For those who work outdoors—or even those who jog or walk dogs—staying warm and comfortable during the winter means having a well-made hat that’ll ward off the chill. Winter hats come in various styles and designs, and the best winter hats focus on keeping the wearer toasty warm while also offering an aesthetic appeal.
The face, ears, and head are sensitive to cold temps, but not all hats thoroughly protect these areas. Depending on how long the wearer is outdoors and whether it’s windy or the air is humid, some hats will be more effective than others. While the best winter hats will vary from user to user and from situation to situation, finding the right one shouldn’t be difficult. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for a winter hat, and find out why the following hats are good options for a wide range of users.
- BEST OVERALL: Minus33 Merino Wool Ridge Cuff Wool Beanie
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Tough Headwear Knit Beanie for Men and Women
- UPGRADE PICK: Carhartt Men’s Acrylic Watch Hat A18
- BEST HAT AND SCARF SET: Aisprts Winter Beanie Hat Scarf Set
- BEST FAUX FUR: Janey&Rubbins Unisex Winter Knit Trapper Aviator Hat
- BEST CHUNKY KNIT: FURTALK Knit Beanie Hats
- BEST WINTER CAP: Stormy Kromer Original Kromer Cap
- BEST POM-POM: C.C Thick Cable Knit Faux Fuzzy Fur Cuff Beanie
- BEST PONYTAIL: C.C BeanieTail Soft Stretch Cable Knit Ponytail Hat
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Winter Hats
When it comes to the best winter hats, it’s often a case of one-size-fits-all because the material used to construct many warm hats is stretchy and will adapt to various head sizes. A good-quality winter hat should keep the wearer’s head warm and offer protection for the ears, neck, and face if the weather is especially frigid.
Winter hats should be soft and comfortable, and the fabric should also help retain body heat without causing sweating. The following common winter hat materials all have their benefits as well as best uses. Thick yarn is a staple in many winter hats because it allows for stretch and offers a thicker, insulating effect.
- Cotton: Cotton, which is an all-natural fiber, is lightweight and breathes, wicking moisture away from the wearer’s head. Cotton is often used in winter hat liners or in combination with other fibers to increase its warmth-retention ability. For those who like layering headwear, a thin cotton beanie worn under a thicker knitted hat adds comfort. A plain cotton winter hat may be all that’s necessary, however, in a draft-free workshop—especially if there’s a space heater in use to help take the edge off the chill. Most cotton hats are washable.
- Felt: A tried-and-true material for making hats (think cowboy hats and Girl Scout beanies), felt material is more often used in fashionable winter hats than ones made strictly for warmth. Felt is made by pressing fibers together rather than weaving them. For commuting to the office, a felt hat offers some protection while providing style. However, don’t toss a felt hat in the washer—a dry cleaner is usually necessary.
- Fleece: Made from natural fibers, such as wool, or synthetic fibers, such as polyester and acrylic, fleece is a deep-pile woven fabric that’s thick and soft. Fleece material is a popular choice for warm winter hats because it stretches to fit the head and is thick enough to retain body heat. Depending on the type of fibers used to make the fabric, fleece hats may be washable.
- Wool: Another natural product, wool comes from the hair or fur of animals, including sheep, goats, and rabbits, among others. The natural protein present in real wool provides warmth and insulation, making it a top choice for warm winter wear, including hats. Wool is often combined with other fibers to add a silky feel and elasticity. Wool hats usually require dry-cleaning.
- Down: Winter hats made from down are among the warmest around. The feathers found on the back and sides of a goose are tough and too rigid for use as fill in a hat, but down—the softer, smaller feathers from the bird’s underside—is just right. Down hats often feature a nylon-blend fabric in a tight weave to keep the downy feathers from poking through. Down makes for some of the warmest hats around and is a top option for those who live and work in northern climes. Some down hats are washable—just make sure to dry them thoroughly to keep mildew from forming.
- Fur: Real animal fur, such as rabbit, mink, or even cowhide, all offer warmth but tend to result in trapping sweat next to the head and neck. Faux fur, made from a combination of fibers, looks and feels like the real thing but usually breathes better and is easier to clean. Real fur hats require professional cleaning.
Not all hat types keep their wearer warm—some styles are much better suited to the task. For the warmest results on chilly days, pair a warm winter hat with a pair of insulated work gloves, consider keeping a rechargeable hand warmer in a coat pocket, and if it’s bitterly cold outdoors, try wearing a heated vest for added warmth.
