Understated merino wool beanie for keeping your head warm in the coldest winter conditions

Rapha’s Merino Hat is a pretty simple design and it does its job well whether worn on its own or underneath a helmet.

It’s a beanie, basically, made from four different panels that are flat-stitched together, plus a double-thickness band around the edge. Aside from a little pink Rapha tab, that’s about it in terms of design features. Like we said, simple.

The hat is available in just one size but it’s so stretchy that we can’t imagine there will be many people who it doesn’t fit, and a bit of nylon in the mix (5%) ensures it bounces back into shape rather than staying stretched.

The merino wool keeps your head nice ’n’ cosy however cold the temperature. Remember that freezing spell before Christmas? You know, when the UK shut down for a fortnight and everyone went a bit nuts. Well, this hat kept the old swede warm right through all that, as I drafted the gritting lorries through the arctic wilderness… Okay, Wiltshire. The dual-thickness section around the edge is particularly welcome for keeping the cold air of your ears and temples.

The merino is super-soft and stays comfortable enough when you sweat too. Start to puff and pant on a climb and the wool wicks the moisture away well and it dries out reasonably fast.

All that insulation does mean that this hat is too warm for hard riding once the mercury climbs far above freezing, although it’s still useful for stop-start journeys around town when it’s that bit warmer. You can always wear it off the bike too.

Rapha’s Merino Hat is available in several different colours and it’s reversible. Most are black on one side, coloured on the other. Two for the price of one. Kind of. £35 is pricey for a beanie, even if it is merino wool, but it's well made if you fancy treating yourself.

It goes through the washing machine and tumble dryer fine.


Understated merino wool beanie for keeping your head warm in the coldest winter conditions

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Merino Hat

Size tested: One size

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Rapha say, "The Rapha Merino Hat is made from a luxury merino wool to keep your head warm and comfortable even in the harshest winter conditions. The hat has a small amount of nylon woven into the fabric to make it more durable and to ensure a snug fit. The natural fibre of merino wicks sweat away from the head and the fabric is quick drying, even after a downpour.

"The hat is designed to be worn with or without a helmet and is fully reversible. It is black on one side and available in a choice of colours on the reverse. The two-inch earband can be folded up to help regulate body temperature as well as to provide some stylish versatility. The hat is finished with a black Rapha logo tab."

Seems reasonable (although the tab is actually pink, on ours at least)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
Rate the product for value:

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? It's pricey, but if I thought I deserved a treat...

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 190cm  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,

Mat has in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.


timbola [248 posts] 8 years ago

This is my favourite Rapha item ! I have used one for nearly 3 years, virtually throughout the year and it's still going strong - it is really warm, fits perfectly under a helmet and folds up nicely into your pocket. Dries very quickly, too. I don't find it too warm, either - personal preference, perhaps. And I use it hockey training and coaching, too !

bikeandy61 [554 posts] 8 years ago

I am not a fan of Rapha's one size fits all policy on items such as this and their caps. I'm sure a sml/med & lge/XL wouldn't need to add to the cost and I bet they would still sell all of them. But then again a lot of companies only offer one size for items of this category.

Iwein Dekoninck [64 posts] 8 years ago

Is it windproof?

Colnago Crazy [2 posts] 8 years ago

Simply the best investment I have made in recent months. I was a bit skeptical before buying it (surely a beanie hat is a beanie hat) but it is superb. Don't wear a helmet with it, but keeps my head at the right temperature and is really comfortable. The best thing is that it just wicks away the sweat which means it doesn't have to be removed for the longer rides (3 hours+). Just buy one (good for wearing off the bike too) and see for yourself...

timbola [248 posts] 8 years ago

Merino may not be windproof as such, but I have found it keeps pretty much all of the wind out regardless of whether it is supposed to or not ! I can't stand a cold draught anywhere near my ears and I have never complained when wearing one of these. Maybe Colnago Crazy has a different view ? Incidentally, I have a pretty small head and it fits fine - everyone in the family has used it at some point, too.

BikerBob [122 posts] 8 years ago

Only a matter of time before someone rips-off the idea and makes a cheap copy........:D

miffed [164 posts] 8 years ago

I've has beanie for 3 years and it's brilliant. I've got a big head, I need large helmets and don't normally fit cycling caps but this is perfect fit. I wear it for on an off bike use and is perfect on everything from slightly chilly days to full winter freeze. I'd recommend it to anyone.

michophull [160 posts] 8 years ago

Go into Ebay and do a search for "merino hat". You'll find something there which is about half the price of the Rapha one and which I assure you is great quality.  3