Imagine playing a great game of ball in the summer afternoon and suddenly sweat starts getting in your eyes. It hurts, you lose concentration, and your game starts falling apart. To prevent this, having some of the best basketball headbands on your head is a must.
But which one to pick? And what are the different materials, sizes, anti-odor, and moisture-wicking properties you should know about when buying a headband?
In this guide, we will go over all of the top models for 2021 and discuss some of their most important features, as well as the upsides and downsides of buying any one of them. First, let’s see a brief comparison between all of the models I have selected for this year…
Basketball Headbands Comparison Chart
Best Overall – Nike Dri-Fit Home & Away Headband
The Nike Dri-Fit series is one of the most famous clothing and gear lines of products out there. It features unique material mixes along with a simplistic style that quickly became a definite fan-favorite. The Dri-Fit Home & Away Headband is a dual-sided basketball headband that combined the best of all worlds. It is made out primarily of nylon and has rubber fibers mixed into it. This makes for an elastic fit that is also great when dealing with excess moisture and heat.
The headband comes in 4 different color options – black, grey, blue, and red. All of these can be reversed, allowing you to combine two different looks in one single headband. Unfortunately, as with most other Nike products, this band is a little bit more expensive than some of its competitors from brands like UnderArmour and Adidas. Still, in terms of longevity it still is one of your best options, so all-in-all it holds a decent value for your money.
- Superb quality
- Easy fit
- Comes in 4 color options
- Dri-fit technology
- Excellent for hot days
- A bit expensive compared to other similar models
- The stitching shows on one of the sides
Best for Men – Tough Headwear Men’s Headband
The Tough Headwear Men’s Headband is one of the best male models on the market right now. It features a sleek design with plenty of colors to choose from and a very affordable price tag. The headband is breathable, lightweight, thin, and handles moisture excellently.
The design of this headband features a 95% polyester build mixed with 5% spandex. This allows the company to make the band as thin as possible, focusing more on its width and area covered. Thanks to its low profile, this headband is also perfect for sports where you have to wear a helmet. Also, if you love practicing ball by yourself, you can put on a pair of headphones and jam away. Lastly, the band is wider at the front, making it far more grippy and much more comfortable for people who want to have their hair in the band as well.
One of the more impressive features of this headband is that it comes in 27 different color options, including 8 plain colors and 19 colorful patterns. And even though it is a men’s headband, there are a few colors for the gentle side of the population. On top of that, you get options for a single pack, pack of 2, and a pack of 3. The bigger packs bring the price even lower than it currently is, making this a great band for the buck.
- Thin and wide
- Stays on your head
- Perfect for over-year headphones
- Good moisture-wicking properties
- Relatively cheap
- Comes in 27 different colors
- Can feel too tight for some people
- Too thin for people that sweat a lot
- Long-term durability is questionable
Best for Women – MadSportsStuff Crazy Girls Basketball Headband
When it comes to styling, women are often left behind with few models that have cooler patterns and colors. The MadSportsStuff Crazy Girls Basketball Headband, however, comes in three amazing color patterns and is one of the best bangs for your buck if you’re looking for a good female headband. The main material in this band is polyester, mixed with cotton on the inside and spandex on the outside. This creates a two-layer system that won’t slip away from your head and has excellent moisture-absorbing properties.
That same cotton interior also adds to the softness of the band and makes it very easy to wear on longer basketball sessions. Another thing that really makes t his a true women’s band is that it is quite wide. At 2.5 inches across, this model takes good care of people’s long hair and keeps it there thanks to the stretchy outside layer. At the back, the headband gets more narrow, creating this gradual increase of size towards the front that holds the headband in place even when you’re moving around. Lastly, the band comes in three different color combinations. Those are Purple, Orange, and Red. All three cost a bit more than you’d expect but for a non-slip, moisture-wicking wide headband, the price isn’t that bad.
- Perfect for women
- Comes in three colors
- 2.5 inches wide
- Stays on your head
- Comfortable non-slip design
- Absorbs a lot of sweat
- Somewhat expensive
- The fit isn’t always perfect
Best Budget – Under Armour Men’s Performance Headband
UnderArmour is one of the leading sports brands out there. Its products are always accompanied by great quality and a well-thought-out design. And even though oftentimes some of the brand’s products are on the expensive side of things, their Men’s Performance Headband is incredibly cheap for what it is.
