Recommend a hat/balaclava
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Daniel Kats
(boompig)
Recommend a hat/balaclava on 11/26/2012 18:31:21 MST Print View

I am looking for a good hat or balaclava for winter camping.

I'm new to winter camping - my first trip was last weekend, where the temperatures went down to -5C (23F). I really enjoyed how quiet it was, and want to repeat the experience. However, I know that the temps will only drop lower, so I want to be prepared.

I live in Ontario, Canada, so I'm expecting temperatures down to -25C (-13 F). I think I should go with a balaclava because it will keep my face warm (esp. useful while sleeping).

Should I be wearing a combination of things, like both a hat and balaclava? Would wearing a hood over the balaclava help? Significantly? Here are some balaclavas I looked out, but I was put off by the lack of feedback.

http://www.rei.com/product/725709/seirus-thermax-headliner-balaclava
http://www.rei.com/product/725892/outdoor-research-option-balaclava
http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/MemberPicks/MensClothing/PRD~4013-186/outdoor-research-sonic-balaclava-unisex.jsp
http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/MemberPicks/Snowsports/PRD~5016-878/ctr-mistral-balaclava-unisex.jsp

I've heard good things about CRT in general as well, though I am not very familiar with the rest of their products.

Also, I couldn't find the weight for the Seirus balaclava. Does anyone know?

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Recommend a hat/balaclava on 11/26/2012 18:45:13 MST Print View

I'd get a hat to wear while hiking, and a down hood to wear while sleeping if you think you'd need it.

You can't get a better hat than one made by BPLs Kat P. [http://www.outdoortrailgear.com/cottage-industries/mountaingoatgear/mountaingoat-hats-goods-store/] Lots of us have them, I think we all love them.

Then, if you need something extra for sleeping, get a down hood - there are a variety of folks who make them. I have one from Katabatic Gear that I like, but Nunatak and Goosefeet make them as well.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
hat/bala on 11/27/2012 06:35:28 MST Print View

I take a hat on every trip, spring, fall and winter. Most times I just take a 3-in1 fleece beanie. If it gets cold I wear it with my quilt to sleep in, and if really cold pull out the face mask part.

http://tinyurl.com/cmyc8zk


In winter I switch to a down balaclava. I have been playing with a JRB Down Hood the past month but like my Down Works bala better.

http://tinyurl.com/3u8tp8x

Daniel Kats
(boompig)
Face protection is a plus on 11/27/2012 07:10:47 MST Print View

@Douglas Ide

I think I want something that protects the face, at least partially. I have an OK hat that kept my head warm, but I see my face getting chilled in the future. The more I think about it, the more I realize I want some face protection when hiking as well.

@Raymond Estrella

The Down Works balaclave is more like a down hood - it looks warm for the head, but won't protect the face. I guess the bottom part goes over the mouth? But then how do you breathe? Won't your breath make the down moist? This seems like a serious drawback. In addition, it's pretty expensive relative to how much I wanted to spend. I was hoping to go under $40.

The JRB down hood has the same issue as above - it doesn't really protect the face. I imagine you put it over top the facemask setup you mentioned before.

George Davis
(nsiderbam) - F

Locale: mid-Atlantic
buff on 11/27/2012 07:18:26 MST Print View

Nobody mentioned buffs so far, so I'll rave about mine real quick.

I got the merino wool buff and love it. You can adjust it to be whatever you need at the moment, whether it's a hat, scarf, balaclava, hood, headband, sunburn protection, etc. It's good down to and slightly below freezing by itself (by that, I mean it will keep most of the wind and cold off your ears and cheeks/chin/nose if you want it to). It's also light and compressible.

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F

Locale: Northern Utah
Wapiti Woolies hats for cold temps on 11/27/2012 07:31:28 MST Print View

For sub zero temps, I prefer using my two Wapiti Woolies hats. Very well made and very warm. Small business located in Washington. I heard about the company and their hats when reading something by Ed Viesturs, he had endorsed them. Anyway, they work for me. They are not lightweight, but they are incredibly warm.

Daniel Kats
(boompig)
RE: Wapiti Woolies hats for cold temps on 11/27/2012 08:58:43 MST Print View

In sub-zero (F) temperatures, do you find your face is cold? That's why I initially wanted something with face protection.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Zp on 11/27/2012 09:19:55 MST Print View

Zpacks has a nice down balaclava which is pretty nice, $65.

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F

Locale: Northern Utah
I also use a balaclava on 11/27/2012 09:33:31 MST Print View

"In sub-zero (F) temperatures, do you find your face is cold? That's why I initially wanted something with face protection."

Yes, my face gets cold, but so does my bald head.

I wear a thin Icebreaker merino wool balaclava underneath, but the Wapiti Woolies hat keeps my head and ears toasty warm.

I am originally from Wyoming, and well acquainted with -30 to -40 F degree temps.

This combination may not work for everyone, or others may prefer other combinations, this is just what I prefer to use.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
protecting face on 11/27/2012 11:37:40 MST Print View

Unless I absolutely have to I don't cover my mouth. I have neoprene and fleece face-masks and they either freeze up or make too much fog around my face, fogging my goggles/glasses. As long as my face is warmed by the down hood (in the case of sleeping) my mouth is OK.

