When the temps dip low and the wind picks up, you're going to want SmartWool's Balaclava to keep the wind and dry snow off of your face. A single layer of soft, warm Merino wool assembled with flatlock seam construction keeps your face warm and without abrading your skin.
Soft and snuggly, bare cheeks deserve SmartWool's superior temperature and moisture managing properties on those extremely cold days.
|Country of Origin:||China|
|Liner Material:||Merino Wool|
|Outer Material:||Merino Wool|
|Recommended Use:||cold weather wear, skiing, snowboarding, climbing|
|Type:||Balaclava & Facemask|
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.
This balaclava is great. Big enough for my big head with good neck length. The opening is sized for versatility -- the bottom of the opening can comfortably go over the nose, or over the mouth, or over the chin, or under the chin/jaw. Plus I can fit my head thru the opening, and wear it like a neck gaiter.
It's 100% merino wool, thin and dense, true black in color, and warm but not windproof or waterproof. The fabric is about the same as Smartwool's hat and neck gaiters (I think those are a double layer fabric whereas this is a single layer). It seems well made, sewn nicely with flat non-annoying seams. I wish it didn't have the big tag inside the neck part tho!
I just got it, so haven't tested it in real action yet. I can tell you this tho, it's super-comfy but makes you look like a scuba diver. I'm wearing it indoors right now and my husband is totally laughing at me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.