Monday, December 19, 2011

Scaring Away the Cold with a Balaclava

Ibex Balaclava
Of all the winter cycling accessories out there, none can match the formidable powers of the balaclava. I daresay few garments will make a "cycle chic" photographer withdraw his camera faster. And what other article of clothing is capable of striking fear into bank tellers? As universally unflattering as it is terrifying, the balaclava is not an item one would purchase casually. You've got to get to the point where you really, really need it. For me that point came one December morning. As I pedaled my roadbike against a brutal headwind with temperatures in the 30s, I felt ready to give the dreaded balaclava a try. The one you see here is from Ibex, sent to me for review. 

Broadly speaking, a balaclava is a garment that covers the entire head and neck in order to protect the wearer from the cold, exposing only small parts of the face. The Ibex balaclava has an opening for the eyes and nose, but covers the mouth completely. It is form-fitting, closely hugging the contours of the back of the skull, browbone and cheekbones. It is made in the USA of soft and lightweight merino wool (18.5 micron) with flat seams, one size fits all.

Ibex Balaclava
My interest in a balaclava is specific to roadcycling. Going at speeds of over 20mph in a leaned-forward position, my face takes the brunt of the harsh winter wind and this can feel extremely uncomfortable. The close fit of the Ibex balaclava is an advantage here: the opening is so tight that it feels almost elasticised; wind does not enter through it while cycling at high speeds. The thin fabric and close fit also make it comfortable to wear under a road helmet when I don one for organised rides: There is no bunching up or slippage. I would say that Ibex's take on the balaclava is designed for athletic activities, such as skiing and winter cycling, rather than for casual wear. Everything stays in its place, and the technical merino fabric forms a tightly woven layer of protection against the wind that feels feather-light and pleasant against the skin.

Ibex Balaclava
The inevitable downside of such a precise and form-fitting design, is that there is no versatility in how this garment can be worn. While in some balaclavas the lower portion can be stretched down to expose the mouth or pulled up to cover everything but the eyes, this is not possible with the Ibex version. In order to expose my mouth, I have to stretch the opening forcefully and as soon as I let go my mouth is again covered. Likewise, covering the nose would not be possible. For me that is probably a good thing, because covering my nose with fabric in the past felt constricting and uncomfortable. Even having my mouth covered feels somewhat restrictive and will take some getting used to.

Like most balaclavas, this one is profoundly unflattering - particularly to a face like mine, that becomes all nose and eyebrows once the other features are hidden. So if you're going to rock this, you basically have to not give a straw about how you look for the time being. Also, consider that drivers will be seeing less of your facial features and hair, which, in theory, could interfere with them fully processing you as a real, vulnerable human.

I am not sure yet whether I will be keeping the Ibex balaclava. Current retail price is $30, and I consider that a good deal for a US-made 100% merino product. As a roadcycling-specific garment I think it works well, but the sensation of having my mouth covered might just be out of my comfort zone. Have you worn a balaclava for cycling in the winter? Your thoughts, experiences, and recommendations appreciated.

60 comments:

  1. great writing as always. i find balaclavas too warm for 20F and up. and indispensably perfect below that. it's very seldom that cold here in oregon. i have a sheer silk one i use at most twice a year.

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  2. I rock a polar fleece balaclava whenever the temp drops below about 35 degrees, even on my Raleigh. Hate, hate, hate being cold.

    I love my fleece one precisely because it doesn't cover my mouth tightly, but instead sits slightly away from it, creating a little pocket of warm air. The rest of the balaclava is adjustable, and can be tightened around my head and ears. As I'm often a mouth-breather from years of serious sinus deformities and other nasal issues, I can't just have my nose free of fabric. Nor can I wear wool, particularly near my face, as I'm allergic to just about all animal fibers (see nasal issues above: I'm allergic to EVERYTHING).

    This one is thick enough to require helmet adjustments, but if you have a dial in the back of your race helmet, it should be able to fit the balaclava and your head. My "racey" Giro helmet is so adjustable that it can be worn both by me and my lovely man, with just a quick dial up or down. My Nutcase helmet requires a pad-switch to use the balaclava, so I carry them in my car in the winter, just in case.

    I choose to think I look rather mysterious and sexy in my balaclava. I just compared myself to Isabella Adjani in Ishtar in a recent rideblog :). See here: http://rideblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/december-3-2011-ride-cold-weather-chillin/

    Not really a gorgeous French actress, but not bank-robber scary, either.

