Best Hiking Beanie for All-Weather Adventurers

The humble hiking beanie is an essential piece of any cold-weather hiker's kit. Find the perfect one for your adventures in this comprehensive buyer's guide to the best hiking beanie in 2021.

Amanda Williams
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Editor’s Choice

Sherpa Adventure Gear Jumla Hat

SHERPA ADVENTURE GEAR Jumla Hat, Rathee, One Size

The Sherpa Adventure Gear Jumla Hat tops our review on account of combining all of the best characteristics you could ask for in a hat for outdoor adventures.

The Jumla’s combination of merino wool and polyester makes it ideal for active pursuits. It’s odor-resistant, wicks away moisture well, is quick-drying, and also tough enough to deal with the rigors of life on the trail.

The double insulation provided by the Jumla’s microfleece interior keeps you warm in all weathers, while the wool regulates your temperature and provides awesome breathability. This means you won’t have to worry about taking it on and off as temperatures change throughout the day.

It’s also worth noting that each Jumla is knitted by Nepalese women working in a women’s co-op in Kathmandu, all of whom earn a livable wage and benefit from Sherpa’s outstanding and ethical employment practices.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for the best hat with the most versatile material and design, this is the option for you.

The Best Winter Hiking Hats

Want to protect your noggin no matter how cold winter is?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • What makes a beanie great
    • The various styles of beanie
    • The best beanies on the market

No matter how high-quality and cozy the rest of our cold-weather hiking getup, neglecting to take care of the “command center” can result in a chilly and uncomfortable day on the trails. Hoods are helpful, sure, but when the mercury plummets and the wind’s howling, a little extra protection can go a long way.

Enter: the hiking beanie!

Unsure what kind of beanie will be best for your adventures? Read on to discover the best beanie hats for all kinds of outdoor activities in 2021.

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What Makes for the Best Cold-Weather Beanies?

Before making your purchase, it’s well worth taking a few minutes to look into the specs and features that make one beanie better than the other.  

Material

Beanies can be made from several kinds of fabrics. For our money, the best are synthetic materials like polyester fleece or natural fibers like merino wool.

hiker wearing ski goggles down jacket next to lake

The reason that these materials are the most popular is that they combine all the most desirable characteristics for outdoor pursuits. These include quick-drying capacity, breathability, moisture-wicking capabilities, and, of course, the ability to keep your head warm.

Merino Wool

These days, thanks to brands like Smartwool and Icebreaker, merino is the most popular fabric in high-performing hiking hats. It’s lightweight, comfortable, highly breathable, and dries very quickly. It’s also naturally odor-resistant and continues to insulate your dome even if it gets wet while you’re hiking. 

The only downside to merino is the price, with some models of hat costing twice as much as their synthetic counterparts.

Synthetic Materials

The positive aspect of synthetics over wool is that they are generally more affordable. This is especially true of models made with 100% merino wool. They also tend to dry faster and are more durable.

Whatever material you ultimately choose, you should find one with an antimicrobial treatment like polygiene. We often don’t think of our heads as being particularly germie, but after wearing something over and over again, it can be surprising how dirty (and stinky!) it becomes.

Warmth 

Most of us wear a winter hat like a beanie to protect ourselves when hiking in cold weather. A lot of heat is lost through your head. Although it isn’t the 45% that researchers assumed in the 1950s, it is still around 10% in cold temperatures. As such, protecting your skull in cold temps should be a priority.

hiker wearing beanie down vest in snowy weather

But how do we know if a hat’s warm or not?

The best way to gauge warmth when buying online is to study the specs for the hat’s weight and thickness. Most merino and fleece hats boast a density or weight of 100-400 g/m2 (grams per square meter of material). In short, the higher the number, the heavier, thicker, and warmer the hat will be. 

But it isn’t just cold temps we need to be wary of. In any season, strong winds can chill our domes and leave our ears feeling like lumps of ice without the right protection. As such, hats with an added wind-resistant layer, like the double-layer Mountain Hardwear Dome Perignon, can make all the difference. Failing that, models that use integrated earbands are the way to go.  

