Dec 18 2012

Listen Up, Hotheads! Here’s How to Keep Your Cool,
While Your Ears Stay Toasty Warm

Cover Your Ears

Are you a hothead? Do you overheat if your head is covered, even in the coldest weather? I hear you. It’s a common problem among active folks. Luckily, the solution is straightforward. Don’t wear a hat. (But be sure you have one in your pack for those days when you find yourself standing around in the cold. Even hotheads can get hypothermia, after all.)

There is one problem with this attractively simple solution, however. Well, no, there are two problems: your ears. Back in the days when I haunted the ski slopes, I’d often arrive at the bottom of a run with sweat running down my face. But my ears would be frosty white. This continued until my uncle returned from a tour of duty in Italy, bringing gifts for all the family. My present was a knitted “ear sock,” aka headband. I took to it immediately. Whether you call it earsock or headband, it’s a godsend for hotheads like me.

And what is it? Just a stretchy circlet made from some warm fabric. It covers your ears, your forehead and the nape of your neck, leaving your sweaty crown open to the air. Another plus: Headbands can be worn under helmets. That’s good news for all-season cyclists, who often discover that, next to their fingers, their ears are the first bits to feel the bite of the wind.

The earsock my uncle gave me is long gone, but I got an inexpensive replacement at Campmor—though I’m afraid you won’t be able to buy one. Following modern marketing practice, in which “new” is everything and utility counts for (almost) nothing, Campmor dropped it from their catalog some years back. Still, it’s easy to find something similar. Not all headbands are equal, however. I also have a little fleece number from Turtle Fur. It’s toasty warm, but its bulk makes it a poor choice for helmeted cyclists. Moreover, because it lacks the elasticity of my Campmor headband, it’s prone to slipping.

By the way, even if you’re not a hothead, headbands make sense. Farwell, whose topsides are now bare of any natural insulation, wears both a skullcap and a headband when cycling, with a headover kept in reserve for arctic days. That way he can fine-tune his heat balance under all conditions.

Cold Wind

What about you? Are you a hothead, too? Then why not add a headband to your outdoor wardrobe? They’re cheap, light, and easy to stow in pocket, pack, or bar bag. Few items of clothing do so much with so little. In fact, I’m betting that even non-hotheads will want one.

Further Reading


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