- Caps: A traditional cap that fits over the top half of the head and features a bill is sufficient for keeping hair in place, but it won’t offer much protection if the wind is howling and snowflakes are flying.
- Beanies: The common name for a dome-shaped hat that fits the head, beanie is the correct name for many winter hats. Depending on the material’s thickness, a beanie might cover just the top of the head, or the wearer might be able to pull it down over the ears and the back of the neck for added warmth.
- Trapper/Aviator: Among the best hat styles for those who work or spend a lot of time in the cold, a trapper or aviator hat is a top pick. It features a fur- or faux-fur lined interior, with extended flaps that cover the ears and (usually) a strap that connects the flaps beneath the chin. The hat’s exterior may feature a variety of fabrics, including denim, leather, or nylon.
- Ponytail: Well suited for anyone with hair long enough to gather in a ponytail, these hats allow the user to pull a ponytail through a hole in the back rather than having the hair pressed flat along the neck, which can be itchy and uncomfortable.
- Pom-pom: Like beanies in design, pom-pom hats feature a large yarn or fur ball at the hat’s crown for style. These hats may also come with a fold-up cuff that can be pulled down over the ears.
The first thing that should come to mind when choosing a winter hat is to find out whether or not it provides adequate warmth and protection from the elements. After that, a few additional features can help make the hat more fashionable or functional.
- Reversible: Some knitted hats feature one color or pattern on one side and another color or design on the other side, making it handy to turn the hat inside out for a whole new look.
- Lining: A separate lining acts as a second fabric layer to help retain body heat or wick away moisture to reduce sweating.
- Chunky knit: A favorite in knitted winter hats, chunky knit features thick, soft yarns used to create a warm and stretchy hat.
- Double knit: A type of knitting that creates a double layer of fabric for a thicker, denser hat.
- Crochet: A favorite of home crafters, a crocheted hat can have either a dense or a loose weave, depending on the type of stitches.
- Ribbed knit: Basic knitted fabric that features raised ribs for design appeal and added stretch.
- Cable knit: Similar in look to a ribbed knit, cable knit is commonly found in winter hats, and it offers both added stretch and visual appeal.
- Jersey: Made from various fibers, including cotton, wool, or synthetic fibers, jersey is a knitted fabric that doesn’t stretch as much as other knits. It’s soft and warm and often found in hat linings.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as one of the top picks, the following winter hats had to meet strict construction standards, including being suitable for the wearer’s intended outdoor activity, durable, and, above all, comfortable. While the best winter hats vary depending on individual needs and climates, any of the following options will be a welcoming addition to any winter wardrobe.
For the warmth of wool in a lightweight, stylish beanie, check out the Minus33 Merino Wool Ridge Beanie. It features 100 percent super-soft merino wool (a natural fiber from Merino sheep) and pulls on easily. It also comes with a cuff that folds down for extra ear protection.
The one-size-fits-all Minus33 beanie features a double-knit fabric that stretches to fit any adult-size head, and it stays snugly in place without being restrictive. The hat is available in a range of fashionable colors, and it suits both men and women. The Minus33 pull-on beanie can be washed in the washer and dried on low in the dryer.
A soft, warm winter hat need not cost a lot. The Tough Headwear Knit Beanie offers comfort and protection from the cold in a fashionable hat that fits most adult-size heads. Made from soft-knit acrylic, the hat stretches to fit the head without being too tight or slipping off. It comes with enough fabric to fold up in a cuff style or, alternately, pull down over the ears to block out chilly winds.
The Tough Headwear hat comes in a handful of colors that will complement both men’s and women’s winter outfits. The antistatic nature of the material won’t leave hair standing on end when the hat’s removed. In short, it’s a warm, comfortable hat at an affordable price.
From a manufacturer known for quality work-related apparel comes the Carhartt Men’s Acrylic Hat that features 100 percent soft-woven acrylic in a warm, ribbed knit. The thick, stretchy hat pulls on easily and comes with a fold-up cuff that sports the Carhartt logo. The hat can be worn with the cuff folded down, but it’s probably not necessary since the hat extends over the ears even with the cuff up.
The hat comes in a few flattering color options, and it has plenty of room at the top so it won’t create undue pressure or result in a conehead look. The Carhartt hat is thick and warm and will keep the wearer warm and comfortable even when the outdoor temps are frigid.
