Bontrager Unisex Balaclava

21 Dec

Even though I own several different brands of balaclavas, I am always on the lookout for one with better features. A few weeks ago the owner of the local bike shop showed me the Bontrager Balaclava and I decided to try it out on a few cold weather rides.

Bontrager Unisex Balaclava

Bontrager Balaclava

The feature that appealed to me most about the Bontrager Balaclava is the way the front folds down so you can get a drink or eat a carbohydrate gel. The Bontrager Balaclava fits well and offers full head, face and neck protection. It is thin enough to easily fit under your helmet, but thick enough to provide real warmth. The flatlock seams on this headpiece means that, unlike some balaclavas, you won’t have the imprint of a seam on your forehead for several hours after your ride is finished.

Some balaclavas are so thick that they restrict your ability to breathe (not a good thing during aerobic exercise). I had absolutely no problem breathing while riding with this balaclava. However, the fabric around the mouth held moisture like you wouldn’t believe! All of the balaclavas I own hold moisture to some degree, but this one held a lot more than most. One other negative with this item is that because it holds moisture it will also fog up your glasses every time you stop. On the other hand, the way this balaclava folds down in front makes me love it anyway.

While Bontrager does not usually have “top of the line” clothing, I do think their products are reasonably priced and offer a decent value for the cost. In addition, Bontrager offers one of the best guarantees you will find anywhere for cycling product: “If for any reason you’re not satisfied with the comfort of your Bontrager saddle, shoes, or technical apparel, return the item(s)—along with the original sales receipt—to the place of purchase within 30 days of purchase date for exchange or store credit.”

The Bontrager Balaclava retails for $25 and should be available at any bike shop that sells Trek bikes. If there is not a Trek dealer in your area you can order it online from hundreds of different Trek bike shops. This balaclava only comes in one size and one color (black).

If you are looking for a higher quality balaclava I would suggest the Seirus Combo Clava—it is lightweight, extremely warm, quick drying and highly breathable. The main body of this clava is made of Polartec fleece and the smaller face mask part is made of contoured Neofleece. Neofleece is really five layers rolled into one. The first layer is the outer shell, the second is a waterproof liner, and under that is fleece lined Neoprene, followed by Thermolite insulation and finally a wicking Microfleece lining next to your skin.


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20 responses to “Bontrager Unisex Balaclava

  1. Megan

    December 21, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    I feel like having something over my mouth would drive me nuts! My face is totally wind burned though from the cold hair and wind gusts!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 21, 2012 at 9:15 AM

      When the temp gets low enough you might change your mind! If you are going 20 MPH on the bike and heading into a 25 MPH headwind in sub-zero temps the wind chill is unbelievable! However, I’ve seen folks ride without a face mask even then.

  2. Jugomugo

    December 21, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    I need to find one with a better ventilated mouth and nose area. These kinds make my eyeglasses fog up something fierce.

  3. Wild Juggler

    December 21, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Sounds like a great product, though I don’t like the idea of covering my mouth either. Based on my readings, it would have to be a lot colder than 0 F for the air to come close to “freezing” our lungs. The real problem with cold air isn’t actually its temperature but rather its dryness(our lungs need to be kept moist to function optimally and so require air with at least some moisture). Athletes can have similar issues when training in an extremely dry desert for instance.

    I think some cyclists and runners can get used to the cold, dry air, but for others it can make them feel uncomfortable, as if the cold air is going to knock them out.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 21, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      You don’t have to freeze your lungs to do damage. Like you said, all that dry air can cause a lot of inflammation — and the faster you ride the worse it gets.

  4. jodiemurrell

    December 21, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    Great review! I wear a Buff at the moment, but this looks great for keep head AND face warm. I like the way you can take the balaclava off your face if need be. Once I have warmed up on the bike I tend to feel restricted with stuff on my face, but this looks perfect.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 21, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      Buff Headwear certainly gets the award the for widest variety of colors and styles!

      • jodiemurrell

        December 21, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        Ha Yes! Sad I know, but it took me a good while to choose one!!

  5. tinatimebomb

    December 22, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 22, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      Thank you very much — that was very kind of you! And by the way, the Christmas graphic you have in the banner of you blog is really cool!

      • tinatimebomb

        December 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM

        You are so very welcome! thank you the graphic is special instead of all the usually graphics for a change. Ti’s the season after all. Merry Christmas (((hugs)))

  6. lampenj

    December 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    I use an UnderArmour version of this which is designed the same way. I don’t think it’s as thick as this one, but I just wear a second thermal beanie underneath it and I’m snug as a bug. The one feature that I really like about this design, though, is that you can sneak the chin strap of my helmet under the chin/mouth flap making it super quick and easy to cover and uncover any portion of my face to manage comfort.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM

      I’ll have to look for the UnderArmour version — we have one of their outlet stores near my house.

  7. Barbara

    December 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Sounds great!! I’m looking for one cos of my neuralgia, this sounds excellent!!

  8. Paul Mullins

    December 24, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    I run in northern Finland during the winter (-10F today, wind chill about -25), and the biggest problem with balaclavas is that they literally freeze onto your skin when they hold any moisture (and any warmth from your breath freezes ice on your glasses and is blinding, which is even worse on slick paths when the day here is about three hours long right now). I am on a constant hunt for a decent face mask and will look at some of these suggestions.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 24, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      If you find a great balaclava I would really like to hear from you again! I would have thought that Finland would be the best place to find great winter products like that.

  9. thewindykitchen

    January 1, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    I’m looking for one for winter running, but it’s so hard to tell from the reviews online. Maybe I should brave the cold and visit my local REI :-)

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 1, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      REI or you local ski shop — just make sure you can breath well with the balaclava you choose. Most of the balaclavas I won do cut down on the air flow a bit, but any day outside is better than any day inside!


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