It was back in 2009 that I first bought a Buff, and every time it’s been cold since, I’ve worn it. I’ve worn it as a beanie, as a balaclava, mask and much more – you’d be surprised by what you can make from an original Buff. So you can imagine how excited I am to now have 3 additional Buff products: their merino wool balaclava, microfibre balaclava and helmet liner. And let’s not forget the stickers, the many many stickers.
Let’s start with the balaclavas, as it is getting a bit nippy at the moment.
I’m no sewing expert, but the sheer perfection of all of the seams must take skill even from a machine. You have to look very closely to realise that thread is actually used and it isn’t just being held together by pure magic – and this doesn’t just benefit the aesthetics – it also means that there aren’t any itchy spots and makes it feel seamless whilst wearing it.
The slashy dashy liney design isn’t fancy, but I like it! It matches the skies of every UK season fantastically and breaks the outline of your head a bit which makes it slightly camouflaging. Maybe not ideal for road use, but considering the relative lack of high-vis headwear, I don’t think that’s a real problem.
On the bike, it is a fantastic addition to my gear. It breaks the direct cold of the wind well and prevents the burning feeling from getting out of breath on a very cold day – plus it looks awesome. However, sunnies occasionally fog up depending on weather conditions and speed; it hasn’t annoyed me yet, and I doubt it will.
Microfibre isn’t as soft as merino, nor is it natural or as warm, but it definitely still has its place. It has a bit more of a stubborn stretch to it which does make it a little tighter – a race fit balaclava if I’ve ever seen one. Like the merino wool balaclava though, it provides oder control, thermal insulation and also manages moisture well – of course the seams are as lovely too.
The pattern on mine might not be for everyone, for it is a bit chaotic I will admit, but I am a fan. What are the implications of wearing a balaclava in public, especially when riding your bike? A warm face. I haven’t had any problems at all so far, but it would be a good idea to avoid dodgy areas at night if you don’t like getting chased by the police.
This isn’t as good for the very cold days – 0c and below – but is my favourite for mountain biking on the chillier days. Keeping mud out of your face is favourable from every point of view I can imagine, unless you are into fancy spa days, and so is keeping warm in the 10c to 0c temperature range.
It’s about half the length of an original Buff and a little less stretchy, constructed from polyester microfibre and not closed on top. This makes it less like a beanie which is what I’d expect from a helmet liner and thus was a source of MINUTES of confusion and entertainment.
It turns out that it is very simple to wear it correctly, at least after a bit of tinkering, and really comfortable too. By covering your ears and being quite a snug fit around your head, its moisture management works very well for regulating the temperature of your head whether it is 20c or 0c.
This has become my new ‘in the helmet’ headwear that I just assume that I’ll be wearing the next day and I love it. If it’s raining, I wear it to keep my hair looking as dashing as always and it dries very quickly, if it’s cold it keeps my head and ears warm, and if it’s warm out then keeps my head feeling good due to its breathability and it saves my helmet from getting smelly due to its odour control. WIN WIN WIN!
Unlike some companies, Buff haven’t gone stale since their 1992 establishment and today still produce fantastic products in their Spanish factory. I give great recommendation to these three products, they look good and preform even better. You can have a gander at their whole range over here.