The Only Outdoor Hats I’ve Ever Loved: Fractel Headwear Review

(Photo/Will Brendza)

I am pretty obsessive when it comes to hats. I love them in all their forms — cowboy hats, bucket hats, baseball caps, fedoras, tricorns. You name it, and I probably own at least one of them.

But the one kind of hat I’ve never loved for its fit, feel, or style is the typical running, hiking, or general outdoor hat. They’re lightweight, unremarkable, and often kind of cheap-feeling. So, I usually end up wearing a regular cotton ballcap. I’ll burn through one of those every year before it reaches the salt-stained, clip-snapped, color-fading end of its life.

Toward the end of the last hiking season and the beginning of ski season, I got turned onto a new hat brand that changed my mind — Fractel. Once I started using this rad headwear, I fell in love with an outdoor sports hat for the first time in my life.

I’ve since tried a few of Fractel’s styles, and I can confidently say these are the coolest, most comfortable, and highest-quality outdoor hats I know of. The many different styles offer something for almost any outdoor sport, activity, and aesthetic preference. Yes, these are billed as running caps — but they kick ass in any outdoor setting you put them in.

In short: Fractel’s outdoor headwear is the most comfortable and high-quality I’ve encountered. Fractel started as a running hat brand, but its headwear is great for backpacking, hiking, paddling, ski touring, yard work, and other sweaty outdoor endeavors. The brand uses cool colors and patterns, and it makes different styles and weights of hats for different preferences and conditions. They all wick moisture quickly, dry fast, and add style points to any outdoor ensemble.

If you’re in the market for running and exercise hats, compare Fractel’s headwear to GearJunkie’s guide to the Best Running Hats.

Fractel Running Hats


  • Fabrics
    100% recycled polyester Polartec, Power Dry fabric
  • Headband
    SWIFTdry sweat absorbing internal headband
  • UV protection
    UPF 50+


  • Fun look, major style points

  • Extremely comfortable

  • Dark under-bills reduce glare

  • Lightweight and dry fast

  • High-quality materials


  • Snap buttons on legionnaires tend to pop out

  • Imperfect fabric cuts on inner headband (does not affect performance or fit)

Fractel Running Hats Review

Let’s get this out of the way: I am not much of a runner. I force myself to run a few miles a few days a week, but most of the time, when I’m sweating outside, it’s because I’m hiking, backpacking, biking, or ski touring. So that’s mostly how I used these Fractel Hats. I do wear them when I trail run, but that represents a small fraction of my testing.

I got my first sample of Fractel hats at the tail end of last summer. Over the ski season, I wore these hats on countless ski tours (even sharing my extra Fractel hats with friends when they didn’t have adequate sun protection).

Fractel Headwear outdoor, running, hiking, hats
(Photo/Will Brendza)

As things have warmed up, I’ve been wearing them at campsites when I’m setting up, on the trail when I’m walking my dog, and in the backcountry when I’m living out of a backpack.

Fit & Comfort

I’m putting this section up top because it’s the first thing you’ll notice when you put on a Fractel hat. They’re very comfortable.

The legionnaire and bucket hats use an elastic cord that cinches snugly around your head, and the regular caps use an adjustable elastic band.

Fractel Headwear outdoor, running, hiking, hats
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Because these adjusters are elastic, the fit snugly hugs your noggin. When out jogging or skiing, I haven’t had issues with Fractel hats flying off my head when I pick up speed or get blasted by a gust of wind. The fit is surprisingly secure for how comfortable these hats feel.

Fractel Headwear outdoor, running, hiking, hats
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Lots of Styles

Fractel makes several different styles of hats, and I was lucky enough to try a few of them. The Legionnaires have a soft brim and a neck flap that protects the nape of your neck from sunburns. This style has a button at the bottom of the flap so you can snap it back, up, and out of the way or under your chin for extra sun and weather protection.

Fractel Headwear outdoor, running, hiking, hats
(Photo/Will Brendza)

The bucket hats are fairly basic but allow for fit adjustments through the elastic cord. Fractel then sells its M-, R-, F-, P-, and K-Series Caps, which are basic, billed athletic hats with different aesthetics, color options, and venting panel layouts. It also offers its T-Series trucker hats, headbands, beanies, visors, neck gaiters, and more.

Some Fractels, like the “VANTAGE” Edition Winter Legionnaire Hat, are made of heavier fleece material, making them ideal for cold trail runs and ski tours.


With 50+ FPS, Fractel’s headwear offers solid sun protection. The recycled polyester Polartec and Power Dry fabrics are cool on your skin, lightweight, wick moisture away quickly, and dry quickly.

Fractel Headwear outdoor, running, hiking, hats
(Photo/Will Brendza)

The Legionairres are particularly great for adventures with high sun exposure. I used mine hiking around in arid regions like Fruita, Colo., and Moab, Utah. They’re ideal for summer backpacking trips, desert camping, rafting, paddleboarding, or kayaking. They fit under helmets, so you don’t have to shirk safety for sun protection when you’re skiing, climbing, paddling, or even biking.

(Photo/Will Brendza)

The bills on most of Fractel’s hats have darker colors and patterns on the undersides. That adds style points if you want to flip it up to show off your fancy underbill. It also reduces glare when the bill is worn normally, making it easier to see in bright conditions — this was particularly useful during sunny ski touring missions and cloudless river days.

Fractel Headwear outdoor, running, hiking, hats
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Room for Improvement

There are only two flaws I’ve found in the design of these hats. Only one of them is a functional problem, so I’ll start there: The buttons on the Legionnaires tend to pop out. This has happened with two of mine and one of my friend’s Fractel hats. You have to be careful when unsnapping the button, or you’ll break it and won’t be able to button it again.

Fractel Headwear outdoor, running, hiking, hats
(Photo/Will Brendza)

The second issue is totally aesthetic and doesn’t affect the function of these hats at all. But if you flip down the headband on the inside of some Fractel hats, you can see the edge of the material that the underbill is lined with. The cuts are jagged and kind of wonky-looking.

That issue is only present in a few of my testing samples and could just be a pre-production problem.

Fractel Headwear: The Final Word

Fractel Headwear outdoor, running, hiking, hats
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Hats are a really personal thing. Exercise and outdoor hats must be comfortable, moisture-wicking, light, and snug on your head. If they look cool, it’s extra points.

Fractel’s headwear hits all of those marks for me. It’s versatile across various sports and seasons, has different weights for different temperatures and activities, is stylish and fun, and is largely made with recycled materials. Fractel hats come at a slightly higher price point than your typical outdoor headwear, sure. But the payoff is worth it, and it’s easy to recognize when you’re wearing one.

I have never loved an outdoor exercise hat before. Now, though, I consider my Fractel hats an essential piece of kit for my favorite outdoor activities.

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The post The Only Outdoor Hats I’ve Ever Loved: Fractel Headwear Review appeared first on GearJunkie.

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