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Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts
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Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts on 06/08/2009 13:51:00 MDT Print View

In a recent thread, there was a lot of discussion about keeping warm in cold weather and the importance of not losing heat from the head.

I don't anticipate weather below 20F, and have a WM Ultralight, which is rated at 20F, but I sleep cold when it drops below 30F.

Any suggestions on a balaclava to help mitigate my problem? I have researched the BPL Pro 90 at 2.4oz total weight and the Nunatek at 4 oz and 2 oz of down fill.

It looks like there are cords on the BPL to keep it secure. Are they helpful? The Nunatek has snap closures, are these a benefit?

Any other alternatives? I typically will be sleeping with a Merino Hoody and a light down jacket if necessary. Will also try some warmer 'sleeping' socks to see if they will be helpful.

Any other suggestions that have not been discussed?

Condensation is not an issue with my sleep system.

Edited by ngatel on 06/08/2009 13:52:54 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Balaclava question for ... on 06/08/2009 14:59:31 MDT Print View

I have neither the BPL Pro 90 nor the Nunatek but I can offer some experience in the areas of your questions ... from use of an MYOG balaclava made from a pattern that was posted here a couple years ago.

It looks like there are cords on the BPL to keep it secure. Are they helpful?

I added loops (probably got the idea from the BPL model) but don't use them anymore, it stays in place well enough without.

The Nunatek has snap closures, are these a benefit?

I wish my balaclava would open at the lower front, I'm expecting that to make it more versatile over a wider temp range and also for use as a COLD weather camp hat. I plan to alter it in that way.

I also REALLY like using a single ply smartwool balaclava inside the other one. I can pull it up over mouth and nose and keep them warm enough to sleep while also avoiding breathing into the balaclava. It also makes a good camp hat for the less cold hours or for breaks on trail.

Edited by jcolten on 06/08/2009 15:01:38 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Balaclava question for ... on 06/08/2009 15:06:19 MDT Print View

The snap closures allow you to tailor how much you end up breathing into your balaclava. Breath moisture is inherently bad for high loft garments, even more so for down. The Nunatak weighs more and costs more, but is also a lot warmer and more flexible the the Pro 90. The Nunatak stays on just fine without keeper cords. Don't know about the Pro 90.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts on 06/08/2009 16:36:38 MDT Print View

Hi Nick

> It looks like there are cords on the BPL to keep it secure. Are they helpful?
Actually, what you are looking at is light hat elastic (very light bungee), secure by a mini-cord-lock. The two loops go under your arms to hold the hood down on your shoulders. This sounds a very strange arrangement, but it does work and does not get in your way either. More of the cord then goes around the face section of the hood with another mini-cord-lock to tighten it up.
6856S
This photo shows me with a hood on. The blue line points to the cords going under my armpits and back up to a loop at the back.

Can make for a very nicely warm head. Your head is free to turn inside the hood too. Works for some, may not work for all.

Cheers

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts on 06/08/2009 18:02:21 MDT Print View

I'm neither Roger (obviously!) nor a winter weather expert, but for the last few years I've used a Manzella polypro fleece balaclava for head warmth. I find it plenty warm in temps well below freezing. In wind, you'd want a hood over it (windshirt or rain jacket). It's stretch, so no cords are involved. It has been a real boon on frosty nights both in and out of the sleeping bag. You can adjust it to breathe through it or not, as you prefer, but since it's polypro it doesn't absorb moisture. I don't have a photo, but here's where I got it: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___92876?CS_003=2477120&CS_010=92876 My one objection to it is that it comes only in black, so tends to show a lot of my perpetually-shedding dog's blond hair!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts on 06/08/2009 20:58:51 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the feedback so far.

Jim, I plan on wearing my BPL Merino Hoody, which matches your suggestion of one inside the other, so I think I am on the right track here.

Lynn, I suspected that the Nunatek would be more versatile, but moisture could be an issue. I suppose if it is used correctly, that would be the warmest.

Mary, I have a couple light fleece ones made by Seirus but they are not warm enough for me. I think the polypro would be similar. I am sure I want to get an insulated one.

So now the question for me is whether or not the Pro 90 would be warm enough. Heck for under $40 it is cheap, although I don't have a problem spending the money on a down piece. I guess I won't know until I try it.

Roger, is that a Pro 90 in the picture? Since my mouth and nose would be covered by the hoody, and the baclava only covers the mouth, can I assume condensation would be minimal? I normally breath through my nose with my mouth closed (at least my wife tells me that).

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
Nunatak on 06/08/2009 21:14:14 MDT Print View

The Nunatak is REALLY warm. I just usually use an OR windpro balaclava until it really drops and I need the Nunatak.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts on 06/09/2009 04:28:50 MDT Print View

Hi Nick

I think it is a UL60 from memory. Synthetic insulation, both the Ul60 and the UL90, but That may be better than down in this case - down distribution gets tricky in a hood.

Condensation - would depend on how you breathe of course. In the pic the hood face is done up; you can have it more open than that.

If I breathe through my mouth I snore, or so my wife claims. Er... she's right too.

Would the 90 be warm enough? I would certainly think so! I find the 60 pretty warm.

Cheers

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Re: Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts on 06/09/2009 07:10:37 MDT Print View

For temperatures that are no colder than the 20's I use a Turtlefur blalclava in camp and to supplement my sleep system. I found that one to be the warmest and most comfortable of the 'fleece' style balaclavas.

I doubt that it will be warmer than the insulated ones previously mentioned, but should handle those temperatures especially when combined with a hoodie.

1.1 oz

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts on 06/09/2009 09:22:28 MDT Print View

Hi Nick,
I have the BPL UL90 Balaclava. I use it only for winter trips. I don't use the hood portion of my sleeping bag, but instead opt for a OR Ninjaclava with my Pro 90 overtop...obviuosly, everyone is different but I can't imagine you would be cold in the 20's. I take that setup down to about 5*F and lower on a regular in the winter months.

Opening the front would be nice but I use mine solely for sleeping or in the morning to pack up camp so it isn't an issue. Synthetic insulation so I don't think the condensation would cause too much of a problem.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Balaclava question for Roger Caffin and other cold weather experts on 06/09/2009 10:21:56 MDT Print View

Thank you to everyone. I am going to go forward and order the UL90. Might as well get it now, before they run out of them in the winter.