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Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava

14 Feb

It is no secret that I love winter sports—what you might not know is that I have asthma, and strenuous exercise in sub-zero weather can easily put an asthmatic in the hospital. Ten years ago I couldn’t exercise outside when the temperature dropped below 40 degrees without having an asthma attack, but thanks to several different pieces of protective gear I am now able to comfortably ride in temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (the lowest recorded temperature in my area is -31F). One of the most effective pieces of cold-weather gear I own is the Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava. I’ll divide this review into two parts, first the ventilator on the face mask and then the head covering.

Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava

Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava

This balaclava has a medical-grade polyurethane ventilator that covers your mouth and nose and it mixes the warm air your expel from your lungs with fresh air from the outside—the result is that you breathe in warm, moist air (and to an asthmatic this will probably keep your lungs from getting inflamed from the cold air). This ventilator will raise the temperature of the air your breathe in from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (for example, if the air temperature is zero Fahrenheit, you should be breathing in air that is somewhere between 40 and 60 degrees). This polyurethane ventilator is both non-toxic and anti-microbial. If you head out for a bike ride in the morning in the cold and it warms up in the afternoon you can easily remove this face mask and just use the head covering.

The material that covers your face, neck and head is made of “soft-shell” Polartec Wind Pro fleece and without question this is the warmest balaclava I own (and I own a lot of balaclavas). The manufacturer claims that this product will block 95% of the wind, and in my experience they are absolutely correct. This balaclava is also longer than any other balaclava I own—it completely covers your neck and throat area. I’ve not had any problems with my glasses fogging up while wearing this balaclava. However, by the time it is cold enough to use this balaclava I wear ski goggles instead of cycling glasses (and the ski goggles I use are pretty much fog proof anyway). I’ve worn this balaclava under both cycling helmets and ski helmets without any trouble.

My only criticism of this balaclava is that the fit is a bit sloppy, i.e., it is not as form-fitting as I would like. I am of average size and this product is a bit loose on me. However, since the face mask attaches to the hood with a wide Velcro patch I can usually adjust it so that no cold air gets through to your skin.

The Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava is made in the U.S.A and retails for $80, but you can find it on Amazon.com for $56. This product comes with a one year warranty against manufacturer defects.

 
35 Comments

Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Product Reviews, Winter Cycling

 

Tags: , , , , ,

35 responses to “Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava

  1. Joy

    February 14, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    Do you really ride when it feels like -20°? I can’t imagine.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 14, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      The coldest ride I’ve gone on was at -20F, with a windchill factor of around -35. However, that is nothing compared to the guys up in Minnesota — they ride when it really gets cold (-40 to -50F).

       
      • Joy

        February 14, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        That is just amazing!

         
  2. mycentury

    February 14, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Wow. talk about your ninja cyclist…good thing we never have to contend with temps that cold down here in planet Florida.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 14, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      Don’t you get tired of riding in nice weather all the time? I don’t think you can really appreciate a beautiful 70 degree day unless you’ve enjoyed a few rides in below zero temps! :)

       
      • mycentury

        February 14, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        I paid my dues…I lived in Chicago for 20 years. And, no, one never gets tired of flawless cycling days down here, but then we do have our hurricanes to keep things interesting. We cycled during Tropical Storm Ivan last year….everything is fair game under a Cat 1.

         
        • All Seasons Cyclist

          February 14, 2013 at 4:24 PM

          OK, after 20 Chicago winters your dues are officially paid up! Are Cat 1 winds anything like Chicago in March?

           
        • mycentury

          February 14, 2013 at 4:33 PM

          Cat 1 is basically between 74-95 MPH. Not ideal riding weather, but great surfing weather. Anything above a Tropical Storm (39-73 MPH) would be foolhardy to ride in. Ivan was gusting in the 40’s so there was both a scary and fun factor in that ride.

           
  3. pushingmiles

    February 15, 2013 at 3:43 AM

    Woah. This product looks awesome. This is going on my wish list!

     
  4. Chas Spain

    February 15, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    Respect to all the real cyclists out there. Toddling about in Melbourne is probably the other end of the scale to you guys.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 15, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      We certainly don’t get the heat you folks do! We only have a few days a year that are above 38 degrees Celsius. Most years our summers are fairly short with only a few weeks of temps that average about 30 to 32 degrees Celsius.

