Most people don’t know their trucker hat from a snapback cap. And the reason is not what you think. You see, technically a Snapback refers to the fastening strap on the headgear, where the little plastic clips and snap into the holes on the strip. So this means your favourite hat could technically be a snapback, even if it’s a mesh hat, trucker cap or ball cap style.
Wait, so what is the difference between snapbacks and trucker hats again?
In theory, nothing. But your as-sold ‘Snapbacks hats’ tend to be the usual cotton twill 6-panel hats with a wide flat peak. The Trucker hat always has a mesh backing, but also often use the snapback closure method.
The 4 types of baseball caps are:
Snapback hats – (a hat with a snap closure in the rear) with flat brim, high profile, adjustable.
Adjustable hats – (a hat with a velcro closure in the rear) unstructured, low profile, curved brim, adjustable.
Fitted caps – curved or flat brim, structured cap, high profile, unadjustable.
“Flexfit” hats – curved or flat brim, structured cap, high profile, adjustable by the use of elastic materials.
The evolution of the baseball cap
Baseball caps are the original style, everything else is just a modern twist on the classic OG. Mainly worn by old school crowd, hence the nickname the Dad Hat. For those that prefer the curved peak, the old school baseball cap style hat is stylish and practical. A classic and timeless style more favoured by the older generation which still laments after its missing youth.
But how has the simple hat evolved in style?
What is a Trucker hat?
A trucker hat is a baseball cap with foam front panels and pre-curved bill, plastic mesh backing, and snapback closing mechanism.
In the 1960s Trucker Caps were known as the Gimme Hat as were commonly local merchandising promotional giveaways. The name trucker comes from automobile companies who favoured them, so they were literally the Trucker’s Hat.
It was cheaper to make with plastic mesh and foam rather than cotton so more breathable by nature, making them ideal for hot weather and outdoor activities and the sports clothing headwear of choice. The snapback trucker hats remain very popular.
What is a Snapback hat?
The snapback is named after the plastic adjustable strap at the back where it snaps into place to lock it in the right fit. This can be the trucker and baseball styles, with the term based on the adjuster rather than the style. The common style associated with the snapback caps has a flat peak and is full cotton rather than mesh.
What is a Strapback hat?
As above, this is the same as a snapback but uses a strap made of plastic or leather and a tightener like the metal bar through a hole locking technique.
So the strapback means the fastener and not the hat style. The difference is you rarely see this sold with this description.
What is a Flat Peak baseball cap?
The Hip-Hip style flat peak rather than the Baseball curved. This is usually consisting of plastic or cardboard to stiffen or high-end PU Leather (leather coated with a layer of polyurethane). The flat peak caps are the favourite of the Hip-Hop Fashion scene.
What is a 5 Panel Baseball Cap?
The common style straight out of the skater parks of New York and adapted for fashionistas. The five panels consist of two top panels, two side panels and a front panel (or 2 on the 6 panels). Usually, cotton twill panels are sewn up and held together by the adding of a button. Commonly with a snapback fastener.
The History of the baseball cap
So we now know Baseball caps come in a variety of styles, colloquially called Snapbacks after the fastener at the back. But who invented the baseball cap?
The ballcap was first seen in 1860 in the USA as part of the Brooklyn Excelsiors baseball team uniform. The intention was intended to keep the sun out of eyes for both batter and catcher, made from wool with a bill made from the leather, shorter than styles. These were a baseball cap without strap fasteners that sat loosely on the head.
The modern appearance came with latex rubber stiffening material in the 1940s and continued as the baseball cap for men baseball teams, with logos and colour to identify who was whom. But it was during the 1920’s popularity of Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees that fans bought the replicas to show their support.
The modern baseball cap
They are still often made from wool or the more modern polyester. Since the 1970s, they have included a fastener for one-size-fits all, with the adjustment strap at the back hence the term snapback.
Hats are constructed with the buckram button holding it together, or they are unconstructed as floppy caps. Then you have the stiff bill or peak, which is either hip-hop style flat or curved like the baseball “dad” hat. They are arguably more popular as fashion accessories than ever, although it seems flat snapbacks are falling out of style.
You can blame Tom Selleck for the baseball hats exploding popularity, with the 1980s sex symbol Magnum P.I character starting the trend with his trademark Hawaiian Shirt and Detroit Tigers Baseball cap pushing it out of being simple baseball equipment. Then in the 1990s, it became a big part of popular pop culture in particular in Hip Hop fashion with Tupac and Ice Cube sporting them.
Across the pond from our American cousins, the most popular type of hats is snapbacks UK side. Although it does get associated with youths and hoodies, it’s still a fashion accessory and on the must-pack list for holidays to Ibiza to stop sunburn.