Snapback hats are a type of baseball cap with an adjustable snap fitting which allows the wearer to change the hat to fit different head sizes. For many years, snapback hats were perceived as a less-expensive substitute for costlier fitted caps. In the early 21st century, they underwent a surge in popularity, initially becoming ironically fashionable before being accepted as fashionable on their own merits.
These hats feature an opening at the rear with a projecting strip of plastic on either side. One of the two plastic strips has a series of small pegs, while the other has a series of small holes. To adjust the fit of snapback hats, the wearer slides the two plastic strips over each other, aligning the pegs with the holes. When the strips overlap significantly, the cap will fit tightly; if they overlap near their ends, it will be loose-fitting.
Snapback hats come in two main varieties. Some have a plastic mesh body with a foam front and a bill reinforced with paperboard. These inexpensive hats are often known as "trucker caps," "feed caps" or "gimmes" because of their use as promotional items. Other snapback caps have a cloth crown sewn together from several pieces with a small opening at the back.
Mesh and foam snapback hats became popular in the first decade of the 21st century. Their initial popularity derived from their ironic adoption by urban trendsetters, who enjoyed the ironic juxtaposition of the caps' rural, working-class associations and their own lifestyles. Trendy retailers and manufacturers began to produce hats of this type, and the "trucker hat" became a widespread cultural phenomenon.
Snapback hats also enjoyed renewed popularity among sports fans and others. Part of the caps' appeal derived from the fact that many wearers remembered wearing them as children or young adults. Snapback hats were marketed as "retro" or "classic" as a result of this nostalgic appeal.
These snap style adjusters are only one of a number of different methods of adjusting the fit of baseball caps. Some caps use velcro closures which function in the same way as a plastic snap. Others use cloth straps which pass through a metal buckle.
Not all baseball caps are adjustable. Many are fitted, with a crown sewn together from a number of triangular pieces of fabric, called "panels." Because the crown is sewn into a single piece, these hats cannot be adjusted; the wearer must select the correct size.