Best Beanies for Women of 2021
This beanie ticks all the boxes for us — comfy, stylish, warm, and functional. Our team of testers all agreed, the Carhartt Lookout Pom Hat is as close as it gets to perfect; it's warm and comfortable, with a tight-knit acrylic weave that provides stretch and coziness without too much bulk. We loved the wide roll-up band that not only offers an extra layer against the cold but also adds some serious style points with its dual-tone design. The seams and overall construction appear to be built to last, and we were impressed by the softness and stretchiness of the material. Overall, this hat was the one we reached for the most as we bundled up for cold weather.
Some of our test team wished this hat came without a pompom. Though many of the top women's winter caps have pompoms, and we are by no means against them as a style choice, it does impact the overall versatility. The Carhartt Lookout is not typically a hat you'd want to wear under a helmet or during any serious physical activity. Carhartt does offer a few different styles (without poms), which might be better suited to your needs.
The Durio Knit nabs this award thanks to its cozy fleece lining and its stretchy, versatile design. It comes in tons of color options, and most importantly, it boasts a reasonable price tag. Additionally, its lining adds extra warmth that the slouchy style knit caps sometimes lack. The Durio has the best of both worlds — the stylish look of an oversized, cable-knit beanie and the warmth that a traditional fleece cap provides. We also liked how stretchy it was, allowing it to fit on all head sizes. For the price, it's hard to find a hat as cozy, comfortable, and easy to wear — we almost forgot it was on when wearing it!
If you like to have the option of rolling your hat up when you're not in a slouchy mood, the Durio probably isn't the hat for you. This one is a fixed size, with no roll-up option available. Its slouchy nature also means it is not the best for exercising since it bunches and falls over the eyes. These downsides are not a huge deal if you plan to wear this hat in mostly urban settings.
If you're in the market for a cold-weather running hat, a ski touring cap, or a thin winter hat to wear under a helmet, the Smartwool Merino Sport 150 is the ticket. This hat is slim yet comfortable; it has a tighter band across the bottom that holds it in place and fits our small-headed lead tester perfectly (with plenty of space for those with larger heads). We love that this cap is made from 100% wool but is as soft as any hat in this review. Wearing it when exercising caused no itchiness and was extremely breathable on sweaty runs and bike rides. Additionally, this hat comes with reflective decals for extra visibility. There was very little about this hat that we didn't like.
For some, this hat may lack versatility because it is so sporty in its aesthetic. We found that though we loved wearing the Smartwool Merino Sport when exercising, it wasn't the first one we reached for when heading out on the town.
This thick, cozy hat provides some serious comfort against cold weather. The OZero Knit has a thermal knit outer layer and a cozy warm, polar fleece lining that provides an impressive barrier against cold winds. This hat was the coziest, warmest hat we reviewed by a longshot. The OZero has a roll-up option that adds extra warmth and adjustable, accommodating different head sizes. It's reasonably priced and comes in a variety of colors, which is a bonus. Our testers were also fans of the hat's overall design, as it was both stylish and functional. The OZero is a classic hat for skiing and other winter activities.
Because it is so thick and cozy, the OZero is also quite bulky. This hat may be a bit too thick and cozy for some applications. For those who live in cold environments, the bulkiness won't feel like overkill, but it could feel a little too cozy and warm as an accent piece for those who live in moderate climates.
At first, we were a bit skeptical about the FURTALK Faux Fur hat. The pompom is made from a faux fur material that is an acquired taste. Though perhaps not our lead tester's cup of tea, we acknowledge that many people love wearing beanies with pompoms, and we especially appreciated the fact that this hat has a removable one! Some days, a faux fur pompom is a crucial addition to one's outfit, and other days, it is not. The hat itself is soft and cozy, though it is a bit snug fitting around the base. The roll-up feature provides a good amount of adjustability — depending on whether or not the wearer is going for a slouchy look or a tighter fit.
The FURTALK Faux Fur was a bit too tight around the bottom, though we found it to stretch out a little bit throughout our testing period. Also, the acrylic knit material felt slightly itchy after wearing it for a few hours, especially when sweating. This was not our favorite option for exercising.
