Anyone that plans on hiking during the winter will need to prioritize warm clothing. Being underprepared can leave you feeling cold and uncomfortable.
It’s no secret that a significant percentage of body heat is lost through the head. Recent studies estimate that figure is around 10%, although some will argue it’s around 40%.
Either way, wearing a winter hiking hat is a great way to retain body heat. By reviewing the best products on the market, we aim to keep you warm throughout your cold-weather outings.
Ranking The Best Winter Hiking Hats
- Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie
- Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Beanie
- Columbia Trail Shaker Beanie
- Mountain Hardwear Dome Perignon Pro
- The North Face Bones Beanie
Best Hiking Hat For Winter Comparison
Superb hat that will keep you warm in alpine weather and wick moisture during intense treks
Great warmth and wind-resistance with a snug and low-profile design
Incredibly warm and waterproof hiking hat that's built for the toughest winter weather
Comfortable and stylish winter hat that has a snug and secure fit that will keep you warm
Value for money hiking hat that provides ample warmth and moisture-wicking
Insulated, breathable, moisture-wicking, anti-odour, quick-drying, lightweight
Warm, windproof, helmet compatible, comfortable, water-resistant
Warm insulation, waterproof, durable, lightweight, comfortable, packable
Comfortable, fashionable, versatile, snug earband, soft lining, good fit, warm, soft
Budget friendly, lightweight, retains heat, wicks sweat, durable, good fit
Size runs small
Very snug fit, style doesn't suit everyone
Expensive, not breathable
Fabric not so durable, prone to pilling
Not so stylish, not great for wind
100% Merino Wool
94% Nylon, 6% Elastane
20D ripstop polyester, 650-fill down
Why Do I Need The Best Hiking Hat For Winter?
Winter hiking is all about preparation. The weather can often be unpredictable and you will need to be prepared for hostile conditions.
Cold climates are also common place, with body heat retention paramount to your safety. One of the best ways to stay warm is by wearing a good winter hiking hat that can reduce heat loss.
It’s worth noting that not all hats are created equally. Although it might seem like a simple piece of clothing, every product has significant differences that make them more or less suitable for use on the trail.
By reviewing and comparing the best products; we aim to find you a hat that is warm, comfortable and durable enough for serious adventures. Each option is best suited to a different type of hiking, allowing you to easily find the hat that suits your style.
How To Choose The Best Hiking Hat For Winter
Synthetics (Nylon, Polyester, Acrylic)
The majority of winter hiking hats are made from synthetic materials. Nylon and polyester are both popular choices that have a range of beneficial properties.
Synthetic materials are quick-drying and have a natural moisture-resisting abilities. They also offer great durability without adding too much weight.
The main difference between nylon and polyester is breathability. Polyester will is generally more breathable, while nylon tends to be better at retaining heat.
Wool has become an increasingly popular choice for winter hiking hats. Especially merino wool, which has a great range of benefits.
Merino wool is great at retaining warmth without sacrificing breathability. It’s also anti-odour, lightweight and durable.
The main downside to merino wool is financial. It’s generally more expensive than synthetic products.
It’s also worth noting that wool rarely offers the same durability as synthetic fabrics. However, it can still provide ample strength if you purchase from a reliable brand.
Comfort should always be a priority when choosing a hat. You need it to feel secure, while also providing the protection you require.
Many of the best hiking hats for winter use a stretch fabric blend to improve fit. Lycra, spandex and elastane are common options that will help your hat feel snug.
Stretchy fabrics are also a great way to retain the structure of your hat over time and stop it from getting pulled out of shape.
Some hats don’t use any stretch fabrics at all. Although they might provide a less adaptable fit, many of them can still feel secure if you find the appropriate size.
If you’re regularly going to face wet weather, water-resistance is key. Once your hat is soaked through, its ability to provide warmth will be compromised.
Most winter hiking hats offer some level of water-resistance that can withstand light rain. Some use a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) finish, which is designed to make the water bead-up and roll away instead of penetrating the fabric.
Keep in mind that wool and synthetics do offer a degree of natural water-resistance. However, they are not fully waterproof and can leave you feeling exposed in torrential rain.
The reason that you’re wearing a winter hiking hat is to retain heat, so it’s no surprise that warmth is a top priority. Every hat will offer a different level of warmth that is predicated by a few key factors.
The type of fabric used will always make a difference. Wool has the ability to trap warm air within its fibers and is great at stopping body heat from escaping. Synthetic fleece and nylon also do this to a certain degree, while polyester will often let the most warmth escape.
Fabric thickness also plays a vital role in warmth. One key feature to assess is density, which is measured in g/m2. As a general rule: high-density ‘thick’ materials will retain the most heat.
Added warmth retention features can also be important. Some hats will use specific technology, such as: ‘thermo-conductive coating’ or ‘double layer fabric’. Each brand can differ in their design, so it’s best to check the key details and assess product reviews to get a true gauge of effectiveness.
