The Most Versatile Piece of Gear for under $30
I don’t think there’s a more versatile piece of clothing than a neck gaiter. They are great for keeping you warm and controlling your body temperature when biking, hiking, skiing or even out running errands. Wear it at the beginning of a cold ride and as the temperature warms up or you do, simply slide it off your face or take it off. It packs down to nothing and easily fits in a jersey pocket or saddle bag.
The tube design is more than a facemask, it can be worn in numerous configurations to be a multi-season piece of gear. Also, the variety of designs run the gamut from subtle black to crazy patterns to skull faces. You can definitely make a fashion statement.
Recently, after receiving a promo email, I purchased a couple of neck gaiters from Phunkshun Wear, a Denver-based company, for Mitch and me. Their prices were in line with other brands but what I was most intrigued by was the company’s social conscience. First, they manufacturer all their garments in Colorado. Second, the fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles, which is being seen more and more in the athletic/cycling industry.
The fabric has a variety of properties:
- 4-way stretch knit
- Moisture wicking and temperature management
- Microbe inhibiting odor control
- Breathable knit
- UPF 50+ blocks 99% of harmful UV rays
Single Tube ($19.99 MSRP)
I purchased the single tube design since I heat up quickly when cycling. The same designs come in a double tube or thermal version if you run cold. The “tube” can be worn just around your neck, up over your nose and mouth, pulled up to cover your ears, as well as a headband or dew rag. The fabric has just a bit of a stretch and might be a little tight for those with larger heads. It measures 20” around x 15” long to give you plenty of fabric to pull up over your mouth, nose and ears as needed.
I chose the Sugar Skulls for me and the Skull for Mitch. Testing was done fat biking and shoveling snow in 17 degrees F. The neck gaiter is soft against the skin and stayed in place. Breathing was not an issue using just the single tube, however moisture from my breath would build up on the fabric making it damp, but never really wet. I have yet to find a neck gaiter that doesn’t retain some moisture as you breathe through the fabric.
All in all, I think they are well made, comfortable and extremely functional. And who can resist making a statement from one of the many designs?
Hoodieclava ($29.99 MSRP)
When I saw the Hoodieclava, I knew it was perfect for Mitch. Since he shaves his head, it’s imperative to have it covered on cold weather rides. He’s used the Hoodieclava down below 20 degrees and was plenty warm. The Thermo-Phleece lining, according to the company, is a high-loft polyester fleece featuring thermal properties for increased heat retention. Mitch agreed, it retained heat and felt soft against the skin. To regulate body temperature, release the cinched cord to increase air flow and/or lower the face shield fabric. Conversely, just do the reverse to stay warmer.
The Hoodieclava is large enough to go over a helmet or beanie and is water repellant to keep you dry. Mitch wore his under the helmet and no beanie. The only time he was cold was on a very windy, cold day. He felt the wind go through the helmet vents. In this situation he should have had a beanie under the hood.
For Mitch, the mouth and nose covering did get damp from moisture, but it never felt cold or clammy. This can be attributed to what Phunkshun Wear calls Anti-Phreeze technology which is water repellent and freeze resistant.
Since getting the Hoodieclava it has been Mitch’s go to item for every winter ride.
Like the neck gaiters, Phunkshun Wear offers a wide variety of fabric designs and weights depending on the temperature. Both styles come in youth sizes too. When kids don’t want to wear a scarf, the fun designs make it “cool” to stay warm while waiting for the school bus or sledding.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio.