On colder days, you need the warmth and comfort of a beanie to keep your training on track. They’ll protect your ears from the elements and help you keep your mind on your run, not the weather. This guide will help you find the best running beanie, and we’ll share our top five picks with you.
Quick Look: Our Top Picks
Why Do I Need a Beanie?
When you’re running in the cold, you know you should protect your hands with gloves and you dress in layers to stay warm enough while you’re logging the miles. But sometimes the area that most needs protection from the freezing temperatures is the one that often gets ignored.
Your ears should be covered during your winter runs and one of the best ways to do that is with a good running beanie. Your ears are one of the most susceptible areas of your body when it comes to frostbite.
It doesn’t take long for frostbite to occur and you might not even know it’s happening until it’s too late. Wearing a hat is crucial while you’re running in cold weather because you can lose a lot of body heat through an exposed head.
Will a Beanie Slow Me Down?
It’s no secret that runners love to push their own boundaries and set PRs whenever they can. Even if you just shave 2 seconds off your half marathon time, you feel like you’ve conquered the world.
So runners naturally worry that the gear they buy to help them perform well in a run might actually be having a negative effect on their time. Some runners are concerned about whether wearing beanies or hats when they run will slow them down.
They wonder if the aerodynamic drag will cause them to slow down just a smidgen and prevent them from reaching their newest PR. But you won’t get enough drag off a beanie to make a difference.
Plus, your body won’t be spending as much energy trying to keep your temperature steady if you have a hat on your head doing part of that job for you. That’s good news because you need all the energy you can muster for your run.
What If I Have Long Hair I Wear In a Ponytail?
It can be difficult to keep beanies on when you run while wearing a ponytail. Ponytails make the beanies want to shift all over your head, and pretty soon, you find you’ve spent half your race tugging that beanie back in place.
There’s a much easier way for long-haired runners though. Some beanies are made with a cut-out ponytail area. You just slide your ponytail right through the hole in the beanie fabric, just as you would do with a normal hat.
That makes wearing a beanie much more comfortable if you’re rocking the ponytail to keep your hair out of your face during your runs.
What Should I Look for in a Running Beanie?
Before you buy the first beanie you see, you should consider whether it meets your needs as a runner. Here are some of the qualities a good running beanie should have.
Material: It’s important for the fabric of your beanie to be moisture-wicking. In order to stay comfortable and dry during your run, you need the moisture to be whisked away from your head. That’s especially important on long-distance runs where you’ll be working up a sweat, even with the chilly temperatures.
Make sure your ears are covered: The hat should pull low enough to fully cover your ears to guard them against frostbite. You should keep your ears covered even on short runs, or if there are any high winds.
Visibility: When you’re running in cold temperatures in the winter, the whole world can look dreary. The sky is gray and there’s often little sunlight. To help draw attention to you so you won’t be hurt by passing motorists, you may want to consider choosing a bright or reflective beanie to improve your visibility.
Breathability: Just because you want a beanie to keep your noggin warm doesn’t mean you want the heat to be trapped up there. You want to keep away frostbite, not feel like you’ve got flames sprouting out the top of your head. To stop yourself from feeling like your head's on fire, find a beanie that’s breathable so the air can circulate and stop any overheating.
Comfort: The fabric you choose has to feel good on your head. Running in winter gear can sometimes feel heavy and overwhelming, so you need your hat to feel as light as possible. You should almost forget it’s there.
Fit: You want to find a beanie that fits snugly on your head. You don’t want it to have a big empty space between the top of your head and the top of the hat. You don’t want to look like a conehead out there.
Our Top 5 Running Beanies
1. Tough Headwear Beanie
- So lightweight, you’ll forget it’s on.
- The fabric is stretchy so it fits any size of head without feeling tight.
- The fabric is breathable and sucks away sweat so it won’t leave you feeling too hot, just comfortably protected from the cold.
- You’ll get a lifetime warranty on this product, which means you can buy it with complete confidence that you won’t be wasting your money.
- These beanies are so affordable you’ll be able to buy a spare so you always have one on hand.
- It’s compact enough to fit in pockets on a running belt or hydration pack.
- This beanie doesn’t have a ponytail hole.
