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The Best Running Caps

Woman running wearing a running cap
(Image credit: Getty Images / John P Kelly)

You’ll know when you’ve found the right running cap. You’ll start reaching for it before every run without even thinking about it, and you’ll feel underdressed if you happen to walk out the door for a run without it.

Running caps are at their most useful when running in the heat, when they provide shade, wick sweat away from your scalp and help keep your head cool. However, they’re also useful when running in the rain by keeping droplets out of your eyes, so even if you buy a hat to use in the summer you may well find you end up wearing it all year round. In which case it needs to be either easily cleaned or odour-resistant. Or, ideally, both.

A selection of running caps

A selection of the running caps tested by the author (Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

We’ve tested lots of running headwear, and have recommended the best running caps that tick most or all of the boxes listed above – including a few that do so while looking pretty sharp as well.


On lightweight running cap

(Image credit: On)
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On Lightweight Cap

Our favourite running cap

Specifications

RRP: $39.99 / £32
Weight: 2oz / 58g
Sizing: One size

Reasons to buy

+
Baseball cap fit
+
Ventilated and comfortable
+
Dries quickly

Reasons to avoid

-
Plain designs

Unlike shallower caps like the Buff option on this list, the On cap fits like a standard baseball cap, but there the similarity ends. It’s much lighter for one, and the sweatband around the rim does a grand job of soaking up the perspiration you produce on hard runs. The peak is long and keeps both sun and rain out of your eyes, and the ventilation holes all around the cap help on hot days too. It’s available in a range of classic colours – no wild Ciele-style designs here – and it dries quickly after either a downpour or a wash.


Fractel running cap

(Image credit: Fractel)
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Fractel

The best soft-brimmed running cap

Specifications

RRP: $40 / £32
Weight: 2oz / 49g-59g
Sizing: One size, adjusts to fit 54cm-66cm

Reasons to buy

+
Soft brim for easy packing
+
Sections offer UPF 50 protection
+
Made with recycled polyester

Reasons to avoid

-
Some might prefer a hard brim

Australian brand Fractel is all about headwear, and it turns out that when you commit a lot of time and resources to making really good running caps, the result is really good running caps. Fractel’s caps are essentially perfect: they’re comfortable, they fit well and are easily adjusted, they absorb sweat like absolute machines, and they offer UPF 50 protection (UPF being the more hardcore version of SPF). Fractel also makes visors, multi-use bands and legionnaire-style hats that protect your neck.


Montane Coda trail running cap

(Image credit: Montane)
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Montane Coda Cap

Best lightweight running cap

Specifications

RRP: $35 / £25
Weight: 1.2oz / 35g
Sizing: One size, adjustable

Reasons to buy

+
Hard peak with large perforations so it packs down
+
Cooling internal headband

Reasons to avoid

-
Not great for casual use

This lightweight cap has a perforated peak, which not only cuts the weight down even more but makes it easy to shove it into a pocket, belt or backpack. The internal headband is made with cooling fabric and – in our experience – can absorb an impressive amount of sweat, making the Coda a great choice for hot-weather runs.


Saysky reversible running cap

(Image credit: Saysky)
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Saysky Reverse Cap

Best-value running cap – two caps for the price of one

Specifications

RRP: $42 / £31
Weight: Not given
Sizing: One size, adjustable

Reasons to buy

+
Reversible design
+
Comfortable, soft fabric
+
Easy to pack

Reasons to avoid

-
Shallow fit won’t suit everyone

Saysky’s range of reversible caps provide great value for those who struggle to choose between different designs: because the soft fabric turns inside out, you effectively get two caps in one. The light purple and dark blue combo works well for all seasons, we reckon, and it’s worth keeping an eye out for limited runs of the cap – recently Saysky launched one with a floral print on one side and simple navy blue on the other, which really does cover the bases. The cap’s material dries quickly, and it’s machine washable.


Ciele GOCap

(Image credit: Ciele)
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Ciele GOCap

The best running caps for stylish designs

Specifications

RRP: From $37 / £32
Weight: 2.2oz / 62g
Sizing: One size, adjusts to fit 21.65in-24.8in / 55cm-63cm

Reasons to buy

+
Great designs
+
Machine washable
+
Breathable
+
Sections offer UPF 40 protection

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than most caps

If you want to cut a dash on your run then Ciele should be your first stop on your hat hunt. And it’ll probably be your last stop too, because the massive range of designs on offer will satisfy all comers. The caps don’t just look good, either – they’re also lightweight and breathable, and can handle machine washing without losing their shape.


Buff Pack Speed Cap

(Image credit: Jonathan Shannon / Future)
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Buff Pack Speed Cap

Best packable running cap

Specifications

RRP: $30 / £28.95
Weight: 1oz / 30g
Sizing: S/M (21-22.5in / 53-58cm) and L/XL (22.5-24in / 58-62cm), adjustable

Reasons to buy

+
Flexible and easy to pack
+
Absorbs sweat well
+
Sections offer UPF 50 protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Not great for casual use
-
Some will prefer full cap style

This soft cap can be rolled up into a ball to make it easy to pack in a rucksack or jacket pocket for your run, and it will spring back into shape ready to use as soon as it’s unrolled. The wicking fabric keeps your noggin free of sweat, and the drawstring makes adjusting the size quick and simple. 


Proviz reflective running cap

(Image credit: Proviz)

Proviz REFLECT360 Running Cap

Best running cap with reflective details

Specifications

RRP: $40 / £27.99
Weight: Not given
Sizing: One size, adjusts to fit up to 64cm

Reasons to buy

+
Reflective fabric
+
Firm brim holds off rain

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as breathable as other caps

The USP of this hat is that, like most of Proviz’s running gear, it’s made of reflective material that shines like a beacon when light hits it, making you highly visible to car drivers and other road users when running by roads at night. The cap is also breathable, though we didn’t find it quite as lightweight and sweat-absorbing as some of the other, less shiny options on the list.


Sealskins cap

(Image credit: Sealskinz)
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Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Cap

Best waterproof running cap

Specifications

RRP: $35 / £25
Weight: 2.2oz / 62g
Sizing: One size

Reasons to buy

+
Waterproof
+
Useful for hiking too

Reasons to avoid

-
Not very breathable

There are some disadvantages to this waterproof cap – we found our head getting pretty sweaty on hard runs – but on cold and wet days it’s another useful layer to keep your head warm and the rain out of your face. That’s especially the case for easy runs when there’s less risk of overheating, and the cap is handy to have for walking and hiking too.


dhb Run Cap

(Image credit: dhb)
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dhb Run Cap

No nonsense and great value

Specifications

RRP: $12.30 / £10
Weight : Not given
Sizing : One size, adjustable

Reasons to buy

+
Simple, effective design
+
Cheaper than others

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit dull

Running hats are never going to be the priciest item in your running wardrobe, but dhb’s cap is even more budget-friendly than most. It’s a simple but effective bit of kit, with mesh panels on the back to increase breathability and reflective details on the front and rear to boost your visibility to motorists at night.


More About Running Gear

Nick Harris-Fry
Nick Harris-Fry

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.