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Topic: Balaclava or Buff?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
AndyPandy Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 19 2013, 1:08 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm trying to decide between a balaclava and a buff for my winter excursions here in the PNW. That means mild temps with rain or wet snow as the norm. I would probably be using them day hiking, snow shoeing and boarding.

My thoughts are that no matter what I get I will end up looking like a dork wearing it but, I'm already married so that doesn't matter as much anymore. I'm also a sweaty guy and would likely to be starting off with either all buttoned up and 5 mins later taking it off and then on breaks slapping it back on. I have also been bestowed with a ponderous head.

My questions would be:
Which do you fellas prefer and why?
Which fabric (wool, syn, fleece, windblocking, etc)?
Which brands tend to be truer to size, hold up best, function well?
Am I missing something obvious or any other uses or concerns that I should have?
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 Post Number: 2
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 19 2013, 4:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I live and snowshoe in the PNW. I have several Balaclavas and two buffs. In winter, I always grab my balaclavas. I bring two. I have a thinner polypro and a fleece wind blocking OR Gorilla balaclava that I use most often in combo.

Full face protection from OR Gorilla balaclava when it hits the fan is what I rely on the most. With most balaclavas, you are forced to pull up the material and cover you mouth which then will ice up over time and become useless. The OR balaclava has a nylon breathable panel that doesn't collect moisture but still provides protection in rough weather. A pair of goggles and that balaclava and I've been known to snowshoe out in raging storms when the resorts are being shut down. I just weathered a snow storm this last spring in 100 mph winds for two days while it dumped five feet of snow. I remember a few years back when I was hiking out of Mt. Hood Meadows when they were shutting down early because of the weather. I could see the snow blowing sideways and the wind was howling but I was perfectly comfortable in my "storm suit". They run a little small in my opinion and are form fitting so I would recommend going up a size.

In the evenings when it's in the single digits, I use one of my thinner balaclavas with a more "casual" design to hang out inside my shelter, eat food and drink or play cards. I also sleep with that as well without it feeling like it is going to smother me.

This is a video of winds at only 40 mph. You can only imagine what full face protection is in the commonly found 60 mph winds on and around Mt. Hood or other areas of the Cascades.



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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 19 2013, 4:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My questions would be:
Which do you fellas prefer and why?


I have a midweight Icebreaker wool balaclava that I use pretty often hiking, biking, running, climbing in winter. I like that the opening is stretchy enough for me that I can keep the bottom under my chin or pull it up to just under my mouth. The "neck" part is also stretchy enough that I can pull the whole thing up to just use as a lighter-weight hat when I'm below treeline. I really hate having stuff between my nose and mouth unless it's an absolute necessity.

Which fabric (wool, syn, fleece, windblocking, etc)?

Mine's light-ish wool, but I combine it with a Windstopper face mask (http://www.altrec.com/outdoor-research/face-mask) when the wind/cold really pick up. For superCold, I layer a Mountain Hardwear Dome Perignon on top of it and the combination of the three works really well for me down to as cold as I'll ever want to get. (-15* + wind knocking me over and sending me skidding)

Note: I got the hat for a Christmas present 10 years ago, the facemask for $5 from a bargain bin, and the balaclava for 50% retail. The combination works perfectly for me, but if I had to spend the ~$100 retail on it, I'm sure there'd be better options out there.

Which brands tend to be truer to size, hold up best, function well?


Can't comment...I only have one, and it works, so I quit shopping.  :;):
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 19 2013, 5:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have an OR balaclava, medium wt, unk model that is great when sitting around or ona really cold days when it's blowing. Otherwise I use a buff a lot as just a neck gaiter pulled up over my face especially when out snowshoeing ans I just need a lite cover on my face due to a wind.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 19 2013, 8:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Jan. 19 2013, 4:26 pm)
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I live and snowshoe in the PNW. I have several Balaclavas and two buffs. In winter, I always grab my balaclavas. I bring two. I have a thinner polypro and a fleece wind blocking OR Gorilla balaclava that I use most often in combo.

I bring one balaclava in warm weather and two in cooler temps.  One is a TNF windproof model, and the other is just insulation.  Mrs. big_load is less cold-tolerant than I am, and she prefers an OR Gorilla.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 20 2013, 12:07 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have full on split-over-the-shoulders-under-the-parka for close to zero and sub-zero in MT. Otherwise I have a fleece neck gaiter that can be pulled up to under my eyes or pushed down below my chin along with a windstopper hat or a rancher's hat. Looks kind of funny but protects the head, keeps the ears warm and that brim helps block driving snow.