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  3. I might end up asking for one of these for Christmas! I usually wear a close-fitting toque-type-thing under my helmet, and have a cowl on my knitting needles! I'm not sure that the knit fabric will do enough to keep out the wind, so this looks like a good option.

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  4. I have a balaclava I've worn a few times in the past couple of unusually cold English winters. It isn't merino (unfortunately) nor is it quite as form fitting as your Ibex one, though that may be due to the shape of my head more than anything! I can cover my nose with it and in fact prefer to do so, since the big issue that drives me to don the balaclava in the first place is hate, hate, HATING cold air going into my sinuses. Unfortunately though pulling the fabric up over my nose pulls the upper edge of the garment slightly away from my cheeks, letting my breath escape upwards instead of out through the fabric as I think intended. So my spectacles steam up! Very annoying. Though not as unbearable as cold sinuses, so when it's cold enough, yes, I wear this.

    Thanks for this review, V. I'm very interested in this Ibex version, as I prefer merino over every other fibre. Probably won't be any better in the steamy-glasses department though, as I get that with my merino BUFF(TM) too.

    Rebecca

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  5. Ninja!!!

    I have a polypro neck tube that you can put up around your face, over your head, or just around your neck. It isn't tight around the nose and mouth and it's just right. My family loves it as well and there are playful fights over it often. Youngest son loves to play ninja with it while playing Mortal Kombat. :)

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  6. I own a couple different balaclavas: one thin fleece, one merino. I find that having them covering my mouth is irritating, and they get quite wet from my breath. I use the merino one anyway it it's really cold (-5C or so) although I usually stretch it over my chin and use clear glasses to keep the fabric from covering my eyes. Otherwise I use a wool skullcap and a merino buff. I really like my merino buff, it's quite flexible.

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  7. Had I seen this post last year when I hung my bicycle (3 Speed 1930's Raleigh Roadster) up for the winter (rod brakes just don't cut it), I would have laughed this off. However, I have decided to use a mountainbike to maintain the winter commute and thus since shedding the retro chic I find I am more inclined to practicality - maybe vintage makes me snobbish. As the temperature really drops now here on the East coast of England I am seriously considering a balaclava myself. I have only two worries:

    1. Is it slighlty IRA chic?
    2. Will my breath dampen the cloth covering my mouth?

    I find when a scarf covers my mouth it gets damp and find this really irritating. Whats everybodies eles view on this in terms of the balaclava?

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  8. I used to wear a balaclava for jogging when it reach zero. Nowadays I see cyclists around here wearing them when it's in the 40s. Of course, we all have a different temperature tolerance. You might try a thin ear flap head covering with a turtle fur neck warmer combination. I don't wear balaclavas for cycling because when it gets in the 20s I can't possibly keep my feet warm anyway...

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  9. I agree with what rideblog wrote. It can be a problem with helmets. You're right you can only look like a dork with one on. I couldn't handle one over my mouth at all times. I like to be able to cover it from time to time, but I find frost build-up can be an issue when it gets really cold. Mine is fleece and cheap but works well. I'm not sure if 100% wool would allow enough stretch and rebound to cover and uncover your mouth quickly. I don't know for sure though.
    Peter

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  10. Correction. "One", not "You" can only look like a dork...
    Peter

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  11. I have two balaclavas that I wear below about 40F. Safety goggles help the eyes as well.

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  12. they need to make them compatible with glasses small slits in the sides its too uncomfortable for us poor sighted cyclists to wear one and they always make our lenses fog up

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  13. I will certainly be wearing mine today! Its 12 degrees here in Dover right now.

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  14. I haven't broken out the balaclava yet, but Saturday I wore a jersey with an extra-long turtle neck. On these wintry days, I find that my face feels very cold for the first 10 minutes or so, then I get used to it (or maybe just get numb...).

    I also wear a polartec cap under my helmet, and block the vents with gaffer's tape (leaves no residue, unlike duct tape). Easy to do on helmets with small vents like Nutcase or my Bern; not so easy on a helmet with full-length vents. I think blocking the vents makes a huge difference in one's perceived warmth, though.

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  15. A whole post on balaclavas and not one "Bike Ninja" joke?

    I have a Cannondale 'clava that I've been using in extreme cold for several years (YMMV for what constitutes "extreme") but find horribly uncomfortable at above-freezing temps.

