Wool. Is. Good. Remember it.
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Share your thoughts
Ninja Starter Kit
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
- Fit: True to size
If anything, this thing can double as your next Halloween costume/ninja starter kit (you'll have to buy the nunchucks somewhere else ).
Anyway - this thing is thin yet warm. It will fit under your helmet without taking up much room at all.
easily the piece of clothing that I use the most
By far the best out there!
Just wanted to add a huge advantage this balaclava has over the competition.
This balaclava is extremely soft! Its not at all itchy as some who are not familiar with this type of wool. This is a huge plus for men (or some ladies) if you have not shaved in quite a few days. It does not snag and pull on your whiskers. Throw it in the wash and it keeps its shape. Money well spent and would recommend to anyone who asked!
Feels great. Fits well. Very transportable. I carried it in the pocket of my pants when not in use. When needed, it is versatile--it can cover:
1. Just your neck
2. Neck ,top of head, sides of face
3. All of above and chin
4. All of above and mouth
5. All of above and nose
Making a quick transition between the areas of your face that are covered is essential when trekking in very cold temperatures, as your perceived temperature changes every minute depending on whether you are walking/climbing/resting and on whether the sun is blocked out by clouds, ridges/cliffs, etc. Transitions are fast with this balaclava. And the wool feels great. This is a thing balaclava, but I never felt that the warmth provided was not enough. Served me well on Mount Kilimanjaro, and likely will on many more trips.
It's Merino. Nuff said
- Gender: Male
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
If you haven't been acquainted with the magical material known as merino wool, you need to get your sh*t together. For those who aren't familiar, it has an incredible warmth to weight ratio, dries quickly, is naturally antimicrobial, and you can wear it for days, sweating like a sumo wrestler, and the stuff miraculously doesn't smell. All my base layers are pure merino wool, and I will never change materials. As far as this balaclava, it lives up to it's merino reputation. Thin enough that your head doesnt sweat, but still perfectly warm. And also thin enough that when the mask is in front of your mouth, you can breathe naturally through it without your breath being forced up into your goggles and fogging them up (my pet peeve for face masks). So if you're looking for a solid mask made of the best layering material on planet earth.... look no further.
Good merino balaclava
This balaclava is great. Fits my big head. Neck length is generous (most balaclava are too short in the neck for me). Well-designed and versatile -- I can wear it normally, or can cover everything but the eyes, or if I get too warm can pull it down and wear it like a neck gaiter. Comfortable and warm without bulk, as the merino is thin and dense. The only annoying thing is the big tag inside the neck part. For my hikes in the New Hampshire winter woods, it's warm down to maybe 15 F. For lower temps, I wear an additional hat and neck gaiter over the balaclava (same brand). I've had this almost a year, washed it a couple times, and it's held up fine. Fashion-wise, you will look like a scuba diver or a ninja. My husband laughs at me when I wear it :-)
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
This weight of merino seems to work really well for 20 (+ -) degree days if you are moving around some. I don't like how moisture builds up if you cover your mouth with it however.
Warm and Comfy
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
It does exactly what a balaclava should do. The smart wool is great; it keeps my face warm on those really cold days. I only give it four stars because its a little big for my head and will sometimes get off-centered.
- Gender: Male
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
soft, not itchy, and comfortable. thin enough to wear under a helmet, like another reviewer mentioned, and thick enough to keep your neck and face warm while getting those early morning fresh tracks.
Does not itch. Thin but quite warm for frosty morning hikes. Best used to keep the neck and face warm. Doesn't function as well as a beanie but I still love it.
lightweight and still warm
SmartWool products always make me smile. This item is very light weight. Warm enough for how light it is. I can't give it four stars because the opening on the front of the mask just doesn't stretch much. I'd like it a bit tighter. I suppose that is the trade off for not buying a synthetic balaclava.
Makes you ready for the worst
Sufficiently thin that it fits nicely under a ski helmet. But warm enough that you can get through pretty much the worst cold out there. It has enough malleability that you move it up or down over your nose + mouth when it's really bad out, but it doesn't hang limply if you pull it down to your chin. Smartwool makes the best balaclavas & neck gaiters. A really great choice.
I have a big head and get concerned about...
I have a big head and get concerned about "One size fits all". Does this run big?
The material is very stretchy, you should be ok. I have a XL helmet size and this fits fine underneith. ,
One size fits all does NOT fit all. I'm...
One size fits all does NOT fit all. I'm an adult male but my bald head leaves a lot of extra room. Is there a way to do a "controlled shrink" on this product?
I don't know about "controlled", but they will shrink a bit when washed in hot water and dried at full heat in you dryer.
This this is so light and thin, but ridiculously warm. Even after 5 hours of skiing, when the outside is frozen over from breathing, it is STILL warm. I couldn't find it today and wore a synthetic fleece balaclava instead, it was awful. I'm buying more of these things when they come in.
I LOVE this balaclava! It's thin, but it's warm and more wind resistant than I thought it would be. I have been wearing this on the bike trail on below zero windchill days and it keeps my face warm. I wear a MH windstopper hat on top and my ears stay nice and toasty. Like other reviewers have mentioned, I love that I can pull it down and uncover my entire face or use it as a neck gaitor. I like to periodically uncover my face and some of the other brands are thicker and too tight to be comfortable when I pull it down under my chin. I do get some fogging on my sunglasses, but not as much as with the synthetic balaclavas. I would buy more of these if they were in stock. Highly recommend.
SmartWool Sock vs Balaclava comparison
Men's size Large SmartWool PhD crew socks on the left (71 grams), SmartWool Balaclava on the right (50 grams).
I'm considering this for backpacking but...
I'm considering this for backpacking but weight is an issue. Would someone please weigh theirs and give me the ounces or grams it weighs? Thanks.
Wool for the win
I have three different thin balaclavas, and this is probably my favorite. I typically wear them for winter bike commuting, but they all pull double duty on the trail. One is a stretchy standard polyester Mountain Hardware Power Stretch and the second is an Outdoor Research Sonic with mesh over the mouth and a nose hood. The Smartwool is easily the most comfortable of the three; it's stretchy enough to fit, but doesn't smoosh my nose like the MH. It also breaths a lot better than the MH, which is most noticeable when your glasses or goggles are fogging up. The OR keeps eyewear from fogging up the best, but at the expense of cold lips and being somewhat uncomfortable because of it's design. The Smartwool is also flexible enough to be worn with my face completely uncovered. The MH being less breathable and polyester also starts to smell after just a couple uses around the face, the Smartwool does not. I think it's so breathable and comfortable because it is the thinnest, but it doesn't sacrifice any warmth, because surprisingly it's easily as warm as the other two, even with the wind of riding. For scale, I typically wore this (and the other two) between 35F and 5F actual temp, swapping to something much thicker below 0F.
The one negative is that the Smartwool, by virtue of the fabric, doesn't rebound from being stretched as well as a synthetic fabric. After a couple uses the face area below the "hem" around the opening can get slightly stretched out, especially if I'm pulling it down over my face a lot. A wash restores the shape.
Wore the balaclava on a bike ride, when it was only 40 F outside and with a cold breeze. Given how thin and light the material is, I figured that it would help a bit, but that my ears would still get very cold, especially on the downhills where we would be approaching 40 mph.
But, WOW, it worked really well. My ears were a bit cool to the touch at the end of the ride, but were nowhere near as cold as I expected. And during the ride, the wool was very soft and comfortable.