The band uses a mix of 84% polyester and 16% elastane. This is a rather rare combination, as most other brands prefer mixing cotton, spandex, nylon, and other materials in different proportions. Still, this build allows the headband to be machine washable and to last longer than models in this price bracket. And while the Elastane ensures a snug fit, the polyester blend allows for the band to be breathable. On top of all that, this is non-slip fabric, making it even more comfortable when you’re covered in sweat. It features UA’s Quick-dry technology which uses multi-channeled fibers to keep the band dry and soft. There are 6 colors to choose from, including UnderArmour’s patented Graphite and Midnight Navy.
- One size fits all
- 6 color options
- Very cheap
- Familiar UnderArmour quality
- Quick-dry technology
- Can feel too narrow
- Can feel too tight for some people
Easy to Wash – Tanluhu Basketball Sweatband
The Tanluhu Sweatband is a definite favorite of mine thanks to its unique structure, excellent elasticity, and machine-washing option. The band is constructed primarily out of cotton (85%) mixed with spandex and nylon fibers. This unique material combination creates a super soft surface that doesn’t slip and can stretch by almost 50%. The large cotton percentage also allows the headband to absorb a ton of sweat from your face before it gets too wet. It also makes the band soft on your face, while the spandex fibers create a snug fit for almost anyone.
This particular band comes in more than 10 different color combinations, including grey, white, black, blue, green, red, and pink. Another thing that is great about this headband is that it comes in sets of three, sets of 6, and set combinations with armbands as well. And while the price was already good enough for a single headband, you get three for the same price, which truly makes this one of the best deals out there. While you can make the argument that one premium headband will outlast three of those, this surely is a great option for a beginner or kids that want to test out whether they will like playing ball with headbands.
- Very cheap
- Comes in packs of 3
- Tons of color options
- Non-slip soft design
- People with big heads will feel this too tight
- Long-term durability isn’t great
Anti-Odor and Moisture-Wicking – Poshei Men’s Basketball Headband
The Poshei Men’s Headband is a terrific deal for your money as it comes in a pack of four. It has an excellent blend of 95% polyester and 5% spandex, making it super light on the head. It is also one of the easiest bands on this list for machine washing. It can withstand high-temperature programs, although using them as well as machine-drying isn’t recommended. The band is light on the head and very thin, although it does have significant moisture-wicking properties.
Similar to the Tough Headwear men’s headband, this one features a narrowed design at the back. This creates a gradient towards the front that allows the band to grip your forehead (and hair) better, reducing the probability for it to move around during your game. The band comes in a pack of four different colors – white, grey, brown, and black. This puts it on par with some headbands like the Tanluhu one which will cost you a similar amount of money. All in all, this is a great model not only for basketball players but for people that do all sorts of outdoor activities and want something wide and thin that won’t heat up your head too much while keeping it dry.
- Excellent for outdoor sports
- Can be easily washed
- Comes in a pack of four
- Lightweight and thin design
- Not great for women
- Not as good at absorbing water as some cotton headbands
- Not ideal for people with large heads
Best Non-Slip – Nike Swoosh Headband
One of the most famous headbands out there is definitely the Nike Swoosh Headband. It features a simplistic design that is familiar to virtually anybody that plays ball. The band is primarily made out of cotton, making it extremely good at absorbing water. The cotton build also adds a ton to comfort, while also making the headband hard to slip on your face, especially when you’re sweating. It comes in a single size (one size fits all) and has a width of 2 inches, which is decent but not great for everyone. The band itself is machine washable and doesn’t discolor or loosen up even after years of usage, which is one of its biggest advantages.
And even though it is a little expensive, you do get quite a good track record for long-term durability out of these bands. You can also pick out of the 11 unique color combinations that all have the Nike swoosh embroidered at the front.
- Simplistic design
- Primarily made out of cotton
- Excellent at absorbing moisture
- Comes in 11 colors
- Can be too narrow for some people
- Not very elastic
Best Head Tie – Adidas Alphaskin Tie Headband
The Adidas Unisex Alphaskin Tie headband is one of the more unique options on this list. It is the best tie headband on the market and will cost you a bit more money than what you’re used to paying for a traditional fixed headband. It is made out of 91% polyester and 9% spandex. That means that not only you will be able to adjust the tightness manually but there is also a decent stretch to the band as well. There are two layers of materials here. That mesh-like construction adds a bunch to the breathability of the band itself, making it quite light on the head while also maintaining decent water absorption.
One of the biggest advantages of tie headbands is that they can be adjusted to any head’s size. This is great to have in a sea of fixed headbands that are often either too tight or too loose for most people. The Adidas Alphaskin also comes in a range of gorgeous colors ranging from their patented Clear mind to colors like Hazy Rose and pure red. All of these are super vibrant and tend to hold their colors for years to come, although you cannot machine-wash the headband. One thing that is questionable in the long run, though, is the stitching around the edges.
