Thursday, June 22, 2023

Fractel Hats Multi Tester Multi Hats Reviews: Fun and High Performance Running Lids!

Article by Jana Herzgova, Renee Krusemark, John Tribbia, Michael Postaski and Sam Winebaum

Fractel Hats 

B Series-Bucket ($60), M Series ($42-$45), F Series ($40-45), L Series- Legionnaire ($48-$55)


Fractel is an Australian company and run hats are their only game! We first heard of them through our Australian contributor Bryan who raved about them. Now they are available more broadly including in the US, France, and the UK as well as of course Australia. 

A cap is a cap, a bucket hat a bucket hat, right? Well not quite as here we have superbly designed and assembled lids designed for running with just the right combination of brim and side panel structure to go with super soft, super breathable crowns including PolarTec PowerDry. The sweatbands are stout and work, the construction is impeccable and we think the detailing is fun. There are many, many fun colors for each series.

Fractels are made from 100% recycled Bluesign certified fibers. Fractel is also a 1% for the Planet contributor.

Performance has been outstanding for our testers in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska and New Hampshire. Read on the details and our reviews. We liked them so much we have ordered Buckets and F-Series in RTR colors as our first merchandise for sale. See designs at the end of the article.

Jana: I received two different color versions of “B-Series” Hats (Bucket Hat) styles - “Piliga” in L/XL size, and “Districts” style in S/M size.

Both are very light and breathable, and wick moisture well. I am in between sizes, where S/M size is a little tight, and L/XL is a little loose. 

There is an adjustable fastener on the back of the hat that helps provide a comfortable, yet tight fit, to ensure it won’t come off and fits securely when loose. I ran with each hat on in slightly windy conditions and had no issues with it at all. The brim provides 360 degrees of sun protection and enough shade even when facing the sun. 

The “L-Series”, or Legionnaire hat (Neptune Edition), is my new favorite hat. It is an incredibly light, fast drying, all day adventure hat that provides about 270 degrees of coverage of the neck and on both sides of the head. The side panels did not hit my face while I ran and did, nor interfere in any other way. 

Buttons located on the front side of the side panels work really well when connected together and when I wanted extra protection from wind and the sun, and helped to keep the hat in place in windy conditions. 

Upper side panels are perforated for extra ventilation, and the rear adjustable fastener keeps the hat nicely tight. Above the fastener, there is an opening to get a high sitting pony tail through, or serve as an extra ventilation feature.

Between the Bucket and the Legionnaire styles - the latter is definitely my favorite.

John: The Fractel Stance Edition Mesh Hat is a lightweight, breathable hat that is perfect for everyday wear. The hat is made of mesh fabric that helps to keep the head cool and comfortable, even on hot days. The reversible brim can be worn up or down, depending on the weather or desired style. The UPF +50 sun protection on the brim, front panel, and back panel helps to protect from the sun. The dark underbill also helps to reduce glare, even for people who do not wear glasses. The SWIFTdry™ sweat-absorbing internal headband helps to keep the wearer's face free of sweat, and the adjustable SPANDEX closure provides a comfortable fit and secures the hat on even the windiest days.


The “B-series” or bucket hat (seen here in the Transcend edition) has Polartec Power Dry Fabric for “next to skin moisture management.” The fabric is breathable and the brim provides shade for my face and some for my shoulders when facing direct sunlight. 


typically run with a mid or high sitting pony tail and I use a headband or hat over my hair to prevent my hair from feeling heavy or from swishing back and forth. The circumference of the size S/M (56.5cm) is a bit too tight to wear over my pony tail, but it fits comfortably when I wear my hair down or in two side braids. For running purposes, I prefer the F or M series because of the slightly more flexible and adjustable rear elastic strap. 

I received two F-Series (shorter brim) hats, in the “Mentality” edition and “Pilliga” edition and two M-Series hats in the “Bright Lights” and “Sahara” editions. 

