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What’s a Good Winter Hat? Are There Differences?

Hats: Is there a secret to finding/wearing a great one as it gets colder out there? Synthetic? Wool? Is there one that's better than the other?

Question:

Hats: Is there a secret to finding/wearing a great one as it gets colder out there? Synthetic? Wool? Is there one that’s better than the other?

Submitted by - Edward, Omaha, NE

Answer:

It’s a personal thang, really. Wool tends to be warmer than synthetic (fleece or acrylic), but many people find it itchy. Synthetics dry faster when they get wet and weigh a few notches less, but unless they have a softshell outer, the wind can whip right through them. And then there are hybrids, which are, IMHO, the best of both worlds for about 80% of my outings.

That said, most people I know have a quiver of hats. Here’s my current, personal quiver:

  • The Patagonia Lightweight Alpine Beanie, left, ($25, Patagonia.com) is for aerobic stints or milder days. It’s thin and wicked wickable, made from their esteemed baselayer fabric, Capilene, and fits nicely under a ski helmet.
  • The cute Pistil Tulip, below ($36, pistildesigns.com) is a lightweight, yet warm boiled wool (the boiling contracts the fibers to make it a warmer, tighter weave) with a fleece band around the ears and forehead.
  • The now (and, sadly, extinct) Kuhl Softshell hat is a super warm, fleece lined beanie with a water and wind resistant outer shell and a perfect fit achieved by an eight-panel flat-knit construction. Maybe you could find one of these online but, either way, if you find any fleece-lined softshell hat that fits your noggin, grab it!
  • The Teton Gravity Research Striper Beanie ($24, tetongravity.com) is just plain cool, and I wear it to support my badass cousins, Steve and Todd Jones who make rippin’ ski movies.

And of course, my battered Red Sox ball cap, which comes with me on all warm weather trips. Don’t get me started on those damn Yankees….—KRISTIN

1 Comment

  1. Canoetraveler

    If you are spending more than a couple of hours out in the cold, get a fur trimmed cap with ear flaps. Mad Bomber brand hats work great and only cost $30. However, the rabbit fur will not last more than a couple of seasons. If you spend a lot of time out in the cold, invest in a hat lined better, more long lasting fur, like muskrat, beaver or mink.

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