When temps fall, we reach for the beanie. That’s a fact of life. But not all beanies are made equally. In fact, the humble beanie comes in countless renditions from countless makers. Keeping your head warm is a simple ask, but looking good whilst doing so and a beanie you’ll rely on for as long as possible isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Today, we’re continuing our series of 2022 extended buyer’s guides with the beanie. Whether you’re just in the market for a new beanie, want to upgrade your current line-up, or want to find that first beanie that suits your head shape, we think this list will signpost you to some nice, head-warming places.
Ways to Wear a Beanie
The beanie may appear to be a simple accessory, but your head shape and how you want to style it should inform your choice of purchase.
Shallow & Above The Ear
Beanies that are short in construction or made in a way that allows for double cuffing can be worn above the ears. This can be a great way to style a beanie if you have a longer face, or minimal beard prospects, as the beanie doesn’t ‘take over’ your head and drown your face out. It’s also a winner if you’re bald or have a very short hairstyle like a buzz.
This style also suits longer hairstyles, and pretty much any face shape. In our opinion, this is the easiest way to style a beanie, but it does leave your ears exposed.
Lower, Covering the Ears
If you’ve got longer hair, a wider, rounder face shape, a strong beard — or just plain need to keep as much of your dome warm as possible — this may be how you want to style your beanie. You’ll want to go for one of the longer beanies on this list, as they will cover more of your head and fit over longer hairstyles.
Wools – Wool can be a versatile material for a beanie, depending on the variety of wool used and the gauge of the knit. Merino wool tends to be the most versatile, being a warming layer when it’s cold, but still breathable and moisture-wicking when it’s mild out, and cashmere is ridiculously soft with a more hairy texture. Different wools will command different price points.
Standard wool can be itchy but will keep your head warm as nature intended. In all cases, a woolen beanie will need more care than a cotton or acrylic one.
Cotton – Knit beanies made from 100% cotton yarns are a reliably great option. They’re insulating but breathable if loosely knit, and they often are. They tend to fall somewhere in the middle of premium-priced and more accessible in terms of price but are always worth the coin and remove animal products from the mix if that matters to you.
Acrylic – Among the cheapest and warmest, acrylic knits are super warm but not very breathable. Great if you live somewhere that gets properly cold and stays that way for a few months. Acryclic won’t age as well as wool or cotton and will bobble, but it will also last a long time and can be de-bobbled with a pilling comb. You can find one of these almost anywhere – gas stations, bodegas, military surplus stores, and workwear brands like Carhartt and Ben Davis.
Blends – Knit blends can offer the best of both worlds, in terms of functionality and price, but often end up being as expensive as a wool knit. Mohair blends, for example, can be quite expensive.
Andersen-Andersen Short Beanie
Knit from 100% New Merino Wool yarns, the Andersen-Andersen Short Beanie starts this list off strong with a short-profile. Being constructed from merino wool means it’s not just for the cold, its moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial properties do the job even when the sun’s shining.
Designed in Denmark by knit legends Andersen-Andersen, the Short Beanie is shallow fitting, cutting above the ear for an unobtrusive fit. Available in a ton of colors, they’re all sewn up in Italy, with a beautifully-chunky knit that matches the brand’s sweaters perfectly. This is a great way to own a piece of AA’s world-famous knit magic.
Available from Wallace Mercantile Shop for $66
Mr. Fatman Hue Watch Cap
Mr.Fatman‘s Hue Watch Cap is a classic-looking knit that’s sure to put your cohort’s gas-station beanies to shame. There’s nothing like that vintage Naval style knit, perfectly chunky, just like the Fatman intended.
Being knit from 100% virgin cotton means it’s soft to the touch, no itchiness, guaranteed. You can expect these to be easy to wear through the seasons, thanks to them being looser knit and made from breathable cotton, so you really can’t go wrong here.
Made in Japan, these black beauties come with a woven “Royal Deluxe Quality” Mr. Fatman tag, perfect for displaying your love for playful branding.
Found Feather Merino Wool Knit Cap
The Merino Wool Knit Watch Cap by Found Feather might be the highest priced beanie on this list, but it’s undoubtedly one of the nicest. Merino wool beanies are worth every penny, they rarely ever deform, and are all the best parts of wearing wool – without the itch.
Being earth-toned in hue means you can easily contrast this with all your faded blues, olive greens, and pretty much anything, really. Its shorter profile means you can wear it above ear, or pull it down a smidge to cover the top of your ears. It’s also made in Japan like so much of our favorite gear.
