What to Look For in a Ski Hat
Not all ski hats are created alike. Slap on the wrong hat and skier beware - you could end up with frostbitten ears or stuck with a sweaty, stinky situation on your head.
If you're not sure what to look for in a ski hat, it can be overwhelming to sift through dozens upon dozens of choices. That's why we made this guide: to help you find the perfect hat to meet your unique needs.
If you're reading this guide, chances are good that in the past, you've had a tough time finding the perfect ski hat for your needs. It's time to reflect on exactly where your previous hats have fallen short.
For instance, maybe your ears are eternally cold and chapped and you struggle to find a hat that provides adequate coverage. If this sounds like you, then you should consider hats that feature earflaps, which provide extra warmth and insulation.
Perhaps you have the opposite problem and tend to overheat while you're sliding down the slopes. If that's the case, look for breathable, moisture-wicking materials (like Polartec® Thermal Pro® Stria Fleece) that will prevent you from burning up.
Is it Helmet Compatible?
If you prefer to wear a helmet, you need to make special considerations when it comes to picking the optimal hat. For one, poms and tassels are most likely out, since they don't tend to fit very comfortably under a helmet.
Some ski helmets provide a shell and not much more, while others offer an insulating lining (which is sometimes removable). This will influence the amount of warmth and fabric rating you need from a ski hat. Bulk is another consideration - a thick ski hat may feel cozy, but you need to be able to fit it under your ski helmet. Consider a close-fitting, low-bulk liner designed to fit under your helmet. This style of hat is functional and sleek, and you can layer it under a traditional beanie on ultra-frigid days.
Where do you Ski?
The environment plays a key role in ski hat selection. If you generally ski on the bone-chilling East Coast, warmth and insulation will be high on the priority list. Look for a beanie made with heavyweight fabric, like our Original Turtle Fur® Fleece.
On the other hand, if your resort of choice is located in the temperate, but damp, Pacific Northwest, heat is less of a concern than moisture. A ski hat made with a breathable, quick drying material (think Merino Wool) will be more up your alley.
How do you Ski?
How you prefer to ski is just as important as where you plan on skiing. Speedsters who prefer to take a fast and furious approach are more prone to getting hot and sweaty on the way down, while those who like to take a slower, more conservative line will want to stay toasty as they make their way down the mountain.
Your ski hat might follow you on adventures beyond the ski resort. Backcountry skiers will want something lightweight and easily packable (like our low profile skull caps) to stash in their pockets while they hustle up the mountain without adding bulk.
High Performance or High Fashion - or Both?
Consider whether you're the kind of person who prefers a winter hat for every occasion - or it you'd rather have one hat that can cover all your cold weather needs. If you're the former, it makes sense to focus on the technical aspects of your ski hat. Factors like breathability, weight, and quick-drying abilities will be higher up on your list of needs, while design details that are more about fashion than function will hold less weight.
If you're the latter, then you want a ski hat that can transition effortlessly from apex to apres-ski. Details like print, color, and the presence of poms will factor into your decision.
Of course, there are plenty of multi-functional hats that combine the high-performance details that you need with the look you love. A classic midweight fleece beanie can comfortably cover your noggin under just about every condition.
What is Your Skiwear Style?
When you're bundled up from head to toe, your gear reflects your personality, your style, and (of course) your exquisite taste in fashion. Put simply, as much as you want a ski hat that checks the performance boxes, you also want to feel good while you wear it. Whether you prefer solids or patterns, bright colors or muted tones, there's an option for you.
Compared to the rest of your ski gear, ski hats are a relatively inexpensive accessory - you can stock up on multiples and pick the one that best reflects your look on any given day. Style-savvy skiers often opt for a relatively neutral snow jacket and snow pants, then pick up a few different styles of ski hats and swap them out to mix things up.
How Much TLC Can You Give?
Are you the kind of person who meticulously separates your laundry - or do you tend to throw it all in one load and hope for the best?
Some materials are higher maintenance that others. A wool hat might need to be hand washed in cool water and hung out to dry, while a polyester hat can be tossed into the washing machine and tumble dried with no heat. Consider how much effort you're willing to put into your hat maintenance and keep that in mind as you seek your perfect match.
Ready to Find Your Perfect Ski Hat?
Now that you understand the importance of different materials, weights, technical features, and design details, you're ready to pick your perfect ski hat. And hey - we won't blame you if you opt to pick out more than one style.