This unlined acrylic knit hat is simple and straightforward in its design and construction, plus it comes at a very reasonable price. The C.C. Trendy Cable Knit is a slouchy knit hat that is great for everyday wear in town or as a cozy addition to a camping trip. It's not really designed for exercising because it is so thick and bulky. We liked the overall design and the chunky cable knit feel. Also, this hat comes in a ton of color options, which we appreciate. Though it's not designed to roll up, it's super stretchy, making it adjustable enough to fit an assortment of head sizes.
Unlike many of the other knit options out there, the C.C. Cable Knit comes unlined. This means it is lighter and less bulky, but it also means that it doesn't protect from wind and frigid temperatures quite as well as these other more substantial hats. Also, this one isn't a roll-up, which makes it less adjustable than many of the other winter hats in this review.
The C.C. Exclusives Leopard is one of the softest hats we wore during this review. It's made from a combination of viscose, nylon, and acrylic materials, which gives it an extremely soft, fuzzy feel. If you're feeling feisty, the leopard print pattern on this cap may be appealing. We tested the classic gold and black color combo, but the hat comes in various other color options. If you want to add some cozy pizzazz to your cold-weather outfit, this hat is for you.
Of course, it's up to you to decide whether or not this hat fits into your wardrobe. The pompom and overall pattern make the C.C. Exclusives designed for a specific look. We liked the hat but felt that its texture was an acquired taste as well. It also felt a bit tight and didn't stretch much over time.
The JOYEBUY beanies are the outliers of the bunch this round of reviews. First off, these hats only come in a four-pack. If you like to stock up on things, then this feature might be considered a positive. The JOYEBUY hats are unique in that they are made from 100% cotton; most of the hats we reviewed are partially made from acrylic material. Their construction makes them lightweight and breathable — ideal for warmer weather since they aren't nearly as warm as most hats we reviewed.
There are a few significant issues we had with these hats. First of all, they are massive — our lead tester and the majority of other hat testing volunteers had trouble keeping this hat on. The giant slouchy shape was continually falling over our eyes; even when rolled up, this one still felt huge. For us, beanies are meant to keep one's head warm, and because the JOYEBUY was so thin, we found it didn't act as a substantial enough barrier against cold temperatures.
Why You Should Trust Us
Born and raised in Wyoming with winters lasting eight months, our lead tester, Jane Jackson, knows cold weather. She has learned that life in the mountains means that beanies are worn year-round, and it's essential to have a full quiver of options depending on the time of year, activity, and weather. We used the changing seasons in the Sierra Nevada to test this batch of winter hats. Cold mornings, cold nights, and bone-chilling winds mean hats are a must. These conditions provided the perfect testing ground for this hat review. Jane's experience living in ski towns across the west helped her narrow in on the top styles selected for final hands-on testing.
The majority of testing conducted for these reviews was simply wearing the hats. Day in and day out, we donned a different cap and headed out into the world. We made sure to gather a wide range of inputs from folks of varying head sizes to make sure we got a good read on the adjustability and versatility of each hat. The most crucial testing metric was comfort. If a winter hat isn't comfortable, what's the point?! Again, wearing these hats was the best possible way to test this metric. We also evaluated the overall construction and materials for each cap as well, as their warmth, adjustability, and overall style.
Analysis and Test Results
We used five rating metrics to break down the performance of each one in this review. The most heavily weighted metric was comfort, which we mainly tested by wearing the hats as much as possible. Time is the true test when it comes to the overall comfort of a hat. Next, and equally as important, was warmth. We made sure to compare each hat in a variety of cold-weather conditions; following warmth was adjustability. Of course, heads come in all different sizes — do the hats cater to a particular size head, or are they adjustable? Finally, we assessed the overall construction of the hats and the styling of each one.
The overall comfort of a hat depends on a variety of factors, some of them subjective. We considered the following features to assess this metric and make sure all the products were on an even playing field. About half of the beanies in this review are lined, which means that they have a soft fleece layer on the inside; this adds warmth and an extra layer of coziness and ups the comfort score typically. We also took note of how the hats felt after long periods of wear. Scratchy material that causes itchiness is an immediate no-go. We also assessed the fit in this metric. Any hats with constrictions or tight spots received lower scores. Additionally, massively oversized hats also got dinged since it's not comfortable to have a hat falling over your eyes all the time.