[Above: F-Series “Mentality” Edition]

Between the F-Series and M-series, I have a slight preference for the F-Series because of the smaller brim and the slightly more comfortable feel wearing the F-Series when wearing it over a high sitting pony tail. 

[Above: M-Series “Bright Lights” edition]

Both versions have worked well when running for 3 to 4 hours on trails with temperatures reaching the lower 80s. I often wear a headband (typically a Junk brand band) to keep my hair back and my pony trail from feeling heavy. The F and M Series hats achieve the same. The fit was flexible and not tight, and the bonus in comparison to a headband is the protection from the sun and ticks. 

[Above: F-Series “Pilliga” edition]

When running in shaded areas on trails, the brim (especially on the F-Series) is small enough so that it doesn’t block my view. Admittingly, when I left trails and was out in full sun in 82 degrees, my head was getting warm. The breathability is great, I’m just not used to wearing hats in the heat. 

Michael P: Running hats are a tricky thing. Probably even more so than most running apparel, I tend to be quite picky about the fit of a running hat. I’ve got a lot of hair, and in general prefer wearing caps even for casual use. Finding a hat that fits all that hair in, while at the same time being comfortable and is not unshapely - is surprisingly not an easy task. Many hats has been rejected due to poor fit, short crown, uncomfortable seams along the inside of the brim, etc. 

The bucket hat style was the one that I was most interested in testing. Since moving out west to Boise in 2019, I’ve been doing the majority of my trail running in exposed sun situations with no tree cover. Bright, hot sunny days with full exposure are the norm for most of the summer months. I’ve taken to wearing a bucket hat for the hottest days - it’s a big advantage having the brim provide shade on all sides.

I’ve worn a Salomon bucket hat for training, and even used it in several hot races. It’s pretty good, but the brim is a bit floppy and can get flipped up in stronger winds. Comparing the two this was where I found the biggest improvements with the Fractel bucket. The brim, although not rigid, is stiff enough to remain in place in some pretty strong wind conditions. Never once has the brim flipped up on me, and never once have I been worried about it catching wind and blowing away. 

The bucket features a very simple bungee adjustment in the rear, which is routed into the hat and attaches along the inner sides. I don’t feel or notice the bungee at all against my head, which is great. As I mentioned with the wind - the fit is secure without feeling tight at all. It’s now my go-to running hat. I find myself reaching for it sometimes when it’s not even hot, just because it’s so comfortable. 

[Polartec material is quite breathable, and I like the white color of the top panel]

I also received some caps for testing - the Brightside edition which I’ve been using for some night running and the Sahara edition which I’ve been using both running and casually as well. I like the cream/sand color of the Sahara - it gives it a nice casual look as opposed to a more techy-looking bright white.

The materials of the cap are super soft - they don’t use any rigid materials along the brim. At times it can actually feel a bit loose due to the softness, but it hasn’t been an issue. Fit-wise, the crown height is a little bit short for me (my hair). Typically for running caps, I use a trucker cap style - not for the look, but for the additional volume, which fits my hair better. 

[Very soft materials all around - no seams along or inside of the headband]

Most regular crown-type running caps don’t work for me, and the Fractel caps are about the same. Both are comfortable, but just a touch short in height for me. They should work totally fine for most runners though.

I should also mention that Fractel was generous enough to also send some family samples - Actually, my wife likes the colors and fit of the Vista edition (although she’s not too fond of us going out together in semi-matching bucket hats). Fractal also has a selection of kids hats (K-Series). My daughter LOVES the bright and PINK design of the “DREAMTIME” edition.

Sam: I received the Bucket, F-Series and the longer brim M-Series.  I prefer a shorter brim and less loud styling than my M Series so focused on the Bucket and F-Series.  I have worn either daily since I received them for running and the Bucket while working outside. 

M Series not my style!

My 93 year old mother in law quickly adopted the M Series for her 6-10K steps daily walks.

