ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava

01 Feb

I am always on the lookout for new winter cycling gear and the colder it gets the less likely I am to wear products that were specifically manufactured for cyclists. Some of my winter gear was designed for hunters, while other pieces of clothing were meant for cross-country skiers. One of the coolest looking balaclavas I’ve purchased, a ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava with a skull on the face, was as intended for motorcycle riders.

ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava

ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava

The ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava has a full neoprene face mask, but the rest of the material is thinner which makes it perfect for riding with a helmet on. The thinner material around the head and neck seem to breathe well and not retain moisture. The thicker neoprene face mask area really blocks the wind well. This product is only available in one size (“one size fits most”), and it fit me perfectly.

ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava

Close-up of the ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava

The main concern most cyclists would have about this mask would be how well you can breathe with it on. If you look carefully at the close-up photo you can see the small holes which allow air into and out of the mask, as well as the opening for the nose. Personally, I think this mask is fine for recreational riders, but if you are riding at top speed you are definitely going to have difficulty breathing with it on.

Balaclava and Airfoil Goggles

Balaclava and Airfoil Goggles

I own a dozen or so balaclavas and I bought this one for one reason, i.e., it looks cool! If you are stopped at an intersection with this mask on you are going to have some fun! Some car is going to pull up next to you and a little kid is going to point at the mask—then you can hear his mother tell the child not to stare and watch her burn rubber as she flees the intersection. I am a totally harmless person, but I do have a rather warped sense of humor.

The ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava retails for $27, but you can find it on for only $16. If you want to make this product even cooler looking you can always couple it up with the Airfoil 7617 Goggles I reviewed last year. However, while this balaclava is fun to wear, I would high suggest you refrain from entering your local bank with it on. By the way, the folks at ZANheadgear make a lot of other cool balaclavas and other forms of head gear—some of their products even glow in the dark (how cool is that?).


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22 responses to “ZANheadgear Coolmax Extreme Balaclava

  1. xcountrypearl

    February 1, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    That looks like fun to wear!

  2. pushingmiles

    February 1, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    That’s actually a pretty interesting thing to do! I haven’t thought of using motorcycle face gear for cycling. Also, I do think that balaclava would be hard to breathe in for more than the recreational cyclist. Do you think it’d be easy to cut a few extra holes in it? Or maybe expand the ones it has?

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 1, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      Breathing through the nose is no problem at all since the nostrils are entirely open. However, sometimes when I am climbing I can’t get enough air that way so I have to breathe thru my mouth. I think it would be very easy to enlarge the air holes a bit with a razor blade or something like that.

  3. snosler

    February 1, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    I love it – but I think if I ran with it (I run on pretty busy streets) I might scare a few folks – then again I’ve never much cared for what the other people are thinking when I’m the one doing the work 🙂 Damn cold here – 3 this am … wonder if that would have helped??

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 1, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      We were at -2F this morning — this would have helped a lot, but I have reviewed a few other balaclavas that are more effective in those temps (just do a search for “balaclava” with the search tool at the top of this page).

  4. Wild Juggler

    February 2, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    I love this! I’m seriously thinking of getting one, it’s fun scaring the locals and it’s great for protection from the cold too.

  5. MG

    February 2, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Wow, this got my attention, especially since we’ve been experiencing colder temps out in D.C. Even if it offers warmth, I don’t think I could wear it. Too intimidating! I think my style is slightly more demure. Also, you’re right about looking like a threat in some areas. I would say that applies not only to banks, but also to any convenience stores you might stop into during a ride as well.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 2, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      I hadn’t thought about the convenience stores — might have to rethink the use of this product on longer trips.

  6. Jean

    February 2, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Hope there will be 1-2 other design choices. But the semi-skull choice is a great start!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 2, 2013 at 7:36 PM

      They have a LOT of other choices (different colors and patterns).

  7. Coach Eamon

    February 2, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    “The colder it gets the less likely I am to wear products that were specifically manufactured for cyclists”
    I love Icebreaker/Smartwool underwear for retaining warmth under whatever training gear I wear. Warm and odour-free!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 2, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      I’ve seen a few pieces of Icebreaker underwear at R.E.I but have not bought any yet — I’ll have do do it before next winter.

  8. cyclingwithheels

    February 2, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    That looks pretty cool, but I’m not sure I’d want to wear something like that on the streets of London! Something a bit more girlie would be more my style – maybe pink, or floral?!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 2, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      The company does have a “girlie” designs — not sure about the pink, but definitely less intimidating than the skull.

  9. tomlet2237

    February 2, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Oh well… definitely not for me. Well done graphics. Would turn my head. But I guess I’m a type that doesn’t like grabbing attention. It’s probably a blessing that we’re all not this boring. 😉

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 2, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      It’s really not my style either — I’m not really sure why I bought it in the first place. I guess I just got bored with the other balaclavas.

  10. doctorlynn

    February 4, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Hmmm…I’m laughing thinking about wearing this to the gym for a workout. Bet I wouldn’t have to wait for any of the equipment that day! There are times it’s so cold in there that this seems like appropriate gear. I like the skull…

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 4, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      You would definitely get the attention of everyone at the gym!

  11. jennsmidlifecrisis

    February 8, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    My oldest is an urban arborist and works outside in all weather conditions. He’d love this…but his employer might not! Very cool!


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