Romancing the hat

Finding the perfect winter running hat is worse than finding the perfect mate. Or maybe I’m just pickier about my gear than my man.

Either way, I spent way too much time over the weekend searching for the aforementioned noggin warmer. Shouldn’t have been too hard, right?

Ah, but I have specific requirements. The one I have now is close to perfect, and I’ve held on to it for more than ten years, but I finally decided to spend my money for an upgrade.

What made finding a the perfect headgear so hard? The ponytail hole, the earflaps, and the visor.

It’s easy to find beanies with holes, and winter hats with visors and earflaps, but apparently combining them all is like putting broccoli in your birthday cake. It’s just not done.

Maybe you’ve noticed that I’m really pale. Like so pale my doctor thought I might be anemic (I’m not, just Irish). I stay pasty-white while frolicking in the great outdoors through the religious application of sunscreen, shade seeking, and hats with brims. A hat not only shades my face, but blocks the glare of the sun from coming in over top of my sunglasses.

Turns out blue eyes—mine anyway—are averse to sunlight (even when shielded by clouds). Which kind of blows since I really like the sun. A lot.

So an outdoor excursion—whether walking the dog, playing frisbee, hanging at the beach, or running—requires sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat with a visor.

Enter winter.

I need to keep my ears and head warm while shading my eyes, but earmuffs interfere with my sunglasses and give me a headache (did I mention I’m picky?), and a headband looks stupid over a baseball cap (though I’ve been known to go this route in a pinch).

My current—almost perfect—hat is fleece-lined with a fold-up ear/neck flap and a visor (a little flimsy for my taste, but it works). Win, right? But there’s no port for my ponytail. Which means I either pull my hair together at the base of my neck where it rubs the hat and my jacket and turns into a nest, or I braid it and it falls out and turns into a nest.

And, no, I will not consider cutting my hair. I look idiotic with the haircut that looks so good on Cyndi, and anything too short for a ponytail just gets in my eyes and sticks to my sweaty face. My hair’s too fine for barrettes and those sticky athletic headbands just slide right off. Whine, whine, whine… 😉

But hey, if I’m going to spend my money to replace something that basically works, why settle?

So after an exhaustive search of the Internet through my favorite running and sporting goods websites, Amazon, and even running forums, I finally found THE HAT.

After the amount of effort it took to find it—and with few other options—the @#$% thing better be all that and a bag of curly fries.

What’s one item that you won’t compromise on?