    I also have a doohickey called a "Buff," which is a stretchy tube of fabric about the size and weight of a bandanna, which is a lot more versatile for chilly riding. You can wear it as a balaclava, a skullcap, headband or neck gaiter, and it's thin enough to fit under a helmet. They come in various colors and patterns,mine was a giveaway at a race, and is a Team Subaru/Gary Fisher design.

    They're not as heavy as the wool/polypropylene balaclavas I've seen, but I like mine.

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  16. Having come off my bike on the black ice this morning I doubt I will be cycling in balaclava weather :( My confidence and my bottom are bruised!

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  17. If I don't grow my winter coat (beard and mustache) a balaclava is pretty necessary starting somewhere around 25F. The beard's good down to at least 20F.

    The ones I've used in the past are from foxwear.net. Stretch polarfleece, you can pick from a variety of colors and thicknesses. In particular, thin enough that it's not a big issue with helmets (you need a little adjustment, not a lot). One problem for me is fogged glasses; I'd love to cover my nose, but then my glasses fog up the instant I stop moving.

    It's rather cold this morning, too. Might wear a beard AND a balaclava.

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  18. First - congrats on your mention in Bicycling Magazine!

    On to the balaclava - my view is that it is not supposed to be flattering. You are on a bike. In winter. People will not judge you on this.

    The problem for me is that I wear eyeglasses, and my balaclava will inevitably fog up my glasses after being on the bike for a while, so I have to pull it down completely over my nose to keep this from happening. In this respect, your balaclava seems very nice.

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  19. so there's no way that thing would fit over my hair. even if I put it in a pony tail. perhaps I would have to grow my hair a lot longer to put into two thick braids. but I still feel that would end up uncomfortable. Plus with a helmet on top as well......

    and the same with the eyeglasses issue. I usually have a scarf over my mouth and sometimes tuck my nose down in and then my glasses fog up. B/c I can lift head to get some air it isn't lasting. I guess I say- I am one for needed some variability. so a scarf works best... I think your eyes and nose are beautiful and your beauty shines through even wearing it. So there.

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  20. dr2chase said...
    "my winter coat (beard and mustache)..."


    Yeah. The Co-Habitant taunts me with his "all natural" wool balaclava!

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  21. If you are (or know) someone who knits, I'd recommend having them make you one -- the pattern for what's known as a "helmet liner" is available for free all over the Web, and you get to choose from a dizzying array of colors and fibers. They don't require much yarn, so it's an inexpensive alternative, even if you choose really nice wool.

    Here's a brief review of one my wife made for me.

    Jason Nunemaker
    http://cyclescribe.blogspot.com

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  22. I'm going to make a beard hat for my baclava! It will be nice to have something fun when its 0F (-20C) over here!

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  23. 30 degrees is a bit too warm for me to start wearing my balaclava. I don't like to get so warm that I sweat, and the balaclava also interferes with breathing through my mouth as I work my way up Western PA hills.
    I also find that wearing one means I have to wear my ski mask for eye protection. Regular classes get fogged up to easily. So it is something I avoid until I really need it.

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  24. I've been wearing a very similar-shaped balaclava for a few years now, by Pearl Izumi. I think I paid as much for it as the Ibex merino version! I would have prefered a wool version to the synthetic Izumi variant that I have, but I don't think there was one available at the time at that price point. That said, I don't mind the synthetic one I have. It's ultra-thin, allowing me to wear my helmet without any fit problems, and it does a fantastic job of blocking the wind. Like your Ibex, it forms a nice form-fitting seal around my head. I can stretch the lower opening below my chin if I need cooler air over my mouth, but usually if I'm wearing it it's because the air is too cold to breathe in directly. Also, when I'm riding, in cold weather, I'm breathing through my mouth because I have chronic nasal problems with cold air-- if I breathe cold air through my nose I get serious sinus pain which can last for hours after a ride.

    I also have a Pearl Izumi skull-cap, made from the same material as the balaclava, but for slightly warmer temps when I want my head and ears covered, but not my face or neck. I like that one too, and I wear it mostly in temps down to the 30s-low 40s, and switch to the balaclava once the temps drop below freezing.

    A couple of times last year when the temps fell close to 0F, I wore both-- the skull cap on top of the balaclava. I still had room to fit my helmet, and my ears stayed toasty!

