What is the difference between snapbacks and trucker hats?

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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. You know, where the little plastic clips and snap into the holes on the strip. So this means your favourite hat could technically be a strapback, even if its a mesh hat, trucker cap or ball cap style.

The History of the baseball cap

We contacted the experts at Rag Sourcing to explain, mainly as they make them for urban wear brands including the best caps on the current market. We wanted to know the background and difference types and they were very knowledgeable on the subject.

Babe Ruth in New York Yankees Base Cap
Babe Ruth in New York Yankees Base Cap

“So Baseball caps come in a variety of styles, colloquially called Snapbacks after the fastener at the back. The ballcap was first seen in 1860 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. 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. 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.”

They are often made from wool or polyester as 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 a 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.

Magnum PI in Detroit Tigers Baseball cap
Magnum PI in Detroit Tigers Baseball cap

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.”

Variations of the Fitted Baseball Cap

The 4 types of baseball caps:

  1. Snapback hats – (a hat with a snap closure in the rear) with flat brim, high profile, adjustable.
  2. Adjustable hats – (a hat with a velcro closure in the rear) unstructured, low profile, curved brim, adjustable.
  3. Fitted caps – curved or flat brim, structured cap, high profile, unadjustable.
  4. “Flexfit” hats – curved or flat brim, structured cap, high profile, adjustable by the use of elastic materials.
What is a Snapback?
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 Snapback peak is flat.

What is a Strapback?
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.

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.
What is a Baseball Cap?
For those that prefer the curved peak, the old school baseball cap style hat that is stylish and practical. A classic and timeless style more favoured by the older generation which still laments after its missing youth. Also called the Dad Hat.
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 Trucker Cap?
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.

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Chloé Safilo
Chloé is our resident Fast Fashion Expert for the UK Urban and Streetwear scene. Her eyes have been constantly glued to social media for the last five years giving her an insight that is unrivalled. In her spare time she likes shopping and lying in the sunshine. Each year makes a pilgrimage to Ibiza.Chloe lives in London where she has recently completed her journalism degree at the University of Roehampton. She lives in Putney with her boyfriend Christian, and their French Bulldog Coco.

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