Last Updated on 27/08/2023
In this guide to the best waterproof beanies, we share which cold-weather beanie hats keep your head and ears the warmest and dryest. You will learn how to avoid hats that sound like they are lined with a potato chip packet. One thing we really tested for was breathability which is key for rainproof beanies.
Beanies that are waterproof sound like a good idea, but they also have their issues. We don’t hold back on sharing everything we don’t like about these hats as well as the things we do.
A waterproof beanie takes a standard warm hat and adds a breathable membrane between the outer shell and inner lining. This prevents rain and snow from soaking through to your hair or head and helps to keep you warmer for much longer. Read all the way down to find out the three downsides to waterproof beanie hats.
5 Best Waterproof Beanie Hats
SITKA Gear Jetstream Windstopper Fleece Hunting Beanie
- MATERIALS: GORE-TEX INFINIUM WINDSTOPPER membrane, Stretch-woven polyester face, lofted micro-grid fleece lining
- PROS: Lightweight, breathable, fast drying, windproof, quiet, stretchy-comfortable
- CONS: Expensive, membrane isn’t 100% waterproof
The SITKA Gear Jetstream is the best waterproof beanie for hiking in our opinion. It is lightweight, warm, breathable, and does an excellent job of blocking wind and repelling water. It uses the same material as the Jetstream jacket, which is soft yet incredibly durable. I have had one of these hats for years, and it is the first one I typically wear as the temperatures drop to the mid-thirties in the fall.
The outer material is nice and stretchy, which over time, molds to the shape of your head for an ever-improving fit (you’d be devastated if you lost it). Inside is the WINDSTOPPER membrane, which is not totally waterproof but always keeps me dry in rain and snow. The lining is soft and fluffy as well as moisture wicking so that any sweat is pushed out through the membrane, so the inside always feels dry.
VERDICT: The Jetstream Beanie from SITKA is light and warm, which is a good combo for hiking. There are warmer and even more waterproof options out there, but this one is my go-to choice if I am being active. The fact that it doesn’t have a crinkly lining and is very quiet is what pushed this up to the number one spot.
SEALSKINZ Waterproof Cold Weather Roll Cuff Beanie
- MATERIALS: 100% Acrylic shell, 100% Dri-Vent membrane, 100% Polyester lining
- PROS: Very waterproof, warm, comfortable
- CONS: Easy to overheat, the membrane isn’t the quietest
The SEALSKINZ Roll Cuff is the most waterproof beanie for cold weather we have ever tested. This is thanks to the Dri-Vent membrane, which blocks water from coming in but allows moisture to escape from the inside when you sweat. This is important because if it weren’t so breathable, your head would be wet with sweat whether it was raining or not.
The roll cuff design provides extra warmth to your ears and the back of your neck and allows you to roll it up over your ears if you get too hot. This hat is not without its problems, though. The membrane is louder than other, less waterproof membranes. I find it is also easier to overheat in a sealskin hat; however, if you aren’t too active, this isn’t an issue.
VERDICT: The Cold Weather Roll Cuff Beanie from SEALSKINZ is about as waterproof as beanies get. The problem with that is that it is easy to sweat. And while it does deal with perspiration relatively well, it still builds up if you exert yourself. If you are staying relatively inactive, though, like fishing, this would be perfect for keeping your dome dry.
SEALSKINZ Waterproof Cold Weather Beanie
- MATERIALS: 100% Acrylic shell, 100% Dri-Vent membrane, 100% Polyester lining
- PROS: Fully waterproof, lightweight, fast drying, hi-visibility color option
- CONS: Easy to overheat, the membrane is a little rustly
The SEALSKINZ Waterproof Cold Weather Beanie is built the same way as the rolled cuff above. However, it is slightly lighter and less chunky. It features a fully waterproof Dri-Vent membrane which blocks water coming in and allows sweat to evaporate out from the inside. One good thing about this waterproof beanie is that it comes in a hi-vis yellow color for outdoor work.
Even though this isn’t any more breathable than the SEALSKINZ Rolled Cuff Beanie, it isn’t quite as hot for hiking in. The tight-knit acrylic shell is stretchy and very fast drying, so it won’t hold any water or get heavy when it rains (like some hats do). From the picture, it looks like it has a bit of a lip or peak on one side, but it doesn’t have this when it arrives.
