Cyclists and other athletes who love exercising outdoors in extreme winter conditions often wear a balaclava to help them cope with the low temperatures. A balaclava is not just for keeping your face warm—it also helps keep your skin from drying out in the dry winter air (just like freezer burn). A few weeks ago I bought a Chaos Thermal Regulation CTR Howler Multi Tasker Pro Balaclava and it quickly became my favorite balaclava of all time! This balaclava offers incredible face and neck protection, in part due to the hinged design that prevents gaps in the fabric, and it easily drops down off the face when you need to get a drink. This product also has a soft fleece interior to help wick moisture away from the skin.
For a winter athlete the most important feature of this balaclava is the mesh breathing panel that covers the mouth area. One of the biggest complaints most cyclists and runners have against balaclavas is that they restrict air flow. I am happy to report that this balaclava did not impede my breathing in the slightest!
Because of the way this balaclava is designed you can cover nearly your entire face, leaving only your eyes exposed, or you can open it up a bit if you start to overheat. If the weather warms up you can pull the face mask down and use it as a neck gaiter. Like every other balaclava I’ve ever owned this one can cause your glasses to fog up. Since this balaclava is extremely warm you might save it for days when it is so cold you need to wear ski goggles instead of regular cycling glasses—in which case you won’t have to worry about anything fogging up since the goggles will seal the balaclava against your face.
How does the Howler Multi Tasker Pro Balaclava stack up against the other balaclavas? Well, it is considerably warmer than two of the other balaclavas I’ve reviewed in the past (the Bontrager Balaclava and the Seirus Combo Clava). In addition, the Howler Multi Tasker Pro Balaclava is 100% windproof and has a water-repellent surface that sheds rain and snow.
We all have different tolerances for cold weather, but let me tell you how well this balaclava works for me: I’ve used it several times when the temperature was below 20 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind blowing at over 20 mph. Even when riding my bike at 20 mph into a strong headwind my face was perfectly warm.
The Chaos Thermal Regulation CTR Howler Multi Tasker Pro Balaclava is available in three sizes (Junior, Small/Medium, and Large/X-Large). This product retails for around $35, but you probably will not find it at your local bike shop. However, it is available at many ski shops and online retailers like Amazon.com.