While many cyclists retreat indoors during cold-weather months to train, the diehards still love letting the blustery winds and near-freezing temperatures rip across their face as they tackle a long climb.
Of course, those cyclists understand they need the proper gear to make those rides a reality, and that includes cycling balaclavas to keep their heads warm.
Finding that perfect cycling balaclava isn’t easy though with so many options on the market. To make things a little easier, I’ve compiled some of most popular ones out there on this page.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Balaclavas for Riding in the Winter
Cycling Balaclava Buying Guide & Tips
There’s not a whole lot to dive into when it comes to cycling balaclavas, but you should still understand a couple of things before making a purchase.
Use this short guide to make the best possible decision.
Sizing and Coverage
When it comes to sizing up your balaclava, there’s not much to worry about. Pretty much every balaclava is one size fits all.
So, if you have a bigger or smaller head, you could have some issues with sizing.
The Gore Wear Windstopper Balaclava, for instance, runs small, according to several cyclists who have purchased it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. A tighter-fitting balaclava can keep your face warmer and it shouldn’t move around on you while riding.
In terms of coverage, the opening around your nose and eyes is what’s going to vary the most.
The Louis Garneau Matrix 2.0 Balaclava, for instance, covers a large portion of the face, leaving just a small opening for your eyes.
The Giro Balaclava is a scuba-style balaclava with a much larger opening around the nose and eyes.
Here’s a fact that will leave you itching your face; balaclavas have historically been made with wool.
Of course, more modern materials have been implemented over the years to better protect against wind and rain.
Exteriors of balaclavas vary, but one material that’s consistent across all interiors is a fleece. It’s super soft and does a great job at keeping your face, forehead, and neck warm.
To keep these balaclavas staying on your head, most manufacturers incorporate some stretchy material, like spandex, along with more traditional winter gear materials, like nylon and polyester.
It’s also common for manufacturers to give a special name to their blended material. The Louis Garneau Matrix 2.0 Balaclava, for instance, is made with Matrix material, which is really just a blend of nylon, polyester, and spandex.
Most importantly, when it comes to materials, make sure the balaclava you’re purchasing doesn’t contain any materials that you may be allergic to.
Our Favorite Cycling Balaclavas
A scuba-style balaclava that’s packed with microfleece, but thin enough to easily fit under a helmet, the Giro Balaclava is an affordable option that’s stretchy and extremely comfortable.
The source of this balaclava’s comfort is the microfleece interior, which is not only very soft on the face, but it keeps your head nice and warm, too.
We like the style of this balaclava because you can use it as a neck gaiter, which has been popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, or as a traditional face mask. The protection of this balaclava should give you the confidence to ride in temperatures that are below 40ºF.
And for the ladies (and gentlemen) with longer hair, the Giro Balaclava is compatible with ponytails.
Assos Assosoires Ultraz Winter Face Mask
This is a balaclava designed for cyclists. Its slim profile makes wearing a helmet very easy and comfortable.
For the cyclist who’s brave enough to hit the roads in a winter storm, the Assos Assosoires Ultraz Winter Face Mask won’t protect you from a hard fall, but it will certainly keep your head and face quite warm and comfortable.
The synthetic fibers used in it add to its great durability, allowing you to rely on it for several seasons. And if you wear it like a neck gaiter, you can still tuck it into your jacket or jersey, thanks to its slim profile.
Really, the only downside to this balaclava is that it can get a little too warm. So, make sure you’re using it in the right conditions.
Louis Garneau Matrix 2.0 Balaclava
The Louis Garneau Matrix 2.0 Balaclava keeps your face so warm you won’t even notice the near-freezing temperatures.
We really like the design of this balaclava, especially its four-way stretch knit, which cuts down on chafing. It also makes it easy to take on and off. The faceguard on this Louis Garneau balaclava covers everything but your eyes. So, while you’ll look like a ninja on a road bike, at least you won’t be cold.
On a serious note, when the full faceguard is up, you can also breathe quite easily thanks to the combination of nylon, polyester, and spandex. This Louis Garneau balaclava only comes in black.
Giordana Roubaix Balaclava
The Giordana Roubaix Balaclava is a solid option for those chilly bike rides. It blocks wind, wicks sweat, and keeps your noggin nice and warm.
This balaclava is made of Roubaix, which is a combination of nylon and spandex. It’s a tough material with enough stretch to easily get it on and off your head.
This headgear definitely keeps you warm on those windy rides, but be aware that the fabric is pretty tight. It might take a couple of hard tugs to get it over your head, but that tightness contributes to its ability to keep you warm.
The fact that this Giordana Roubaix Balaclava is so tight-fitting allows cyclists to easily put their bike helmet over it.
Gore Wear Windstopper Balaclava
A premium piece of headgear, the Gore Wear Windstopper Balaclava has a big price tag but delivers in keeping your head warm against bitterly cold winds.
Anything by Gore Wear is designed for the harshest of conditions, so you’ll have the confidence in cruising down a big hill as the harsh winds are cut out by the Gore Windstopper membrane. We really like how the mouth area of this balaclava is perforated. It makes breathability much easier.
This Gore Wear balaclava, which is one size fits all, can run small for cyclists with larger heads. If you can deal with the tightness when putting it on, you’ll appreciate the warmth it provides.
Pearl Izumi Barrier Balaclava
A top feature of the Pearl Izumi Barrier Balaclava is its adjustable face panel, which makes it perfect for rides that start cold and get warmer as the morning goes on.
A common problem with balaclavas, in general, is that your head can overheat as you knock out miles on your road, which is why we really like this Pearl Izumi model. The fabric on the forehead is also pretty innovative. It’s lightweight but still does well protecting your head against the wind, in addition to light rain.
The reflective elements on this Pearl Izumi balaclava is also a nice touch for night rides. Many in this product class don’t include it.
Sugoi Firewall Balaclava
Designed for intense wind and water protection while cyclists take on the harshest of cold conditions, the Sugoi Firewall Balaclava is the ultimate head warmer.
At first glance, this Sugoi Balaclava looks like a normal head warmer used in the winter. But upon further investigation, you’ll notice Firewall 180 on the forehead, face, and neck, which does a tremendous job against wind and rain. The inside is all fleece, which is super comfortable and does a great job keeping your cheeks warm.
The price of this Sugoi balaclava is higher than other products in its class, but if you’re prone to cycle on freezing days, it’s worth the money.