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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 01-11-07, 08:02 AM   #1
dekindy
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Have balaclava - should I have a helmet cover, too?

I have a Pearl Izumi microsensor balaclava that does a good job. I am wondering if I should have a helmet cover, too. I heard one rider comment recently that using both made his head too hot.

When is a helmet cover approriate? Even if I used one I would still think I would want to cover my ears with a headband. Is it better to wear the one-piece balaclava so that I do not have to worry about two pieces of clothing?

Does wearing them together provide any additional warmth? If so, below what temperature do you find this effective?
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Old 01-11-07, 08:38 AM   #2
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I typically don't cover my vents when using a balaclava. The heat generated makes the combo too uncomfortable and my hair is almost wet by the time I get to work (no showers). Of course there are lots of variables such as wind speed, level of exertion, bike speed, etc. Just carry a helmet cover along and use it when necessary. I don't use headbands during winter, so I can't offer advice there.

Here's my strategy...

25-45F = Beanie
-5-24F = Balaclava
< -5F = Balaclava + helmet cover

One piece of advice. If you have a longer ride/commute during very cold weather bring along an extra balaclava. I find the moisture build-up around my mouth can be uncomfortable at times, so it's nice to swap out for a dry one.
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Old 01-11-07, 08:44 AM   #3
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-27C and I haven't covered my helmet yet. However if I had a cover I might use it

I use a balaclava
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Old 01-11-07, 11:04 AM   #4
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I prefer a helmet cover to a beanie or balaclava. My head doesn't get as hot as it used to since I switched to just the helmet cover. Warm, but not hot.

However, now I'm looking at a lower face cover because I miss that part of the balaclava and I'm sick of my beard and moustache freezing. I'm thinking something like a tall, loose headband that will fit over my neck and I can pull it up to cover my lower face if I need it. If I don't, it can just stay there, keeping the wind from going down my neck!
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Old 01-11-07, 11:26 PM   #5
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I put my helmet cover on as soon as the temperature drops to about 5°C, or at any temperature if it is raining.

Then I wear one or a combination of:

-- a headband (alone if it is quite warm, with something else below if it is colder)
-- a neck gaiter (often with the headband)
-- a balaclava (sometimes with both the headband and neck gaiter, but often just with the headband)
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Old 01-11-07, 11:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halfstep
I'm thinking something like a tall, loose headband that will fit over my neck and I can pull it up to cover my lower face if I need it. If I don't, it can just stay there, keeping the wind from going down my neck!
What you are thinking of is a neck gaiter. I just picked up another one (and another headband) at the local dollar store tonight for $1 each.

See the photos below ...

The first is with the neck gaiter pulled up, and it can go right up over your nose if you want. The little black thing cinches it up so it stays in place. The other two are with it down at various levels.

.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg NeckGaiter_1.JPG (79.2 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg NeckGaiter_2.JPG (83.0 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg NeckGaiter_3.JPG (76.1 KB, 17 views)

Last edited by Machka; 01-12-07 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 01-12-07, 07:53 AM   #7
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I got a helmet cover when the my head hurt from cold just above my forehead at around 15F. The cover takes away the stinging wind, and creates a nice dead air space, but hasn't gotten too hot. I've left it on up to 50F without sweating too much. I'll wear a skull cap from 45F down to 25F, and a similar balaclava below 25F, but just over the chin and not my face. YMMV, but the cover works for me. Mine is a Sugoi.
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Old 01-12-07, 08:12 AM   #8
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I have strategically blocked a few of the vents in my helmet but left others open
no need for a hemet cover when wearing the 'clava unless it is raining, but if it is warm enough to rain I'm not typically wearing a clava (earband and skullcap instead)
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Old 01-12-07, 09:24 AM   #9
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Thanks, Machka! I should have thought of looking at a non-bicycle specific store. I get a lot of good bicycle applicable ideas at stores that don't sell anything remotely resembling "traditional" bicycle gear.
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Old 01-12-07, 09:55 AM   #10
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I don't use a helmet cover. I wear some combination of balaclavas and earbands depending on the temps.

40-32F. Lightweight Balaclava

32-20F. Lightweight Balaclava + Earband over ears.

20-10F. Add another earband. This one is worn backwards over the nose/mouth. This is the best thing i have found and it works perfectly. The inverted balaclava completely blocks the wind and cold but there is a gap formed by the protrusion of the nose that allows for easy breathing yet still the face is covered and protected from the cold.

Below 10 F: Two lightweight Balaclavas and both ear bands. One over nose/mouth and one over ears.

I have a couple other nice balaclavas. One is a Ninjaclava and it is very nice but when pulled over the mouth becomes wet, so it is largely impractical. I really don't use it. I also have a heavier weight balaclava that generally is just too hot. So i really don't use it either.

Lightweight and layers is the key with the head just as much as the rest of the body.



