Bearing new features and improved materials, beanies have become more than just the knitted winter caps your dad used to wear. Our guide will help you choose the best beanie for your sport and your steeze.
Comfort/Fabrics: Itchy beanies have plagued foreheads for decades providing much in the way of warmth but little comfort. Merino wool, fleece, and liners have addressed the issue and there’s now less head-scratching.
Traditional Knit and non-performance wool: Traditional hand-knit beanies, such as those you might see at a Saturday Market, are commonly made of wool or acrylic yarns. Knit beanies have long been popular choices for their casual and funky hand-knit designs but these two materials, while warm, are heavy, frizzy, and often loose-fitting. Wool and other natural fibers maintain thermal qualities even when wet, which helps explain why this coarse material has remained steadfast in beanie composition despite its itchy nature.
Synthetics (Fleece, polyester): Newer, synthetic materials now combine function and comfort. Windstopper fleece blocks wind and provides better insulation in breezy conditions. Synthetics also offer equal warmth with less material, cutting weight and fitting tighter to the scalp. With a close contoured fit these beanies are popular for cycling, climbing, paddling and other sports involving helmets. Many of these synthetics are also designed for moisture wicking, which helps perspiration evaporate during running and other aerobic sports. Unlike natural fabrics, synthetics lose thermal value when wet.
Merino Wool: Merino Sheep have soft coats ideally suited to outdoor garments. While noticeably more expensive, merinos blend the function of natural materials with the comfort of synthetics. An economical way to reap the rewards of these high-tech fabrics is blends of the two.
Features: Beanie-makers have adapted their styles to the desires of theirs customers to the point that now there’s a style to match every noggin.
Liners: Many beanies, especially those of coarser fabric, keep scratchy fibers off your bare skin by stitching a liner into the inside of the hat. Liners are generally fleece, but can also be cotton, merino wool, or polyester and can either line the inner cap entirely or as a headband. Another benefit of liners is longevity, as the added material helps prevent the cap from stretching around the headline.
Ear Covers: Beanies can leave earlobes exposed, which is uncomfortable when traveling at high speeds in cold temperatures. Skiers and snowboarders (particularly when not wearing a helmet) enjoy ear covers for this reason. Long tassels sometimes accompany ear flaps for two purposes: to be tied beneath the chin to keep covers down when moving quickly or in high winds or to be tied above the head to keep covers off the ears when temperatures rise.
Visor: Pulling design from the billed cap, some beanies come equipped with a short sewn-in visor. Visors are a nice feature for blocking sunlight or keeping beanies higher above the eyes, which helps to keep goggles flat against the face. Aesthetically minded, visors offer the look of popular baseball or cadet-style caps.
Headphones: Ear covers are practically made for headphones so it’s no surprise that some beanies come equipped for audio.