What Are Snapback Hats?

J.E. Holloway

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.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

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.

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Discussion Comments


@manykitties2 - If you have the funds and are looking for a really great gift for your dad I would suggest buying him a limited edition baseball cap, or one that is autographed. An example of a limited edition version would be one that was released during a team's world series run, or perhaps one that features a logo that is no longer used.

Also, there are lots of autograph services online that sell signed caps for hundreds of dollars. While this is quite expensive, if your dad really wants a unique addition to his collection, something like that would be it. Most of these are snapback hats, though I doubt you dad would actually wear them due to their rarity.


Snapback baseball caps make a great gift for the guys in your life if you know their favorite team. I like that you don't need to know their head size to pick a hat, as they are easily adjustable.

My father actually has a huge collection of baseball caps and I always make it a point to pick him up a new one whenever I learn a team has changed their logo. I know his favorite team is important to him, but that doesn't stop him from collecting a wide variety of hats from different baseball teams. On that note, does anyone know of any really unique baseball hats that would make a great gift? My dad already has a ton of them, so it can be a challenge to find something new.


I like to wear hats, and I also like to collect them. When we visit a new place, buying a hat that symbolizes that place is my souvenir.

While I own several snapback hats, I prefer a hat that is fitted. Once I got used to wearing fitted hats, I found that I liked the look and feel of them better than a snapback hat.

Many times there is not as big of a selection for fitted hats, so many of my souvenir hats are snapback styles. This can also be a little bit easier on the wallet.


My husband hardly goes anywhere without wearing a hat. He has more snapback hats than I have shoes.

He isn't very particular about the color or logo on the hat. If it is reasonably clean, it goes on his head before going out the door.

I don't think he even owns a fitted hat. He misplaces so many hats, that I don't think he wants to spend the extra money on them.

When he first gets a hat, he adjusts it to where it fits his head, and never changes if after that. I guess there are a lot worse and more expensive things he could have laying all around the house.

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