- It shifts a little when you run, which means you’ll have to pull it down once in awhile.
- On windy days that are extremely cold, like less than 20 degrees, you might want a heavier beanie to provide more protection -- this beanie is pretty thin.
2. SLS3 Running Beanie
- It’s made out of micro-fleece, which will keep your head feeling warm without making it feel heavy.
- It uses flatlock seams, which means it will have a good fit and it will hold up well wash after wash.
- There’s a reflective logo, which will help with visibility.
- This beanie will wick sweat away, leaving your head feeling dry instead of sweaty.
- You won’t get that itchy feeling on your head while wearing these beanies.
- This beanie is affordable and will leave more money in your running gear budget for other items.
- You’ll have good breathability with this beanie.
- It can pull down over your ears easily.
- It can easily fit into a jacket pocket if the weather gets warmer on your run and you find you no longer need a beanie.
- You won’t have many color choices with this product -- it only comes in bright pink and black.
- If you have a small head, this beanie might be a bit too big for you.
- There’s no ponytail slit for runners with longer hair who like wearing ponytails.
3. Asics Women’s Felicity Fleece Beanie
- This beanie has a ponytail opening for women with long hair.
- The soft fabric feels really nice and comfortable.
- This beanie uses Lite-Show technology to give some reflectivity on the back.
- The ear covering area is contoured with ruching for a better fit.
- It’s a nice-looking hat for women who are concerned about staying fashionable while they’re pursuing their fitness goals.
- This hat doesn’t feel heavy, but it’s warm enough for even the coldest of days.
- The sweat is wicked away from your head so you’ll feel dry as well as warm.
- It’s easy to wash and holds its shape well after repeated washings.
- It stays in place while you’re running, which means you won’t have to waste your energy tugging it into place.
- It’s more expensive than some other beanies on the top five list.
- It only comes in two different colors.
- Because of the snug fit, you might have some temporary indentation marks on your head after a longer run.
4. TrailHeads Women’s Microfleece Beanie
- This beanie has great moisture-wicking capabilities.
- It feels soft against your head, meaning you’ll be comfortable even on your long runs.
- There is a ponytail hole in the back of the beanie.
- This beanie will keep your ears toasty warm on the coldest of days. It has a double layer ear band.
- The snug fit means it will stay in place no matter what your pace is. It doesn’t ride up during your run.
- The company has a guarantee that if you’re not satisfied, you’ll get your money back or receive a replacement hat.
- This beanie is machine washable, although you’ll have to air dry it to avoid shrinkage.
- This is the perfect beanie for super cold temperatures, even when the thermometer edges just above zero.
- There are only three color selections, including two black patterns and a pink.
- This hat is stretchy but it won’t fit everyone -- it’s one size fits most, not all.
- It’s a pricey beanie.
5. Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared Emboss Run Beanie
This 100 percent polyester beanie is streamlined and close fitting, which means you won’t lose speed while you attempt to keep warm.
- This beanie uses a thermo-conductive inner coating that will help you retain your body heat.
- It has 360-degree reflectivity, which will give you a safer run, especially in low-light workouts.
- It’s lightweight so you’ll forget it’s on your head.
- When this beanie gets so sweaty it needs a bath, you can pop it in the washing machine.
- It covers your ears well.
- It holds its shape and its color well wash after wash.
- It will absorb your sweat so you’ll feel dry on your run.
- This beanie will help keep your earbuds in place when you run.
- It can’t go in the dryer, you’ll have to air dry it, which can be inconvenient if you need it for a run and it’s still wet.
- It only comes in one color, which is a bright blue that some people might not like.
- This beanie is one-size fits all so if you have a bigger head, it might be too small.
And the Winner Is …
This SLS3 is the best running beanie off this list, no matter what gender you are. It’s a good multi-purpose beanie that you’ll be able to use for other sports or even a winter walk.
It’s a lightweight and affordable choice, has a bit of reflectivity, and gives you breathability so you’ll feel warm, not hot. It’ll protect your ears from the elements while you’re doing something good for your body.
It doesn’t have a ponytail hole, so if that’s a deal breaker for you, you’ll want to select another beanie from this list.
Runners will especially appreciate that they can easily stuff it in a pocket if the weather heats up while they’re running.