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How do I cycle home AND save my face from windchill?
June 14, 2010 4:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm taking up commuting by cycle, heading home after midnight. Winter is coming in, and I need some way to stop my face from freezing in the cold night air. I tried wrapping a wool scarf around my nose and mouth, but it was uncomfortable and kept coming loose and falling down. Is there a better way?
posted by WhackyparseThis to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe this is far too obvious, but.. a balaclava?
posted by tavegyl at 4:52 AM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I cycle in winter, I use a Buff. It stays in place nicely and keeps my face warm. Combined with a cycling cap, it keeps me pretty warm (cycling in snow and rain in London and now Scotland).
posted by Happy Dave at 4:56 AM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


In the winter, I usually cover my face with a pair of goggles (snowboarding, to be precise) and a balaclava. I live in some pretty harsh conditions and it protects me well.
posted by Hiker at 4:57 AM on June 14, 2010


Use a Buff around your neck and pull it up when needed.
posted by iviken at 4:59 AM on June 14, 2010


Neoprene face mask.
posted by evilmomlady at 5:08 AM on June 14, 2010


I use a neoprene face mask for skiing, and it does a good job at keeping the wind from freezing my face off. Only downside is that very occasionally if I really exert myself, the breathing holes aren't quite big enough when I'm out of breath.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:24 AM on June 14, 2010


Full-time bike commuter here. Merino wool buff for the win!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:44 AM on June 14, 2010


Buff, worn ninja style. Covers all but my eyes, goggles over the eyes. I ride a motorbike like that and can breath and am kept frostfree.
posted by Iteki at 6:37 AM on June 14, 2010


I don't really get the need for a buff. Buy a cheap balaclava, wear it. Goggles as well if you need them. FWIW, I have a balaclava with a bit of a stiff visor, I can roll it up into a slightly bulgy toque. I think it cost me $3? I've worn it skiing deep in the Rockies (Revelstoke), no problems at all.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:52 AM on June 14, 2010


I wear a balaclava (technically, a helmet liner. Specifically, this one). I also wear clear goggles (specifically, these), to protect from the biting wind.
posted by mhz at 6:53 AM on June 14, 2010


I have one of these mouth/nose covering masks. It works great as long as you don't wear glasses (your breath will get routed up under your glasses and fog them up).
posted by beerbajay at 7:00 AM on June 14, 2010


I don't really get the need for a buff. Buy a cheap balaclava, wear it. Goggles as well if you need them. FWIW, I have a balaclava with a bit of a stiff visor, I can roll it up into a slightly bulgy toque. I think it cost me $3? I've worn it skiing deep in the Rockies (Revelstoke), no problems at all.

From the OP's description, I think a balaclava would probably be too itchy for them (I'm assuming this is what they meant by 'uncomfortable'. The main advantage of Buffs is that they are elastic and hug your face, without being itchy.

Plus, they make you look like a ninja.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:36 AM on June 14, 2010


I go with the thin hat-under-helmet (also covering the ears) and neoprene face mask route. This is in Maine winter and the lowest temp I've ridden in so far is -4F.

Glasses fogging up is an issue for me, but I've had some success with putting a thin coat of dishwashing liquid on the lenses before riding.
posted by mikepop at 7:39 AM on June 14, 2010


Adding, most of the other winter riders around here use balaclavas and I am might try that next season.
posted by mikepop at 7:40 AM on June 14, 2010


Don't forget chapstick over areas that tend to get extra wind-burned / not covered.
posted by johnnybeggs at 7:43 AM on June 14, 2010


I used to use a neck gaiter in Ottawa (second-coldest national capital after Ulaanbaatar!)

As above, hot air will rise from the gap around your nose and fog your glasses, but if the air is dry, they'll clear out as soon as you start moving. A neck gaiter is also very easy to pull down of your face if you feel the need, but the gentle elastic does a fine job of hoding it across your nose.

For my forehead, I used to use a thin fleece band that also covered my ears.
posted by klanawa at 8:28 AM on June 14, 2010


I just use a cloth bandana. I tie it around my neck and pull it over my face when I need to. This is perhaps appropriate for cold but not freezing temperatures.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:57 AM on June 14, 2010


A Jacket that has a hood with a faux fur trim has always been the best for me. Eskimos have been using fur to trap the wind for hundreds of years, right?
posted by nomad at 9:37 AM on June 14, 2010


Commuter cyclist here, too! I found exactly what I was looking for in these. Shop around for the best price on the Under Armour ColdGear Hood. Warm, and you can pull the bottom down when things eventually get *too* warm. Best part is that because they're head-hugging, absolutely no problem wearing these under a helmet.

http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/mens/accessories/headwear/cold-weather/pid8000022-ColdGear-Hood/8000022-001
posted by actionPetential at 10:05 AM on June 14, 2010


[few comments removed - do not start a bicycle derail here please.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:53 AM on June 14, 2010


I love my merino buff. It's a lot more versatile and adjustable than a balaclava would be, I think.

One thing that's possible with a buff that's not (that I can visualize) possible with a balaclava: When riding to work in winter, I start out with my buff up, covering my ears and the top of my head ("you look like Katharine Hepburn in A Lion in Winter!" says my husband) and my helmet strapped atop. By about a mile into the ride, I'm beginning to overheat, so at a convenient red light I tug the buff down until it's resting like a cowl around my neck. Another half mile or so and even that's too much, so at another light I pull it off, over my helmet (being careful not to knock off my glasses or my helmet mirror) and shove it into a pocket.

Once I get off the bike, if my helmet has left my hair looking bad, I can give the buff a half-twist-with-a-fold (which is easier to demonstrate than explain verbally) and turn it into a passably appealing little cap to conceal the helmet-hair.

Flexibility FTW.
posted by Lexica at 8:06 PM on June 14, 2010


Thanks for the advice. I did try using a balaclava a few years ago, but it made my helmet fit badly and itched if I didn't shave. I guess I'll give it another go. My wife is quite taken with the idea of the Buff though, so I'll probably be getting her one for her birthday.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 2:12 AM on July 5, 2010


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