- Excellent for any sport
- One size fits all
- Vibrant color options
- Can be easily adjusted
- Great width
- Not machine-washable
- Not allowed in official basketball games
Basketball Headbands Buyer’s Guide
Buying a basketball headband is something that seems easy at first but the more you look into different models, the more you realize that there are definitely little details that put aside the best models from the rest. In this section of the guide, we will talk about the various benefits you get from wearing headbands, the different features that make a headband good, and how these headbands stack up against head ties. After that, we will take a closer look at how to clean those headbands, as nothing gets as dirty as sportswear does after a long day of training.
Benefits of Wearing a Headband
If you’re still debating whether you have to get a headband for your basketball games or not, let me show you some of the main advantages it will give you during your game:
- The headband will absorb any sweat dripping down from your head into your eyes
- You will be able to see better even in longer games
- Headbands will allow you to play longer without having to dry out your face
- If you’re playing outdoors, it will also prevent sunscreen from entering your eyes
- If you have long hair, the headband can hold it back so that it doesn’t get in the way
- Can be used for both indoor and outdoor games and keep your face dry
- Headbands are super easy to wash
- They are cheap and you can have a couple just to switch things up
- Headbands are also super stylish and can be used to represent your team’s colors
Now, let’s go through all of the features that define a good headband…
Knowing what to look for in a headband can help you make a better choice in the end. Apart from the obvious features (materials, size, etc), there are a few others you can consider when buying a headband. Either way, here are all of the features that we will dive into now:
- Sweat absorption
The first thing that we are going to cover here is the materials of the headband. There are four materials that are most commonly used in headbands or any other sportswear for that matter. These are polyester, nylon, cotton, and elastane (or spandex).
Polyester, as a material, is a synthetic fiber used in almost any type of clothing nowadays. It is often blended with elastane or spandex. It is stretchable, durable in the long-run, and does a fairly good job of absorbing moisture. It does not, however, deal well with heat, making it less than ideal for your head, especially if it is the predominant material in the headband.
Nylon is very similar to polyester and has a similarly good stretch to it. It is often blended with cotton to make up for better moisture-wicking properties. It does tend to wear out quicker than other materials, though, which is why most nylon-heavy headbands are on the budget side of things.
Cotton is one of the best materials for any sportswear for one very good reason – it is super breathable. It is also super soft and easy on the skin, making it good for people with various skin conditions. As I said, cotton is often mixed with nylon, polyester, or spandex, further improving its stretchability, waterproofing, or other properties.
Lastly, spandex or elastane is a material that is used mostly in elastic headbands. These aren’t as thick and moisture-absorbing as some of the rest, but are far thinner, more comfortable, and have decent stretchability. Spandex is also used in most tie headbands.
Rubber is another material that is becoming more and more common. It isn’t used in concentrations more than a few percentages but it does bring some durability and waterproofing to headbands.
When it comes to sizing a basketball headband, the three important numbers you have to keep an eye on are width, thickness, and circumference. In most cases, models will have a width of around 2 inches which is generally enough to keep sweat away from your eyes. However, some people prefer even wider headbands. These will cover your head better and hold your hair back. That’s why women’s models are often wider and thinner. Speaking of thickness, the thicker a band is the more water it will be able to absorb. Usually, most headbands have a thickness of around half an inch. Some cotton models can get to 0.6-0.8 inches thick.
Lastly, in terms of the headband’s circumference, look for models that are around the circumference of your head (on the forehead) or half an inch less. Most models will stretch around your head and fit it anyway, so try looking for a size option that isn’t larger than your head. The downside of most models out there is that there are rarely any sizes available, meaning you will often have to pick one based on its size.
Comfort is one of the subjective features of a headband. However, it can be somewhat defined by the way the headband is built and the materials used in it. For instance, models today have their stitches inside the band to avoid them rubbing against your forehead. Moreover, predominantly using cotton in their blends adds a lot of softness and breathability. Overall, comfort is defined by these exact features – how breathable the headband is and how soft it feels on your head.
Just like most of the other properties of a good basketball headband, how stretchy it is is defined by the amount of spandex (or elastane in it). Oftentimes, stretchiness is viewed as the most important feature of any type of headband. That is because stretchable headbands are the ones that stay on your head in the most secure way. Also, the more stretch a headband has, the better it will hold women’s hairs back, especially if the band is sized right.
