It’s -4 degrees outside right now, and I can hear the wind howling as I type. In my office, it’s a comfortable 72 degrees thanks to a trusty space heater. Alas, I can’t do all of my training in my office, which means dressing appropriately. I’m always on the lookout for a piece of running gear that is going to make my outdoor experience more comfortable, whether it be in extreme heat or extreme cold. The balaclava has become an integral part of my winter running apparel as I have committed to remaining outside in freezing conditions. That commitment has been arguable put to the test more this winter than in any previous winter. I will admit that I did break down and purchase a pass to the university rec facilities, not only for access to the indoor track (you didn’t think I was getting on the treadmill, did you?), but also to use the fitness equipment as I commit to more strength-training this year. That, however, is a topic for a future post.
Today, I wanted to share a quick review of my new favorite balaclava. I’m a big fan of UnderArmor Coldgear products as excellent base layers. I’ve had a basic balaclava for quite some time, and pull it out whenever the temperature drops below 10 degrees, or the wind is particularly aggressive. It has served me well, but constant use means it tends to get a bit, shall we say, messy. Thus, I felt it was time to add a second into my rotation to allow for more regular washing without interrupted use. I picked up the Coldgear Infrared hood on sale before the holidays, and have no had a chance to put it through the paces repeatedly.
In general, the appearance of the Infrared is no different than my standard UnderArmor balaclava. Both hoods fit snuggly over your head, allow for full face coverage, and are adjustable. i like being able to pull it up over my nose so only my eyes are exposed, but also pull it down under my chin for more ventilation. The fabric is 87% polyester and 13% elastane, which makes for a tight fit, and allows you to wear it as a simple neck gaiter as well. What sets the Infrared apart is the “soft, thermo-conductive coating on the inner layer”. Surprisingly, this added aspect made a subtle but discernible difference.
The Infrared is a bit looser around the neck, but still easily tucks into whatever base-layer or winter running coat you may be wearing. The elasticity has held rather well, and I’ve noticed no excessive stretching of the fabric, which is common in many garments of this type. Overall, I’ve been very pleased with this new addition to my winter running arsenal. The UnderArmor Coldgear Infrared Hood promises to keep your head toasty warm whether it’s -10 or 10 degree out.