A good running hat is an important part of Running in the Heat and Cold. While there are many good knit hats that will keep your warm when it's cold, I've found that the Halo is the best all round running hat.
1 Halo Hat
The best running hat that I've found is the Halo Sports Hat (Price Not Available). The Halo hat has a number of advantages:
- There is a small rubberized strip that goes across the forehead that directs sweat away from your eyes. This works so well that I find it extremely rare to get any sweat in my eyes, and it will even work with heavy rain. This is the key feature that makes the Halo hat so good. This strip does wear out over time; my first Halo hat lasted nearly 3 years of constant use.
- The main material of the hat is dryline, so it dries quickly and does not get heavy when soaked.
- The latest versions of the hat include antimicrobial silver to prevent odor, a worthwhile improvement over earlier versions.
- The hat is available in white to reflect the heat of the sun. The color can make a big difference to your temperature, so I wouldn't consider any other color.
- The bill of the cap shades your face and eyes. Glare from low sun can reduce visibility, and when Running Trails the sun shining through leaves can momentarily blind you and cause a fall.
- The underside of the bill is black, which reduces glare.
- In cold weather the Halo hat works well with the warmer knit hat over the top.
2 Variations and Alternatives to the Halo Hat
There are a number of alternative options to the Halo hat.
- The Halo hat is also available is a headband, a Skullcap and a Visor.
- Sweat GUTR is a similar idea, but uses a narrow headband that channels sweat away from the eyes.
- While the Headsweats hat sound similar to the Halo, it just has a traditional sweatband.
- I've seen a runner use a very thin (~1mm) tube tied around his head which worked well at keeping the sweat out of your eyes.
3 Other hats to consider
While the halo hat is what I wear in nearly all circumstances, there are a few others that are worth mentioning.
3.1 Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
This hat does much better at protecting the sides of your face and is a little longer than either the Salomon or the head sweats. Like the Salomon, the next drape is also removable. This hat has a drape that goes around your neck and sides of the face to protect from the Sun. I've tried a few hats in this style and the outdoor research seems to be the best of the bunch. I use this hat instead of the Halo when sunburn is a big issue, such as running the Keys 100. Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap (Price Not Available).
3.2 Headsweats Protech
If you want more sun protection with comfort, then the Headsweats Protech (Price Not Available) is worth considering. While Headsweats doesn't stop the sweat from getting in your eyes anywhere near as well as the Halo, the built in some flap keeps the sun away from your ears and neck. The flap isn't quite as long as I'd like and depending on the top you're using you may find a gap. It also doesn't come quite as far forward as I like, so you're still likely to get sunburn on your cheeks. However, it's one of the more comfortable running hats I found.
3.3 Salomon Xa+ Cap
I thought the Salomon Xa+ Cap (Price Not Available) might be a better option than the headsweats above, as the next flap is removable and Velcro's in. Unfortunately, the just isn't as comfortable as I'd like, and there's a small gap at the back of your head which could lead to sunburn if you lack hair.
3.4 Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero
This is not your typical running hat by any means, and it's not something I'd recommend for typical runner doing a typical race. However, if you're doing an ultramarathon where you expect to spend a significant amount of time walking in light rain, this hat can help keep you a little dryer. Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero (Price Not Available)
3.5 Modified Halo Hat
For the extreme conditions of Badwater, where the temperatures can exceed 120 5F/50 C, I modified the Halo hat to protect my face and neck. I used an old Under Armor Heat Gear Top and cut off the main torso part. This was then sewn around the brim of the hat, leaving a gap for my eyes. This worked remarkably well, and far better than any of the similar hats I've purchased. The elastic nature of the under armor top means I can pull the front down under my chin to it or drink.
This hat is one of the few radical innovations in headwear I've seen. The idea is also; a hat with the top surface is suspended above your head, so the sun hits the hat and not your head, keeping you cooler. In addition, the shape of the hat directs airflow over your head, providing further cooling. I have running this hat a few times and it does keep you significantly cooler. Sadly, there are some drawbacks that stop me wearing it. The most obvious drawback is the way it looks; you can only wear this hat if you're happy to be openly laughed at when you go running. If that were the only problem then it might be a worthwhile trade-off, as I don't care how stupid I look if it's going to help me go faster. For me, the biggest issue was that the hat does not stay in place. The hat is reasonably light given its size, but it 50% heavier than my Halo hat, and is only held in place by the headband. As a result it tends to slip up or down unless the headband is unpleasantly tight, and any wind will tend to blow it off. I love the idea of this hat, and I feel like a little bit better engineering might result in a great product, but probably not a very stylish one. More at http://www.marathonhat.com.