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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 01-05-10, 11:34 AM   #1
Llama_
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Balaclava recommendations?

Just started commuting in the Northeast (Boston) and need a balaclava. I'm currently looking at the SmartWool, the Pearl Izumi, and the Mountain Hardware versions. These are all made of very different materials so I'm interested to know what other cold weather commuters like.
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Old 01-05-10, 11:45 AM   #2
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I find it doesn't take much material in the balaclava to keep me warm. Just covering my face and ears from the wind is all I need - but then again I only ride down to about 15 degrees or so. I have a relatively thin one made by Outdoor Research that serves me well. I've heard mixed things about the Smartwool one - the material is great but some people have said that they stretch out after a while and won't hold their shape.

Scott
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Old 01-05-10, 11:47 AM   #3
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I got a cheapie made by REI. It too is one of the thin ones, I don't like them real thick (makes it seem like I can't breathe), and for my needs it works, but NC is not nearly as cold as Boston, so my advice is possibly worthless.
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Old 01-05-10, 11:57 AM   #4
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http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/prod...?p=28713-0-155

That is what I use, and when it is really cold, I have a smart wool skull cap that I wear under it.
I can put my helmet on over it.
D
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Old 01-05-10, 12:11 PM   #5
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I use an Under Armor cold gear hood. It works for me down to about -10F I haven't had a chance to ride with it in anything colder.
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Old 01-05-10, 12:20 PM   #6
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I use a beanie and a neck gaiter combination. The particular ones I've got are champion brand synthetic from Target. I put the gaiter on first, covering over my ears to the middle of the back of my bald head. The beanie tilts forward, forming a slit just big enough for my eyes. Works great, but I haven't tested it below about 15 degrees.
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Old 01-05-10, 12:40 PM   #7
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http://www.heatfactory.com/english/p...hp?cat=4&id=33

I have on from when my brother used to work there and it is fantastic.
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Old 01-05-10, 03:13 PM   #8
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I second the UnderArmour recommendation. I have a few different balaclavas but this is the best one I've found because the bottom portion isn't really attached at the sides, making it much more comfortable to push down under your chin. Also, it's pretty much windproof and really thin.
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Old 01-05-10, 03:25 PM   #9
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I use an Oxford Chillout balaclava. It has to be worn inside out otherwise you get a checkerboard pattern on your face, and I need to cut a mouth hole. But it keeps you nice and warm and is windproof
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Old 01-05-10, 04:10 PM   #10
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Outdoor Research Sonic w/ Gore Windstopper under a vented helmet works well for me. Breath coming out the top requires goggles. I've thought about taking scissors to the mouth mesh. but haven't.
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Old 01-05-10, 04:19 PM   #11
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I'm using a cheap Neoprene Baklava because it holds less moisture. It worked fine today in 5f before windchill (you're on a bike, there's always wind)

http://www.rei.com/product/725712
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Old 01-05-10, 05:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by geetlord View Post
I use an Under Armor cold gear hood. It works for me down to about -10F I haven't had a chance to ride with it in anything colder.
Is that link the whole thing, or is that a hat and neck gaiter separate?
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Old 01-05-10, 05:53 PM   #13
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I just use some super thin polyester or fleece one from Nashbar. I find that you really don't need much material to keep your face warm. I normally wear a stocking hat over the balaclava, but everything stays nice and warm (it's gotten down to -20 or so this year).
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Old 01-05-10, 06:12 PM   #14
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I use these from Sierra Trading Post. They're chearp, thin so you don't overheat. I have both the midweight and the expedition for colder stuff.
http://www.sierratradingpost.com/sea...criptions=True
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Old 01-05-10, 06:18 PM   #15
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I've used a North Face similar to this one http://www.backcountry.com/outdoorge.../TNF1224M.html without the bill. I bought it in Argentina years ago for about $10. It hasn't gotten that cold here as of late so I haven't had to use it. I also wrap a cheap Morrocan scarf to go around my face and head.
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Old 01-05-10, 06:21 PM   #16
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Just about anything made of polypropylene works well.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:43 PM   #17
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I bought the cheapest one they had at Performance a couple of years ago. Even in that, I find I get too hot pretty quickly and have to pull it off of my face. Pretty much anything works.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:47 PM   #18
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I wear a thin balaclava with a $12 Target thin fleece balaclava over it. Works well.
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Old 01-05-10, 08:10 PM   #19
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Balaclavas and hats from Foxwear in a couple of different weights to help with differing weather conditions. And they are all thin enough to fit under my helmet.
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Old 01-05-10, 08:19 PM   #20
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I am currently using a thin and inexpensive Chaos balaclava that works perfectly fine. I actually have two balaclavas from Chaos. One that covers the nose and mouth but that one I do not like (gets soggy). The other one does not cover as much and that one is great. I rode in -22 F yesterday (-30 C) and my noggin was nice and warm.
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Old 01-05-10, 08:50 PM   #21
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You're gonna love this. Also has unlaminated panels over the ears for better hearing. As long as you're not bald it is quite warm.
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Old 01-06-10, 12:22 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Is that link the whole thing, or is that a hat and neck gaiter separate?
its the whole thing not separate components
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Old 01-06-10, 12:35 PM   #23
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its the whole thing not separate components
Thanks, I really like that (and most of the Under Armor stuff) One on order!
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Old 01-06-10, 12:47 PM   #24
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I wear a very thin Polypropylene balaclava (purchased many years ago), and a very, very, thin Mountain Hardwear fleece beanie over that (just barely covers the tops of my ears). I'm good down to around 10-15F here in Boston with that setup under my helmet, though I might add a thick, loose-fitting nylon-y neck gator below 15F. Below 10F I trade the thin fleece MH beanie for an REI Softshell beanie that curves down to cover my ears and neck, but still withthe polypro balaclava underneath.

I usually leave my whole nose and mouth uncovered, but if it's really, really, cold, I'll pull up the neck gator, dropping it back down at stop lights so my glasses don't fog. I bought one of those neoprene nose and mouth covers, but it cuts off too much air and makes glasses fog miserably, so I haven't gotten any good biking use out of that piece.
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Old 01-06-10, 12:51 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by rawhite1969 View Post
Balaclavas and hats from Foxwear in a couple of different weights to help with differing weather conditions. And they are all thin enough to fit under my helmet.
Lou at FoxWear makes top notch stuff to order. His quality and prices can't be beat, and he'll make you exactly what you want. A balaclava costs $11, and shipping is whatever it actually costs, which is a few bucks. Call him up and tell him what you need and he'll make what's right for you.

Oh, they keep you damn warm too.

http://www.foxwear.net/products_small_articles.html
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