Karen Voyer-Caravona is an admitted bicycle dilettante in Flagstaff, Arizona, who blogs about her adventures on two wheels, vÃ©lo envy, her husband’s cooking, and cross country skiing at www.sheridesabike.com. Visit her website for her endless opinions on the most stylish shoes for pedaling, critiques of bike parking, and the best bike date dining destinations.
Commute by Bike's request that I review the Buff Seamless Headband couldn't have come at a better time. After three winters of bike commuting, I still struggle with what to wear in the cold to keep warm, dry and light.
This year I'm mastering the art of "not over-doing it". Being enveloped in four heavy layers is overkill and a sure way to arrive at work a sweaty mess. Buff's headband is very light and thin so, skeptic that I am, I wondered if it could do the job.
Buff's marketing material reads that it is the "Original Multifunctional Headwear" and that their headband is designed to be multisport. Over the course of two weeks, I tested the product while running and cross country skiing, as well as during my regular bike commute to work.
The backside of the packaging shows eight different ways the headband can be worn. I tested the garment, which is roughly nine inches wide, as a wide band, a helmet liner and a mask.
I wore the headband running and skiing as a wide band and was pleasantly surprised.
First of all, I noticed about the band was that, pulled full width, it kept my hair completely out of my face, especially helpful during windy conditions while skiing and seeking to avoid a boulder hazard just off trail. Again, I am a bit of a skeptic and not very cold hearty. I perspire quite heavily during active sports and often find myself shivering uncomfortably during walk or water breaks.
The packaging indicates that the headband is made from 100 percent Coolmax polyester fabric, wicking moisture from the body.
I say this for novice bicyclists, or anyone who is new to regularly participating in winter sports: the idea that a thin layer of fabric could possibly be able to keep me warmer than heavy layers of thick cotton or wool on a frigid day has been perhaps the hardest thing for me to accept during my years of running, then bike commuting, and now skiing. It's really true though; the fabric dries out very quickly, even during intense workouts.
As a bike helmet liner, I was especially impressed with Buff Headband. I pulled the band over my head to about half the full width very easily. It was not at all tight and slipped neatly over my hair and ears.
My helmet didn't seem to notice the layer of fabric at all, fitting comfortably on my head without any special adjustment. Happily, I arrived at work sans the helmet-hair double whammy or arching ears.
As a mask, I found the headband unsatisfactory for running because it was somewhat loose around my neck and chin. A smaller size might be welcome, though as I've tried running with fleece headbands around my chin and usually have to remove them because of condensation formed by breathing directly into a thick fabric.
However, when I wore the headband as a mask during my bike ride to work, the chin strap on my helmet kept the mask from slipping off my chin, and as long as I kept my head held up the Buff stayed in place.
The Buff Seamless Headband is meant for wear throughout the year. The packaging claims it provides 95 percent protection against UV rays. The fabric is also treated with Polygiene for permanent "active odor control." We'll see in five months.