What is a Snapback Hat?

What is a Snapback Hat?

The snapback hat is just one of many types of baseball caps, but this one gets its name from the adjustable strap in the back that snaps together. The snapback gained popularity during the 90s thanks to hip hop artists like Tupac and Ice Cube.

Many people assume snapback hats emerged during the 1990s, but this flat-brimmed hat actually originated in the early days of baseball. Interestingly, the first baseball teams wore straw hats, not the caps we see as part of the baseball uniform today. In 1858, the Brooklyn Excelsiors sported caps featuring a rounded crown and a short, flat brim. It was referred to as the Brooklyn-style cap, and is thought to be the precursor of all modern day ball caps.

In the early 1900s, the Detroit Tigers became the first team to put a logo on their hats paving the way for other teams and future brands. Baseball became increasingly popular in the 1920s. Recognizing this as an entrepreneurial opportunity for baseball hats, the New Era Cap Company was formed. In 1934, New Era began making hats for the Cleveland Indians and by the 1960s, New Era was supplying caps to half of the Major League teams.

It is hard to imagine a time when this iconic brimmed cap was not a staple in most wardrobes, but it wasn’t until the late 1970s that baseball caps became socially acceptable to wear off the field. Today, you’ll find tons of different styles like fitted caps, dad hats, and trucker hats. If you’re still wondering to yourself what a snapback hat is, we’ve listed some key design features of this classic hat style.

The Adjustable Strap

When trying to figure out what is a snapback hat, the type of closure on the back is the defining characteristic. Snapback hat closures are made from plastic and are adjusted by snapping the buttons in the back. This is what makes snapback hats adjustable and one size fits all. Dad hats typically have a metallic or velcro closure, and fitted hats have no closure at all.

The Brim

Traditional snapback hats feature a wide, flat brim. This is in contrast to the dad hat style, which has a round, pre-shaped brim.

Front Panels

The first New Era hats featured an 8-panel design, but modern-day snapbacks feature a 6-panel design. The front panel also tends to be stiffer or structured on snapbacks, allowing for a more prominent design.

The Fit

Although most snapbacks claim to be one size fits all, they are generally designed to fit an average sized head. Avoid a hat that is too loose, tight, or covers your eyes or ears as it will be uncomfortable. How you wear it depends on what style you want to achieve. Snapback hats are usually worn forward, backward, or slightly angled to the side.


Snapbacks are available in a huge variety of colors, patterns, and designs. Opt for a simple olive green hat, or go all in with a wild design. Snapback hats are not just for men, there are plenty of ladies styles as well.