For years, makers of technical sportswear have been honing in on the perfect hat, and with this season’s offerings, they’re finally close. A major goal in noggin coverage is to keep out wind and rain—but if that’s all you're after, you could swipe the hotel’s shower cap and be done with it. What’s the real solution? New technical fabrics that shield your head while providing maximum breathability. These hats allow copious heat and moisture to escape as you up your heart rate on your next winter adventure.
Leaps in construction also help. The latest designs manage to make the hat look fashionable while protecting your ears and neck, especially clutch when the wind kicks up and the temps dip below 20 degrees. One hat designer, Seirus, even hides a fold-up balaclava in the brim hat for neck and face protection when you need it.
Mountain Hardwear Dome Perignon
Mountain Hardwear’s Dome Perignon is all about cosseting the ears in three different kinds of engineered fleece. The sweater fleece provides warmth, the AirShield fleeced blocks wind, while a fleece back panel to the hat keeps it all snug against your head. Needless to say, the whole setup breaths like a three-season tent. The Dome comes in five colors, with three sizes from medium to extra large. 2.8 oz; $36
Arc’teryx Hyllus Hat
With a design clearly grounded in the Elmer Fudd school, Arc’teryx has lent a playful look to the highly engineered Hyllus Hat. The principal material—Polartec Power Shield O2 High Loft—blocks 96 percent of the wind while remaining breathable and water-repellant. Plus, High Loft has a warm, velour inner lining and an outer membrane that transfers twice the sweat off your head than competing technical fabrics. Other nice features: grommets attach to a chinstrap and the foam brim can be folded under a helmet. And if you don’t want the color to scream, “Where’s dat wabbit?” it also comes in a more toned-down grey or brown. 1.7 oz; $59
Outdoor Research Inversion Beanie
Like the other hats in this lineup, the Inversion Beanie from OR uses a fabric designed to wick away sweat while staying windproof and water-resistant. But the truth is, at some point in your adventures, the hat will get soaked. In this case, its synthetic Primaloft One insulation retains its warmth and loft unlike typical down insulation. It comes in two colors with two sizes, S/M and L/XL. $40
Black Diamond NM Merino Beanie
Sometimes natural materials insulate best. With a snug fit that covers the ears, Black Diamond’s NM Merino Beanie uses merino wool to keep you warm and dry. The 55 percent nylon/45 percent wool blend feels soft but stays breathable for hyper-active days on the mountain. Two colors; one size. $30
Seirus Gradient 3-in-1 Quick Clava Hat
When the weather is over 30 degrees, a hat keeps the chill at bay, but when the wind arrives and the temps dip, you need protection for your head, ears, and face. The Seirus Gradient 3-in-1 Quick Clava Hat employs a patented fold-down design for protection in all conditions. The hat hides a fleece face mask that you can pull over your nose or around your neck when Jack Frost comes calling. Constructed of acrylic and polyester materials, it features a soft fleece headband for extra comfort. One size; $25