Comfort & Fit

All hiking hats perform better when they fit well. With a good, snug fit, they’re less likely to let in cold air and, of course, more likely to stay on your head in high winds.

Many hats are one-size-fits-all or unisex. If you’re concerned about finding a good fit, opt for a hat that is made specifically for your gender—female products are typically slightly smaller than those for men.

For a more precise fit, we recommend choosing a hat with multiple size options. If doing so, hunt down the manufacturer’s sizing guide. Then, measure your head with a tape measure and use your measurement and the chart to decide if you need a small, medium, or large.

Durability

Any product meant to accompany you on an outdoor adventure should be durable. One of the best ways to determine this is to look at previous customer reviews to get a handle on how it performs in the longer term. 

Another way is to pay close attention to the specs.

Some of the factors and features conducive to long-term durability include double-stitched seams, DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatments, thicker fabrics, and stretchy material like spandex that will help the hat keep its shape. 

And some materials are, of course, more durable than others. For example, even a good merino wool hiking hat is likely to get a little “holey” over time, something to which a fleece hat will not be quite so prone. If you’re particularly fond of merino wool, look for a merino-nylon or merino-polyester combo as synthetics typically add durability. 

Style

Slouchy Beanies

Slouch beanies (aka “hipster beanies”) are one of the only beanies that don’t have any form of cuffing at the brim, but are only folded over. They form a slight slouch on the head and are styled backward.

The slouchy style is often used more for fashion than functionality, however, and can sag a little at the back of your dome and on your forehead.

Woman hiking in winter cold dark winter forest in warm hiking clothing

Cuffed and Cuffless Beanies

A cuffed beanie has dramatic foldovers or a “cuff” that you can fold back up and over the lower half of the hat, thereby providing added insulation for your ears. The roll cuff also helps them sit tighter and makes them less prone to sagging over your eyes.  

“Cuffless” models are the opposite. As the name suggests (!), they have no cuff but come down across your forehead and stop there. They’re one of the most popular styles out there owing to their light weight and straightforward and low-profile design, which makes them especially well-suited to more active pursuits.

Woven Beanies

Woven beanies go by many names, including fisherman’s, docker hats, and skull caps. They are similar to cuffed beanies but are much more shallow, so they sit over the middle of your ears and do not normally cover up any of your forehead.

Brimmed Beanies

If you are looking for some protection from the elements built into your winter hat, then a brimmed beanie is the way to go. These hats can be made in any other style but include a cap-like brim on the front and sometimes ear flaps on the side. These stop the sun from getting in your eyes and can even be sturdy enough to shield your face from rain water.

The Best Hiking Beanie: Our Top 7 Picks

Sherpa Adventure Gear Jumla Hat

Best Overall

SHERPA ADVENTURE GEAR Jumla Hat, Rathee, One Size

The Sherpa Adventure Gear hat is a cuffless and woven wooly wonder of a hat that’s ideal for all kinds of 3-season and 4-season adventures.

The Jumla is made from a combination of merino wool and polyester. This combo makes for a hat that is odor-resistant, quick-drying, and moisture-wicking, all in one.

Most of the hat is knitted with merino wool, though the polyester microfleece earband adds both durability and extra warmth for sensitive ears in the winter.

Weighing in at just 3.5 ounces, the Jumla also offers an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio, making it ideal for throwing in your pack just in case and maybe the best backpacking beanie out there. 

These hats are knitted by Nepalese women in Kathmandu who work as part of a women’s co-op, earning a livable wage. 

  • Fabric: Merino wool and polyester microfleece
  • Gender: Unisex
  • PROs

    • Fabric combo brings durability and breathability
    • Protects your ears
    • Produced within a supportive co-op community
  • CONs

    • Single sizing

Bottom-Line: The Jumla’s super cozy combo of fleece and merino make this one a great pick for winter wanders in even the most frigid conditions.

Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared

Best for Added Warmth

Under Armour Men's ColdGear Infrared Fleece Beanie , Steel (035)/Steel , One Size Fits All

Under Armour’s ColdGear beanie is a toasty-warm, low-cost option that’s ideal for male adventurers. 

The ColdGear’s unique selling point is the ColdGear Infrared technology that Under Armour integrates into the design. This material uses a thermo-conductive inner coating that is soft and comfortable and, most importantly, absorbs your body heat, allowing you to retain it for longer.

The ColdGear is made slightly larger and is mostly suitable for men. It uses a traditional shape with a cuff at the bottom that acts as an ear band for the lower portion of your dome. 

While not as breathable as some merino options, this one’s 100% polyester, brush fleece materials make it superbly soft to the touch, as cozy as they come, and a great choice for buyers on a budget who don’t want to compromise on warmth.

  • Fabric: 100% Fleece
  • Gender: Male
  • PROs

    • ColdGear technology retains your body heat
    • Cuff is an ear band
    • Comfortable brushed fleece
  • CONs

    • Single sizing means it’s more suitable for men only

Bottom-Line: If you need a low-cost option that will keep you warm in any weather, the Under Armour ColdGear deserves a place very near the top of your shortlist! 

The North Face Shinsky Beanie

Best for Women

The North Face Shinsky Beanie, TNF Light Grey Heather, OS

The Shinsky Beanie is a kinda cool-looking cuffed beanie that doesn’t offer the same performance as some of the other options in our review but scores highly as regards comfort and style. 

Unlike the two products listed above, this beanie hat doesn’t sit as tightly to the top of the head. Instead, it uses a slightly floppy design with a deep-fitting base that makes it more adaptable. When temps are really low, you can pull the cuff right down over your ears and the back of your dome. When they pick up, you can roll it up to let a little air in.

This hat is made with an acrylic knit that’s long-lasting and a sure bet to keep your head warm all winter. It is primarily designed for women, so the sizing is slightly smaller than unisex or male products. However, it also has a knitted pattern that’s more attractive than many unisex options and is sold in three different colors.

  • Fabric: 100% Acrylic Knit
  • Gender: Female
  • PROs

    • Durable acrylic knit
    • Deep-fitting base provides more adjustability
    • Attractive knit pattern
  • CONs

    • Smaller sizing makes it better suited to women only
    • Material not as high-wicking or breathable as merino

Bottom-Line: With a deep-fitted and highly versatile design that’s also warm and aesthetically-pleasing, the North Face Shinsky’s a winner for buyers who want adequate insulation without sacrificing appearance or style.

Patagonia Fishermans Rolled Beanie

Best Sustainably-Produced Winter Hat

Patagonia Fishermans Rolled Beanie

Patagonia’s own take on the fisherman style is a lightweight, stylish, cozy, durable, and snug option that’s perfectly suited for all-day use on just about any kind of adventure. 

This beanie hat is made to sit snug and shallow on your head, just skimming the ear, and uses a cuffed design that provides more adjustability in varying temperatures.

This cuffed beanie is made from itch-free polyester, 68% of which are derived from recycled materials. The material is both super comfortable, warm in cold weather, and far more durable than both merino and fleece alternatives. 

Although this one loses a few points for its lack of size options, its cuffed design means it can be adjusted to fit just about any head. 

  • Fabric: 100% Polyester Yarn
  • Gender: Unisex
  • PROs

    • Made with durable, itch-free polyester
    • 68% recycled material
    • Fair Trade Certified sewn
  • CONs

    • Only one size option

Bottom-Line: If you want to support a great, ethically minded company with your purchase and still have a warm head, this one is the way to go.

The North Face Bones Beanie

Best Beanie for Men

The North Face Men's Bones Recycled Beanie, Night Green/British Khaki, OS

The NF Bones Beanie is another great option for lovers of the supple softness and outstanding cold-weather performance of fleece.

