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.
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.