Best winter hats: Comfortable hats to keep you warm

Stay toasty and stylish when the temperature drops with out picks for the best winter hats.

Winter is perpetually coming, which is why there is never a bad time to stock up on luxuriously warm winter hats. Though the notion that we lose half our body heat through the head might be a medical myth, wearing a hat does help retain heat and protect our extremities such as the ears, which are sure to suffer first when it comes to the cold. Leaving your noggin exposed can further constrict your body’s blood flow. Unlike other areas of the body, the head is lacking subcutaneous fat to keep it warm so an added layer of protection will insulate your noodle and keep you from shivering on your next walk home.

There are a couple of things you’ll want to consider to make sure you order the best winter hat for you. So we’ve created this little guide to help you answer all the important questions before you hit “add to cart”. Here’s to staying warm—and looking good—all season long.

There are so many types of winter hats; here’s how to find your perfect fit

In order to find the best winter hat for you, there’s more to consider than the climate and your personal sense of style. We’ve got you covered.

Do you need extra insulation in your winter hat?

If you are frequently out in the cold, you’re going to want to find a tightly knit winter cap with extra insulation, especially around the ears. That’s right, we’re talking ear flaps also known as trapper hats. Trapper hats were originally designed for hunters who spent long hours outdoors hoping to catch food for the unforgiving winter on the American frontier. Originally made from various furs and leathers, trapper hats have become a staple for those battling extreme cold. While there are many hats like this on the market, the important thing focus on is construction. A poorly made trapper hat isn’t going to do you any good when the sun starts to set and temperatures drop. So it’s important to look at the interior and exterior materials that line the hat. If you live in a relatively dry cold place, look for a wool exterior, this will keep any heat from escaping. If you happen to be in a rather wet environment, we suggest finding a trapper hat with a waterproof exterior. With the interior you have more options, some hats still use real fur or shearling to insulate while others employ faux fur, polyester blends to wick moisture away while keeping you warm. Both will keep you cozy, but we suggest looking for a mid to high-end design before reaching for a budget pick to ensure high-quality materials.

Trapper hats aren’t solely function over form anymore; many trapper hats now come in stylish designs and colors well suited for any age and gender. Neutral, earth tones are quite popular, but you can find other, brighter styles. The key thing to look for here is a fastener and the base of the ear flaps which has a hook, tie, or another fastener underneath your chin. This will keep your face and ears warm especially if things start to get windy.

Best trapper hat: Canada Goose Aviator Hat

Fight The Coldest Of Cold

This traditional-style fur trapper hat, trimmed with coyote fur, will keep you warm all season long. Amazon

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This trapper hat from Canada Goose is the best winter hats when it comes to insulation. With a buckle closure, waterproof Arctic-tech exterior, and coyote fur interior you’ll never want to take it off. This model comes in three colors and though it’s listed as “for men” can be worn by anyone. If this particular model isn’t for you, we recommend checking out other Canada Goose styles, of which there are many.

Are you looking for something simple that won’t disappoint?

If you are looking to keep warm but the overall structure of the trapper hat doesn’t really fit with your sense of style, consider the basic beanie. Beanies typically provide a sleeker, tight fit making them not only functional but fashionable. This hat type is great for any gender and age, coming in many fabrics, colors, and price points.

In America, the beanie as we know it originated in the early 1900s and was popular amongst blue-collar workers and college freshmen (they were a weird form of hazing for a while in the ’50s). Primarily made from wool, these hats kept workers warm while keeping hair tucked away. They didn’t become particularly popular until the 1990s and have remained a winter clothing staple ever since. However, other forms of the knit cap such as the toboggan date back to the 17th century with roots in French, South American, Scandinavian, and British cultures.

Nowadays “beanie” is kind of a catch-all word for hats designed to fit over the ears, without brims or flaps. You can quite easily find tight skullcaps, pom pom toppers traditionally called bobble hats, slouchy styles, and more. Popular materials for these winter hats include wool, cashmere, and rib-knit. Some are fleece-lined for added warmth and you can even find a few with special features, such as built-in headphones.

Best beanie hat: Patagonia Wool Pom Beanie

Fun Design, Ultimate Warmth

This pom-topped beanie will look great and insulate. Patagonia

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This cute beanie hat is manufactured by one of our favorite companies, Patagonia, which is widely trusted when it comes to outdoor gear and ethical production. This beanie is made from recycled wool and nylon that has been Fair Trade Certified sewn. The knit design is naturally stretchy and the cuff can be folded up if the weather gets a little warmer.

Runner-up beanie: North Face Shinsky Beanie

Stylish And Slouchy

Look cool while keeping warm with this relaxed fit beanie. Amazon

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If pom-poms aren’t really your thing, check out this North Face beanie. It’s made from soft acrylic fabric, available in two sizes, and comes in seven solid colors. This hat is great for a more relaxed look to pair with just about any outfit.

Want something stylish that will stand out in a crowd?

Just because it’s cold and grey outside doesn’t mean you need to temper your personal style to suit the season. As long as you make sure you cover your bases when it comes to warmth, you should feel free to have fun picking out your next accessory. While beanies are great, they don’t necessarily come with much flair, trapper hats will keep you warm but come primarily in muted colors, luckily there are a few options remaining.

While our favorite beanie does have a small pom, you can expand your search to include bobble hats for a bigger, more pronounced poof. Many bobble hats have toppers made from yarn, fur, or other fabrics that are between one third and half the size of the hat itself. Bobble hats were originally created to protect and pad sailor’s heads though now their primary function is fanciful fun. You can also investigate a beret or newsboy cap for a vintage vibe. These hats will give your ears a little more coverage and they’ll certainly add some personal style to your cold-weather looks.