VERDICT: The Waterproof Cold Weather Beanie from SEALSKINZ is the most popular waterproof beanie in the world. It is simple and effective for cold and wet weather. A favorite among people who work outdoors all year around.
EDTREK Waterproof and Windproof Camo Beanie Hunting Hat
- MATERIALS: 100% acrylic shell, 100% polyester fleece lining
- PROS: Great value, reversible warm, lightweight, fast drying, quiet
- CONS: Not fully waterproof, aimed at hunters
The EDTREK Waterproof and Windproof Camo Beanie is designed for hunters, although it can be worn for hiking and camping just as well. It claims to be waterproof. However, it only has two layers, and neither of them is a membrane. But even though this might be false advertising, it does keep the rain off very well.
The outer layer sheds water to a certain point before it feels damp to the touch. The internal lining is super lightweight and comfortable, not absorbing any moisture at all. You could dunk this hat underwater, wring it out, and the lining would hardly feel wet, even if the other shell did. The orange color and camo print probably only appeals to hunters, but it doesn’t hurt to stay visible if hiking or camping during hunting season.
VERDICT: The Waterproof and Windproof Camo Beanie from EDTREK is great value and just what you want when it starts to rain or snow in winter. It isn’t fully waterproof, as stated, but it does a good enough job to put it in the same range as SEALSKINZ beanies. If the sound of a waterproof membrane close to your ear bothers you, then stick to a two-layer rain beanie like this.
OTTER Waterproof, Windproof, Breathable Beanie Hat
- MATERIALS: 100% acrylic shell, Micro-porous membrane, 100% polyester fleece lining
- PROS: Good value, waterproof
- CONS: The membrane crinkles next to your ears a bit, and it is not very breathable
The OTTER Waterproof, Windproof, Breathable Beanie Hat came after the SEALSKINS beanie hats and looks suspiciously similar. Still, it does cost around $15 less, so it is worth mentioning for people on a budget. It has a ribbed knit which makes it very slimline so that it can easily be worn under a helmet or hood. The membrane on this is much louder than any others, but we are exaggerating slightly so that you aren’t surprised if you get one.
VERDICT: The OTTER Waterproof, Windproof, Breathable Beanie Hat is absolutely fine for keeping your head warm and dry occasionally. But if you want a rainproof beanie you can wear all day, every day, then the sound of the membrane might get a bit annoying. Overall, very similar to the SEALSKINZ hat above.
3 Problems with Waterproof Beanie Hats
The big problem with waterproof hats is that the more waterproof they are, the easier it is to overheat, and so the more you sweat. Sweating in cold weather is never good because as soon as you cool down, the sweat freezes and makes you colder. Another problem I found to be more annoying than anything else was the sound a waterproof membrane makes when it is right next to your ear.
1. Quickly Overheat
With a fully waterproof beanie that is triple layered with a membrane at the core, it is much easier to overheat than if just wearing a non-waterproof hat. The membrane can deal with small amounts of moisture, which wicks away from your head. But it can’t handle enough so that you don’t overheat when exerting yourself.
2. Sweat Builds Up Fast if Hiking
Once you overheat, you start to sweat, and while some of this sweat is pushed through the one-way membrane and away, it soon builds up. Before you know it, your hair is dripping with perspiration, and you are left wondering if waterproof hats are even worth it. You might as well just get a Tilley!
3. Waterproof Membranes are Noisey Next to Your Ear
Something you don’t realize until you start wearing waterproof beanies is that the membrane is far from silent. You can always hear it rustling against your ear as well as blocking out outside sounds – which only makes matters worse. It is for this reason that I would much rather wear a water-resistant beanie without a membrane than a fully waterproof winter hat with a membrane.
Best Waterproof Beanies Buyers Guide
In order to find the best waterproof beanie hat for hiking, camping, and outdoor activities, we, of course, tested for waterproofing capabilities. But some other areas we soon discovered were important are the breathability of the hat, if it has a waterproof membrane, and how noisy the membrane material was next to our ear.
Here are some of the features we looked for and why they are important to consider:
Fully waterproof beanies will typically be made up of three layers – a lining, a membrane, and a shell. It is the membrane that blocks out most of the water. However, the other materials play a big role in wicking moisture away and drying out quickly.
