Ultimate weather protection.
Blowing sleet won't keep you inside when you have the Castelli WS Balaclava.
- Stretchy face lets you cover your mouth, nose, or under chin, depending on conditions
- WindStopper X-Lite plus front panels provides wind protection
- Fleece panels wick moisture and retain warmth
- Item #CST0683
- Q & A
I. Can't. Breathe!
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
- Fit: True to size
Maybe it's the shape of my face (high cheekbones, small nose), but if I cover my nose with this I can't get any air (it's like having a plastic bag up against my face.) Sure it's windproof, but also airtight. It doesn't get too cold in the San Francisco bay area (rarely below freezing), but having to ride with my nose and mouth uncovered kinda defeats the purpose in my estimation. I have an Assos balaclava that works better for breathing (but isn't windproof), and one from Capo which is great except that it is fragile as hell, and one from Gore, which is windproof and easy to breathe through -- and mostly worn out. Of the three I recommend the Gore.
I had to stop using this one after two rides. Not recommended for people with button noses. Your mileage may vary.
When its really cold outside
Gearing up for deep winter riding is kinda tricky; balaclavas included. There are basically two kinds: Light ones and heavy ones.
Light ones (like my favorite Matrix 2.0 by LG) are -very- useful for riding on dark, cloudy days in temps in the 40s and even the low 50s (esp during long fast descents). With these lightweight B/Cs, I wear them with the bottom just covering my chin so I can breathe fully through my mouth while riding at full tempo. This facilitates breathing of course but also drinking water and the need to spit (reality, esp in the winter).
Heavier ones, like this one, are very useful for riding in sub-40/45° weather. But at this point, the material is so thick you can't breathe through it. And if you drop it down below your mouth, your nose freezes. It presents a dilemma for those of us who train through the Winter.
Solution? In sub-40° weather, you could: (1) Use a WS barrier cap plus a cycling mask (e.g., Castelli Viso). But for some people cycling masks tend to shift or slip down (when you turn your head). (2) Use Gore's universal balaclava with mouth holes (see review). Or (3), for hard riding in super cold weather use this excellent WS balaclava by Castelli pulled below your mouth - combined with- a wool buff (neck gaiter). I recommend ones by Smartwool or Rapha. Pull the buff up over your nose. That way your nose stays protected also. When climbing, pull the buff down (Alberto Contador does this). When descending, pull the buff up. It is possible to breathe through wool (nearly impossible through WS material). Also, this way you can drink from your water bottle (still important in cold weather!).
Prepare and dress right = ride with pleasure in the Winter.
That this is too windproof is to the credit of Castelli as this greatly helps here in the Windy City. You can always pull the mouth cover down to breath easily through your mouth. This is great for when the temps drop below 32 and the wind kicks up. Now all I need to find is a decent pair of gloves. Anybody know of a pair?
I cannot breath though it when my mouth or nose is covered, like I can with my PI balaclava. Because no air can pass thorough when I exhale the warm air vents out the sides and onto my sun glasses, which of course steams them up.
The neck cover is a nice touch, and it is warm -- and if you wear it with a light bandana you can breath though, you can keep warm.
Apparently this is a problem with any super warm balaclava - I was just looking for a bit more ear warmth.