The hat is made from 100% recycled fleece and, though it weighs in at a mere 2.8 ounces, offers more than enough warmth for any adventurers who’s not headed to either of the poles or above the 6000-meter mark! 

The shape is a classic, a cuffless design that covers all of your ears but stops short of sagging into your eyes on the forehead. This shallow design also allows it to snugly shape to your head and retain heat better than its slouchier peers. On the inside, a soft fleecy earband provides added insulation against cool winds. 

  • Fabric: 100% Polyester
  • Gender: Male
  • PROs

    • Made from 100% recycled material
    • Classic, cuffless design 
    • Snug, shallow shape
  • CONs

    • Will run a bit large for women

Bottom-Line: A super-cozy option that’s lightweight, breathable, and doubles down on insulation around your ears. 

Arc’teryx Rho LTW Beanie

Best Moisture-Wicking Beanie

Arc'teryx Rho LTW Beanie | Lightweight Wool Blend Beanie | Rhapsody, One Size

The Rho LTW from Arc’teryx is a high-performing beanie designed for more aerobic activities. 

Made with a merino wool and spandex combination, the LTW is moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, and more durable than products that use merino alone. The spandex content also means it’s more stretchy, particularly along the bottom, and helps provide a snugger, bad-weather-blocking fit.

This material also helps this outdoor hat remain lightweight, coming in at only 1.1 ounces. A thermal-efficient base with textiles derived from natural fibers also makes it soft and great at maintaining warmth. And while cuffless, the LTW still doubles down on insulation thanks to a cozy headband in the lower portion. 

  • Fabric: Merino wool and spandex
  • Gender: Unisex
  • PROs

    • Double covering headband
    • Moisture-wicking and odor-resistant
    • Lightweight
  • CONs

    • Comes only with a single sizing

Bottom-Line: Its moisture-wicking material, lightweight, and odor-resistance make this wool beanie one of the best on the block.

Mountain Hardwear Dome Perignon Beanie

Best Wind-Resistant Beanie

Mountain Hardwear Standard Dome Perignon, Zinc, X-Large

True to its name, the Dome Perignon is Dom Perignon of hats for cold and windy days in the mountains.

With an added wind-blocking layer and extended side that provide full-ear coverage, this one’s ideal for hikers who envision spending a lot of time in blowy conditions or who are particularly concerned about the welfare of their ears.

Engineered to work with a helmet, the DP uses a sleek design that’s low-profile, fits securely on your head, and maximizes heat retention by hugging your dome all the way around the hem.

Mountain Hardwear sells the DP in six color variations and four sizes ranging from small to extra large. These variations make this the only hat on our list that allows you to ensure you get a dialed-in, precise fit. 

  • Fabric: Polyester 
  • Gender: Unisex
  • PROs

    • Meant to slide on under a helmet easily
    • Variations in sizing
    • Very wind-resistant
  • CONs

    • Not as breathable as merino

Bottom-Line: With added wind resistance, a snug fit, and a lower cut around the ears, the DP is ideal for windy days in the outdoors.

Last update on 2021-04-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a hiker, climber, writer, and forager. No matter where she is, she never stops longing for the Colorado Rockies, feeling the Muir-esque call of the mountains. 

Amanda lives to explore and has done incredible hikes and adventures in Asia, Central America, the European continent, and all across America. She believes that there is nothing better for the soul than spending nights out in the wilderness. In between adventuring, Amanda found time to obtain a Bachelor's degree in horticulture with a focus on sustainability. She has used this education to learn how to forage safely on her backpacking adventures and the ways that outdoor enthusiasts can protect our planet.

Amanda uses her writing and outdoor skills to help teach those with whom she adventures and a larger online audience. Currently living in the UK has given her the opportunity to learn a new plant-scape and discover magical new trails and mountains. She now works with a local university to teach others how to grow and thrive in the outdoors in between writing while continuing her never-ending quest of learning.

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