Staff, courtesy of Buff
When it comes to running gear, the neck warmer falls into one of two categories for most people: nice to have but not a must have, or a must have accessory for every workout. No matter where you are, there is no doubt that this simple fabric tube is one of the most versatile running gear around. In cold weather, it keeps your neck and face warm, and it heats and moistens the dry winter air to prevent that nasty burning sensation in your throat and lungs. When pollen, dust, or smoky air occurs, it can filter out some of the particles as you run. Beating the sun over your head? Opt for a UPF rated gaiter to protect your skin from harmful rays. Many gaiters can be rolled up or twisted to suit a variety of uses: headband, bandana, scrunchie, hat, etc. With so many functions possible, it makes more sense to take it than to leave it.
What to consider
Before choosing a neck warmer, think about how you will use it. A thin, lightweight fabric provides functionality in the hot season, including for sun protection, but may not be the best choice for keeping your face warm and protected from low temperatures or high winds. A thicker gaiter is better suited for cold weather use, but is less likely to have multi-functional capabilities. Longer gaiters are better for full coverage, but can feel bulky when not pulled up around the nose and mouth. Polyester fabrics are generally the lightest and softest to the touch, but can retain odors. Wool has excellent insulating properties and resists stench, but can be too warm in hot weather.
Do you want to make a fashion statement with flashy graphics or keep it understated with a basic design? Some brands offer gaiters in a wide variety of colors and fabric patterns, while others keep it simple with just a few shades. Gaiters are inexpensive, so you can buy several for different uses or to express your personal style.
As gaiters become more and more popular, brands offer models with different features, such as cooling textile technology or even pockets for ice, reflective elements for low-light visibility and fabric treatments for management. odors. Some also feature drawstrings on one end to convert the gaiter into a hat.
How we selected
As someone who frequently wears gaiters when running in various conditions, I know what to look for and what to avoid in this type of clothing. Is it hot enough? Does it stay securely on my face when I pull it up or does it crawl down with each stride? Am I able to breathe easily through the fabric, or is it thick and suffocating? Personal experience informed many of these selections – the Headsweats Eco Ultra Band proved its worth as a mouth cover on a dusty track in Crested Butte, Colorado, while the Merino Ridge neck warmer protected my lungs. icy air during winter racing in my hometown of Pennsylvania. To complement my own expertise, I looked at customer reviews online for the best selling neck warmers.
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The most ecological
Headsweats ECO Ultra Band neck warmer
- Equipment: 95% Repreve recycled polyester, 5% elastane
- Construction: One layer, one seam
- Characteristics: Soft and eco-friendly fabric
Lightweight, breathable and with good elasticity around the face, this gaiter is highly breathable and grips gently but securely around the head when raised. The ECO Ultra Band Headsweats are made from Repreve, a soft and cool fabric made from recycled polyester and elastane. This gaiter is particularly welcome during summer runs when you don’t need a neck warmer, but still want sun protection or air filtration.
- Recycled materials
Ideal in cold weather
Merino Ridge Merino wool choker
- Equipment: Micro merino wool / nylon blend 18.5
- Construction: Two layers of 180g merino jersey, single seam
- Characteristics: UPF 50+ sun protection
This neck warmer by Ridge Merino is warm and comfortable, stays put and keeps the cold at bay while you run. In addition to providing unparalleled warmth, merino wool naturally resists odor-causing bacteria and wicks moisture away from sweat or breath vapor. You’ll appreciate the thick double-layer construction of this gaiter when the freezing wind picks up and the temperature drops.
- Good feeling against the skin
- Not too tight
- Brings warmth in winter
- Thicker material limits multifunctional capabilities
Ideal in hot weather
Nathan RunCool Ice convertible gaiter
- Equipment: 98% polyester, 2% elastane
- Construction: Single layer pocket with flat point
- Characteristics: Internal storage pocket for ice
We’re all at risk of overheating in hot summer races, and an icy choker can be the difference between shortening a workout and going an extra mile or two. The Nathan RunCool gaiter is equipped with a small inside pocket for storing ice or cooling gel. The material itself is lightweight, moisture wicking, and UPF rated (for extra protection from the sun’s rays). The icing on the cake? It can be converted into a hat by simply pulling the top cord.