Other stylish winter hats include the wool rancher and boater. Now, these are cool and, dare we say, our favorite fashionable look. While rancher hats won’t necessarily protect your ears, the thick material and structured build will still keep your head warm during a winter outing. We suggest saving this look for chilly days that demand a boost of chicness to get you out the door. Wide-brimmed winter hats are bold and guaranteed to make a statement, though best to leave them during truly frigid, blustery times.

Best wide-brimmed winter hat: Lack of Color Rancher

Stand Out Amongst The Crowd

Heat things up with this ~fire~ look.

This wool rancher fedora from Lack of Color is an all-time favorite. It can be worn in any season, though we think it’s perfect for a winter event, and comes in eight different colors. It has a 10-centimeter brim trimmed with a bow ribbon detail and gross grain edged hat rim. If you’re looking for a little more warmth check out these 100% wool berets from Laulhere.

Do you need a hat for outdoor exercise?

While knit beanies and furry flaps might be great for general outdoor wear, you aren’t going to get what you need if you are outside exercising. For those of you who persevere and make it outside to run, bike, or ice skate you’ll want moisture-wicking winter caps that won’t get in the way or cause you to overheat.

First things first, the best hats for outdoor sports should fit snugly, you don’t want to be slowed down due to your hat’s constant need for adjustment or worse to pick it up after it falls off. This means avoiding extra flaps, toppers, or ties. Secondly, you’ll need to pay a great deal of attention to the hat’s material. Avoid faux and real furs, as well as chunky knits and other sweat-inducing fabrics. Remember, you don’t want to create excess sweat when out in the cold, especially if you’re in below-freezing temperatures. Moisture created by the body, when exposed to cold air, can stick to exposed skin and lead to hypothermia. So, it’s good to look for water-repellant, moisture-wicking fabrics like tight-knit merino wool, spandex, and polyester blends. Some hats will feature ventilation panels to let out any excess heat whilst keeping out the cold. You can also look for windproof fabric, stretch, and laundering specs to make a final decision.

Best winter hat for exercise: Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Beanie

Don’t Let The Cold Stop You

The perfect accessory for your next cold-weather run. Amazon

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This winter hat from Smartwool is made from 100 percent tight-knit Merino wool, thick enough to keep you warm without inspiring extra sweat. The cuff is adjustable to manage your exposure depending on the weather and it’s thin enough to fit underneath a helmet. Plus, it’s reversible so you’re really getting two hats for the price of one.

Need the best winter hats for your kids?

While you’re out there shopping for your next best winter hat, you might be thinking about stocking up for your kids or grabbing a gift for your siblings.

When it comes to kid’s hats, we suggest buying in bulk. Seriously, grabbing a three-pack can save you a lot of trouble down the road when your little one inevitably loses track of the one they wore to school that day. Packs are also great for sharing, especially if you have a wide variety of colors to choose from. Additionally, you might look for a hat that comes with a little set of gloves so you can keep them together and stop any arguments about which mitten belongs to who. When it comes to material, it’s best to find something simple and straightforward, acrylic or wool is a great place to start. Some of the best winter hats are going to be hand-wash only, so if you’re looking for something you can throw in the washing machine, pay special attention to the laundering specs. You can find children’s hats in many of the styles listed above including trapper, bobble, and the ever-popular beanie.

Best winter hat for kids: ViGrace Winter Hat Set

Cute Options For All Ages

A hat set that will keep your kids warm on their walk to school. Amazon

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This pack of beanies contains three hats made from stretchy acrylic yarn in a soft braided design. There are seven color options and four combinations available so your child will have a choice and you’ll have a backup. This hat will grow with your kids, suiting a circumference size of 7 to 12 inches.

Best budget winter hat: What you get for under $20

There are many great options for budget-friendly picks when it comes to great winter hats. You don’t need to spend a fortune to keep warm, but you will need to keep in mind what type of hat you need and what kind of material it’s made out of. You might have a harder time finding hats that will survive for more than a couple of winters, but if you’re looking for something to last the season, or simply need a few backups, there are many excellent options.

Best budget winter hat: Carhartt Acrylic Beanie

Budget-Friendly and Bright

Stock up on these beanies for you and your family. Amazon

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These Carhartt beanies are made from 100 percent acrylic and come in over 25 colors. Constructed with a rib-knit design and made in the USA, these hats are the one size fits all answer to keeping your head warm on a budget without sacrificing style.

FAQ: More tips on shopping for the best winter hats

What is the best material for a winter hat?

While there isn’t one objectively best material, there are a few that are definitely going to keep you warm. Wool, fur, polyester fleece, and shearling are fantastic options when it comes to insulation and heat retention. Wool blends are also super functional and occasionally found at a lower price point.

Are there other types of winter hats?

While we’ve done our best to cover the many winter hats out there, there are a few more models to look up. An ushanka hat is similar to a trapper but the flaps are designed to be tied up at the top and underneath the chin. You can also winter bucket hats and shearling-lined baseball hats. There are also a few other names for the commonly-known beanie you should keep an eye out for including toboggan and tuque.

How do I style a winter hat?

Styling a winter hat should be fun and simple. Whether you’re reaching for beanie and bulkier ushanka, make sure you have a hat that pairs well with your favorite winter coat. Go for similar, complementary colors that won’t clash and you’ll be good to go. You can even be particularly bold and try to find something that’s an exact match, for a cohesive winter set. Now you just need some matching gloves.

A final word on shopping for winter hats

Hopefully, you’re getting excited about grabbing a new hat for the winter. Remember to always consider the climate, style, and activities your hat needs to be able to handle and you won’t be disappointed. There are a ton of options out there, and when it comes to hats you can never have too many.

Carsen Joenk
Carsen Joenk

is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and a freelance writer focusing on health, music, and technology. She has been writing for Popular Science since early 2020, contributing product reviews and recommendations.