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  1. #1
    The Thing Itself
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    Head/Ear Warmth Product Recommendations

    Hey all,

    I've been cycling to and from work as the temperature has been dropping. It's been one or two degrees above freezing (discounting windchill) at commute times for the past couple of days, and I expect it to drop further as the winter progresses.

    I don't really have any sort of winter-specific headwear. I've actually been using my Headsweats CoolMax Shorty skullcap, which actually does a pretty darn good job of keeping my otherwise overly-vented head at a comfortable, if not a little cool, temperature. There are two issues, though. First, I know that it won't be enough to keep me in the comfort zone when the temperature drops another, say, 10 degrees. Second, even at the current temperatures, my ears are uncomfortably cold.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for head and/or ear warmth, given my above description? I'd like to have one piece of apparel instead of separate ones for ear and head. Face and neck need not be a consideration. Also, given that I'm comfortable at freezing with what's one of the lightest materials there is, I really don't think that I'd need anything that insulative to get down into the 20s or teens, which is good, as I'd like to have an under-helmet solution. My guess is that windstopping power is more important than insulation.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    David

  2. #2
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Mountain Hardwear used to make Gore Next2Skin Windstopper skullcaps which work admirably well as a helmet liner.
    If they have stopped making them, another outdoor gear manufacturer should have them, maybe a running/xc skiing company.

    a fleece Gore Windstopper touque with earflaps is my recommendation as temperatures continue to plummet.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  3. #3
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    I use a polarfleece skull cap pulled down over my ears and also a cover over the outside of my helmet.

    It does not perfectly protect my ears that way, but the dead space between the skull cap and helmet cover do wonders for me to keep moisture from building too much.

    I am pretty comfortable this way down to about 10 degrees F.

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  4. #4
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Dick's Sporting Goods has a Neofleece Balaclava on sale right now. Color choices are limited to Blaze Orange, but is $12.99, and quite warm. They also fit nicely under the helmet.

    http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/pr...ctId=1835535#1

    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    I bought a Turtle Fur beenie cap at the local ski/cycling show. This has a thin wind blocking material for the main part of the hat. The lower edge that goes against the forehead and over the ears is a thicker furrier material that nicely keeps those parts warm. The thiner to means that this easily fits under my helmet, and the ticker parts are exactly where you need it.

    Happy riding,
    André

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I have a very thin balaclava, and I think you can get something like that from MEC, but most of the time I use a headband and a neck gaiter which I get from the local Dollar store (I have several ... $1 each).

    On bitterly cold days I use them in combination with my balaclava.

    .
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  7. #7
    re-newbie Zdad's Avatar
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    WinterSilks Silk balaclava: breathes, fits under helmet, non-absorbant, another variation for colder days by itself, covers ears and face, warms air when mouth breathing.

    Breathable, waterproof J&G Cycle wear helmet cover for warmer times, blocks wind.

    Both for coldest times.

    JC Penny 4 in 1 hood REALLY WARM, haven't tried it for fit under a helmet, it's definitely thicker than the silk balaclava.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by resipsa View Post
    Hey all,

    I've been cycling to and from work as the temperature has been dropping. It's been one or two degrees above freezing (discounting windchill) at commute times for the past couple of days, and I expect it to drop further as the winter progresses.

    I don't really have any sort of winter-specific headwear. I've actually been using my Headsweats CoolMax Shorty skullcap, which actually does a pretty darn good job of keeping my otherwise overly-vented head at a comfortable, if not a little cool, temperature. There are two issues, though. First, I know that it won't be enough to keep me in the comfort zone when the temperature drops another, say, 10 degrees. Second, even at the current temperatures, my ears are uncomfortably cold.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for head and/or ear warmth, given my above description? I'd like to have one piece of apparel instead of separate ones for ear and head. Face and neck need not be a consideration. Also, given that I'm comfortable at freezing with what's one of the lightest materials there is, I really don't think that I'd need anything that insulative to get down into the 20s or teens, which is good, as I'd like to have an under-helmet solution. My guess is that windstopping power is more important than insulation.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    David
    Ya, if you add a helmet cover over your helmet combined with the skull cap you can be pretty warm down to 20F or so. These helmet covers are around 10-12 bucks. They let your head breath but block about 90 percent of the wind. Check at Nashbar and Performance websites. I would go with that route first and then if it drops even colder get a thin balaclava or a neck gaitor or both. A fleece balaclava under a helmet with a cover is really warm. Almost too warm for most situations but is a lifesaver when it's really cold if you can get your helmet on over that thicker type of headwear. The thin balaclava worn under the helmet works pretty well and is easier to get to work with a helmet.

