History of Cadet Hats

The light and easy-to-wear cadet hats go a long way back in history. Despite its growing popularity as a casual headwear accessory, little is known about the hat’s history aside from its association with military cadets.

If you want to know about the history of cadet hats, read on.

Cadet Hats in History

Before we dive straight into the history of cadet hats, it is important to know that their design derives from other military hats.

One of the known origins of the military hats comes from the ancient Greeks and Romans who wore metal helmets as part of their military uniforms. They think metals are the best armor since they are often using swords and arrows and their head is vulnerable to the attacks. Therefore, to protect themselves on the battlefield they need to wear helmets.

During 600 BC, Greeks used the Corinthian helmet made out of bronze. These were the most popular hats used in combat as they covered the wearer from head to neck with their heavy, yet protective casing. In order to make their headgears easier to wear, they developed lighter ones such as Phrygian helmets or Chalcidian helmets.

Those hats are just the beginning of the military hats. Throughout Europe, you can also see different hats emerging, like the chapeaus. These chapeaus have distinctive styles, and they are called the bicorn or tricorn.

Forage Caps

In the 1800s, forage caps emerged. The British army first used these hats, where their soldiers were using them as headwear in their camp or the barracks. Generally, the soldiers use these caps when they are not serving their duty or scavenging for food.

Forage caps are also known as pinwheel caps in America. They started to use them in 1825 when they thought shako was excessively heavy to wear. It also influenced the soldiers involved in the Texan Army during the Texas revolution from 1835 to 1836.

In 1836, the Army of the Potomac started giving its soldiers a badge called a “corps badge.” These badges made the soldiers feel more proud of their service in the military.

However, the forage caps were no longer relevant after the 1870s as they are now rarely worn.

Peaked Caps

Aside from the forage caps—commonly known as a field cap, the military also utilized peaked caps that serve the same function mentioned above. The Russian army first introduced these caps in the 18th to 19th century of Northern Europe.

These hats are lighter in weight than the shakos used by other armies. These caps were also helpful during the Mexican-American war since these caps are more comfortable to wear, and it doesn’t get too hot depending on their climate.

These peaked caps are now often associated with the personnel who have higher ranks as some attach their badge on the hat itself.


One of the closest resemblances of the cadet hats is the hat called kepi. The French army first wore these hats in the 1830s. In North America, these hats were used in the American Civil War, and even the Indian Wars symbolized the hats soldiers should wear when they are tired or off-duty.

Back then, only the soldiers used kepi as these hats are distinguished with their circular top that lay flat and a straight peak or visor. But now, they are also worn by the police authorities and British railway employees.

Campaign Hats

Aside from Forage caps, campaign hats are the following popular military hats. These campaign hats have a similar structure to a typical Stetson hat, but they first emerged in the 1840s.

The campaign hats became famous as the military searched for a more practical hat accompanying the casual military uniform since marching in the desert. They needed a hat that could cover their head from the scorching heat of the sun during the American Civil War.

Nowadays, campaign hats are still used in the field with the olive green tone worn by male drill sergeants, patrol rangers, and highway police officers.

Military Berets

The berets are often linked with French culture, but this time, it is one of the standard uniforms of the military. Military berets became the primary headgear of soldiers in the 1830s.

These hats have a cheap cost as they are very flexible and produced faster than other hats. While the different military hats require much upkeep, these berets are not needing a lot of attention and detail when caring for them. Besides that, these hats are also handy in the mountain weather as they are not making the soldiers feel uncomfortable in the heat.

Patrol Caps

Patrol caps are the later model of kepi, only they are softer, and they look like a baseball cap with their usual stiff brim. These patrol caps are included in the uniforms of the military who are not in combat.

Initially, these patrol caps were coming from the M1943 field cap that was the uniform used in 1943. The US Army Rangers utilized them during the 1951 Korean War.

However, even though the military used the patrol caps in the field, they were also replaced by the Ridgeway Cap’s stiffened version. And after the ridgeway cap, these changes completely took place in 1962. The military men used Boonie hats to acclimate to the tropical weather of Vietnam.

Even though the later designs in their uniform replaced the patrol hats, in 1981, another patrol cap emerged as part of the M81 battle dress uniform. These hats use a blend of nylon and cotton material with different patterns.

These patrol caps became more substantial in 2011 because of the Army Directive 2011-11. This directive states that the patrol caps are now the primary headgear replacing the standard black beret in its 10-year hiatus.

Cadet Hats As We Know Now

The cadet hats are the only hats given to cadets after a long change in history. Even though they bear an uncanny similarity to the kepi and patrol caps, the cadet hats became more widely available in the early 2000s with the rise of everyday casual clothing.

While it contends the standard baseball caps and the fedora, these hats are the solid choice when you don’t want to stick to the common. They are comfortable enough to be worn during summer when you’re looking for an outdoor cap to wear.


Military headwear gradually becomes lighter as time passes, starting with the heavy headgear. There came the chapeaus and forage, peaked and patrol caps, and even the berets. These hats were a staple in the military uniforms, but these changes also bridged the birth of making the cadet hats accessible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. What is a cadet hat?

A cadet hat is commonly a part of the military cadet’s uniform. They often look like a flat cap, close enough to see as a baseball cap, and only the difference is that sometimes a cadet cap has a flat crown.

2. Are cadet hats in style?

Cadet hats are in style, and they intend to become a solid alternative for baseball caps. These unisex hats give a refreshing yet refined look with a dab of sophistication.

3. Is it okay to wear a cadet hat casually?

Yes, especially when looking for an excellent hat to accompany you in your summer outdoor activities.

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