Both styles have wonderful quality construction and detailing. Inner seams connecting panels have sewn strips for durability, and looks. There are motivational words on the sweatband. Speaking of the sweat bands they are comparatively thick, comfortable and very sweat absorbing. The brims of both are stout and as Mike found don’t flop or fold in the wind and absorb sweat very well. I have yet to have them soak through. 

And both have neat underside details on their dark sun glare reducing undersides. 

In contrast to the brims, the top of the crowns have very soft thin highly breathable fabric and in the case of the Bucket PowerDry Polartec fabric. The side panels on the outside line up with the big sweatband. 

This construction gives the caps and buckets structure and shape especially given the oh so soft and thin top parts of the hats as well their outstanding hold in wind while delivering fantastic breathability on top of the head.  

There is UPF +50 sun protection on the brim, front panel and back panel and all fabrics are 100% recycled.

I wore the F Series at the Mt Washington Road Race in horrific wet, cold and windy conditions up top and it never budged and actually kept me well ventilated down below where it was warmer and actually gave a touch of snug warmth up above.

While bold branding (and bold colors) is not my thing, the styling has grown on me!  I appreciate that the front Fractel on my bucket is also reflective.

The Bucket fit for my larger head in L/XL sizing should also fit much smaller heads as well. It is easily and comfortably adjustable via its bungee.

The F-Series cap should fit many head sizes and is adjustable. 

I prefer a smaller volume cap with a focus on the sweatband and where it sits and even with my larger head fit is “small” in look but just right for me.

The RTR team likes the Fractel so much that we have ordered Buckets and F-Series for the team and for sale to readers. Expected late August 2023, they will be the first RTR merchandise! . Final color of gray to be lightened but they are below. Which do you prefer? Please comment.

Australia HERE


Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes.RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!

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Anonymous said...

How do the Fractel hats compare to Ciele hats? The Fractel hats appear so much alike I though Ciele actually made them. I have a big head and can only wear Ciele L/XL bucket hats because their others are too shallow and the adjustor is maxed out. Are the Fractel hats any larger? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon above, they look like a direct rip off of Ciele, with the same garish *massive* logos to boot. I wish I could get it without a logo, would be an instant buy for me. Oh well.

Jim said...

They look intriguing. Am I interpreting it correctly that the solid fabric parts of the bucket hats are UPF 50, whereas the mesh fabric on top is not? If so, I wonder what the UPF of that fabric is. I'm pretty bald, so I like protection up top.

Anonymous said...

I own both Fractel (B-Series "JET" Edition) and Ciele (BKTHat - Standard SL - Whitaker) bucket hats in L/XL. I suspect that both brands use the same Chinese factory to manufacture these. The Ciele is slightly bigger in size (although its also possible that the tailor on either one of these that I bought just had a slight sizing error). The part covering the top of the head have the same depth on both and seem to use the same tech shirt type of fabric with similar fabric thicknesses. Both hats use different materials on the front and sides - the fabric on the Fractel is more breathable. Both brims have the same size width although the materials used are again different from one another. Ciele's brim is thicker and feels slightly heavier. Overall, the Fractel feels cooler on the head but I wish that both companies will also offer wider brimmed versions for more coverage.

Mike P said...

Unfortunately I only have a Ciele cap, not a trucker. My Ciele cap is the TRKCap SC - I mainly got it because it's all white and I wanted it for hot weather. It does have a bit more volume in the crown, which fits me better than the Fractel cap. But the Fractel cap is softer and I've been using the tan colored cap pretty much every day in the summer casually.

I'm not sure which fabric parts specifically are UPF 50, but I like the fact that the top panel of my green/white bucket is white. The bucket is extremely breathable and it never gets soaked with sweat - it wicks and evaporates right away. I've been wearing it for pretty much every run since the weather has turned hot.

I don't think there's any need for a wider brim as I get full shade all around my face down to my neck.