Ever wondered what goes in to the design and development of a cycling hat? Thought about making one? Well, here's your chance to find out.
Cycling hats are a much more technically advanced piece of kit than you would initially expect - for a few reasons. Firstly, they have to deal with a whole host of different shapes and sizes. That's where the cut of the hat is important. After that - human heads sweat... a lot! Especially when you're riding a road bike. That's where you have to get the right fabric. So, let's dive in to those two points.
For traditional cycling caps, there are two schools of thought: use a 5 panel construction (5 triangle panels arranged in a circular shape) or use two panels - one panel through the middle and two half circle panels on the side. There isn't one which is better or worse, but this is where the choice of material and ultimate function play a role. We chose a 5 panel construction for our hat because we felt it offered a better fit.
This is where there is a huge amount of variation depending on what you'd ultimately like to achieve. Peak design is the one part which is now fairly standardised - and most peaks are made of a lightweight plastic. Cardboard was originally used but it reduces the lifespan of the hat due to issues when it becomes damp. You also need to bear in mind the sweat band/performance aspect to stop sweat dripping down your face.
A significant number of hats are made of cotton (or, at least a percentage of the hat is cotton) and it’s a very widely used material for good reason. It’s got all the right properties, and has been in used across the world for… quite a while.
Another really interesting option was wool, which we very, very nearly chose as the final material. It’s naturally a soft material which is also good at absorbing water (/sweat).
There are a whole host of different poly fabrics available, and in more recent times - most of the performance focussed cycling hats will be made of this. Simply put, it will perform its job better in the long term. There are so many different materials that it's not worth discussing them all.
So, if you're thinking of making one yourself... go for it! And make sure you send us pictures too.