The Purpose of Cycling Caps (Plus 8 Facts You Need to Know)

If you’ve seen a cycling cap, but never used one yourself, then it’s very natural to wonder: 

What’s the point of that thing!?

The main purpose of cycling caps is to keep rain and sweat out of your eyes. Additionally, they shield you from sunny conditions, especially during sunsets and sunrises. Both of these improve your ability to see while riding. They also help keep your head warm in cool weather by retaining body heat. 

Cycling caps are pretty common in the cycling community, but honestly, not everyone needs one.

If you’re considering trying one yourself, then you’ll want to know the following:

The Benefits of Cycling Caps

Wearing a high-quality cycling cap comes with a lot of functional benefits. Therefore, a lot of cyclists consider it a very important piece of equipment. 


1. Keeps Rain and Sweat out of Your Eyes

Riding in rainy weather can be quite challenging. Not only does it make cycling more dangerous and difficult, but it also has a significant impact on visibility. However, if you are wearing a cycling cap, it will be much harder for the rain to get into your eyes, allowing you to see more clearly. 

A cycling cap also keeps sweat out of your eyes in hot conditions, allowing you to see much more clearly. This function makes cycling way more enjoyable and comfortable. 

2. Protects You From the Sun

The sun can often be a problem while cycling, especially during sunsets and sunrises. It tends to be quite annoying as it decreases visibility, which can be a safety hazard . However, a cycling cap does a pretty good job of shielding you in such situations. 

3. Cycling Caps are Windproof

Almost all cycling caps are windproof. They’re designed to protect your head from the wind, while at the same time allowing your skin to breathe normally and wick away moisture. This helps regulate body temperature and keeps you more comfortable in a variety of riding conditions.

4. Keeps Your Head Warmer In Colder Weather

Cold weather can be quite unpleasant when it comes to cycling. Luckily, cycling caps do a pretty good job of keeping your head a little warmer during the colder days. This is very important, especially if you sweat a lot while cycling.

Sweating helps remove excess body heat and cool your skin…neither thing you want to happen when it’s cold outside! Wearing a cycling cap helps you retain body heat, keeping you more comfortable during your ride. 

5. Keeps Your Hair and Helmet Clean

Another thing a cycling cap is pretty good at is keeping bugs out of your hair. This way, once you take the cap off, your hair will still be clean. Plus, wearing a cap under a helmet  can significantly increase the lifespan of the helmet. The cycling cap will keep all the sweat and oil from coming in contact with the helmet.

Are Cycling Caps Necessary?

Now that we know what the benefits of wearing a cycling cap are, let’s talk about whether it is necessary to have one or not. Although it is a very convenient piece of equipment and can really come in handy in certain situations, having a cycling cap is not necessary for all riders. 

If you go cycling only once in a while and you are not that serious about it, you may not need a cycling cap. However, if you are a passionate cyclist, this is definitely something you should consider buying. 

Are Cycling Caps Fashionable?


Cycling caps are primarily designed to make cyclists more comfortable during rides, and when worn off a bike, many people think they look rather odd. So, if you’re someone who likes to be intentional about dressing fashionably, then you’ll want to be cautious about wearing a cycling cap when you’re not riding. 

With that said, whether cycling caps are fashionable or not definitely comes down to your personal taste. Like most athletic gear, they definitely look more at home while you’re participating in athletic activities. 

However, it’s also becoming more and more common to see people wearing athletic apparel in daily life because it tends to be more comfortable. 

The bottom line is this: If you like how cycling caps look and feel off the bike, then wear one. If you don’t, don’t. Don’t let others tell you when to rock your favorite cycling gear!   

8 Important Cycling Cap Facts

If you are considering getting a cycling cap, here are 8 important facts you’ll probably want to know.


1. Why are Cycling Caps so Small?

Cycling caps are small in order to fit under a helmet, while also keeping sweat, rain, and the sun out of your eyes. If you tried to wear a regular hat under your helmet, it wouldn’t fit nearly as well, and would likely be uncomfortable.

Wearing a regular hat under a helmet could also be dangerous. It could prevent your helmet from fitting correctly, and a helmet must fit properly in order to provide adequate protection. The size of a cycling hat makes it a great alternative to a regular hat.

2. Can You Wear a Cycling Cap Under a Helmet? 

The tight design of cycling caps also allows you to wear them under a helmet. 

There are a few different reasons why wearing a cap under a helmet is much better than wearing only a helmet. First off, a helmet alone won’t be able to protect you from the rain, while a cycling cap keeps the rain out of your eyes and hair.