Available for $100 from Calculus
The Mighty Shine Short Watch Cap
The Mighty Shine Double Short Watch Cap in Olive doubles down on quality, clean aesthetic, and choice of fibers. Its made with Coolmax®, a 50-50 polyester-cotton blend found in so many articles of clothing, you can expect this noggin-warmer to perform reliably for years to come.
Coming with a double-rolled cuff, you can adjust the height of the cap easily and wear it up and down as you please, and as a Japan-made, U.S. Military reproduction, it’ll assuredly be at home among all the rest of your Americana-inspired wardrobe. It also comes in orange.
Dehen 1920 Wool Watch Cap
Dehen 1920 makes good stuff, and its 100% worsted wool Watch Cap appears to be another gem in its nuanced collection of knitwear. It’s not lacking in any of the qualities you’d want from a watch cap that works and looks good over the passage of time. It’s got all the nice details contained in its nice and dark charcoal heather form that you could ever want: 6-gauge knit fabric, robust 6-seam top construction, an accent stitch at the edge of the cap, and a low-key Dehen label.
Made alongside the rest of Dehen’s impressive catalog in Portland, Oregon, and available from Brooklyn Clothing for $55
Engineered Garments Wool Watch Cap
Much like the rest of Engineered Garments‘ roster, this Wool Watch Cap in Copper is a classic workwear style, with a twist. For one thing, they’ve achieved the perfect shade of copper brown in their knit, it puts the generic duck brown hue to shame.
Secondly, there’s a removable button included, and who doesn’t love a novelty button on their cap from time to time? It depicts a worker with a shovel, perhaps a miner or farmer. This playful pastoral image slapped on a plastic button is a nice contrast to the natural beauty of those 100% wool yarns. And it’s all made in the USA.
Available from Lost & Found for $46
Buzz Rickson’s BR02186 Cotton Watch Cap
The Buzz Rickson’s Watch Cap BR02186 ‘Cotton Version’ is Buzz’s cotton rendition of its classic USN repro watch caps. What’s not to love about a vintage style recreated by an Americana-obsessed Japanese brand? Well, I guess if you’re not into the military reproduction stuff, this is still a solid beanie that could be worn by anybody. It’s lighter in weight than the wool ones, less expensive, and less itchy.
Made in Japan, these naturally stretchy watch caps come in a variety of enlistment-friendly colorways to spice up your fit, or to simply keep the brain insulated in your drafty apartment.
Available from Hinoya for $44
Cableami Cashmere 2×2 Rib Watch Cap
Cableami‘s Cashmere 2×2 Rib Watch Cap in Black is the only cashmere offering on this list, so if you haven’t yet experienced the ultra-soft and cozy knit that is cashmere, a beanie is a low-risk entry point if you want a bit of luxury on your dome. You could do way worse than Cableami’s beautifully proportioned 2×2 rib knit style. Psst, it’s Made in Japan, too.
Cashmere is breathable, soft, and offers a texture that’s not quite like your average cotton knit. It’s a bit hairier — in a good way — and its delicate knit will require a bit more care on your end. Be sure to read the care tag, and try not to stretch it out beyond its limit. Cashmere can deform if not treated properly, but treat it right and it will treat you even better.
Available from Rhythmic Tones for $114
Ginew Merino Wool Watch Cap
Show your love for Ginew with the Merino Wool Watch Cap in Rust. Merino wool is just so good for knit beanies, and Ginew knows it, just look at that rusty brown texture. We’re betting that rust is going to provide a nice contrast to all your indigo-saturated fits.
Emblazoned with a snazzy-but-simple Ginew tag, these soft 100% merino wool Watch Caps will conform to your head nicely, performing the job of warming your dome and ears cozy as the snow falls. That rust brown has some nice red hues to pair with your favorite tacky Christmas sweater, but sadly, they’re not made in Santa’s workshop in the North Pole, they’re made elf-labor-free in the USA, by the country’s first native-owned denim brand.
Available from Ginew for $62
H.W. Dog D-00466 Dog Watch Cap
Japanese hat experts H.W. Dog were always going to appear on this list, and the brand’s D-00466 Dog Watch Cap is as nice as any of their handmade lids. Inspired by classic naval Watch Cap silhouettes, the Dog Watch Cap is perfectly shaped for most heads, but its loosely knit 100% wool fabric will certainly conform to any dome.
The thing we like the most about this one is the color and texture. H.W has achieved a beautiful salt-and-pepper-y knit, the likes of which aren’t seen elsewhere on this list. The number of comments this fabric garners will have you appreciating the care taken in sourcing and knitting the right wool yarns for such a unique beanie, and we’re willing to bet its higher price point will be offset by long-lasting, Japanese-made quality
Beams Plus Wool Watch Cap
Synergize your modern Americana wardrobe with the Beams Plus Wool Watch Cap in Black. It’s a simple wide-ribbed knit silhouette, constructed in England from high-quality 100% British wool, so you know it’ll do the job of keeping you and your precious skull protected from snowy weather.