    Does the wool balaclava alter the way you hear? I find that with the synthetic material stretched over my ears, sounds are kind of muddled when I'm riding, making it difficult to have conversations with other riders. I don't know if it's specific to the synthetic material or just a side effect of having something--anything--over my ear. It only happens at speed, with wind blowing past my ears, not when I'm walking.

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  25. Jason - I knit and could easily make a balaclava type garment. However, for my purposes I find a handknit balaclava insufficient, because it is impossible to make the weave dense and thin enough by hand; it basically needs to be jersey weight.

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  26. I have tried balaclavas for skiing, and they always drive me nuts- they get too hot, or they get wet and icy, or they migrate to try to cover my eyes. I've had better luck with a hat and a turtle-fur (very fine fleece) neck gaiter, which I can pull up over my face in the wind, but pull down or off quickly if I overheat.
    When biking for transport, a scarf plus ear covers remains the most adaptable face covering for me.
    @ Steve A - you wear one at 40F?!? Really???? yikes!

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  27. somervillain - I too was surprised by how reasonably priced the wool balaclavas, hats, gloves and neckwarmers are by Ibex, Icebreaker and Smartwool. So much variety in the $20-30 range, even at the local Harvard Sq EMS.

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  28. With the right make-up, the balaclava can be quite exotically attractive...here is a photo of my wife modeling the jersey I made with integrated balaclava:

    http://bicyclefixation.com/images/jersey/4sh_05.jpg

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  29. I use an Under Armour that will pull up to the bottom of my bottom lip. Other than my nose getting cold right out of the house I feel it works well and is made to work with a helmet. I could not wear one that covered my mouth. I actually like riding with it on as it also dampens wind noise that would otherwise be caught my my generous ears.

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  30. Hey, that's beautiful. Clearly I've got to start wearing makeup on my roadbike!

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  31. I use a Gore Windstopper Balaclava once it gets in the 20's. What I like about it is the holes over my mouth that make breathing easier. It also has a opening for my nose, so it doesn't feel as restrictive as a solid balaclava. It really works well.

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  32. doesn't condensation from breathing through it become a problem. I've never worn one but a scarf across my mouth on a cold day always seems to end up wet, and eventually if it is cold enough, frozen

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  33. doesn't condensation from breathing through it become a problem.

    This happens with my balaclava if I'm covering my mouth with it. Sometimes I alternate pulling the mouthpiece below my chin and keeping my mouth covered, and that seems to keep the wetness down a little.

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  34. I wear one virtually every day from early December through late March, with a Bern ski helmet and ski goggles over it. It covers considerably more than that Ibex one; most of the time, I can't have any exposed skin. The goggles overlap it and hold it down both above and below my eyes, and have to seal tightly on the bottom to keep the moist air that I exhale from getting on the inside surface of the goggles. The area in front of my mouth becomes quite moist from condensation, but that actually helps to keep the air that I breathe through the fabric warm. It does freeze on the days when it's warm enough that I pull it down to my chin to leave my mouth and nose exposed, but it doesn't take long in a warm place for it to melt and dry.

    It would be pretty uncomfortable to wear all that on a "road" bike, because that helmet is quite heavy for a leaned-forward position.

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  35. I'm a fan of the Outdoor Research Option balaclava. It's thin and stretchy and you can adjust it to cover your mouth, nose, or neither. Their website claims you can also wear it as a hat and as a neck warmer, but the former doesn't really work well and the latter isn't possible with a head as big as mine. If it's above -5°C/25°F is usually go with a skull cap and polyester neck tube. Depending on how high you pull the neck tube, this makes something pretty close to a balaclava.

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  36. Back in the 1960.s The U.S. Military supplied us with a cold weather face mask and neck covering. The mask was double layered wool (a bit scratchy.) The face was covered with openings for the eyes, nostrils and mouth. This mask was very effective without covering functioning facial parts. It was held in place with elastic straps so a hat or helmet could be used (perfect for cycling.)

    I still use one for winter outings in the mountains of Western Washington, haven't needed it in the low lands for cycling yet.

    Lew

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  37. With my balaclava, the part that covers the mouth is a separate piece from the part that covers the head. They have different "controls" in that they have different pieces of cord one can use to tighten them. I tighten the one around my face, and loosen the one around my mouth. This means the one around my mouth stands out away from my lips.