The highest-ranked hats in this metric were the Carhartt Lookout and the OZERO Knit. Both of these hats are soft, with no tight spots or constrictions. We especially liked the tight weave on the Carhartt beanie because it makes the fit snug but not constricting. The OZERO has a thick cable knit design with an extra layer of fleece on the inside, while the JOYEBUY hats were the least comfortable, as they were too big and made from a material that didn't feel very cozy.
The level of warmth provided by each model differed based on the materials used, the lining, and the ability to roll the bottom of the cap up for an extra layer of warmth. We found that the cable knit hats, like the C.C. Trendy and the Durio, can let more air through the large gaps in the weave. The Durio, however, is lined, so it scored higher in this metric. Both the FURTALK and the OZERO Knit have thick fleece lining, making them extremely warm on the coldest days of our testing period.
The Smartwool Merino Sport 150 is super thin, so it let cold air in on very windy days. That said, its merino wool material makes it breathable and quick-drying — a trade-off for a thinner hat. The JOYEBUY options are thin and do not provide very much protection from wind; they are the worst of both worlds as they do not offer much breathability.
This was a relatively simple metric to test but is also an important aspect of a hat since heads come in many shapes and sizes, and beanies are typically sold as a "one-size-fits-all" product. Our testing procedure for this metric was largely focused on whether or not the hat had the option of rolling up or not. Many of the products we reviewed have a roll-up option, which is a great, simple way to adjust the hat's size to fit one's specific head shape. Our favorite roll-up options are the Carhartt Lookout, which is super soft and easy to adjust. We also liked the OZero and FURTALK hats for their adjustability.
The hats that fell a bit short in this metric were either meant to be worn as oversized accessories or to be worn snug against the head. If adjustability is not a concern and you're looking for a more modern, slouchy style hat, the C.C. Cable Knit or the Durio Knit beanies are a good option. The Durio provides a bit more warmth because it is lined. On the opposite end of the adjustability spectrum is the Smartwool Merino 150, which is designed to fit tightly. We loved this option for activities, like biking or climbing, where the hat can be worn under a helmet. Though it doesn't roll up, this hat is still super stretchy.
Materials and Construction
The hats in this review are all of varying quality. This can be a slightly challenging metric to assess without it feeling subjective. We all have preferences when it comes to the materials and fabrics that we choose to wear. We did wear all of these beanies often and side by side, so we were able to assess the feeling of each one in comparison to the next. Some were inherently more well-made than others.
The Carhartt Lookout received a high score in this metric because of its solid construction. The knit is tight, and we never saw any signs of unraveling or fraying. Additionally, the Smartwool Merino 150 knocked it out of the park because it is the only one made from 100% merino wool. This natural material just feels better against the skin, and the hat is well-sewn and solidly made to boot. These high scorers show that oftentimes, a slightly higher price tag can get you a better and more long-lasting product.
We were a bit less impressed with the construction of a few other products in this review. Most notably was the JOYEBUY set. These hats are made from thin, not-so-soft cotton that doesn't feel cozy or provide much warmth. We were not reaching for this contender when setting out on a cold morning. On the opposite end of the spectrum was the C.C. Exclusives Leopard hat, which is insanely soft and has a very synthetic feel that our testers weren't crazy about.
This metric is the final metric we used to assess the performance of each contender. We are fully aware that this is subjective, and our findings should be taken with a grain of salt. Our personal favorites in terms of style were the Carhartt Lookout, the Durio Knit, and the OZero Knit. These three hats are slouchy, soft, and add flair to any outfit. If you are looking for something a little more exciting, we recommend the C.C. Exclusives Leopard or the FURTALK Faux Fur.
We weren't thrilled by the aesthetics of the JOYEBUY hats. We found them to be too big and were not that into the overall design. The Smartwool Merino 150 Sport focuses more on function than aesthetics but looks good for the sportier folks.
Whether you're heading into the mountains for a weekend camping trip or already daydreaming about next year's ski season, there's always time to look for an updated cold-weather headpiece. The beanies we tested in this review are designed for a wide range of functions — from nights out on the town to tying together a ski outfit to completing that early morning camping look. This review is meant to guide you in the right direction as you narrow in on the perfect women's beanie to suit your needs.
— Jane Jackson