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Mountain Headwear
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Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
Mountain Headwear on 10/16/2011 21:32:45 MDT Print View

So, for your particular winter activity, what do you wear on your head when active and when at rest when the mercury drops below 0 °C/ 32 °F or much colder?

I wear a wool hat/fleece neck gaiter combo (no jacket hoods), which serves me well, especially when active (ski touring, chores around camp). However, the hat doesn't really work too well for me at night, as I seem to knock it off/take it off unknowingly whilst asleep.

I'd prefer to keep it on to conserve precious body heat, but it's kinda difficult to control what I do when unconscious. I suppose a balaclava would be the answer, but that would be just one more piece of gear to take along, and I wouldn't really use it during the day.

I know it seems like a silly topic for discussion, but I am curious as to what others do to keep their heads warm...

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
I wear... on 10/16/2011 22:12:13 MDT Print View

When moving:

Then I add the hood of my Driducks rain jacket if I need more warmth while hiking.

When sleeping w/ quilt I wear (in 900FP):

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Noggin' on 10/16/2011 22:21:41 MDT Print View

Merino wool buff for both active use and rest. If I stop for any extended period of time I'll throw on my insulation piece, which always has a hood and provides the bulk of my head warmth.

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Comboclava or buff on 10/17/2011 01:29:34 MDT Print View

While I find the wool buff to be the most versatile for a range of temperatures (and works well in the ninja configuration), for colder conditions (<10F) I bring a Seirus Comboclava.

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Head on 10/17/2011 13:14:15 MDT Print View

When moving, sleeping and around the camp I use

Chaos Chinook Multi-Tasker balaclava - just $13 right now.

It is small, light, multi-function (neck buff, hat, balaclava/mask).

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
Knocking it off on 10/17/2011 23:16:29 MDT Print View

So let me ask this, am I doing something "wrong" by trying to sleep with my wool hats on (rather than a more "secure" headwear option such as a balaclava)? As I mentioned in the OP, I somehow end up knocking it off or taking it off during the middle of the night. I thought everyone slept with their hats on, or is it that most people end up knocking their own hats off during the course of the night?

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Knocking it off on 10/18/2011 02:26:48 MDT Print View

One of my least favorite things about cold weather camping is breathing frigid air and having a cold face while sleeping. After trying balaclavas, dust masks, fleece bags and so forth I stumbled upon a fairly simple solution. Get a soft, loosely woven knit cap and pull it down over your face at night. Your face will be sooo happy. It preheats the incoming air to a comfortable level and the exhaled air keeps the rest of your face warm. After a while, the part being breathed through will get soggy. When it does just rotate the hat about 90 degrees.

The other fun part is trying on knit caps in the store. The clerk is sure to think you're daft as you search for a hat that is comfortable pulled down over your face.

Edited by DavidAdair on 10/18/2011 02:28:43 MDT.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
Head games on 10/18/2011 06:26:41 MDT Print View


I feel your pain. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to find that I had ripped the balaclava off of my head...must have been too tight. My noggin is in the one size doesn't fit most category. My sister made for me a simple oversized fleece hat that has long wings that can cover my ears and velcro together under my chin. This works great. This year I am adding an extention to the hood of my anorak that will create a tunnel when fully zipped. I may add a coyote ruff - to warm the incomming air. I can use this if it gets below 0 F.

Good luck on your search. I have an entire bin-of-bad-Ideas I should sell on gear swap.


Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: Knocking it off on 10/18/2011 07:30:26 MDT Print View

@OP. It all depends on how much you move during your sleep.

I move a decent amount so a stretchy/spandex type hat works well to stay on my head. When it gets really cold I rock the down Balaclava which I can pseudo type on my head.

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Where to buy Kenny's snorkle hood? on 10/18/2011 10:43:14 MDT Print View

>This year I am adding an extention to the hood of my anorak that will create a tunnel when fully zipped. I may add a coyote ruff - to warm the incomming air.<

I must be digging through the same bin-o-bad-ideas as you Dave because I am liking that approach.

I wear eyeglasses and have fogging problems with most face coverings. Sometimes I wear a "snorkle" hood off a heavy down parka (think Kenny on South Park)and it works great. It captures some warm air and keeps the direct wind off -so no need for any additional face covering. Problem is the hood alone is quite heavy and doesn't seal well at the neck.

So I, too, am looking for a lightweight solution in either an anorak/parka or a separate hood. So before I go the MYOG route, does anybody know of an off the shelf item that would work?

I think I recall a MYOG thread from some years back along these lines but I haven't been able to find it.

Dave: I would enjoy seeing and hearing about your hood modification once completed.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Tunnel hoods! on 10/18/2011 11:03:41 MDT Print View

I love my military surplus tunnel hoods for windy conditions. They contain a soft wire so they can be formed into a real tunnel with a narrow opening in real wind. They are not UL (not even L).

