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Gear Photos

Gear Review: Winter Hats

Winter warmth doesn't always mean boring black beanies; here are four fourth-season hats whose fashion keeps pace with their function.

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Hidden ear flaps (and holes?!), recycled Christmas sweaters, Omni-Heat technology, Cordura — just a few of the perks of our sample set.

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Searching for a way to keep your head toasty and look good doing it? Enter the Tilley Aviator. Sub-freezing temps and frigid Sierra winds didn’t trouble our tester one bit.

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There are lots of thoughtful features like a hidden stash pocket and small ear flaps that can be hoisted up for better hearing. You can even flip the front flap down for easy mid-day naps!

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This hat was a little too warm to wear during aerobic exercise, but for setting up camp the Aviator got to work. Full coverage, 100% wool, and a quilted satin lining made for a luxurious evening in Yosemite near Glacier Point..

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When it comes to all-out style, it’s tough to beat the appeal of Outdoor Research’s Odd Job Hat, because nothing says “classy backcountry ski bum” like a plaid fedora.

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The Cordura fabric can take a beating, and even if you cram the hat in your pack, it will pop back into shape with minimal massaging. As a bonus, OR included a bottle opener on the brim (because it’s much safer than using your teeth).

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Surprisingly, Odd Job is as functional in the cold as it is at a bar. When the ear flaps are deployed, they create a seal that traps in heat, and the wool does the rest (and yes, those are his dad’s vintage 70s x-c ski knickers… don’t be jealous).

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Ever wonder what happens to tops that don’t get selected for the ugly Christmas Sweater party? They get reincarnated into Xob Bomber by Dohm Hats! No two hats are alike, so you can be guaranteed that no one will be swiping your style.

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Although it’s lined with super soft berber fleece, it’s not quite thick or warm enough to wear in freezing temps after dark. However, that does make it perfect for aerobic winter activities or lounging around camp when the sun is shining.

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Thanks to an adjustable buckle on the back, the Bomber is one-size-fits-all. There are also ear holes (so you can easily hear all of the compliments about your hat!) and a flip down brim that keeps snow out of your eyes.

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Personally, I thought this Columbia’s Ridge 2 Run Earflap hat was the best value. The faux fur is absurdly comfortable, the flaps give way better coverage than just a beanie, and it’s light enough to toss in your pack without thinking twice.

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Wearing this was like putting on a portable furnace. Credit Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective technology (tons of little silver dots), which retains warmth while allowing moisture to wick away.

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Photos and text by Will Rochfort

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