Block cold air with a scrumptiously soft pull-on scarf that matches the Aisprts Winter Beanie Hat. Both the hat and the one-piece scarf feature thick acrylic knit with a lining of super-soft synthetic wool fleece for a warm and snuggly feel. This two-in-one winter hat and scarf set is trendy and fashionable, but more importantly, it’s very comfortable and warm.
Its stretch-to-fit size comfortably fits most men and women without being too loose or too tight. The outer knit features cable stitching and ribbing designs. Both the hat and the scarf are wrinkle resistant, and the fabric is breathable, so it won’t trap heat and cause sweating. The set is available in a few flattering colors.
Get the look and warmth of rabbit fur without going the real-fur route with the Janey&Rubbins Trapper Hat. This warm winter hat is lined with faux fur made from polyester and acrylic, and it features a cotton or leather exterior (depending on the style chosen). The hat comes in two sizes that fit most adult heads, both male and female. It pulls on over the head and comes with two elongated flaps that cover the ears, jaw, and chin and can be fastened together beneath the chin for extra wind-blocking action. The faux-fur lining is soft and comfortable against the skin.
For warmth and style, check out the FURTALK Knit in a chunky slouch style that complements both women and men. This two-layer winter hat features a top layer with a large-stitch cable-knit pattern and a thinner skullcap lining made of fleece that feels deliciously soft against the skin and adds a layer of wind protection. The hat comes in three unisex sizes, and it stretches to fit adult heads comfortably without binding. Choose from a variety of natural and earthy tones to match winter outfits. The FURTALK hat should be hand laundered and laid out flat to dry.
Those looking for a cap-style hat need look no further than the Stormy Kromer Cap that’s made from 100 percent cotton flannel in a style that’s sure to complement any winter outfit. This fashionable cap features a hinged, fold-down ear band that protects the ears from the cold wind when necessary and then folds back up and ties on the front—just above the bill—giving the cap a trendy Sherlock Holmes look. The Stormy Kromer Cap is available in a variety of patterns and styles—plaid figures predominantly—and because this is a fitted cap (not a stretchy hat), it comes in a range of sizes as well.
Put a pom-pom on top! This thick cable-knit beanie looks as warm as it feels. It features a chunky knit exterior made from 100 percent polyester and is lined with super-soft fleece to help block the wind and add a layer of skin-friendly protection. Topping off the look is a faux-fur pom-pom that adds a stylish and whimsical touch. The hat features a fold-down cuff that keeps ears warm in the coldest weather, and the C.C. logo adds an element of interest. The hat is available in a range of flattering shades, and one size fits most.
Those with long tresses can wear the C.C Soft Stretch Beanie that comes with holes in the back for a ponytail. No more flat hair or long hair pressed against the neck, where it can become itchy and uncomfortable. The C.C hat is made in a double-knit style with attractive ribbing stitches around the hat’s circumference.
The hat’s back features three holes, spaced one above the other to suit the wearer’s favorite ponytail height. The C.C hat accommodates thick or thin ponytails, and it even accommodates man-buns. It’s made from soft and stretchable 100 percent polyester and is well suited for walking, jogging, or other outdoor activities.
FAQs About Winter Hats
A winter hat should be warm and comfortable. If this is your first time shopping for winter hats, some questions about style and function are to be expected.
Q. Are all winter hats waterproof?
No. Unless a hat features nylon or another water-resistant shell, it won’t repel water.
Q. Are all winter hats the same size?
Many winter hats will stretch to fit most adult heads. However, if the fabric isn’t stretchy, the hat likely comes in various sizes, and a measuring chart can help the buyer choose the correct size.
Q. What are the warmest beanies?
Beanies made from two or more thick fabric layers will help retain body heat and are the most efficient at keeping the wearer warm.
Q. Are beanies only for winter?
Beanies are popular at any time of year. Winter beanies are thick, soft, and stretchy, while warm-weather beanies feature thinner fabric.
Q. Does wearing a hat cause hair thinning?
The verdict is still out. Some feel that a tight hat does not allow air circulation at the scalp level, which may increase the risk of hair loss. Others see no connection between hair loss and hat-wearing. One thing is sure: Wearing a winter hat that keeps the head and ears warm during frigid weather is much better than feeling miserably cold or risking frostbite on the ears.