Why Do Runners Wear Hats: It’s Not Just For Show

When I first started running I began to notice that a lot of runners were wearing hats and I didn’t understand why. In particular, it seemed that the trucker hat style was popular.

I thought that there must be some sort of logical reason as to why they would wear them so I decided to do some research for myself.

Hats provide runners with protection from the sun, soak up sweat, and can also keep the rain out of your eyes. If your hat has a peak, it can also be reversed to protect the back of your neck from the sun.

However, a running hat isn’t just there to protect you from the sun. Although this is a huge benefit to you, there are many other reasons why runners wear hats which I want to discuss further within this post.

  • Protects the Head From Sun Burn
  • Protection from Weather
  • Stops Sweat in Your Eyes
  • Prevents Hair in Your Face
  • Maybe Slightly Aerodynamic
  • Can Keep Your Head Cool
  • They Look Damn Good

7 Benefits of Wearing a Running Hat

Protection From The Sun

trail runner in countryside

It doesn’t matter if you have a full head of hair or you shave it like me, your head can burn very easily from prolonged sun exposure.

Slathering sunblock atop your head–while it would be the best option–isn’t really feasible for many people. You don’t want the white gunk to get caked in your hair, so you tend to go without. 

On those days when you’re preparing for a long run such as a half-marathon or a full and the sun is out, you’ll definitely want a running hat. The top of your head will be protected from the sun, as will your face since the peak of your hat will provide a protective shadow. 

There is also the option of putting the hat on backwards so the peak covers and protects the back of your neck when the sun is behind you.

If you are out for a long period during the day a hat is definitely going to be your best friend.

You can find a great selection of running hats on AmazonOpens in a new tab..

Protection from the Elements

As well as the sun, there are other protective properties that a good hat has to offer. On a windy day it will offer protection, especially if it’s cold.

To a degree, it will also help a little in the rain. rather than your hair getting soaked and water running into your eyes, the hat will soak up a certain amount of water allowing your face to stay fairly water free.

Sweat and Moisture Wicking

I absolutely hate it when I start to sweat and it gets in my eyes. I don’t know about you, but it stings like hell and after constant rubbing my eyes start to get really sore.

The beauty of a hat with a good moisture wicking band around it is that it will soak up any sweat from your head, allowing you to be worry free and keep your eyes nice and clear.

Keeps Hair Out of Your Face

This isn’t a problem for me as I shave my hair fairly short, but for the ladies a hat can be fantastic.

It is easy to put the hair through the gap in the back of the hat in a ponytail or tuck it under the rim to keep it out of your face.

Could Be Aerodynamic

I’m not that fast so it would affect me I think. However, there is an argument to say that a hat might help when it comes to being aerodynamic.

I guess the most obvious one would be if you have long flowing hair. It could cause an element of drag as opposed to it being tucked away in a hat.

The hat in reality will be only part of helping you run more aerodynamically. Other factors such as baggy clothing would have more of an effect, but having the right kit together could make a more marked improvement.

Can Keep Your Head Cool

As well as the moisture wicking properties a hat can have to keep the sweat away from your head, some of the better hats also have a mesh like dome.

This mesh allows air to circulate freely in and around the head area and in turn helps to keep you cool during your run.

Can Make You Look Cool

I’m not the sort of person that really cares what I look like out on a run – I’m there to train, not act like I’m on the catwalk.

However, I get it, some people like to look good when they are out and about. So that’s where you are ok if that’s you. There are so many styles and colours of hat on the market today, there will be something for everyone.

Choosing The Right Running Hat For You

At the end of the day, only you can choose the right hat for you and what you feel most comfortable in. Below are some of the things I look out for when purchasing a hat for my trail runs.


When you are going to be out for a lot of hours it’s really important to ensure you have a hat that fits well. It is important that it feels comfortable and doesn’t pinch or rub.

Many hats come in one size fits all nowadays, especially the trucker style. Adjustment is made via the poppers on the band at the back of the head.

Watch out for some ‘proper’ running hats though, as they do come in sizes, so make sure you aren’t buying one that’s going to put additional pressure on your head.


I like my hats to feel quite soft in nature especially around the forehead and the band around the head itself.

If have purchased hats before that are quite rigid and they really don’t feel comfortable at all.

I want to have the option to flip the hat backwards if I need to, so flexibility is a big factor to me.

Moisture Wicking

Another important factor when choosing a hat is it’s ability to wick moisture away from your head. As I have previously stated, there is nothing worse than getting salty sweat into your eyes when your running – it’s very irritating to say the least.

The band around the forehead that offers cushioning for comfort should also be good moisture-wicking material, as well as the brow and peak.

Having a mesh dome will also help with the breathability of the hat around your head, which in turn will help to keep things nice and dry.


If you are doing any form of running at night or early in the morning when it’s dark, it pays to have some reflective features on your hat.

Although much of our running gear does have some form of reflective property nowadays, you can never be too safe right?

Be safe, be seen.


My personal preference is the trucker style hat, purely because I love the way they fit, and they are easily adjustable on the move.

However, there are many styles of running hats from caps, duck bill style, lightweight, warm weather, and many more.

You just need to find the hat that suits you best and is the most practical.

In Summary…

In my opinion, a running hat is one of those essential items that you shouldn’t be without.

Not only do they offer great protection from the sun and other elements, but they also have great moisture wicking properties to keep you dry and cool on a hot day.

You can find my recommended style of hat here on AmazonOpens in a new tab..

Mark Emmerson

Mark loves everything outdoors, especially trail and ultra running. He has competed in many events ranging from half marathon up to an 86 mile ultra. He also follows a primarily plant-based diet.

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