Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
I’m not sure if it’s due to a personal problem or a curse, but I lose winter hats more than any other item.
Over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies for coping: I try not to spend too much money to soften the blow when I inevitably leave a hat behind somewhere, and when I find one I really like, I buy a few in the same color. This way, they’re all more or less interchangeable, and there’s always one waiting in the wings for when I leave it at the gym/bar/office/subway.
If you can relate (or have an interest in inexpensive winter accessories for a different reason), the following hats are some of the best out of the dozens I’ve tried. They’re all basic, warm enough, and — the best part — blessedly cheap.
Carhartt is one of the brands you’ll see most commonly in workwear shops, where everything is designed for people who spend their days outside, so you know these hats will last and keep you warm. Don’t be fooled by the overpriced Carhartt WIP beanies, which cost between $28 and $48; go for the regular old classic watch hats that are just as good (they’re both 100 percent acrylic), look exactly the same, and, at $9.99, are a third of the price. Another tip: If they fit you, the kids’ hats are only $7.99.
If you want to go logo-less, ASOS makes a couple of very solid, basic beanies for cheap. There’s the Turn Up beanie, which is basically the hat you’d buy from American Apparel if the brand still made it, or a Carhartt beanie without the logo; both are $9.50. There’s also a ribbed acrylic-knit fishermen beanie that comes in dozens of colors and costs between $8 and $13. (And it comes in a “mini” version if you want to do the hipster thing where only the very top of your head is covered.)
A Little Nicer
If you want something a step up from a basic acrylic beanie, the best bet for doing so at a low cost is hitting the fast-fashion circuit. The best ones I’ve seen this year are from H&M-owned brand & Other Stories. The Swedish label makes a bunch of hats, but there are two in particular that I really like: the Merino Wool Beanie and the Wool Beanie. Both come in five (slightly different) colors, and both cost $29.
Everlane is also a strong option, even though it’s one of the more expensive ones. Last year a friend gave me this wool-cashmere blend hat as a gift and I loved it, but of course I lost it and the brand doesn’t make it anymore (unless you’re cool with a hot pink one, which is on “pay what you wish” sale starting at $16). I’m considering replacing it with the Cashmere Beanie, which, at $58, is more than I’d usually spend. A smarter move might be going for the Mini Chunky Knit Beanie, which is currently on sale starting at $12, marked down from $28.