It might not be the cheapest beanie on this list, but it’s going to pay for itself when you keep grabbing it on your way out of the door, and that wide-ribbed knit will add some contrasting texture to densely woven denim, leather, and twill outerwear.
Available from Lost & Found for $87
Highland 2000 Cotton Beanie
The Highland 2000 Cotton Beanie is essentially a more affordable version of the Beams Plus option above, coming in a swathe of colors and made in Nottingham, England. As we mentioned, a cotton beanie is a versatile thing, so you’ll want to wear it even if the climate hasn’t changed in the colder direction.
Our Editor, James, swears by these. The longer shape and lightweight cotton knit make them perfect for double-cuffing and customizing the silhouette, and wearing in a bunch of different ways.
Available from Dr. Collectors for $45
The Real McCoy’s Joe McCoy Cotton Knit Bobble Cap
So you want a bobble, huh? They certainly make for a more interesting option if you find yourself wearing beanies right through ’til march. The Real McCoy’s Joe McCoy Cotton Knit Bobble Cap is one with a lowkey bobble that could be a good place to start if you want to give the style a try.
Being one of the more expensive options on this list, it’s worth noting that The Real McCoy’s goes to great pains to produce their products, every step of the way. From the 100% cotton selection, the knitting of this fabulously textured grey knit, to the designing of this classic reproduction style striped bobble cap – it’s all well-considered and intentional, and most likely a yarn-for-yarn repro of an absolute gem from the McCoy’s vintage archives.
Available from Lost & Found for $102
Heimat Textil Mechanics Bobble Hat
German brand Heimat Textil’s Mechanics Bobble Hat is another great bobbly hat option to satisfy your inner Sailor. It might be a little stark of a color option for some, but the style is undeniable. And being crafted from 100% virgin merino wool places it on the softer end of the beanie spectrum. And compared to the McCoy’s option above, it sits higher and shallower on the dome, if that’s your thing.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the texture of this bobbly boy? Click through the link and zoom in for me. Don’t be surprised if your significant other snatches this one away from you when the going gets cold.
Available from Franklin & Poe for $70
For when you just need a reliable beanie to don come the cold, The Teamster Beanie from our very own webshop has you and your nippy ears covered, literally. It’s a tried and true option that’s going to save you some major money when compared to basically every other option on this list. Some might not love the lack of variety in colors, but how can you go wrong with black and navy?
Made by actual union workers in California, these 100% acrylic caps feature a medium-length profile. Acrylic caps come cheap, but do not skimp on functionality, and actually hold up well over the years. What you will find is these things is they are warm. They’re not one to wear in milder weather, so save these for the winter.
Available in the Heddels Shop for $18 ($14 for Heddels+ Subscribers)
Himel Bros. Stargazer Watch Cap
Himel Bros. “Stargazer” Personalized Watch Cap look like they’re vintage, and that’s because they’re knitted on the same industrial knitting machines that made watch caps for the U.S. Military in the mid-century. That’s the kind of detail that we love here at Heddels, and considering they’re available for a good price, it’s a no-brainer. We can’t believe these bad boys are available in the under $50 segment.
They’re customizable, free-of-charge, so you can grab one with your six-character callsign in black or red ink. The Stargazer Caps feature a silk tag with charming Himel Bros. bear-gazing-at-the-stars branding. It’s available in a couple different colorways, all with equally soft cotton five-gauge knit bodies, and a three-gauge knit crown for contrast.
Available from Himel Bros. for $42
Knickerbocker NYC Watch Cap II
Knickerbocker‘s basics are good. Their Watch Cap Type II in Olive is no different, being knit on vintage industrial knitting machines, the likes of which the U.S. Military knit their very own standard-issue watch caps on. 100% cotton means no pilling, itching, or uncomfortably tight fit. They’re a time-tested style that you can’t go wrong with, especially if you’re looking for an earth-toned colorway to incorporate into your fits.
Available from Knickerbocker NYC for $48
Kiriko Made Watch Cap
Kiriko Made’s Watch Cap in Green is a nicely colored option to rotate into the beanie pile. Its versatile length and pliable 100% cotton hand-feel mean you can roll it up and down as you please without sacrificing functionality or style. Made in Portland, Oregon, the Watch Cap features a nice hand-stamped leather tag with Kiriko’s indigo flower logo.
Available from Kiriko Made for $30