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Chaos Thermal Regulation CTR Howler Multi Tasker Pro Windproof Balaclava

21 Jan

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.

Howler Multi Tasker Pro Windproof Balaclava

Howler Multi Tasker Pro Balaclava

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.

 

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23 responses to “Chaos Thermal Regulation CTR Howler Multi Tasker Pro Windproof Balaclava

  1. IowaTriBob

    January 21, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    I just recently purchased one of these from Nike, although I never knew they were called ‘Balaclavas”. I have to say for cold weather running and biking these are one of the single best purchases I’ve made and they really do make a huge difference. I’m planning on getting another one so I can have 2 handy at any time and will definitely look into the Howler.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      I have a Nike balaclava as well, but this one is a LOT warmer. But then again, we need several different thicknesses of balaclavas depending on how cold it gets — I have another balaclava that is even warmer than this one, but I save it for temps below zero (F).

       
  2. sarahsdoodles

    January 21, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    I actually JUST saw someone running in something like this today! Cincy temperatures dropped drastically yesterday (Fifties on Saturday and below freezing yesterday), so I absolutely see why people would choose to wear something like this. I’m not much of an outdoor runner (at all) when it’s this cold because I always think about how the frosty temps would wreak havoc on my skin! A contraption like this would probably help with that.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 21, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      It was around zero here this morning and there is no way I could ride without something covering my face in those temps. However, a few years ago I was out in even colder temps and found a cyclist who did not have anything over his face! I stopped and spoke with him for a moment and he said he was born in Siberia — and he didn’t cover his face until it got really cold (I am not sure how far below zero that would be).

       
      • sarahsdoodles

        January 21, 2013 at 11:44 AM

        Wow! I don’t even want to know how cold that would be. Actually, I have a friend who lived in Bethel, Alaska for a year and temperatures occasionally would get as low as -50 degrees. They’d have days where it was so cold they’d have to wear goggles outside to keep their eyes from freezing! Absolutely crazy.

         
  3. spokengear

    January 21, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    There’s a cold snap headed your way! Get out there and set some personal “coldest” records. Thanks for all the gear reviews.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 21, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      Unfortunately this cold snap isn’t going to break any records — at best (or worst according to some) tomorrow morning is going to be -4F. However, I do have a couple pieces of new gear to try out in the morning, so it will not be a total waste of time!

       
  4. stumblingtowardgrace

    January 22, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    I HAVE to get one of these! Although I have to say that it’s in the 60s today and is supposed to approach 70 tomorrow. Great bike riding weather for January in Colorado!

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 22, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      You were about 70 degrees warmer than we were today! I waited till it warmed up to zero before heading out for my ride!

       
  5. Cherry

    January 24, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    have you actually worn ski goggles on a ride? Holy cow!

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 24, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      I actually do it a lot when the temp is below 10 degrees (F). Two great advantages: First, they don’t fog up as easy as sunglasses. Second, it keeps my eyes from burning — my eyes used to feel like they were on fire after a ride when the temp was real low — now I just laugh at the cold!

       
    • outdoor-enthusiast

      January 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

      Snowflakes hitting the eye at 30kmh+ can be rather painful. Really. Goggles are a necessary piece of winter cycling equipment.

       
      • All Seasons Cyclist

        January 27, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        It sounds like you’ve been there as well! I’ve talked with some cyclists who dismiss the idea of wearing ski goggles, but like you said, when ice pellets are hitting your face at high speed it can quickly make you change your mind.

         
  6. outdoor-enthusiast

    January 25, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    I ride with a Pearl Izumi Barrier balaclava. I keep the facial opening large enough that I can breathe easily, and to prevent fogging of my glasses. This is the biggest problem I find with anything that covers that “ventilators” – invariably, these redirect warm, humid exhaust directly onto eyewear. Fogging when stationary is a virtual certainty. What has been your experience with this item with respect to fogging up the peepholes?

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 26, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      The best way to prevent fogging is to wear ski goggles — they will cinch the balaclava down tight against your face. If there is a better way to prevent fogging I’ve not found it.

       
  7. Jessi

    January 26, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    That’s brilliant! Now I can breath without ending up with a damp scarf!

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 26, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      I wish I could tell you there was absolutely no dampness after a ride, but all of the balaclavas I own retain some. However, this is one of the best ones I tried so far.

       
  8. thewindykitchen

    January 27, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    this review came a little too late. I got an Under Armour balaclava for what was supposed to be a Polar Dash, but didn’t get to use it. I am using it now that it is quite cold in Chicago, but I do feel a little claustrophobic without a mesh mouth piece.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 27, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      I know what you mean about the claustrophobia! It’s hard enough to breath in the winter in the first place and some balaclavas don’t make it any easier. By the way, I live just north of Chicago — about a mile south of the Illinois/Wisconsin border (otherwise known as The Cheddar Curtain).

       
  9. imarunner2012

    January 30, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    A buddy of mine runs with one of these when it gets especially cold. I might have to get one.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 30, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      This balaclava has been getting a lot of use during the past couple of weeks!

       
  10. Casandra Rasmussen

    January 30, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    We bought two of these to protect our faces during the final summit day on our climb up Mount Kilimanjaro. They did a great job in keeping us warm and covered from the elements. The build quality is solid, as are the materials. However, the mesh breathing window CAN be a little difficult to breathe through, and it still allows a lot of breath vapors to flow inside the mask, fogging up goggles and such. Still, it’s a good balaclava, and it makes one look like an intimidating ninja. And since ninjas are arguably the coolest people ever, I can’t give this any less than four stars.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 31, 2013 at 6:54 PM

      Your comment abut the ninjas being the coolest people on earth had me laughing! Thanks for dropping by this blog!

       

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