Help me find a non-wool, non-scratchy winter hat for skiing
November 30, 2009 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find the perfect non-wool, in-no-way-scratchy winter hat for moderateish activity (male recipient)?


I am looking for suggestions for a winter hat for the boyfriend, who is a special redheaded snowflake and thus has ridiculously sensitive skin. This would be used for x-country skiing/running in quite cold temperatures (0F-20F) and activities like snowshoeing in more moderate temperatures (15F-40F).

These are the type of temperature/activity combinations that normal people, including myself, would just use a nice Smartwool beanie for. I have failed miserably at this project so far for oh-my-god-really?-THAT-itches?-HOW? reasons so far.

Assume that I do not sew/knit/craft, and that no one I know well enough to ask for a favor does either.

Relevant desired qualities:

-non-cotton or other soggy material, since said activities can get fairly sweaty/snowy

-includes no wool, not even Smartwool/the finest merino wool from tiny fleecy perfect soft newborn lambs lovingly fed organic grain by hand, not even if lined with another material

-includes no materials that could even remotely be categorized as "scratchy"

-stretchy material, or hat available in larger sizes, so it doesn't feel claustrophobic or cling to the head too much

-very basic pattern or solid colors in some manly variation, nothing too crazy or bright or pink

-easy and hopefully non-exorbitant shipping to the US, specifically Alaska

-bonus points for ear coverage of some kind, but not totally necessary since he can always supplement with ear bags

Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by charmedimsure to Shopping (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go for fleece! Pretty much all my snowboarding hats were fleece. I have very sensitive skin and this is un-itchy.
posted by radioamy at 7:18 PM on November 30, 2009

Can he handle fur? Here's what is popular in Montreal. They are crazy expensive but warm as hell, and comfy.
posted by Cuke at 7:40 PM on November 30, 2009

REI has some great hats that you can use as a head "base layer." I've worn these hats under wool hats in extreme cold weather, and they've done the trick. You may be able to find hats like this that work in even colder conditions:
posted by redarmycomrade at 7:41 PM on November 30, 2009

Best answer: Fleece hats are great and they're really super cheap. If you want something a little more interesting than average, there are a lot of people who work with fleece and make stuff on etsy. Here are a few hats that seem to fit the bill for you: 1, 2, 3
posted by jessamyn at 7:44 PM on November 30, 2009

I had the best fleece hat in the universe. And then I lost it. I mourn it every time I want to wear a hat. Fleece is good.
posted by that girl at 8:03 PM on November 30, 2009

I'm squarely in the merino camp, so take my advice with the appropriate caution, but— I just can't stand fleece for active use, especially anywhere it directly contacts my skin. Most of the time it's warm enough (especially if you get a Gore Windstopper or similar material), but it just doesn't breathe well, and then you've got all sorts of moisture. The material itself won't get soggy, but you will.

Full disclosure: I own this hat from several years ago, and wear it when it gets really cold, when sweaty head is preferable to frostbite. Often I'll throw a merino liner beneath, though.
posted by a halcyon day at 8:31 PM on November 30, 2009

I have a couple fleece hats, and they don't make my forehead itch the way wool does. LL Bean has several, as well as rabbit-fur lined hats, which are likely to be crazy soft, and not at all scratchy, but look doofy. Lands End has fleece hats. Eddie Bauer has a really doofy/cute bomber hat.
posted by theora55 at 10:12 PM on November 30, 2009

i have very similar non-itchy standards. i inherited this under armour hat from my boyfriend and it's perfect for running. it's kinda pricey for a fleece hat, but i think the lining does help wick away sweat better than a normal fleece hat.

but the reason i inherited it was because it was too small for my boyfriend, so i think it runs small
posted by nanhey at 10:21 PM on November 30, 2009

Response by poster: Fur is definitely a little much for what I'm looking for. I hadn't thought of silk! Or alpaca, although I'm a little scared to try anything new without actually feeling it, given the number of fabrics I already know are unacceptable, itch-wise...anything that has "little stringy things" has gotten banned as headwear around these parts.

Thanks for everyone who linked to specific fleece hats; they may be the go-to option, it looks like, especially since it appears as though there are Etsy sellers who will do custom work.

Any other good ideas (including particularly awesome fleece hats, or more masculine silk hats), please feel free to post. Thanks for all the great help so far.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:03 AM on December 1, 2009

Best answer: I looked at your location, and you are a lucky duck--you're in qiviut country! Qiviut (the downy undercoat from the musk ox) is supposed to be a good non-itchy hypoallergenic alternative for those allergic/sensitive to sheep's wool. It is apparently softer than cashmere, very warm, and doesn't pill or shrink. HOWEVER, it's very expensive, which is why I have never indulged myself and bought any qiviut yarn to knit with (it's like $70 per rather small skein--yikes). But apparently a hat made of this stuff could last your bf well over 20 years, so cost per wear would be low.

hat knit by the Oomingmak women's cooperative
qiviut/silk blend hats at another store

Really though, you'll probably be able to find some locally (unless you are living somewhere remote).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:09 AM on December 1, 2009

There are a lot of hats by Turtle Fur which feature an outer knit wool-blend shell and they are lined with the Turtle Fur fleece which is super super soft and my favorite fleece evar. Here's one. A nice option if you want the knit-cap look without the itch.
posted by sararah at 7:15 AM on December 1, 2009

Response by poster: Hadn't really thought about qiviut...hmmmm. I do work about 1/2 mile from the Oomingmak cooperative. Spendy, though.

You would *think* that soft merino wool lined with fleece would be inoffensive to all- it certainly looks nicer than the plain fleece- but trust me, it's not (whether that is because it is actually somehow magically itchy or because there is a severe case of Wool Paranoia going on, is hard to tell).
posted by charmedimsure at 8:08 AM on December 1, 2009

One of my favorite hats is a wool watch cap that used to be too itchy for me. A friend sewed a liner into it made from a cotton T-shirt (a piece of poly-something would work as well). The liner is thin so it doesn't get very wet and it sure makes a warm cap much more comfortable. Possible to go that route?
posted by TruncatedTiller at 8:32 AM on December 1, 2009

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