    The neck gaitor that Machka discribes is a really good solution as it keeps your neck really warm. This is important for keeping your head warm since the big arteries in your neck are close to the surface. And it will keep the back of the neck warm.
    Last edited by Hezz; 10-31-08 at 05:28 PM.

  9. #9
    kkp
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    Use your skullcap , but add a 'buff' which can add additional warm - it
    can be worn in the shape of a balaclava so that it covers your ears.

    Best thing about it is the price - about 10 english pounds - it maybe cheaper
    where you are.

    You can even buy 2 and use them both for extra extra warmth. I find that
    a single buff is enough for temperatures down to freezing.

  10. #10
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    I own a Louis Garneau thin fleece balaclava that really works well under a helmet. When it gets below 25F or windy, I add a wool or fleece scarf tied at the back of my neck and covering my face. I also have some fancy neoprene cold-stopping biking-specific face cover, but it doesn't work as well as a good scarf which you can pull up just as Machka does in the photo.

    The Garneau balaclava is one of my favorite and is so comfortable that I usually take it camping or anywhere where I might be even remotely cold. It's become my security blanket.

  11. #11
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    What I find works really well is a Snowboard helmet + Snowboard goggles + thin balaclava.



    This is what I am wearing in that picture:
    ~Helmet by RED, Trace
    ~Goggles by Oakley
    ~Balaclava by Airhole

    What is great is the helmet has built in ear protection that does a very good job of keeping my ears warm. That plus the balaclava and your good to go!


  12. #12
    What, me hurry? Boston Commuter's Avatar
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    Earmuffs work great with bicycle helmets. Add a helmet cover to keep the wind out of your vents and you're good above 25 F or so.

    Colder than that -- I'm experimenting (and reading tips on this forum!)

  13. #13
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    Icebreaker or Ibex thin wool toque.
    I think wool is the best and breaths and is way comfy and thin and will cover both your ears and head

    http://www.ibexwear.com/shop/Product...oduct=Meru-Hat

    Icebreaker is considered by many to have the best merino wool products, though out of my price range:

    http://www.ibexwear.com/shop/Product...oduct=Meru-Hat

    Smartwool doesn't seem to be making any thin wool beanies.........

    I have Ibex woolen hats (three weights) and basically wear them ( I am bald) almost year round:

    http://www.pearlizumi.com/shop.php?p...&mode=products

    LOVE em

    Good luck

    The other company which makes good stuff is Pearl Izumi-their microsensor line-and they have a balaclava that you can fold up as a hat or down to protect your face. I prefer wool.

  14. #14
    tsl
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    I have a couple of winter-weight cycling skullcaps from Sweatvac. They cover my ears nicely. (See my avatar <--- )

    When it's really cold, say under 10 or 15°F, I'll switch to a balaclava.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    When it got under -5 F in Denver I needed/used two balaclavas. That did not fit under the helmet so rode without the brain bucket. I had trouble with the cold/dry air and rigged a re-breather mask so my exhaled air would moisten and heat the intake air.
    This space open

  16. #16
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    I have to ask, with the balaclavas am I the only who has the problem of their breath freezing on the fabric and interfering with the exchange of used air vs fresh? After about 20 min, I have to rip mine off to breathe. And no. I'm not a claustrophobic or the like.

  17. #17
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    The balaclava I posted has a air hole on it so this doesn't happen...

