Understanding Hat Panel Types: A Guide

Do you know the different panel options?

Welcome to the latest post on our blog, where we dive into the finer details of custom apparel to help you make the best choices for your style and needs. Today, we’re putting the spotlight on hats—a popular staple in many brand swag offerings. More specifically, we’re breaking down the differences between hat panel types, such as 5-panel hats, 6-panel hats, and 7-panel hats, among others.

What Are Hat Panels?

Before we delve into the differences, let’s clarify what we mean by “hat panels.” A panel is a distinct section of fabric that makes up the body of the hat. These panels are sewn together, typically meeting at the crown of the hat, and can vary in shape and size depending on the hat’s design.

5-Panel Hats

5-panel hats are often associated with the outdoor recreation scene from mountain bikers to runners to skate and surf scenes. They have a single front panel that offers a large, uninterrupted space perfect for custom designs or logos without a seam running down the front. This type of hat is characterized by its flat peak (top) and typically a flat bill, but can come in a few different styles. Below is a description of the various types ranging from low and high profile style to flat bill and trucker style. These hats are super popular and provide a distinct look that sets it apart from more traditional caps.

Above is is a high profile 5-panel hat with a distinct seam across the top of the front.

Above is an low profile unstructured (meaning soft, squishy cap) 5-panel hat. This is a super popular style for outdoor recreation brand – as seen in this great Cotopaxi hat.

The above is a high profile 5-panel hat without the distinct panel seam in the front.

This is a trucker style 5-panel hat. Not typically attributed as a 5-panel to most people, it is because of the panel numbers it has and the low profile up top.

6-Panel Hats

6-panel hats are perhaps the most common and traditional cap style, often associated with baseball caps. These hats have a seam down the front, resulting in two front panels instead of one – meaning you get one more than a 5-panel hat (thus 6 panels). This design offers a more contoured fit to the wearer’s head, making it a versatile choice for various activities and settings.

They can come in flat bill styles or more curved/trucker style bills. they can also be structured/firm or come in soft/unstructured styles.

Above is a structured flat bill version of a 6-panel hat. Notice the seam running down the center of the front.

This is a trucker style, structured 6-panel hat.

This is a soft, unstructured style of a 6-panel hat.

7-Panel Hats

7-panel hats are a less common style that offers a unique look with an extra panel added into the design, often in the front for a more prominent and structured appearance. This type can be distinguished by an additional seam that adds volume and a different silhouette compared to 5 and 6-panel designs.

Above is a good sample of a 7-panel hat. Notice the seam running from the top button down the center to the top of the front panel. This splits the center panel into 2, creating an additional panel to a 6-panel hat (thus a 7-panel hat).

Other Variations

Beyond the 5, 6, and 7-panel hats, there are other minor variations for each type, but generally all variations involve 3 elements:

  1. Structure type (soft and unstructured or structured)
  2. Profile type (how high and rounded they are)
  3. Bill type (flat or curved)

Choosing the Right Panel Type for You

When deciding between these hat types, consider both aesthetic preferences and functionality. A 5-panel hat might be your go-to for a bold, graphic statement, while a 6-panel hat could be the perfect everyday cap with its classic fit. A 7-panel hat, on the other hand, offers a distinctive look for those wanting to stand out.

At Sunraise Custom Apparel, we specialize in bringing your designs to life on the perfect canvas. Whether you’re looking for a sleek, professional look with a 6-panel hat or a more laid-back vibe with a 5-panel, we’ve got you covered. And if you’re venturing into the unique territory of 7-panel hats, we’re excited to help you explore this option as well.


Hats are more than just a functional accessory to keep the sun out of your eyes—they’re a fashion statement, a branding tool, and a way to express your individuality. Understanding the differences between hat panel types allows you to choose the best hat for your needs, ensuring comfort, style, and the perfect fit for your custom design.

We hope this guide has shed some light on this part of hat design and helps you make more informed choices for your custom apparel needs. With Sunraise custom apparel solutions, your vision is our mission. Contact us today to bring your custom hat designs to life, panel by panel.



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