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Our case for why the Legionnaire is the only hat you need
Lightweight and moisture-wicking, side flaps for ultimate protection that also make you feel like you have beautiful hair but really it’s a hat
It’s not, but it will be
If you asked Midjourney AI to create the ugliest, most fashion un-forward hat in existence, it may very well end up looking like the Legionnaire. What started as a boxy flat cap worn by the French Foreign Legion eventually became its own thing when it was modified with a long neck flap to protect against sunburn.
As a result, it’s one of the worst looking caps you could ever wear. Not just for running, but for any life pursuit. A synthetic mullet that doesn’t just waterfall in the back but on the sides as well, it’s so bad that an entire skit is dedicated to a fedora version of it in season two of “I Think You Should Leave” (Brian’s Hat).
Per the episode:
Bri: “He looks so f*cking stupid I can hardly breathe.”
Vincent: “What the hell even is it?”
Bri: “It’s a fedora with safari flaps in the back.”
And there you have it. It’s a hat, that– if worn in any decade other than the one we’re in– would surely result in ridicule and a potential ass-whooping. You would most certainly deserve it.
However, we live in a time when Crocs are ubiquitous, from Mississippi to Milan. Fashion rules were already frayed coming into Covid; since then, it’s hard to determine if anybody’s even trying or the trying is too hard. Anything can be subverted to be cool.
Which is why the Legionnaire, the real-life embodiment of fugly, is the coolest running cap you can own.
Look, we’ve tried a lot of running caps here at Believe in the Run. Everyone from Ciele to RNNR to Patagonia claims their caps are somehow life-changing when on the run. For sure, some hats are better than others. Material and construction differences exist between a $10 cap from H&M and a $40 Ciele GoCap.
The good news is that a decade ago we were button-choosing-meme sweating between solid black and solid neon colorways for pretty much all run apparel. Now we have an almost endless array of designs and colors to choose from.
When we get down to brass tacks, however, most running hats are just lightweight, quick-drying, breathable, polyester dome protectors, and that’s about it.
The Legionnaire is all of those things, but so much more.
Let’s start with the utility. We’re going to use the Fractel L-Series Legionnaire as our example, since that’s what we’ve been wearing and it’s pretty much the epitome of a Legionnaire.
Yes, you get recycled Polartec Power Dry polyester, which is quick drying, moisture-wicking, and easily washable and packable. But moving down to that Tennessee Tail, that El Camino Headrest, that Natty Nap Flap– we have 270-degress of coverage on the neck for when the sun is beating down on you like it does on Mario in the world 2 desert of Super Mario 3. Forgot your sunscreen? No worries, the UPF 50 rating protects you from 98% of the sun’s UV radiation.
More coverage usually means more heat in the dead of summer, but not here. The cape (yes, the actual term) moves like a mirage, and the laser-cut vents provide airflow around the neck to keep you cool and protected even on the doggiest of days. Let the cape flow like a Kentucky Waterfall or use the corner buttons to snap it under your chin for supreme protection. Going to a business meeting? You could impress everyone by keeping the hat hair down, or, if you’re a bit shy– just hide the cape beneath the cap for a traditional look. There go your superpowers.
We have to warn you though– wear the cape down once and suddenly the spirit of the South is upon you. You won’t be hiding that hair anymore.
Look, we all had to get over the “I’m actually wearing 1-inch shorts in public” phase of our running. If you haven’t yet, you’ll get there. It’s the same with the Legionnaire. The whole reason Crocs could overcome their glaring style flaws was because they were functionally what everyone wanted– comfort and breathability in an inexpensive package. Who doesn’t want that? Give us our heart’s desire and we’ll put the blinders on, expecting others to do the same.
In reality, the evolution of hats has just been us looking for something to do the job of a tree. Cover us in its wings, protect us in a shade of darkness. Let us return to the womb. The Legionnaire is here to provide you with all those things, better than any cap could– full-on shade, comfort, and protection. If only we could string up a hammock between our ears and somehow sleep in it, we’d really have it all.
Our tip to you if you want to level up your hat and life game: Embrace it, wear it like you stole it, and when someone asks “what the hell even is it?” you can tell them proudly: “It’s a f*cking Legionnaire.”
You can pick up a Legionnaire of your own at the shop links below ($48-$65), or probably grab a cheap-o one next to the “hand-crafted” walking sticks at your local Bass Pro Shop.
Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.More from Robbe