EAR BAND


BALACLAVA
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Old 01-12-07, 02:07 PM   #11
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I generally use a lighter weight Mountain Hardwear Balaclava that breathes better than most. It can cover my mouth but I rarely do that as there is no opening to breath through. With a helmet cover it's pretty good from ~25F to ~35F. Without the helmet cover, it's more like ~32F to ~42F. I also have a Windstopper Balaclava from Outdoor Research that's much warmer, too warm to wear above ~30F with or without the helmet cover. It covers the nose and mouth but has openings for both. I've never ridden in temperatures below 15F since too many other body parts are getting cold but at that point I'm beginning to get tempted to add the helmet cover.
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Old 01-12-07, 10:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halfstep
Thanks, Machka! I should have thought of looking at a non-bicycle specific store. I get a lot of good bicycle applicable ideas at stores that don't sell anything remotely resembling "traditional" bicycle gear.
I probably get half or more of my cycling gear (especially my winter cycling gear) from non-bicycle specific stores. It's usually much less expensive, but still just as good, if not better.
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Old 01-12-07, 10:23 PM   #13
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Helmet cover when it is cold with a hat, face mask, balaclava depending. I have different weights of all these items to mix and match for conditions.
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Old 01-13-07, 03:53 PM   #14
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Some air circulation is essential if you're already wearing an insulated helmet. With the bala and the winter helmet I have yet to have a cold head, even at -20 f. Other parts of me get cold, but not my head. It's loaded with blood and is just about the last thing to freeze up.
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Old 01-13-07, 04:05 PM   #15
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One of the pieces of warm weather wear that seems to work the best in a variety of conditions for me is my ballaclava. It's just a fleece ballaclava from MEC, cost me I think $12 or $18. Worth every penny, absolutely. And it seems to work well in -30'C as well as -5'C. So no, I wouldn't bother with the helmet cover.
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Old 01-13-07, 04:37 PM   #16
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I don't know if I am a freak or what but I would roast wearing what some of you guys wear!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Portis
Me, just regular helmet, nothing else on my head.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Portis
32-20F. Lightweight Balaclava + Earband over ears.
Me, maybe a very thin hat or possibly an earband. Then again maybe just a helmet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Portis
20-10F. Add another earband. This one is worn backwards over the nose/mouth. This is the best thing i have found and it works perfectly. The inverted balaclava completely blocks the wind and cold but there is a gap formed by the protrusion of the nose that allows for easy breathing yet still the face is covered and protected from the cold.
Me, hat or an earband. At the lower end of the range maybe some vaseline smeared on my face.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Portis
Below 10 F: Two lightweight Balaclavas and both ear bands. One over nose/mouth and one over ears.
Me, again hat or an earband and some vaseline smeared on my face. Maybe I would wear a helmet cover too if I had one. Too much colder than 10 F, I don't usually ride though, especially since it seldom gets that cold here.
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Old 01-13-07, 05:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
What you are thinking of is a neck gaiter. I just picked up another one (and another headband) at the local dollar store tonight for $1 each.
.
Damn. I got had! Mine cost me $3. *sighs*
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Old 01-13-07, 05:22 PM   #18
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Why are you putting vasoline on your face?
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Old 01-13-07, 05:50 PM   #19
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helps prevent frost bite, or at least keeps the skin from drying out
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Old 01-13-07, 06:08 PM   #20
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Yah but you never have to go out and buy more balaclava. And no one will make fun of you for having a balaclava in your bag on a long ride.
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Old 01-14-07, 02:02 AM   #21
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I have a skull cap under my helmet....

http://polaris.mancalalab.co.uk//cat...AT,-Black.html

But I must admit it does get a bit hot under there at time, even in cold weather... so I am thinking of one of these...

http://www.gbcycles.co.uk/eshop.asp?...01&wci=product

I have no idea if it is the better option, but Gore-Tex cannot be that far from the ballpark... maybe someone has used this? I am thinking of maybe a headband for my ears, and the cover on the helmet.
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Old 01-14-07, 09:02 AM   #22
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I don't have a helmet cover, but after my ride yesterday I may get one.

Another factor in whether to use a helmet cover (with or without balaclava) is how much hair you have. I myself am follicularly challenged, so on cold days I wear a helmet liner with a balaclava pulled up over it (the helmet topping everything off, of course). It was 23F during my ride yesterday and my head got chilled during the downhill bits. Where I live it doesn't rain much--just snow or sun, and that windchill factor can be a bear.
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Old 01-15-07, 11:10 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the replies! They were helpful. I just got new, modern prescription sports glasses that give me much more room under my helmet for a headband. With them and a thinner headband, a helmet cover and headband may be better for higher temps. I don't think I can go without some type of cover over my ears if it gets very cold.
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Old 01-15-07, 06:51 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmclaughlin807
Damn. I got had! Mine cost me $3. *sighs*

You've got to check out the dollar stores for cycling stuff ... they've often got heaps of it for practically nothing at all. Of course, to the untrained eye, the stuff they've got might not look like cycling stuff ..... I've picked up tons of winter-wear there including neck gaiters, headbands, gloves, and wool socks. I've got a whole bunch of cycle-touring stuff there like stuff sacks, pillows, waterproof holders for documents etc.. And some stuff for my randonneuring events. It's great!!
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Old 01-15-07, 07:40 PM   #25
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i know i mentioned it already in another thread, but i really love my fleece bandana (MEC). a similar concept to the neck gaitor (great photo description machka!) but with the velcro closure you can take it off or put it on quickly while still wearing a helmet.

personally i've never used a helmet cover, never felt it necessary. i have a beenie, a peaked hat or a balaclava to choose from. i find that my earings really conduct the cold, so covering my lobes is a good thing. i also really don't like when i get a draft down my neck.

there is no "should" to this layering stuff... it takes some trial and error. as long as you aren't risking severe frostbite/hypothermia then you'll be ok.
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