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Headsweats Race Hat SPOTLITE REVIEW

Way cool hiking hat that really manages the moisture and stays put, but snags fairly easily.


by Will Rietveld | 2006-07-01 03:00:00-06

Headsweats Race Hat SPOTLITE REVIEW


The Headsweats Race Hat is a baseball cap style lid constructed of Coolmax fabric for rapid moisture dispersion. It features Coolmax wicking fabric in the main cap, Coolmax terrycloth sweatband, large stiff bill with black underside for face protection and glare reduction, an easy to adjust cinch strap on the back, and Invista sun protection.

Headsweats hats are marketed to adventure racers and runners, who really need high performance clothing to stay dry and comfortable. That’s especially true for the head area, which puts out a lot of heat and moisture during an endurance race.

I used the Race Hat for backpacking, which doesn’t come close to adventure racing, but it does get pretty darn hot and sweaty on a 3,000 foot climb carrying a pack in the hot sun. Over a two-month period, I wore it on weekly backpacks in a wide variety of conditions.

The outcome - the Headsweats Race Hat really works! In normal trail hiking, the Race Hat soaked up sweat and dispersed it without having to wear a bandana under it. However, I did wear a bandana under it on some really hot bushwhacks up steep slopes, so there are limits to its wicking ability. With its cinch strap adjustment on the back it was very easy to put on a bandana then slip the Race Hat over it and snug it.

Headsweats Race Hat SPOTLITE REVIEW - 1
The Coolmax fabric is textured on the outside (left) to increase its surface area for moisture dispersion. The Race Hat (right), has a 1.5-inch wide Coolmax terrycloth sweatband, a cinch strap on the back, and black underbrim to reduce glare.

Everyone has a different hiking hat preference, and I personally prefer a baseball cap style because it’s cooler. I have tried hats with an integrated sun cape, and they’re simply too hot unless there is a good breeze. That said, the downside of wearing a baseball cap is I get a lot of sun exposure and have to really slather up with sunscreen. One combination I often use is laying my bandana over my head and then putting the Race Hat over it, which provided good sun and wind protection when I really need it.

Headsweats Race Hat SPOTLITE REVIEW - 2
Ok, this is a bit dorky, but wearing a bandana under the Race Hat works well for extra sun protection when you really need it. A lighter color would be cooler than the dark blue bandana I used here.

The cinch strap on the back of the Race Hat adjusts easily and really holds the hat on. When a wind came up, all I had to do was reach back and snug the hat to make it stay on. The hat even stayed on when I hitch-hiked a ride in the back of a pickup truck to get back to my car after six days on the Continental Divide Trail.

In a rain shower I could feel every drop wet the top of my head, so the Race Hat is not showerproof by any means. However, it works great under the hood of a rain jacket or poncho to ventilate my head and keep the hood from restricting my vision.

The Coolmax fabric is somewhat durable, but I still managed to get a few snags in it from bushwhacking through brush. So expect some damage if you wear it off-trail.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: Headsweats (
  • Product: Coolmax Race Hat
  • Fabric: Coolmax polyester body, Coolmax terrycloth sweatband
  • Sizes: One size fits most with rear cinch strap
  • Features: Coolmax fabric, 1.5-inch Coolmax sweatband, black underbrim
  • MSRP: $20


"Headsweats Race Hat SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-07-01 03:00:00-06.