       
      • Chas Spain

        February 16, 2013 at 4:14 AM

        Maybe if you had an air-conditioning version of your hoodie? another hot one here today whew… :)

         
        • All Seasons Cyclist

          February 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM

          Do you have any special gear for really hot days? I would love to know what you do when the temp is above 32 degrees Celsius.

           
        • Chas Spain

          February 19, 2013 at 1:02 AM

          Well it all depends what side of the (Yarra) River you live on. I will try to get some photos in the next couple of days and explain

           
      • Chas Spain

        March 9, 2013 at 4:51 AM

        Hi ASC! I’m finally getting around to doing a post on cycling in Melbourne inspired by your post & question here – do you mind if I use one of the (literally) cool photos of you in your gear as a contrast to the flippant way we treat cycling in Melbourne? Will add a link back here of course!

         
  5. marylouharris

    February 15, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    Isn’t it great that technological improvements give us so many more option to stay active through the hottest and coldest weather? I also really like that so many of the innovative outdoor gear companies are developing and manufacturing in the USA. Thanks for the introduction to this product

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      I am amazed at how thin the winter clothing is now — the tights I use for -20F weather (Craft Storm Pants) are not much thicker than your average pair of blue jeans.

       
  6. MichelleK

    February 15, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    I’m glad something like this is available. I’m also very glad that I don’t need it where I live :)

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 15, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      I actually enjoy the changing of the seasons. I enjoy riding in the sun, rain, snow, ice and mud — and sometimes in Chicago I can experience them all on the same ride!

       
      • MichelleK

        February 15, 2013 at 9:08 PM

        Sounds… fun? I’m really enjoying running in the cold this winter – but my cold is 25 – 40 degrees :)

         
        • All Seasons Cyclist

          February 15, 2013 at 9:42 PM

          25 to 40 degrees is called “spring” around here (and it comes with 20 to 30 MPH winds).

           
        • MichelleK

          February 15, 2013 at 9:49 PM

          I’d be putting the phrase “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing” to the test if I lived there :)

           
        • All Seasons Cyclist

          February 16, 2013 at 12:53 AM

          Believe it or not, that saying is true. The only weather that can keep me off the bike is wind — once it gets above 30 or 35 MPH I give up (my record is riding in 42 MPH winds, but that was really dumb on my part).

           
  7. Cherry

    February 15, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    I’ve never seen anything like this. Here’s a burning question – just how many balaclava do you own?? :)

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 15, 2013 at 9:40 PM

      I am not sure how many I own, but It has to be at least a dozen — I keep looking for the “perfect” balaclava (not sure what it looks like, but I’ll know when I find it).

       
  8. thewindykitchen

    February 19, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    while the ventilator sounds like a nice idea, it looks a little freaky :-)

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 19, 2013 at 5:48 PM

      Yeah, it does look a bit weird, but when the temperature is -5F there usually isn’t anyone else out on the trails to see it anyway. Besides, it still is not as scary as my face!

       
  9. bamboogirl

    March 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Hi! Cool product for such cold weather. Yesterday, a friend of mine just told me his lungs were partially collapsed and his heart was enlarged due to excessive exercise in let extremely cold weather. Hospitalized and tested on for a few days… I didn’t even know that could happen! Stay warm & healthy!

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      March 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      Cold weather is a real killer for the lungs — I hope your friend gets well soon!

       
  10. Dave

    March 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I begin to miss riding in the winter, as I don’t ride much when it’s below 40F, but this mask would likely make riding more tolerable below that mark.

    I thought I’d share this: as of 3-29-13, it is now available for about $39 on Amazon.com. I would guess it’s not widely available in local stores, so there’s nothing being lost in that regard if you try to support more local stores and seeing that $80 is a lot to drop on a balaclava, I think I will pick one up.

    FYI, those of you who don’t mind buying through Amazon, there are online tools to alert you to price changes and alerts when it reaches your desired price (us.camelcamelcamel.com and ookong are the two I’ve used).

    Happy riding!

     

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