The best balaclava mask for cycling performs well in a number of categories. Not only does it keep you warm, but it absorbs moisture and doesn’t interfere with your vision range. When you purchase a balaclava mask, you need to focus on more than just warmth. You want a mask that won’t interfere with your ride by blocking your vision or interfering with your respiration.
Most any cycling balaclava will keep you warm, but without proper wicking, the mask will soon become damp and can irritate your skin. No one wants to feel wet fabric up against their skin, especially in chilly temperatures. The most inexpensive ones balaclava masks are often made of polyester and will retain moisture. Mid-range masks often are made with nylon or microfleece and will offer some protection from moisture. The best bike balaclavas offer full moisture wicking, but they come at a premier price. Weigh out your comfort needs and budget and choose accordingly.
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When you exercise, your respiration rate increases, which is why it’s important to get plenty of oxygen when you are riding your bike. Generic balaclavas that aren’t necessarily made for fitness may expose much of the face which, although they might not interfere with respiration, probably won’t offer a lot of warmth, either. Some masks have hinge pieces over the nose and mouth to allow for respiration. Higher end cycling balaclavas have a breathable, mesh-like material over the mouth and nose. Some people might find these masks too confining, though. Try out a few masks and breathe deeply and rapidly in each. Your breath should flow both in and out and the fabric should not interfere with the passage of air.
Length of the Neck
If the neck of your balaclava does not fit below the neck of your jacket, the skin on the nape of your neck will be exposed. Make sure the fabric for the neck of your bicycle balaclava extends low enough to fit within your jacket or coat. Remember that you will move your neck about as you look from side to side and you won’t want to have to keep tucking your balaclava in.
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When you choose a balaclava mask for cycling, vision needs to be a critical consideration. Some balaclavas have small holes for each eye and may block your peripheral vision. They might also cause a problem if you turn your head or adjust your helmet as they may no longer be aligned with your eyes correctly. Instead, choose a mask with a larger eye opening that allows for better vision. This is extra important if you wear glasses. If you wear glasses with a balaclava, they may fog up which can quickly interfere with your ability to see. One tip is to ask your eye doctor to slightly tilt the lenses of your glasses downwards. Depending on the fit, this may be enough to allow air to pass freely under your glasses and eliminate fogging issues. If fogging does continue, you can buy anti-fog glasses that offer ventilation.
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Balaclava masks range from a low of around $10 to a high of $80 or more. You can find a quality balaclava that will work well for most cyclists in the $25 range. In order to keep your balaclava in good condition, keep it dry and give it a good wash regularly (following the recommended guidelines of the manufacturer). Remember that moisture and germs from your nose and mouth flow freely against the balaclava, so good hygiene is important to prevent you from becoming sick.
The best bicycle balaclava can keep you warm and help you ride through the cool days of fall and winter. Remember, too, that cold weather can mean poor road conditions. Watch for icy and slush on the roads as they can be treacherous for cyclists. If you have been injured in a bicycle crash, contact the team at Kass & Moses. We represent bicyclists who have been injured in crashes to help them get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.