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I love running in the mornings. And to avoid that messy hair, “just woke up” look, I usually rock a running hat to keep my hair in place (and mostly hidden). But I’ve been reading threads about running hats affecting body temperature and performance, so I went on and observed how running felt with and without a running hat.
Running with a hat does make you feel hotter by hindering the cooling effect of sweating. When you wear a hat, especially those without vents, you trap your body’s heat inside the hat, therefore, making your head feel warmer.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid wearing a hat altogether. Running hats do offer some benefits that could be helpful in other areas. Furthermore, there are running hats designed for sports that will help reduce the negative effects of hindering evaporation.
How Wearing a Running Hat Makes You Feel Hotter
Naturally, as your body sweats, it releases the heat from your body to cool it down. The sweat will then evaporate in the atmosphere leaving you feeling cool and fresh.
When you’re wearing a hat, you mess up that process by reducing the ventilation in your head, therefore, hindering the evaporation of sweat. The sweat will then accumulate in your head increasing the humidity and leaving you feeling hot.
Does Wearing a Hat Affect Running Performance?
Although wearing a hat does not significantly increase your core body temperature, it does make your head feel warmer which is enough to make you feel uncomfortable and increase your heart rate.
In fact, I can personally attest to the effects of such discomfort on my running performance. On multiple occasions, I have had to remove my hat during a run because it was making me feel warm. When you’re running and keeping track of your vitals, you’ll notice that even the slightest discomfort can affect your heart rate and performance.
On those occasions, my heart rate almost always gradually decreases as my head starts to cool off by allowing sweat to evaporate.
Benefits of Wearing a Hat When Running
Just because wearing a hat does make you feel hotter doesn’t mean it has no benefits at all. Wearing a hat can be useful in some situations. Here are some benefits of wearing a hat while running.
- Protects your face from UV rays – If you’re running on a sunny day, the hat’s brim can provide the much-needed shade for your face. Furthermore, it allows you to see more clearly by blocking direct sunlight from your eyes.
- Keeps your hair in place (or hidden) – If you’re particularly conscious about how your hair looks, wearing a hat can keep it in place or hide it.
- Keeps rain out of your face – If you’ve experienced running on a rainy day, you’re pretty much aware of how annoying rain is for your eyes. Wearing a hat can keep the rain out of your sight so you can focus on your run.
- Heats you when it’s cold – Since running with a hat does make you feel warmer, it can be particularly useful when you’re running in cold weather.
What Type of Hat Should You Wear for Running?
This may sound cliche but not all hats are created equal. Sports hats are created not only to provide UV protection but also to manage sweat and maintain breathability to keep your head cool when you run. Whereas regular hats can be made of non-moisture-wicking material and may not provide adequate ventilation, therefore, making you feel warm.
Here are some characteristics of hats that can be used for running:
- Made of moisture-wicking material – usually nylon or polyester.
- Breathable – usually partially made of mesh or has vents.
- Lightweight – most sports hats are lightweight and unstructured.
- No metal buckles – running hats usually have velcro locks. Metal buckles add unnecessary weight and tend to rust.
- Adjustable – running hats should be adjustable to a relaxed fit. Usually, the straps are stretchable to provide a tight yet comforting fit.
- At least UPF 30 – you want a hat that actually blocks the sun’s UV rays. Therefore, find a hat that’s rated at least UPF 30.
A great example of a good running hat that does not make you feel hot is the Under Armour Iso-Chill Launch (link to Amazon). It’s made of light stretchable moisture-wicking fabric for maximum comfort.
Another option is Adidas Superlite Aeroready. It’s made of a polyester-spandex blend for great fit and breathability. It’s also rated UPF 50 for superior UV protection.
Should You Wear a Hat When Running?
It’s good to wear a hat when you’re running on sunny days to provide shade and UV protection to your face. Similarly, wearing a hat when running in cold weather provides additional warmth. However, wearing a hat during your runs is not necessary.
As discussed, wearing a hat makes your head feel warm but doesn’t actually raise your core body temperature. That said, whether you wear a hat or not is a matter of preference. It does not directly affect your running performance.
Naturally, wearing a running hat makes you feel warm by hindering the evaporation process of your sweat. However, you can select a hat that’s specifically designed to provide comfort and breathability to keep your head cool while benefiting from the UV protection that a hat brings.