Winters on ski slopes demand hats for warmth. Hats perform a vital function in helping the body conserve heat, protecting your ears from frostbite, and guarding against dangerous wind chills. Our goal at The Adventure Junkies is to help you choose the best ski hats to keep you safe and cozy, so you can enjoy powder turns rather than huddling inside the lodge near a fire.
Ski hats use fabrics to fight against the elements. You’ll need to choose a hat based on those elements you are likely to encounter. We’ll give you an overview of the best ski hats on the market, taking into account choices for style, fitted hats to go under helmets, full head coverings for ultra cold temperatures, or headbands for sunny spring days.
For more of our top ski gear recommendations, check out the Best Ski Gloves.
Quick Answer - The Best Ski Hats
- Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon
- Smartwool Straightline
- Columbia Trail Summit
- Turtle Fur Balaclava
- Polar Buff
- The North Face Earband
- Vbiger Knit Hat
Comparison Table - The Best Ski Hats
|Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon||All around||Beanie||$$||4.1|
|Columbia Trail Summit||Underhelmet||Beanie||$$||4.1|
|Turtle Fur Balaclava||Ultra cold||Balaclava||$$||3.6|
|Polar Buff||Ultra cold||Tube||$$||4.0|
|The North Face Earband||Warm weather||Headband||$$||4.8|
|Vbiger Knit Hat||Budget||Beanie||$||4.7|
Reviews - The Best Ski Hats
Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon
BEST FOR ALL AROUND WEATHER PROTECTION
DESIGN: Fitted horizontally striped knit beanie with a tassel, single layer jersey with interior headband
PROS: Warm, stylish
CONS: One size that may not fit everyone
Columbia Trail Summit
- Best For: Underhelmet
- Fabric: 91% polyester Omni-Heat and Omni-Wick, 9% elastane thermo fleece
- Style: Beanie
BEST FOR UNDER HELMET
DESIGN: Low profile fitted cap, ponytail opening in back of women’s version
PROS: Quick drying, moisture wicking, stretchy
CONS: Tight fit, runs narrow
Turtle Fur Balaclava
- Best For: Ultra cold
- Fabric: Polyester, spandex, fleece acrylic with Polartec® Windbloc® face mask
- Style: Balaclava
BEST FOR SINGLE-DIGIT, SUB-ZERO, OR FRIGID WIND CHILL DAYS
DESIGN: Full coverage for head, face (except goggle opening), and neck with breathing holes for mouth and nostrils, unisex
PROS: Breathing holes and nostril opening prevent moisture buildup, moisture wicking, fits under helmet, blocks wind
CONS: Mouth holes and nostril openings can let cold in, design looks like Darth Vader
- Best For: Ultra cold
- Fabric: Upper 100% microfiber polyester with Polygiene® Active Odor Control, neck 100% Polartec® 100 microfleece™
- Style: Tube
BEST FOR SINGLE-DIGIT, SUB-ZERO, OR FRIGID WIND CHILL DAYS
DESIGN: Unisex 29-inch tube with two-way stretch for covering neck, face, and head; upper portion is microfiber while neck portion is fleece
PROS: Breathable, odor control, fits under helmet, flexible design to wear as a face mask, hood, balaclava, or cap
CONS: Tube can be too narrow and constrictive for some people
The North Face Earband
BEST FOR FOR WARM, SUNNY DAYS
DESIGN: Unisex headband contoured wider around ears
PROS: Quick-drying, breathable, will easily stuff in pocket, fits under helmet
CONS: May not fit everyone, does not cut wind
Vbiger Knit Hat
BEST FOR FOR ALL AROUND WEATHER PROTECTION
DESIGN: Unisex slouchy style beanie with patterned knit outer shell and fleece lining
PROS: Soft fleece, warm
CONS: Does not cut strong wind, may not fit all heads
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST SKI HATS
Hat fabrics make a difference in their function. Fleece, wool, and polyesters supply the best head protection, providing both warmth and breathability. Even when wet, they still perform the job of retaining body heat.
Fleeces and polyesters are quick-drying materials. They will dry overnight hanging on an indoor rack or hook. Many fleeces and polyesters also have moisture-wicking properties that conduct sweat to the outer fabric where it can evaporate.