Tigger... is that vid on Hood? I spent a lot of winter solo time there and the location looks somewhat familiar.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 20 2013, 2:38 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah. It's right above White River at the end of the valley between Timberline lodge and Mt. Hood Meadows.

Do you have any pictures of your getup? It sounds interesting.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 20 2013, 9:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Buff in warmer weater, balaclava in the cold.  In the winter I usually carry a neck gaiter as well.  Especially useful when skiing.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 20 2013, 10:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't use either until the windchill is well below 0 F.  At that point I'd consider a windproof balaclava, but usually just wear a cap and rub some petroleum jelly on my cheeks.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 20 2013, 10:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I bought a poly pro balaclava and a buff from some stretchy material about 20 years ago when I first became aware of them. I now have many of each plus lots of neck gaiters and ear warmers of all weights and materials and I have made them all. I can't seem to be able to throw anything away unless I make a cpl different things out of it as it wears out. A pair of long underwear bottoms, that usually wear out in the crotch area, leaves a long tube when you cut off the legs. A cpl straight cuts with the scissors and you have a buff, of whatever length you choose. If you want a balaclava make the tube a little longer, sew the top in a semicircle so it's rounded like a hat, put it on and pinch your nose close to the eyes, remove it while still holding the pinch, take the scissors and make a straight cut about 3 inches long. Put it back on and the hole should be at your eyes. When you make the first cut err on the short side, you can always cut a little more if the hole is too small. The scraps can be made into hat (about 8"), neck gaiter(5"), or earcover (3"). Most of these are small enough to stick in a pocket. You can layer the head too. A light balaclava with a stocking cap or earband plus a neck gaiter that can be pulled up to the mouth will keep yer noggin covered. Yes my ancestors came from Scotland.
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AndyPandy Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 20 2013, 8:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for all of the replies! the info really helped out and its nice to see how everybody tweaks it a little bit.

The consensus seems to be that buffs are functional in mild (for winter) conditions but that they fit a narrow temp range and it would be wise to bring along other layers to supplement them.

Balaclavas are great for when the bottom drops out and when that happens I'll want something that stops the wind and has holes around the nose and mouth to let moisture through so it doesn't freeze up.

Sounds like layers, multiple options for the given conditions and just getting out there.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 1:30 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Given the choice of wearing a bali' in near to subfreezing temps, I'd never give a second thought to hiking in the buff...........

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 3:57 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Given mild temps and wet conditions, I'd choose a Buff. I have a bunch of them, and use them under a hardhat almost year-round, unless it's below freezing. That's also what I hike in from teens to 100+(is that a narrow temperature range?). Inactivity is another story, though. When it's cold enough for the down jacket in camp, the Buff becomes a neck gaiter, while a warmer beanie takes its place on my head.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 21 2013, 1:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As a skier, have been wearing balaclavas for decades and usually have both lightweight and a heavyweight models.   Many balaclava products tend to have too small a face opening without adjustments.   Cannot stand exposing even a small section of my face to wind or when skiing if temps are below about 20F.  Currently have one of these:

http://www.amazon.com/Seirus-....18BL20W

Can easily be pulled down to just around neck.  Just remember to remove it whenever entering a bank.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 22 2013, 8:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Jan. 20 2013, 12:38 am)
QUOTE
Yeah. It's right above White River at the end of the valley between Timberline lodge and Mt. Hood Meadows.

Do you have any pictures of your getup? It sounds interesting.

I liked going up to Elk Meadows and across towards Cloud Cap although I did most of the Timberline at some time or another in winter.

Nope, no photos since I almost always soloed on Hood but I suppose I could take a few at home.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 22 2013, 11:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Montanalonewolf @ Jan. 22 2013, 5:14 am)
QUOTE

(Tigger @ Jan. 20 2013, 12:38 am)
QUOTE
Yeah. It's right above White River at the end of the valley between Timberline lodge and Mt. Hood Meadows.

Do you have any pictures of your getup? It sounds interesting.

I liked going up to Elk Meadows and across towards Cloud Cap although I did most of the Timberline at some time or another in winter.

Nope, no photos since I almost always soloed on Hood but I suppose I could take a few at home.

I'm actually planning on going to Elk Meadows this Spring (winter). I think I've actually been there when I was a kid with the Boyscouts. I was thinking back on a snowshoe trip I took when I was 13. I realized that the direction we hiked out and the approximate distance would have dropped us right in that area and there isn't much out there besides Elk Meadows.


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