Dave G., a MYOG extension to the hood to make a tunnel hood is a good idea. It's been on my todo list for years. Consider adding fleece attached with velcro when

David A., I wear glasses and have a beard. Wearing ski goggles is a problem for me with the glasses and wearing a neoprene face mask is a problem with the beard (it freezes to my beard). The tunnel hoods are the alternative to the usual ski goggles and facemask that people here use in the White Mtns above tree line. My military surplus tunnel hoods seal well at the neck. One kind has straps that go under your armpits and the other is intended to button onto a jacket -- these are separate hoods, not sewn into any jacket. They used to be easy to find at military surplus stores.

I'm not sure how these tunnel hoods would be for sleeping. For general use I like this style of hat with a cord under your chin to keep it from blowing off:

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
re: tunnel hoods on 10/18/2011 12:17:58 MDT Print View

Dave, Walter,

Two of the hikers in our group have used tunnel hoods with great success. One has a coyote ruff velcroed on and the other has his zipped on. They have it setup to fold back when not needed. They do use it for hiking and sleeping.

My anorak is just a very light wind shell made of a very breathable fabric. It is amazing how much warmer you are when you cut the wind with this fabric. Yes, I know I look like yukon Jack with this on, but at that temp I don’t care. It is sized to fit over all of my layers, so I have heard the term "dough boy: in the breeze... :)

I have the pull over version that will be converted to a half zip once the extension is added. Walter, I too picked up a military surplus tunnel hood and I am going to use it as a pattern. A generous friend of mine bought a blemished coyote pelt for cheap and cut out a ruff for me. I think I can put on the military hood, pull up the anorak hood and trace a pattern/sew/swear/and complete it before this winter...I hope


edit - found a link to military surplus hood (fake fur though)

Edited by dmgoody on 10/18/2011 12:35:03 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
beanie + balaclava on 10/18/2011 12:52:37 MDT Print View

I wear a very light merino beanie and bring a R1 balaclava along (2.2 oz)- between the two (and the hoods on my down parka and windshirt) has covered everything for me

I've always thought the Black Rock down beanie might be handy, but haven't tried one

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Tunnel hoods! on 10/18/2011 13:23:39 MDT Print View

Dave G., Yes, I have one of those hoods in your ebay link. Highly recommended and well worth the $14! I got an even better Canadian military surplus hood in Montreal that has a real fur ruff; it's intended to button onto a jacket, but works fine without the intended jacket. These are often too warm, but nothing is better in high winds.

Let us know how your MYOG extension goes.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Buff and Hat on 10/25/2011 09:36:12 MDT Print View

In winter, I have a combination approach.

When I'm active, a Buff is all I need. Keeps my ears and forehead from freezing, allows heat to escape.

When I am less active or when it's really really cold, I put on a cashmere hat

I then move the Buff down and use it as a neckgaiter (or to cover my nose/mouth if super cold.)

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Peruvian style on 10/27/2011 22:01:23 MDT Print View

Medium cold weather> light wool knit XC skiing stocking cap

Colder weather> OR 200 weight Polartec Peruvian style hat

Very cold weather> EVEREST brand wool Peruvian style knit hat with fleece liner. (knitted in Nepal)

Worst weather> if it's cold AND windy I put my GTX parka hood over my EVEREST hat

Edited by Danepacker on 10/27/2011 22:02:35 MDT.

Steven Adeff
(TinCanFury) - F

Locale: Boston
corvus dome beanie on 10/27/2011 22:24:12 MDT Print View

I have this:

wool, + neck/face protection in one, nice for active wear.
I also have a Dome Perignon.

I do have my eye on this though:

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Mountain Headwear on 10/28/2011 01:17:22 MDT Print View

My ears are what gets cold. I like the Peruvian style beanie-with-earflaps like the North Face High Point or the Outdoor Research Peruvian --- both are Windstopper too. A balaclava is great in cold wind, or just the hood on my Power Stretch hoodie snugged down. I overheat easily, so it needs to be pretty cold for me to reach for a hat.

It isn't a silly subject. I think accessories like gloves and hats really take away the perception of being cold and add a lot of comfort for little weight.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Mountain Headwear on 10/28/2011 02:35:35 MDT Print View

I like the Peruvian style beanies as well. My ears get really cold. That over a balaclava. Your face does not need as much insulation as your ears and head.

Edited by justin_baker on 10/28/2011 13:04:57 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Noggin' on 10/28/2011 06:42:14 MDT Print View

+1 for Eugene's choice.

My merino wool buff is 36" long. I twist it in the middle and double it over to create an 18 inch "deep" watch cap.

If the temperature gets down to the twenties I add a poly-pro "skull cap" under the wool buff.

Both of these can be covered by the hood of my DriDucks jacket cinched down around my face.

FWIW my nose gets cold so I usually pull the wool buff down over my head and face when sleeping.

When I'm moving the head wear varies with the temperature. It'll be some variation or combination of a Columbia Bora Bora Boonie hat, synthetic or wool buff, polypro skull cap and / or an extra large bandana.

Party On,