    It was apparetly designed by a pro snowboarder who wanted to smoke and wear his balaclava at the same time so he cut a hole in his and the Airhole Balaclava was created. However if you don't smoke it does provide a nice little breathing hole so you don't feel like your grasping for air.

    http://www.airhole.ca/index_product.html

  18. #18
    Senior Member striegel's Avatar
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    My favorite face cover is the Seirus Combo Scarf, which can pretty well cover the lower half of my ears as well. Together with my helmet, that takes care of everything down to just below freezing. And it's nicely perforated in front of the mouth, so you can breathe freely through it but it still keeps you protected from the wind.


    When the temperatures stay below 25F consistently, I add the ear covers for the Bell Metro winter kit. They thread onto the helmet straps.

    I won't use the vent plugs in the top of the helmet until it drops below 15F.
    If something doesn't ache, I could be trying harder.

  19. #19
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=striegel;7787055]My favorite face cover is the Seirus Combo Scarf, which can pretty well cover the lower half of my ears as well. Together with my helmet, that takes care of everything down to just below freezing. And it's nicely perforated in front of the mouth, so you can breathe freely through it but it still keeps you protected from the wind.


    [QUOTE]
    I have one of those gizmos and found that they don't work too well with glasses... they quickly fog up... If the wind is directly in your face, for some reason, they don't fog up at all and then this scarf is OK. So you find yourself constantly pulling the thing on and off. That's why I prefer a woollen scarf unless the temperature reach something awful...

  20. #20
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by striegel View Post
    My favorite face cover is the Seirus Combo Scarf, which can pretty well cover the lower half of my ears as well. Together with my helmet, that takes care of everything down to just below freezing. And it's nicely perforated in front of the mouth, so you can breathe freely through it but it still keeps you protected from the wind.

    I have one of those gizmos and found that they don't work too well with glasses... they quickly fog up... If the wind is directly in your face, for some reason, they don't fog up at all and then this scarf is OK. So you find yourself constantly pulling the thing on and off. That's why I prefer a woollen scarf unless the temperature reach something awful...

    Although this thing might work for a heist...

  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aenlaasu View Post
    I have to ask, with the balaclavas am I the only who has the problem of their breath freezing on the fabric and interfering with the exchange of used air vs fresh? After about 20 min, I have to rip mine off to breathe. And no. I'm not a claustrophobic or the like.
    I don't cover my nose at all ... even in extremely cold temps. That reduces the frost build-up and helps keep your glasses clear.

    When I use a balaclava, I use the kind with the open face, and I tuck the bit that goes over the mouth under my chin so my mouth is free. Then I use a neck gaiter up over my mouth, but it sits out from my mouth a ways so I can breathe and not build up too much frost.

    And then on long rides in the cold, I come inside periodically and change my neck gaiter for a fresh, dry one.

  22. #22
    Senior Member GTALuigi's Avatar
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    i use this one
    http://www.gorebikewear.com/remote/S...1208436871979A

    extremely good
    no fog problem
    using either ski goggles or sun glasses depending on windchill severity
    Mu SL Gone in 10 sec!
    Matrix The perfect commuter bike for all terrain!

  23. #23
    Asymmetriad
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    It hasn't dropped much below freezing yet here so I haven't tried out my new balaclava, but I will say that big, closed-style headphones make GREAT earwarmers. As a bonus, they keep my baseball cap from blowing off, since I'm too cool/lazy/stupid to wear a helmet when I bike.

  24. #24
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    I use the cheap $9 Polartech balaclavas from MEC. They are very thin, so when it gets really cold [-20C or colder] I use two. One gets pulled up over my nose right to my eyes, and the other gets pulled down past my eyebrows. I put some Carmex on the bridge of my nose so I don't get frostbite [learned that one the hard way].
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  25. #25
    cyclepath daredevil's Avatar
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    Seems like a lot of discussion over a topic that for me has always been pretty simple. A common balaclava thin enough to fit under the helmet is all I've ever needed in the coldest of temps.

    Much of it depends how hard you are riding of course. If I'm riding at a crawling speed I probably ditch the helmet and bundle up with all I can find.
    Last edited by daredevil; 11-09-08 at 08:38 AM.
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