    The benefits of this are:
    1. when I'm riding, my warm breath heats up the little pocket of air around my mouth, but fresh air slips in and keeps me from feeling like I'm going to smother.
    2. If I stop, it gets really warm, so that's nice when I'm taking photos.
    3. Though the fleece gets wet from my breath, it doesn't touch my skin, so that doesn't matter.

    See this: http://rideblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/12032011ride_4.jpg
    Even in the photo, you can see that it's wet, but not touching. Would this work for road biking at 30 mph? I have no idea, but it's perfect for riding my Raleigh.

    It have this one from REI, for $29:
    http://www.rei.com/product/725706/seirus-hoodz

    Very different from what V is using.

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  38. I also have a Buff (love it for camping and covering three-day unwashed hair), and a turtle-fur neck cowl, and a Pearl Izumi beanie. While all three are wonderful inventions, I prefer the Hoodie/Balaclava over all other options when it's really cold.

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  39. I like Ibex stuff, very high quality. Tailoring for bike-specific needs leaves something to be desired.

    I'd cut a hole for the mouth, button hole reinforce it.

    Maybe a little button flap too, Hannibal Lecter-style.

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  40. A good quality balaclava, helmet & ski type goggles will save your face from most of winters wind.

    There is also the full face shield to consider but they distort your vision at the edges really bad..

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  41. I got this balaclava a few weeks ago. It seems to work pretty well, except for two things: my glasses fog up when I stop, and the earpieces for the glasses push the fleece away from my face and let cold air in, which makes my ears cold. Would wearing low-profile earmuffs under the balaclava be the best way to keep my ears warm?

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  42. Ah the balaclava. I may have tried one during one of many brutal prairie winters... but the snot! If you get snuffly while riding, and you know you do, I can only let you use your imagination there.
    I recently met a woman with extrema asthma and had something to cover her mouth while out in the cold. We were taking a water taxi and she was worried(but it had a warm cab so all was well). She had this muffler type thing that went around her neck so was a cozy neck warmer but had a special thing for the mouth that acted as a filter for cold air, pollution, pollen etc.. It could cover the nose as needed. She said she bought it online from an asthma site. It would definitely work as a filter for urban cycling which I am seeing more and more. Only problem with scarves and stuff covering my nose is that my glasses fog up. But I hate things tight around my neck and face, so a balaclava that is tight like the ibex seems to be would not work.

    I do have 2 icebreaker hoodies. The hoods are like balaclavas when zipped all the way up. I had no idea(got them 2nd hand) the hoods were like that and was expecting a nice loose hood. The good thing is I can either zip all the way up and look like I am in a full wetsuit (I was in the city recently and muslim ladies wearing Hijaabs were gawking at me with unmistakable shopping envy!), or zip down to my mouth, neck and lower as needed.

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  43. Below 20 degrees F, I'll wear the merino balaclava from Rivendell. Mine's blue, so that keeps the ninja factor lower, especially when going to the bank!

    I wear glasses, so I also use those 180s low-profile earmuffs over the balaclava. Yeah, there's some moisture buildup over the mouth area, and I stop occasionally to blow my nose. But overall, being warmer is worth it to me.

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  44. I just got back from a ride sporting my turtleclava,, which has a nice thick, but comfy neck. I also wore a knit hat OVER my helmet. I was toasty and warm, and looked like hell, but I didn't care. This is my first time riding in winter, and I had a blast.

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  45. I use them when it's below freezing. It works better than any of the other things I've tried for cycling but I really hate it when the inevitable condensation makes the area around my nose all wet and drippy. I know what Heather is talking about when she mentions the snot all too well. The asthma breathing tube/duct thingie she mentioned might be worth looking into...

    A scarf seems to be the best solution in almost every other case but on the bike they seem to defy good order and reason.

    I'm actually surprised no one has a full-face cycling helmet for sale. I've seen some photo's of Arctic pilots in Russia that were wearing some sort of lightweight helmet that appeared to be a skiing/sports helmet. Lot's of small adjustable vents and a big shield with a gaiter around the neck. And while everyone's breath was steaming, the shield's were clear. It definitely didn't look like aviation stuff, I immediately thought it looked ideal for winter cycling but wasn't able to find out anything. The guy that took the pictures thought they might be hockey helmets but I think that was only because he's from Arkansas and knows nothing about Hockey. If anyone knows what they might be I'd love to hear about it.

