun (or the rain!) and we like the dark underbill, designed to cut out glare and reduce eye strain.

#3. On Lightweight Running Cap – Best Unisex Option

Fabric: 100% polyester, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: No

On Lightweight Running Cap
ProsCons
Durable, tear-proof woven fabricCan be tricky to adjust
Quick drying
Featherlight

Unlike many other running hats, this cool-looking cap from Swiss brand On has space at the back to accommodate a ponytail.

And that’s not all we love about it, as it provides great protection from the sun on summer runs yet dries quickly after a downpour to keep you comfortable.

The form-fitting design gives you a barely-there feel, whilst the laser-cut holes at the side provide all the ventilation you’ll need.

We appreciate the lined seams to prevent chafing and the little sleeve to take up the slack from the strap, but the fiddly closure can be a pain if you need to adjust it in a hurry.

#4. Lululemon Fast and Free Run Hat – Best Choice for Women

Fabric: Recycled polyester and elastene, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: No

Lululemon Fast and Free Run Hat
ProsCons
LightweightNot the most durable option
Wicks sweat quickly Excess Velcro can catch in hair
Breathable

Available in both men’s and women’s styles, Lululemon’s Fast and Free running cap has a large enough gap at the back for a high ponytail or even a bun.

It fits very comfortably, but though it’s easy to adjust, we found we needed to remove it to avoid catching our hair in the closure.

The interior mesh fabric sweatband wicks away moisture very effectively, so you won’t have to contend with sweat in your eyes.

We also love the flattering shape and reflective details, which help with your visibility when running in low-light conditions.

#5. Ciele Athletics GOCap – Best Looking Running Cap

Fabric: COOLwick mesh and Repreve recycled performance fibers, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: Yes

Ciele Athletics GOCap
ProsCons
Good range of styles/colorsNone!
Dries quickly
Easy to pack

Featuring Ciele‘s classic 5-panel design, this cap has a distinctly cool look that makes it fun to wear.

But this is definitely not a case of style over substance and the GOCap gives you UPF +40 UV protection on the front panels and brim, whilst quickly wicking away moisture.

The pre-curved brim is pliable, so you can stash the hat in your pack on a longer run, and it has a soft feel that eliminates pressure points.

The vivid reflective detailing is great – better than you see on most run caps – and we love that you can tuck away any excess strap after adjusting it for a cleaner look.

#6. Headsweats Performance Race Hat – An Affordable Option

Fabric: Eventure knit shell and terry sweatband, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: Yes

Headsweats Performance Race Hat
ProsCons
Large visorNo reflective detailing
Easy to adjustCould be more breathable
Durable – washes well

The Headsweats company was founded by cyclist Alan Romick who wanted to create headwear that would eliminate sweat blindness and sunburn.

That’s something the brand has achieved with its Performance Race Hat, which features a built-in sweatband to keep perspiration (and sunscreen!) out of your eyes.

Available in a wide range of vibrant colors, it will fit almost all head sizes comfortably and has a soft, flexible feel.

Of all the hats we tried, it was one of the easiest to adjust mid-run, but we did feel it could use a little more ventilation for very warm conditions.

#7. Buff Unisex Pack Run Cap – Great for Uphill Runs

Fabric: Polyester and elastene, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: No

Buff Unisex Pack Run Cap
ProsCons
PackableA unique look that won’t suit everyone
Ultra lightweight
Name label inside

If you’re looking for a minimalist running cap that will keep you well-protected and comfortable on the longest runs, you’ve found it in this excellent hat from Buff.

It can easily be folded to stash in a pocket, although one of our favorite features is the flexible brim that stays in place when you flip it up.

This is ideal for trail runners, as it gives you a greater view of the horizon when running uphill.

There are plenty more features to love, too, including the UPF protective and moisture-wicking fabric, a low-profile sweatband, and an easily-adjustable elastic band closure.

#8. TrailHeads Running Hat – Best Sun Protection

Fabric: 97% polyester, 3% spandex, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: No

TrailHeads Running Hat
ProsCons
Great budget optionNone!
High-vis and reflective styles
Quick-drying fabric

We really can’t fault this running cap from Trailheads!

It’s lightweight, breathable, has a sweat-wicking headband, and fits so comfortably you forget you’re wearing it… all at a great low price!

You get plenty of colors to choose from, some designed for high visibility when running at night and some with reflective accents.

But this cap really excels when it comes to sun protection, and we like the dark underbelly on the 2 3/4″ brim as it does a great job of reducing glare.

The fabric, meanwhile, provides a protection factor of 50+ UPF – the highest available.

And because this quality is inherent to the fabric rather than a coating, it won’t diminish over time!

#9. Under Armour Launch Run Hat – Best Choice for Keeping Cool

Fabric: 100% polyester, Sizes: One size, adjustable, Machine washable: Yes

Under Armour Launch Run Hat
ProsCons
Cool-to-the-touch sweatbandNot ideal for smaller heads
Good ventilation
Conforms well to your head shape

Under Armour’s proprietary Iso-Chill technology in the sweatband puts this cap ahead of the game when it comes to staying cool as you train.

It uses flat yarn to disperse body heat and titanium oxide to absorb UV energy, resulting in a unique fabric that actually feels cooler to the touch.

The unstructured front and pre-curved visor provide a comfortable fit, whilst the strategically placed laser perforations effectively allow heat to escape.

Easily adjustable with a hook and loop closure, the Launch Run Hat is available in a wide range of vibrant colors and features reflective detailing for safety at night.

The Best Running Caps: Key Takeaways

A good running hat can help enhance your performance by keeping you dry, cool, and comfortable, no matter what the weather has in store!

We hope this guide has been useful in finding a cap that suits your style and provides all the protection you need for your next run!

Woman with cap running
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Christine Albury is a dedicated runner and fitness nerd: when she's not working out she is studying the latest fitness science publications, and testing out the latest running gear!

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