Sweat absorption and moisture-wicking are two important, although different, features that deserve attention. A band that will absorb a lot of moisture will be ideal on hot and humid summer days. It will also prevent salty sweat from going into your eyes, even after a long game. Moisture-wicking, on the other hand, refers to the ability of the band to repel water. In other words, it means waterproofing. This is also great to have, although a moisture-wicking band might perform worse in terms of sweat absorption than a band that is purely made out of absorbent materials. That’s why most advanced models have a two-layer system that keeps water away from the top layer and absorbs any sweat from your forehead with its more absorbent bottom layer.
As with stretchability, comfort, and sweat absorption, the durability of a headband is primarily determined by the synthetic materials blended into its structure. Earlier I mentioned that some headbands nowadays have rubber mixed into them. Rubber, combined with other synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester, adds a ton of durability.
The style of your basketball headband is strictly subjective and often entirely up to your taste. That means that models with more color options are generally received better and even sold better. That is one of Adidas’ strengths as a brand, as they offer amazing color combinations, as well as design options. Just make sure that getting an interesting color pattern doesn’t cost you extra.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that certain headbands can be reversible. That means that they can have two different color-schemes on both sides. Moreover, it can mean that they have different material properties on each side.
Sports Headbands Vs Head Ties
One common question in the basketball world is whether to wear a regular sports headband or get a head tie. In order to make the most educated choice, you need to know the pros and cons of each of those two options.
Headbands are the traditional choice of any old-school basketball player. They have decent stretch to them and are easy to maintain clean. Moreover, modern brands such as Nike, Adidas, and UnderArmour incorporate various fibers in them to make their moisture-wicking and anti-odor properties better. Their biggest disadvantage is that they are hard to adjust if you didn’t get the correct size. Even worse, most headbands don’t come with sizes on them, so they take a one-fits-all approach. You can guess that some of the time, this will result in a bad fit and a headband that keeps on falling off your head. Still, if you want to have something that will keep sweat away from your eyes during an official game, headbands are your only option.
Head ties, on the other hand, are much more adjustable when it comes to sizing. Since they solely rely on you tieing them down to your ideal size, their comfort and stretch are often much better. However, head ties aren’t as elastic as headbands and often lose grip during games, especially if you haven’t tied them up properly. Additionally, head ties are banned in the NBA, as they can cause certain issues in-game.
How to Wash Your Basketball Headband
Anything even remotely related to sports is known to stain and get nasty faster than usual. This is most valid for clothes you wear during workouts and training sessions. And since basketball headbands stay on your head and absorb as much sweat as possible, they often need to be washed on a daily basis. But how to wash them and is one going to be enough? Let’s try to answer those questions now!
First of all, it is important to mention what happens if you do not wash your headbands. One of the major reasons for bad odors coming out of them is bacterial growth. That happens when moisture and heat combine and you don’t wash the headband after a heavy practice. Even without washing, airing the headband after every use is an absolute must.
Luckily for us, most new basketball headbands can be machine washed. Some are recommended to be hand-washed, although those are typically models that have a ton of cotton in them, which are becoming rarer and rarer. Use mild detergents and no softeners when you wash your headbands. On top of that, don’t wash them on high-temperature settings, as you risk reducing their elasticity. Whatever you do, however, don’t machine-dry any of your headbands or the rest of your basketball gear for that matter. That will most likely damage or even ruin the headband’s materials and make it much less stretchable and absorbent.
If you want to also find out how to clean your basketball shoes, make sure you click here to read my detailed article on that topic!
Frequently Asked Questions
How to properly size a basketball headband?
The best way to size your basketball headband is by measuring your head’s circumference right above your eyes. Once you have the number, subtract 0.5 inches from it and go from there. If you want to get a tie headband, this isn’t as important.
What is the best material for a basketball headband?
In terms of materials, there isn’t one material that rules them all. Instead, some of the best models out there are made of specific material blends. One of the best ones in my opinion is mostly Cotton with spandex and a bit of nylon or rubber. That will ensure great breathability, decent stretch, and quite a lot of comfort due to the headband being mostly made out of cotton.
How to wear a headband?
While this feels like a question with a relatively straight-forward answer, a lot of people still manage to get it wrong. Headbands that are worn in a tilted orientation tend to fall out from your head more easily. In order to correct that, you have to wear your basketball headband more horizontally. That will ensure that it stays as stretched as possible on your head and will absorb sweat without falling down on your face during the important moments of the game.
When choosing from the best basketball headbands, you will be faced with quite a lot of features. First and foremost, look at the materials the headband is made of. Cotton and polyester are the most common choices out there as they have decent moisture-wicking properties and tend to not build up bad odors. Some bands are more stretchable than others thanks to elastane in them. These are typically easier on the head and won’t fall off as easily. Lastly, if you want a bit of extra adjustment, try a head tie, as these are super similar to headbands but can be tied to your preferred size and taste.