- Keeps you cool on the hottest days
- Provides sun protection
- Looser than some might prefer
The most colorful
Buff Original Ecostretch
- Equipment: 95% Recycled Repreve Performance Microfiber
- Construction: Single layer, seamless
- Characteristics: 20.5 inch length, UPF 50 sun protection
If you prefer to run in style and your neckband is both functional and fashionable, there are plenty of colorful options to choose from with the Buff Original Ecostretch. Artistic designs range from dreamlike renderings of mountain peaks to abstract line drawings and bright tie-dye flowers. Customer reviews are always positive, praising the gaiter for its comfort and versatility. Buff boasts that this generously sized model (20.5 inches long) can be worn in 12 different ways.
- Provides excellent skin protection against UV rays
- 4-way stretch makes it very versatile
- Thin fabric is less suitable for the cold
Ideal for wicking away sweat
Under Armor Iso-Chill Shorebreak Gaiters
- Equipment: 88% polyester, 12% elastane
- Construction: Monolayer, a seam
- Characteristics: 20 inch length, anti-odor treatment
It is inevitable that you will sweat when running with a fabric wrapped around your neck, and this lingering moisture can be uncomfortable and bothersome. The Under Armor Iso-Chill Shorebreak Gaiter alleviates this problem with a quick-drying material that wicks sweat away like no one else is dealing. The fabric is also designed to disperse body heat, so you don’t get hot under the collar when running in mild weather. There is also a solid color option, sold here.
- Anti-odor technology
- Quick-drying fabric
- The prominent UA logo may not be for everyone
Outdoor search ActiveIce Ubertube
- Equipment: 92% polyester, 8% elastane
- Construction: Simple flat stitch seam
- Characteristics: Xylitol crystal cooling technology, UPF 50+
At an affordable price, the ActiveIce Ubertube gaiter goes beyond its functionality. It wicks away sweat in hot weather and provides an extra layer of warmth on cold slopes. Wearers praise this gaiter for its breathability, perfect fit and excellent sun protection (it has a UPF rating of 50+). As a bonus, the lightweight (36 grams) and compressible Ubertube is a cinch to store in pockets or bags when you’re on the go.
- Lightweight but still provides warmth
- Fast drying
- Multifunctional as a face cover, balaclava or hat
The most comfortable
Patagonia Capilene Air Neck Warmer
- Equipment: 51% merino wool, 49% recycled polyester capilene
- Construction: Single-layer, seamless
- Characteristics: High-loft construction for extra warmth
When the temperatures drop and flakes start to fly, you’ll stay toasty warm with the Capilene Air neck warmer from Patagonia. The combination of puffy construction and soft merino wool and Capilene fabric makes this gaiter feel warm cuddly around your face. Thanks to its unique square stitch knit, the gaiter is easy to breathe while retaining heat so that your skin is not pinched by the cold wind.
- Warm and breathable for cold weather running
- Can also be used as a hat or balaclava
- Responsible New Zealand wool and recycled materials
Ideal for low light conditions
Proviz REFLECT360 neck warmer / neck warmer
- Equipment: 100% soft touch polyester
- Construction: Single-layer, seamless
- Characteristics: Reflective trim, high visibility color options
If you like to run before the sun rises or after it sets below the horizon, brightly colored, reflective clothing is a must; and the REFLECT360 neck warmer ticks both boxes. It is available in several bright color options for better visibility in low light and features strips of highly reflective material to increase your visibility for drivers in dark conditions. Wear it in several different ways: as a bandana or sun protection, a face mask to block the wind or filter the dust, a hat, etc.
- Eye-catching reflective trim
- Moisture wicking fabric
- Fine material not suitable for cold
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