No matter what time of year it is, investing in a high-quality neck warmer is something that you will not regret. When choosing the best neck warmer for cycling, there are a few things that you need to consider.
The best neck warmers for cycling are comfortable, versatile and above all, keep you warm. Depending on the temperature (and your preference), you may even choose to ride with the neck warmer covering your face. Such use has become common place due to the global pandemic.
The material of a neck warmer will impact how warm it keeps you and how quickly it will dry. How fast it will dry is more for the benefit of repelling sweat and moisture from breathing as opposed to keeping your neck dry in the rain.
The most popular material for most neck warmers is Polyester. It is excellent at keeping out the wind and is fast drying. These are both essential functions for a neck warmer. Also, the breathability of polyester helps to prevent odour-causing bacteria from building up on the insider of your neck warmer, especially important if you are looking for it to cover your mouth in addition to your neck. The main negative to Polyester is that it is not as soft and comfortable as other materials such as nylon and does not stretch as well as materials such as elastane.
Nylon is also a popular synthetic material. It is softer and more comfortable on the skin than polyester but is more expensive and slightly less effective at moisture wicking than polyester.
Soft fleece is commonly used for neck warmers; they are inexpensive, warm and soft against your skin. It is a form of polyester but does not offer the same wind protection and breathability of pure polyester. Fleece neck warmers are ideal for keeping cosy during a chilly morning commute; however, they are not great in wet conditions as they soak up water and take longer to dry than other materials. Using a fleece neck warmer over your mouth will cause a build-up of condensation, making it increasingly difficult to get air into your lungs.
Premium brands mix Nylon, Polyester and Elastane (also known as lycra), combining the benefits of each material to get the perfect blend of comfort, moisture-wicking and stretchiness. Companies will always advise you what % of each material makes up their product. A combination of these three can make for the perfect neck warmer that is weather resistant, warm, moisture-wicking and retains its shape after multiple uses.
Merino wool is a popular material used in colder climates, where temperatures dip below 7 degrees Celcius. The extra-fine wool of Merino Sheep makes for a soft and itchless material that is comfortable to your skin. Merino wool is also hardwearing, windproof and breathable. It is however the most expensive of materials for neck warmers.
The temperature you are looking to cycle in will affect which material is best for you. Do not get too hooked up on the thickness of a neck warmer. In theory, you would think that the thicker, the better. However, you soon warm up on the bike, and you do not want to be left feeling uncomfortable with a sweaty and moist neck.
For colder conditions, a neck warmer that is long and comfortable enough to reach over your nose and mouth are perfect. It will help to take the sting out of taking in mouthfuls of chilly winter air.
The Size and Fit
A tubular design that you pull over your head is still the most common neck warmer design for cyclists. They are easy to put on and very versatile. Extra-long versions can even be used to cover your whole head and keep your ears protected from the wind.
A good neck warmer should be long enough to cover the lower part of your face in addition to your neck. Although neck warmers are not as effective as pollution masks for cycling at filtering out harmful emissions. They can give you a layer of protection while cycling on the traffic-clogged roads.
Neck warmers are one size fits all, making them a perfect gift for any friend or family member that you know will be cycling this winter.
What you look like on the bike is important, so find a neck warmer that suits your style. They come in a wide range of colours and designs. The most common and versatile is black, but that does not mean that you cannot use a neck warmer to add a splash of colour to your cycling get up.
Look for a neck warmer that is seamless. Due to their tubular design, some neck warmers come with a seam connecting the two ends of the material. However, with regular use, this can become annoying as it twists around your face and neck, feeling uncomfortable and leaving you to have to unravel or turn the neck warmer repeatedly.
Innovative companies are adding new features to the table. For example, Craft Cadence’s upcoming neck warmer will be seamless, use Far-Infrared fiber, which provides UV protection as well as providing anti-bacteria functionality. It will also be treated with Polygiene’s ViralOff technology, which is certified to kill viruses (including COVID-19) within 2 hours.
Finally, to further address the concerns caused by COVID and particulate pollution for that matter, the neck warmer will be equipped with a pocket to insert removable particle filtration filters, which will be included with the neck warmer and are certified to filter out 98% of particles at 0.1 microns.
Neck warmers are a great addition to your cycling wardrobe. The perfect neck warmer is comfortable, fast drying and will retain its shape and stretch after countless uses. Additional features such as antibacterial functionality, antiviral technology and the ability to insert particle filtration filters will be important especially in the post COVID world.