Cycling caps will also help keep sweat and hair oil from coming in contact with your helmet, preserving its condition and keeping it clean. They’ll also keep your head cleaner. If you’re riding on wet or muddy terrain, a cap will prevent all that dirt (or bugs) from flying through the helmet’s vents and getting into your hair. 

Is It Safe to Wear a Cap Under a Helmet? 

Cycling helmets are designed to fit snugly against your head. That’s why wearing a regular hat under a helmet is never a good idea. Cycling caps on the other hand, are much lower profile than regular caps, making them completely safe to wear under a helmet. 

3. Do Cycling Caps Help With Sweat?

Another very common question about cycling caps is whether they help you sweat less or not. Believe it or not, not only do cycling caps keep the sweat out of your eyes, but their breathability and moisture-wicking properties also keep your head cool in hot weather, so you’ll sweat less in the first place. 

4. Are There Different Sizes? 

When it comes to sizes, the situation with cycling caps is pretty simple – one size fits almost everybody. Most high-quality cycling caps are very stretchy and thus, they can easily fit and adjust to your head shape. However, there are certain manufacturers that offer different sizes if you need a more custom fit

5. Can You Wear a Cycling Cap Backwards?

If you have been a part of the cycling community for a longer period of time, you might have seen people wearing a cycling cap backward. But the big question is whether a cycling cap has any purpose when worn backward or not. 

When riding in sunny conditions, wearing a cycling cap backward can protect your neck from the sun. However, if you wear it backward in bad weather conditions, it won’t stop the rain from getting into your eyes. 

6. Should You Wash a Cycling Cap?

Even though cycling caps can keep your head cool by wicking moisture, it doesn’t mean you are not going to sweat at all. Just like any other piece of equipment, a cycling cap will get dirty as well. Therefore, you may be wondering whether caps should be washed.

The short answer is yes, cycling caps should definitely be washed. However, there are a couple of tips you should know before you do.

How To Properly Wash a Cycling Cap?

Cycling caps are quite sensitive when it comes to washing as it is very important that they stay stretchy and in good condition. First off, never wash it in a machine. Instead, hand wash the cycling cap, preferably in colder water. 

Use only mild soap when washing, as strong soaps with harsh chemicals could cause the colors to fade. Plus, do not ever dry clean, tumble dry, or iron your cycling cap

7. What are Cycling Caps Called?

The traditional name for a cycling cap is casquette. Cycling caps have been worn by road cyclists for over 70 years. Casquettes have also become popular in some American, European, and Australian cities.

8. Do Professional Cyclists Use Cycling Caps?

Although you might not see as many professional cyclists wearing caps as before, there are still many who use them. Wearing a cap under the helmet comes with a lot of advantages and thus, you can still see them in professional cycling races.

Since the death of Andrei Kivilev in 2003 during the Paris-Nice, the UCI enacted the “all riders must wear helmets” rule.

Until that moment, helmets were not mandatory and cycling caps were way more visible. After the accident, cycling caps definitely lost their popularity. But during the previous decade, they’ve seen an incredible comeback. 

Cycling Caps vs. Skull Caps

People often confuse cycling caps with skull caps. Although their purpose is quite similar, there are a couple of noticeable differences in terms of design. Unlike cycling caps, skull caps don’t have a brim. Therefore, skull caps can’t protect you from rain, or the sun. 

Cycling caps are the way to go if you want to keep the rain and sweat out of your eyes. Plus, they do a nice job of shielding you from the sun. 

On the other hand, skull caps are a much better option if you are planning on cycling during cold weather, as many insulated options are available. 

But, don’t just grab any old winter hat out of your closet and try to put a helmet over it. There are cold weather skull caps made specifically for cycling, from brands such as Pearl Izumi. 

Are Cycling Caps Worth It? 

All in all, if you are passionate about cycling and ride a bicycle regularly, getting a cycling cap is a good investment. Not only do they prevent rain and sweat from falling into your eyes, but they do a decent job of keeping your head warm during the colder days. 

Cycling caps will also extend the lifespan of your cycling helmet as the sweat will not come in contact with it. But keep in mind that cycling caps require special maintenance and thus, should never be washed in a machine. 

Still, if you cycle only from time to time, a cycling cap is not necessary. What’s more, if you are planning on riding a bike in a really cold environment, insulated skull caps do a much better job of keeping your head warm.


JJ here - I've spent a lot of time on a bike, including completing the 3,000+ mile Southern Tier Route (CA to FL). I started Cycling Beast to "demystify" cycling topics, and to help people overcome roadblocks and level-up their skills.

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