Commonly Used Hat Terms

A guide to the most commonly used hat and cap terms including unstructured vs. structured, low vs. mid crown, 5 vs. 6 panels, cotton vs. acrylic material, flat vs. curved brim, and snapback vs. buckle vs. hook and loop.

1. Unstructured vs. Structured

Unstructured and structured are terms that refer to the crown or the 2 front panels of a hat. Unstructured hats are usually relaxed and do not have any additional thick fabric or buckram. Structured hats will have added fabric or buckram, which holds the crown in a firmer and more upright position. Buckram is a type of stiff cotton that adds "structure" to the front panels.

2. Low Crown vs. Mid Crown vs. High Crown

The crown is the height from brim of the hat to the top of the hat. There are 3 types of crowns (sometimes referred to as profiles): low, mid, and high. Low crown hats have a lower profile and sit lower on the head. Mid crown hats have a mid profile and are more upright on the head. High crown hats have a high profile and sit very upright on the head. 

3. 5 panel vs. 6 panel vs. 7 panel

The panels of a hat refer to the fabric panels, which are sewn together and held together with a top button to create the overall hat. The panels are usually "pizza" shaped. A typical baseball hat or snapback hat has 6 panels: 2 panels on the back, 1 panel on each side, and 2 panels on the front. A 5 panel hat has 2 panels on the back, 1 panel on each side, and 1 panel on the front. A 7 panel hat has 2 panels on the back, 1 panel on each side, and 3 panels on the front. Most hats will always have the 2 panels on the back, 1 panel on each side, and at least 1 panel on the front. The number of panels that varies will be on the front of the hat. 5 panel hats may be easier for certain logos, since they have a wider fabric area without any stitching seam. 7 panel hats are a newer type of hat and are more fashion oriented.

4. Cotton vs. Acrylic vs. Polyester vs. Spandex Material

Acrylic is one of the most common materials used for most hats and caps. Acrylic comes from synthetic fibers and is lightweight, soft, and has a wool-like feel. Acrylic is a lower cost material also, which allows for cheaper hats. Cotton is another common material and has a soft, breathable, feel. Cotton comes from natural fibers compared to acrylic, which comes from synthetic fibers. Polyester is commonly used for certain fashion hats and is a synthetic, versatile polymer. Spandex is used for the flex hats, in order to provide an elastic closure.  

5. Flat Brim vs. Curved Brim

The brim of a hat refers to the front, bottom visor bill, which is sewn on to the 2 front panels, and helps provide sun protection and structure. There are 2 types of brims: flat brim or curved brim. A flat brim is flat and is commonly referred to as a flat bill. A flat brim is common with many snapbacks. A curved brim is curved and is common with many baseball hats, dad hats, and visors. 

6. Snapback vs. Buckle vs. Hook and Loop

There are multiple types of closures or backings for hats. A snapback is a plastic adjustable closure, which is used by snapping together two pieces of plastic with alternating holes and stubs. A snapback closure is very common on snapback hats or flat bills as well as trucker hats and baseball hats. A hook and loop is a velcro closure. A velcro closure is common on some baseball hats. A buckle closure has a brass buckle or a tri glide buckle, which operates by loosening and tightening the back strap. A buckle closure is common on many dad hats.