Are Wool Hats Waterproof & Warm Enough for Winter?

One of the more distinguished elements of fashion is the hat. From winter hats to sun hats, this popular head adornment comes in many varieties of size, shape, and material, including wool.

On the surface, wool sounds warm. But how much weather protection does a wool hat truly offer? Are wool hats waterproof and are wool hats warm?  

Wool is not completely waterproof, but it is naturally water-repellent (which means it can repel light precipitation, but won’t be able to keep you dry in a heavy rain storm). Wool is a popular choice for winter weather because it has the ability to insulate even when it takes on moisture. But it’s important to understand that wool comes in different weights, some of which are more winter appropriate than others.

Some winter wool hats may use up to 24-ounce wool, and may even use a double layer of wool for extra insulation. Although wool is warm, not all wool hats will make sense for winter weather.

It’s important to understand that wool is also popular for warmer weather because it is naturally moisture-wicking, meaning it can pull sweat away from your body to help keep you cool. Because of that, some lightweight wool hats may be purposed for warmer weather.

In this article let’s take a closer look at wool hats, and why they make sense for winter weather. Let’s also discuss how to find the warmest types of wool hats.

Are Wool Hats Waterproof? 

When the winter weather and cold sets in, having a dependable hat that can keep your head dry and warm is crucial. But are wool hat waterproof?  

Although 100% wool hats are not waterproof, they are water-repellent. What does this mean? A water-repellent hat means that, yes, it will repel light precipitation like snow or a slow drizzle, but it can’t take on a driving rainstorm and keep you completely dry.

The truth is, wool is made of fibers, and although it is difficult for water to penetrate wool fibers, it is not completely impossible. This means if you expose the wool hat to strong rain for a long enough period of time, eventually water will leak through.

It’s also important to note that some wool hats are actually made will a wool fabric blend (is wool blend warm?). Some companies will incorporate other materials (like polyester or nylon) into the fabric. This may be done for a variety of reasons, including cost reduction or durability.

Wool hats that are made using a wool fabric blend will not always be as good against the rain as a 100% wool hat. So keep this in mind when you are shopping for wool products and hats.

What Happens When Wool Gets Wet?

As we discussed above, although you can expect your 100% wool hat to be water-repellent, eventually the fibers will absorb some moisture. What happens when wool gets wet?

The nice thing about 100% wool hats is wool will absorb moisture and still retain the ability to insulate. Some premium types of wool can retain as much as 25-30% of its own weight in moisture without becoming damp, allowing it to retain its insulating qualities.

Are Wool Hats Good for Winter?

One of the first things most people think of when they think of wool is protection from the cold. And rightly so. Wool is very effective at keeping an individual comfortable during the winter months. Wool hats are no exception.

Other than being stylish, wool hats do two things in winter that benefit the individual who wears one:

  • They keep a person’s head warm.
  • They help keep a person’s head dry.

While our parents may have told us to wear our wool caps because we lose 90% of our body heat through our heads, that isn’t necessarily true. At least not to that extent. Instead, scientists estimate that we lose up to 10% of our body heat through an exposed head. And in really cold weather, that may just be enough reason to pull our wool hat down tight.

Are Wool Hats Warm? 

Whether it’s a simple baseball cap or a beanie or even a winter hat with earflaps, many people like to turn to a wool hat for winter. But why is wool a good choice for a winter hat? Why are wool hats warm?

  • Wool’s rough surface traps in heat. The surface of wool is very curly and convoluted. When touched, there is very little surface area to surface area contact. So, heat has fewer avenues of escape from contact and will remain trapped between the skin of a person’s head and the wool of the hat.
  • Wool is an excellent insulator.  The material from which wool is made (the soft, fluffy fur of sheep—of course) is an excellent insulator, and as we discussed earlier, premium wool can retain its insulating qualities even when wet.

Other things will likewise come into play, like the weight and thickness of the wool. The thicker the wool, the greater the distance heat must travel to escape. Similar statements can be made regarding weight.

As we discussed earlier in the article, some winter wool hats may use up to 24-ounce wool, and may even double layer the wool for extra insulation and warmth.

Are Wool Hats Good for Summer? 

Although many people associate wool with use in winter weather, it can also be used in the summer. Again, wool hats in summer are both stylish and comfortable. Further, they have a number of key benefits.

Wool hats do four things in summer that benefit the individual who wears one:

  • They help keep water from a person’s head.
  • They can shade one’s eyes, depending on the style of hat.
  • They are moisture-wicking to help remove sweat
  • They are breathable

Obviously, you don’t want to buy a heavyweight wool hat built for winter conditions. Although wool is breathable and naturally helps wick sweat away, a thick winter hat won’t be comfortable for summer weather.

Are Wool Hats Good at Shading the Eyes?

This is another feature that is affected more by the design of the hat than the wool material from which it is made.

If wearing a wool hat in the summer, the key to shading one’s eyes is to get a hat with a sufficient brim. Whether it be a baseball cap or a fedora, a person will want a brim wide enough to cast a shadow across his/her eyes.

Also, it is worth pointing out that this is useful in both summer and winter. In winter, an individual might want to shade his eyes from the glare of sunlight on blinding white snow. In summer, it could be to protect her eyes from the glare of the rolling waters of a lake or river or, perhaps, the snow of a mountaintop. 

Either way, it’s the brim that does the trick.

Types of Wool Hats for Men and Women

Wool hats come in many different varieties. They can be worn by either men or women (although some may be more gender-specific than others). But to give some notion of the breadth and scope of one’s possible selection, here is a shortlist:

Other Wool Options

If you like wool, and want to read about other popular wool clothing, visit our articles linked below:

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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