Best Overall Winter Hiking Hat
Smartwool have become a popular hiking clothing brand thanks to their high-quality wool products. The Merino 250 beanie has been no exception, with superb all-round performance making it our favourite winter hiking hat.
As you might expect, the beanie is made from double-layered merino wool. Its quality fabric design makes it excellent for anyone looking to retain heat without adding too much bulk.
The merino design also boasts anti-odour, breathable and moisture-wicking abilities; all of which are essential for a quality hiking hat. The wool also has a soft and comfortable feel against the skin, with the classic roll up design giving it a casual look that could also be worn away from the trail.
The reliability of merino wool is well-known within the hiking community, with Smartwool being one of the best providers around. If you purchase the 250 Merino Beanie, you can expect to be kept warm and comfortable throughout the winter months.
- Warm insulation
- Temperature regulating
- Soft against the skin
- Size runs small
- Can get a bit fuzzy over time
Best Low-Profile Winter Hiking Hat
Anyone looking for a warm winter hiking hat without adding bulk will be impressed by the Mountain Hardwear Dome Perignon Pro. It uses a low-profile design that conforms to your head, while still blocking out the elements.
In oder to maximize weather resistance, Mountain Hardwear have teamed up with Gore-Tex by using their renowned ‘windstopper fleece’. It’s a fabric that has reliable windproofing and water-resistance, while still maintaining a decent amount of breathability.
The low-profile shape is helmet compatible, making it a great choice for winter mountain sports enthusiasts. In addition, it uses a good quality design that has reliable durability in any scenario.
If you’re looking for a lightweight winter hat that can withstand tough weather, the Mountain Hardwear Dom Perignon Pro will suit your needs. It’s versatile, reliable and has superb weather-resisting ability.
- Gore-Tex windproofing
- Helmet compatible
- Too tight for some
- Not everyone will like this style
- Not ideal for casual wear
Best Winter Hiking Hat For Warmth
Down clothing has been a favourite amongst those looking to stay warm in winter weather for many years. Although most frequently associated with jackets, Outdoor Research have used feathers to produce their Transcendent Down Beanie.
The warmth this beanie provided was head and shoulders above any other hat in our review. The down filling provides superb insulation and is ideally suited to alpine ascents or cold nights around the camp fire.
The outer 20D ripstop polyester fabric also provides great waterproofing and is durable enough to last for many years. The Transcendent beanie was also the lightest hat in out review and provides an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio.
The Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Beanie is definitely one of the best winter hats for hiking. Super warm, incredibly lightweight and highly durable; it’s a great choice for the coldest adventures.
- Warm down insulation
- Durable design
- Abrasion-resistant fabric
- Great fit for most hikers
- Overkill for the average hiker
- Not very breathable
Best Winter Hiking Hat For Comfort
Finding a hat that’s comfortable and casual with the attributes required for life on the trail isn’t always easy. However, The North Face Bones Beanie does a great job of keeping you cosy during outdoor excursions.
It’s constructed from 100% acrylic that does a great job of retaining warmth. It also has a comfortable feel against the skin, which is aided by a soft interior lining.
The overall fit of the hat is snug yet secure and it well suited to hikers of all shapes and sizes. We also thought that hat provided the most fashionable look upon review and is a great option for casual wear.
The North Face have a great reputation for reliable winter clothing. The Bones Beanie is no exception, providing warmth and comfort during your time on the trail.
- Comfortable feel
- Ideal fit for most hikers
- Soft interior
- Good heat retention
- Fashionable design
- Naturally water-resistant
- Versatile on and off the trail
- Fabric durability questionable
- Prone to pilling over time
Best Budget Winter Hiking Hat
Columbia is a brand that’s favoured by many budget-conscious hikers. By producing the Trail Shaker Beanie, they have proven that a warm and reliable winter hiking hat doesn’t need to break the bank.
The Trail Shaker is constructed using 100% Polyester fabric that is lightweight and durable. The overall feel of the material is soft and comfortable, while it’s also quick-drying after a sudden downpour.
Inside the hat, you will find Columbia’s patented ‘Omni-Heat’ lining, which is specially designed to trap heat and retain warmth. The fabric also wicks away sweat when the going gets tough during steep ascents.
If you’re looking for warmth and reliability for a bargain price, we highly recommend the Columbia Trail Shaker Beanie. It’s designed with hikers in mind, providing warmth and comfort during any winter hiking trip.
- Bargain price
- Warm lining
- Can resist light rain
- Comfortable fit
- Not great at stopping wind
- Not stylish enough for casual wear
Finding the best hiking hat for winter isn’t always easy. However, the reviews in this guide are sure to help you find a product that suits your needs.
Every hat is designed for different conditions and will be ideal for various types of hikers. Be sure to review the product information carefully to find the pros and cons.
Keeping warm is paramount to your winter hiking excursion. Once you’ve found the perfect hat, it will be easier to brave cold climates.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.