There are many good-quality cycling balaclavas available. So many, that it can make it hard to choose. For help choosing, see my in-depth post on factors to consider when buying a balaclava, which includes a list of the Seven Best Cycling Balaclavas. I wrote that post because many people let me know they could not obtain the balaclava reviewed below. My new post has links to balaclavas that are easily available.
However, this Dakota balaclava was one of my best cycling buys ever! It was cheap, yet it works perfectly. With all the fun (and expensive) things one can buy for cycling, you might be wondering why I would bother to write a review about such an apparently insignificant item as a balaclava.
If you’re wondering that, then you’ve probably never been caught in freezing rain or snow wearing nothing but a cycling helmet. It’s happened to me more than once, and it really is NOT fun. Even without snow or freezing rain, sub-zero temperatures make for jaw-aching, teeth-chattering cold during the early morning commute. Once when I was accidentally caught in freezing rain and then snow, I was almost hypothermic by the time I got to work. This caused me to embark on a search for effective winter cycling gear.
After a year of spending a LOT of money on cycling accessories, including expensive “water proof” gloves that are NOT water proof, I was not very optimistic about the $22 Dakota balaclava I found at Mark’s Work Warehouse. However, it felt soft and cosy, so I decided to give it a try.
Turns out, the Dakota balaclava is perfect for cycling in the cold!
- First off, it’s comfy (and it does not make me feel claustrophobic).
- Second, it covers all the important bits of my head, even coming down low on my neck to tuck into my jacket. So there’s no wind whistling in, and my face is all warmly wrapped in cosy comfort.
- Third, it has a little breathing bit concealed near the nose, so you can breathe – always useful, and especially so when you are cycling uphill. It does not have a mouth hole to drink water through, but if you are thirsty, see #4.
- Fourth, it’s versatile: when I start to feel TOO warm, or just want a slug of water, I can just pull the nose bit down below my chin. Looks odd, no doubt, but I don’t really care – most people think anyone on a bike in sub-zero temperatures looks odd, anyway. They tend to avert their eyes, as most people do in the face of severe mental illness.
All in all, this is a cheap, comfy balaclava that does the job: keeping you warm and comfy while outdoors, even in snowy, very cold conditions. I totally recommend this Dakota balaclava to anyone who wants to cycle (or hike or canoe or ski or snowboard or whatever) in this great big fridge we fondly call Canada. (Or any other cold place where we humans foolishly choose to live.)
Note that this Dakota balaclava can be hard to find. If you cannot find it, Amazon has an amazing range of cycling balaclavas at very competitive prices.
Note: In the photo, my oldest offspring, Kacey, is modelling the balaclava. As I am so pale, and the balaclava is so dark, my little Canon Powershot could not deal with the contrasts. So the photo we took of me modelling it was pretty scary – it looked like Casper the Friendly Ghost in a balaclava, which is a distressing sight. (Or just really funny, if you happen to be my wife.)
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