    Spindizzy

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  46. I recommend the Buff in merino wool. Highly versatile, it forms one of my staples of hiking and a versatile piece of gear for cycling. Amongst other things, it can be used as a scarf or bandana, as well as a balaclava.

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  47. I use a skiers face mask - it's a thin balaclava which has a full covering for the face, with a mesh over the mouth, and a sorta nose flap. I routinely leave the house when it's 15 degrees f; downhill at 35 - 40 mph without a face mask = frostbite. As it warms up, the face mask piece of the garment which is very stretchy (some sort of microfiber, very soft on the face) can be pushed down so the eye slit area can contain the whole of ones face. It also has a long collar so it terminates well inside the collar of whatever jacket I'm wearing. So the facemask + mittens + neoprene lined boots = complete warmth / no sweating. I've always found balaclavas TOO hot making, and I'm not much of a heat generator. The face mask ski option gives wind protection with less heat trapping.

    Incidentally - balaclava - we were invited to a friends house for what we heard as home made baclava, but in fact it was homemade baccala.

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  48. MelissatheRagamuffinDecember 19, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    I have an Ibex balaclava and I can pull it down to expose the bottom part of my face. I do it every time I walk into the 7-Eleven.

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  49. Melissa - Interesting! Either my head and face are much larger than yours, or you have a different model (from an earlier year?).

    rural 14 - I prefer baklava!

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  50. Velouria, I just tried on the Icebreaker Balaclava (on sale at EMS.com for $22.50, and the local EMS matched the online price-- I got one for Mrs. S) and it doesn't sit tight against my cheeks. I have a narrower, longer face, so that may be why. It should fit better on Mrs. S's head.

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  51. For very cold weather Russian ushanka hats. From historical experience the very politically incorrect variety creates an amazing bubble of warmed air in front of the face. The faux variety does a good job too.

    The downside is limited visibility. Some hats are wearable in moderate weather at moderate speeds, some are too darn hot.

    When it's so cold you have to take steps to ensure the blood supply to your brain does not chill, ushanka is the only way.

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  52. Re: the awesome cateye makeup with the balaclava, need to make sure you use waterproof eyeliner, or else when your eyes tear up from the cold it could be ugly...

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  53. This may be an unhelpful comment since my experience with balaclavas is limited to alpine skiing...but perhaps not. In both cases your face and cold wind and rushing into one another. I have tried a few different styles and the only one that I find pleasant to wear is a style that is basically a neck gaiter attached to a skullcap. This allows me to pull it up to my nose if I like, or keep it around my chin or just use it as a neck warmer...and if my heat is hot under the helmet (always wear a ski helmet) I can take that part off. The Ibex style I find too constricting and too inflexible as one cannot move it easily to speak or have a coffee. And frankly, given the hat hair situation that ensues, who wants to take it off for a break anyway?

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  54. I'm also a fan of the Buff, but at some point, such as cold, damp wind (I've asthma) a balaclava works best for me. A Giordana Gore Windstopper balaclave keeps cold at bay, but on longish climbs I get moisture buildup which becomes problematic. I use merino wool tops and socks and it does indeed breathe better than nearly any other fabric. Maybe I'll give the Smartwool balaclava a try and compare to V's experience with the Ibex.

    By the way, to reduce glasses fog, use Cat Crap or similar product for ski and swim goggles. Have to re-apply every few days, but that beats fogging at every stop light.

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  55. It's a niche piece of kit, as you implied, you'll buy one when you "really really need it". I was given one by friend after he witnessed my flushed face and running nose after stepping out of the cold into a warm super market. It's in precisely those situations a balaclava is appreciated; when I don't want to look flushed and fluish after coming in from the cold, such as making an entrance at a party.

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  56. I've been hankering for the wool Buff and that Ibex piece you're modeling! It's great to see it on a woman. Thanks to everyone for the reviews and suggestions!

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  57. I have the smartwool one. I usually have it pulled down just covering my chin. As for fashion, I'm already out there riding in skin tight clothes and a mushroom on my head. Why not a balaclava to hide my shame?

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  58. I have a wool buff, too, and love it. You can twist in teh middle and double it over and wear it as a hat, pull it down around your neck or wear it like a baclava over the mouth or not. It's really versatile and thin so it fits under a helmet with no problem.

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  59. When I go skiing it is 30-40 degrees, should I wear a balaclava or gaiter???

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