I much prefer a water-resistant beanie without a waterproof membrane because they are quieter and much more breathable. A DWR on the outer shell is actually enough for most people who also use a hood when it rains.
As mentioned above, waterproof lined beanies aren’t all they are cracked up to be. You have to decide if you would rather protect your hair and head from the rain at the risk of overheating.
Getting a waterproof hat that is warm enough, or not too warm, depends on the climate you are in. For extreme cold, you may even want to double up on beanies with your waterproof one on the outside. If warmth is your priority, then check out the SITKA Stratus Beanie, which we didn’t feature in this guide.
Beanies with waterproof membrane linings are typically not very breathable, no matter how hard they try or claim to be. This is why we encourage you to consider water-resistant hats that aren’t fully waterproof but do keep you dry, as well as avoid overheating. Breathability is way more important with a hat than you might think.
If your hat isn’t breathable, your head will sweat, and your hair will get wet. This will actually soak your hat from the inside and defeat the point in the first place. Check out these bushcraft hats if you didn’t find what you were looking for.
When looking for a warm winter hat that is waterproof, understand that it is the lining that will provide the most comfort. I like a soft fleece lining that is comfortable, quiet, moisture-wicking, and fast drying.
Comfort can also mean how well the hat fits as well as how it feels to wear. Most hats come in a one-size-fits-all, but some brands like SITKA may require you to take some measurements around your forehead before ordering.
This might seem like a trivial matter, but if you have tried any of the cheap waterproof beanies (not in this guide), you will know that they can sound like a packet of chips next to your ears. Thankfully Sealskinz has developed a super quiet membrane that hardly makes a sound and is miles better than what else is out there.
Some hats are warmer than others. Thick waterproof beanies are best suited for very cold temperatures or when you aren’t moving about too much. Thin waterproof hats are better for active people and for wearing under a hood or helmet. Oftentimes it is the wind that makes your head cold, which is waterproof hats are so good at keeping you warm – no wind gets through!
Do Waterproof Beanies Work?
Fully waterproof beanies with a membrane layer do work and will keep your head dry. The outer shell does a good job of shedding water, and the waterproof membrane ensures nothing gets through. A membrane will allow moisture to wick outwards but not inwards, but it often struggles to cope if you sweat too much.
I find them a bit sweaty for hiking and even walking the dog, but I know many people who swear by them and wear them every day in winter. Double-layer beanies with acrylic shells and fleece linings perform far better than you would imagine. This got me thinking, do you even need a waterproof beanie? I came to realize that there are actually lots of times when I would not complain about having one on.
Are Waterproof Beanies Worth It?
If you work outdoors in all weather, then I think a high-visibility waterproof beanie is totally worth it. Fishing and hunting enthusiasts would also get a lot of benefits out of one of the camouflage waterproof beanies. Waterproof beanies block the wind from your ears better than any other type of hat, so they are perfect for exposed conditions, like at the top of a mountain on a windy morning.
But, if you are hiking, biking, or exerting yourself, then you will likely suffer the same issues as we did. Your head will quickly get hot and start to sweat. The membrane can wick away a small amount, but once it starts to build up, there is nowhere for it to go, and the inside of the hat will start to get wet. And this defeats the point of trying to stay dry.
Double Vs Tripple Layer Waterproof Beanies
You might wonder why we included some beanies that aren’t totally waterproof, like the SEALSKINZ hats. The answer is that they do an amazing job of keeping your head dry without having the downsides of a waterproof membrane.
I have found that certain types of double-layer hats – have an outer shell and a lining material – do a wonderful job of not absorbing water. Acrylic seems to work well on the outside, and a polyester fleece lining makes a soft and comfortable liner. Even if they get drenched, they don’t hold onto the water and quickly dry out, which is ok in most cases.
Tripple-layer beanies sandwich a waterproof membrane between the outer shell and inner lining but typically use similar materials as a double-layer beanie. This is what I would call a fully waterproof beanie. Even if the membrane is designed to be windproof, it will still do a sound job of keeping the water out while remaining breathable.
Thanks for reading this guide to the best waterproof beanie hats for outdoor work, hiking, and camping.