We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Whether you are a professional or casual bike rider, you have probably resorted to wearing a cap, hat or visor under a helmet at some point. It seems logical after all! A hat or cap helps in absorbing the sweat in summer, gives warmth in winter, and saves your eyes from raindrops when it pours. However, the purists don’t seem to agree with this theory and think differently.
So, the question is – can you wear a hat under a bike helmet? Well, the quick and short answer is No. A non-profit organization for bike helmet safety information has clearly warned against it. As per the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, a helmet should snugly fit the skull and anything coming between the head and the helmet can compromise with the rider’s safety.
When a cyclist wears a cap, hat, sweatband or anything, the thickness (no matter how negligible) makes the helmet sit a bit higher on the head, than it’s supposed to be. It may come in the way of a snug and secure fit, leaving some area of your head not covered properly. As a serious biker, you must ensure that the helmet stays leveled and covers your forehead.
When the helmet does not sit properly, there are chances it may come off at the time of an accident and pose potential injury risks. A visor or hat under the inner harness may push the helmet higher on your head, thus expose your brain in case of a fall. Besides wearing a hat, this also applies to cyclists wearing a head scarf, beaded braid, accessories or fancy hairstyles under a bike helmet.
The Perfect Bike Helmet Fit
A bike helmet is not a styling accessory! It has a serious purpose and that is to protect your head against any impact in case of an accident. A properly fitting helmet sits evenly leveled on your head with a fit snug enough to stay in its place without causing any discomfort. With a plethora of different helmet sizes and adjustable straps, it’s easier to fine-tune that perfect fit.
The bike helmets come in both adult and kid sizes, along with extra small and large sizes. Some cyclists believe that getting a slightly bigger helmet to fit over a hat, cap, or visor is a good trick to get away with wearing one. Please bear in mind that any size of a helmet that sits too high over your head with extra bulk in between will be ill-fitting.
Alternatives For Hat
Cyclists who prefer having a cap or hat to protect their scalp from the heat or sweat, there are other good alternatives available that will not compromise with safety. Bald riders may apply a thin layer of sweat-resistant sunscreen or sports formula over their scalp. Although the sunscreen resists sweat and water, reapply after every two hours if you need to.
If you have light or thinning hair, we would suggest that you go for a sunscreen gel (see Amazon) that works well at protecting your scalp from sun rays. Although the helmet would cover most parts of your head, some rays can still travel through the vents in a helmet.
Alternatives for Visor
A visor is used to protect your face and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Some people believe that it also comes handy to shield eyes from rain drops. Luckily, there are some types of bike helmets that come with built-in visors (see Amazon)that can be easily put on or taken off. If our helmet does not come with one, you may get a snap-on visor sold separately.
Other alternatives are helmet face shields but they come with some risks too. As per the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, there are few instances of injuries related to a visor and most of them include shattering of the visor’s hard plastic. The edges or sharp pieces of a broken visor may scratch the face in case of an accident. Sunglasses are also a good alternative to protect eyes from the sun’s glare.
Argument Of Cyclists Who Prefer A Cap
There is a section of cyclists who prefer wearing a baseball cap beneath the helmet to keep sweat from getting into their eyes while riding long distances. They also find it useful to protect their scalp from sun ray’s filtering through the helmet. As it gives a bit of shade to the eyes, it gets easier to keep an eye on the road when it’s blistering hot outside.
In the case of rain, people find a cap useful as it reduces the amount of rain hitting the eyes. So, a cyclist who likes riding in any weather feels that having a cap under the bike helmet makes it easier to keep the eyes open and see clearly when it rains hard.
Some cyclists also argue on the point that not wearing a cap, hat, or anything underneath a bike helmet is more for a US thing. People have said that they checked their helmet manual and found that there’s no mention of wearing caps or not wearing them.
During the colder months, the caps add a light layer of warmth that aids in protecting the head from the cold air passing through the helmet vents. This helps the rider stay warm without his head overheating as the thermal caps are made of breathable materials.
Another reason why people prefer wearing hats is that it stops the hair from going too crazy. Some cyclists say that they prefer wearing a cap under a helmet when riding within the city to prevent the ridges in wet hair. Others do it to stop the helmet liner from trapping the hair.
There are some passionate riders that simply love to mark themselves as a hip adventurer or cyclist when off the cycle. This might work for the casual weekend riders who take the plain roads without any risk of traffic to experience the joy of riding like a pro.
Ways To Wear A Cycling Cap Or Hat
After going through the guidelines, risks associated and arguments for wearing a hat under cycle helmet, we feel that it’s in your best interest to avoid wearing one while riding. However, there might be certain situations like unbearable heat, rain, cold weather, when you might want to have a cap underneath for protection while you keep the speed in lower limits.
Even if you love wearing a cycling cap just because it makes you look hip and cool, here are a few ways in which it can be worn. However, please be careful as this might change depending upon the type of helmet you are wearing.
Regardless of the type of helmet you wear, the cycling hat or cap can be worn in two ways – peak up and peak down. The peak up looks more hidden so you can still wear a cap without making it too obvious to call the wrath of the purists. Most cyclists prefer to wear them back to front in peak down style as they are more aerodynamic in that way.
Are waterproof cycling hats any good?
Yes, the waterproof cycling hats do a good job of protecting your hair during rainy seasons and winter commutes. They also work well for people with long hair if you can tie it all up in a bun or ponytail. We recommend the Gore Equipe GTX cap as it comes with reflective logos and piping to help with nighttime visibility.
How can I keep my hair and scalp healthy?
Instead of wearing a hat to protect your hair, we suggest maintaining good health and hygiene. Keep your scalp clean and well moisturized. Prevent any issues of dry and itchy scalp. If you have long hair, tie it up well and avoid wearing a helmet on wet hair.
Related Article: How Cycling Shoes Should Fit