When hiking I sometimes do need to protect my face just because it is dangerously cold. I do have many traditional balclavas but rarely take them any longer. I just use a neck gaiter, pulling it up when needed. This is like a buff, just thicker fleece.

You did see the 3-in-1 right? that can go over the mouth or under the lip too.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Tunnel hoods. on 11/27/2012 13:32:06 MST Print View

Consider tunnel hoods for cold windy conditions:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/US-Military-Surplus-Universal-Fit-Extreme-Weather-Hood-/230638738193?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b323db11

Another hat/balaclava thread:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=54667

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Everest "Peruvian" style hats on 11/27/2012 15:09:41 MST Print View

Everest brand hats ARE knit in Nepal by a woman's co-op. Everest hats are made of heavy native wools. They are fitted in the US with a light fleece liner and are exceptionally warm. You can tie the braided wool side "ropes" together under your chin for more warmth around your ears.

All have indiviual patterns of grey and black wool and some have a bit of brown wool in the pattern.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: protecting face on 11/29/2012 12:49:09 MST Print View

For skiing I use an R1 hoody with either a helmet or a warm hat. In my pocket is a cut-down Seirus Neoprene Masque. I've cut out the mouth part. That, plus the R1 hoody, plus goggles, I have total face coverage except the mouth. Leaving the mouth uncovered eliminates all fogging. A thick layer of chapstick (or similar) protects my lips. The great part about the cut-down mask is that it's very quick to add/remove and packs down extremely small to fit in a pocket. I usually put it on when I get on the lift or start skinning, and take it off before descent.

For sleeping when backpacking, I use a super lightweight Terramar Silk Balaclava underneath a Zpacks down hood. The down hood can be cinched pretty small, and the silk balaclava covers any other exposed skin. The silk balaclava is only used when it's quite cold and I need 100% coverage. I usually also carry a fleece hat which gets used during the day, and adds warmth to the down hood as well as protecting it from hair oils.

Edited by lindahlb on 11/29/2012 12:52:05 MST.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Protecting face on 11/29/2012 12:57:20 MST Print View

...

Edited by Kat_P on 11/29/2012 12:58:18 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: protecting face on 11/29/2012 13:02:33 MST Print View

Last winter my wife and I used something like this Ninjaclava, though off the top of my head, I think its made by Serius.

http://www.altrec.com/outdoor-research/ninjaclava

I really like it because of its versatility. Sometimes just a neck warmer, sometimes a regular balaclava, and in "ninja mode," covers all but your eyes. It can easily be layered under more insulating pieces like a down hood or hat. I just got a Katabatic down hood and will be using the combo this winter.

Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
Re: Recommend a hat/balaclava on 11/29/2012 19:10:51 MST Print View

I've got to second using a Buff for sleeping. I often use two of the synthetic ones: one for my eyes/head, and one for the lower half of my face. I can adjust the lower one as needed throughout the night, and the top one helps me sleep better for some reason; sure blocks the stars though.

Buffs also do a bang-up job covering the face while moving, and while it's difficult to keep breathing through them once they're loaded with moisture, they do a great job helping me keep my breath warm before I'm moving and my body heat is doing the rest.

All that said, I'm looking at getting a down balaclava for the really cold temps too; I've got a 0 degree quilt that I don't use much because my head always gets too cold, even with a a synthetic hood from my parka, a fleece, and 2 buffs wrapped around it.

This is about the cheapest down-filled one that I've seen on the internet: http://lukesultralite.com/content/crazy-warm-down-hood . I think it even has more down in it than the zpacks one, though it is, consequently, heavier.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
RE Recommend a hat/balaclava on 12/02/2012 17:08:04 MST Print View

I live in Alaska, so this might be overkill.

For day use, I wear a Seurus ultraclava for head, face and neck coverage.If it's quite cold I'll wear a heavier hat (beanie, toque, whatever you want to call it) on top of that. Right now it's 1 degree out and when I walked my dog earlier I wore the Seirus with a 100 weight fleece toque on top and that was perfect for my head. The only downside to the Seirus is the neck coverage is a little short- it works for me because my vest zips up high enough to cover my neck. Otherwise I'll add either a neck gaiter or a buff for neck coverage.

For night use I have a windproof 300 weight balaclava by Headsokz. I have NEVER been cold with that contraption on. It has full neck coverage as well as head coverage, and is perfect for sleeping or super cold weather. I've used it sleeping in tents in the winter, tarps in the winter, and snow shelters, as well as in low temps with high winds and in all conditions it keeps me warm.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: RE Recommend a hat/balaclava on 12/07/2012 10:06:42 MST Print View

For the last few years I have been using the Original Black Rock Hat and the ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava for when it gets really cold.

This year I have add in The North Face Windstopper High Point Hat in order to provide my lower ears the wind protection that I do not get from the BRG hat and when the ColdAvenger balaclava is not necessary. This seems to provide me a system that meets most of the conditions. BRG for just keeping my head warm, the FN hat for windy conditions and the full on CA balaclava for when it gets crazy cold.

Thomas Getty
(tomgetty)

Locale: South Bay
OR on 12/07/2012 10:40:17 MST Print View

Outdoor Research makes a few options. Their classic Baclava works well. This year I upgraded to the one with wind-stopper material over the face and now use my classic one specifically for backpacking. The new wind-stopper one is for skiing.