For snow sports, avoid wearing hats made from cotton yarns or fabrics. Cotton fibers soak up and retain water rather than wicking it away. Wet cotton also conducts body heat away from the head.
Some fabrics have added features other than warmth and breathability. These can include fabric treatments that inhibit odor buildup or layers that cut the wind.
For example, Polygiene®, a fabric-finishing treatment of silver chloride, prevents the buildup of bacteria that causes odors. Polartec® Windbloc® or Windstopper® are layers of material that cut the chilling effect of wind and repel water.
An itchy head from a wool hat makes a ski day miserable. If you choose a woolen fabric for your hat, be sure it has a fleece band sewn on the bottom inside where it covers the forehead and ears. That fleece will prevent direct contact of the itchy wool with your skin.
Some wool blends or fine woolen yarns are non-itch. Usually rough woolen yarns will cause itching. Try the hat on in the store to test the itch factor.
Consider where you will ski to choose the appropriate hat. For instance, in North America, southern ski areas often see balmier, sunny daytime temperatures. Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico are places where thinner or lighter weight hats may work.
Northern ski areas can plunge to arctic-like, sub-zero temperatures. With bouts of frigid days at ski resorts in the Northern Rockies, New England, Upper Midwest, Alaska, and Canada, thicker or full coverage hats are the better choice.
Elevation also plays a factor in temperatures. Higher elevation resorts in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana can be colder and windier while lower elevation ski areas may see less severe weather.
Some hats work well in extreme cold temperatures. Balaclavas, for instance, have head, face and neck protection that minimizes exposing skin to frostbite. Thinner hats can work for warm, spring days.
Strong winds often accompany winter storms in the mountains (and storms bring the fresh snow skiers love). Your choice of hat should take wind chill into consideration.
How does wind chill feel on the slope? If you are skiing in 10 degrees Fahrenheit with a 20 mph wind, the temperature will feel more like -9 due to wind chill. Even in a mild breeze, the act of skiing downhill with speed creates a wind chill effect.
Some hats will prevent the wind from cutting through the fabric to freeze your head and ears. Fine woolen knit hats naturally cut the wind better than fleece. Some outdoor companies make hats with special wind-cutting fabrics, such as Polartec® Windbloc®.
Many skiers prefer to wear hats under their helmets, especially at colder ski resorts. However, with limited space under the helmet, you must opt for thinner hats. For a minimal layer under the helmet, a jersey-type skullcap provides additional warmth without bulk.
For extremely cold days, balaclavas or long tube hats fit under helmets. They add a layer under the helmet, plus protect the neck and face. Best of all, this pairing covers all exposed skin between your ski jacket and helmet while also closing off places for cold and snow to enter your clothing.
Most thin beanie-style hats fit well under helmets. If you plan to wear your ski hat under a helmet, avoid pom-pom or large tassel toppers that don’t fit under helmets. As an option, you can snip the toppers off.
GOGGLES WITH HATS
How to wear your goggles with your hat is a matter of personal taste and comfort. The goggle strap can go under the hat, but most skiers tend to put the strap over the hat to prevent the strap from tangling hair.
Placing the strap over the hat also helps hold layered hats in place when wearing a balaclava topped with a beanie. For frigid wind chills, some balaclava-cut hats cover the nose, which covers the face to the edge of the goggles. This snug fit between the balaclava and goggles prevents any facial skin from being exposed to frostbite.
Just as you layer clothing on your body for warmth management, you can also layer hats. Skullcaps and balaclavas can fit under beanie-style hats for ultra cold temperatures. Thin beanies can go under heavier knit hats.
When you hop on the first chair in the morning, two layers of hats can fend off cold on your frigid first runs. In the afternoon when temperatures warm up, you can stuff one hat in your pocket to layer down.
Headbands that cover only the forehead and ears provide minimal protection. They are not functional for cold weather skiing. However, they are an option for sunny, warm afternoons with temperatures high above freezing when a hat might be too hot.
Pair headbands with sunglasses rather than goggles. Headbands also work under helmets for added ear protection.
Some skiers use their hats to bring humor to the slopes. When riding the lift, you may see someone below carve a turn wearing a hat topped with a shark fin, stuffed animal head, or pigtails. It won’t be just kids, but adults, too. It’s all about having fun on the slopes.