BEST CAP: Le Col Cycling CapWe love a simple cycling cap: In fact, cycling caps are arguably the most classic piece of cycling equipment, and a piece that hasn’t necessarily needed an update as the decades have passed. We appreciate the classic style of the cotton and polyester cycling cap from Le Col. For temperatures hovering around and above freezing, this type of head covering is all you really need to keep in warmth under your helmet. We also have been impressed with how this cap fits under a helmet, and how it looks off the bike as well. While in chillier conditions, it may not be enough to keep you warm since it won’t cover your ears, it’s great for those in-between temperatures.
- Material Cotton and polyester
- MSRP: $29
BEST TOQUE: PEARL iZUMi AmFIB Lite Skull CapA good toque/beanie that can fit neatly under a helmet and provide deep coverage is hard to find. This lightweight, super-thin beanie from PEARL iZUMi doesn’t look like much, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to keeping your head warm in winter weather. The fit is just right: slim enough to fit under a helmet, but not so tight that it feels like it’s cutting off circulation to your brain. It can even work off the bike too. You may like using this hat under your ski or snowboarding helmet or if you want a lightweight but warm hat for a winter run or hike. See below for the PEARL iZUMi AmFIB Lite Balaclava if you’re interested in even more coverage.
- Material: 79% polyester, 21% spandex
- MSRP: $30
BEST CAP/TOQUE COMBO: Castelli Difesa Thermal CapIf you want the benefits of a cycling cap brim, have ears that get cold easily, and want a beanie/cap combo that can fit under a helmet, Castelli has you covered with one of our all-time favorite head coverings. We love the Thermoflex Core2 ear covers for windy days, though if you ride in a busy area, consider opting for the beanie listed above to keep ears open to better hear traffic. For warmth though, you can’t beat this one. And it holds its shape: The brim of the cap part of the hat stands up to multiple wash cycles without deforming.
- Material: Thermoflex Core2 ear covers, wool blend body
- MSRP: $40
BEST HEADBAND: Rapha Merino HeadbandFor those who tend to get a bit sweatier or those who need a space to let a ponytail out, a merino wool headband is a great compromise. We love the Rapha Merino Wool Headband for durability and comfort—one Bikerumor editor has had hers for over five years and it’s still the go-to for shoulder season rides and runs where a full hat would be overkill and breathability is an issue. It’s a shoulder-season staple, and even in the summer, it can be used as a running headband to keep sweat out of your eyes. It washes well, holds its shape, and can be tossed in the dryer without fear of shrinking.
- Material: Merino Wool
- MSRP: $30
BEST BUFF: Original BuffWhen it comes to the multi-purpose buff, you can’t beat the original Buff. The sleeve of Repreve performance—a polyester microfiber made from recycled materials—can be worn as a headband, a hat, a balaclava, a face mask, a scarf, and even sweat wiping wristband when wrapped around twice. We recommend every rider has one, even if you have favorite hats or headbands, because adding a buff allows you to turn any head covering into a balaclava by using it to cover your face and neck. They also make excellent gifts for cyclists who are impossible to shop for, since they’re always useful and fit everyone!
- Material: Repreve polyester microfiber
- MSRP: $20-24 depending on pattern and color
BEST WATERPROOF CAP: Velocio Rain CapConsider this cap the ‘all-seasons’ option for cycling cap lovers. For those riders who live in wintery climates that are more chilly and drizzly rather than cold and snowy, a waterproof rain cap is the surprise clutch addition to a winter wardrobe. This cap from Velocio is made with Polartec NeoShell in order to provide water- and wind-proof coverage while still being breathable. And we love that the cap is high-tech but doesn’t look like it: The fabric is matte and the colors are simple, giving it the vibe of a cap from the 80s rather than a futuristic hat.
- Material: Polar NeoShell
- MSRP: $49
BEST COLD WEATHER RACING: Rapha Cross Lightweight SnoodThinner and shorter than a Buff but still as versatile, we love the Rapha Cross Lightweight Snood for racing thanks to its ability to go from scarf to face mask to the headband, without a lot of extra fabric or heavy material. It’s ultra-lightweight and absorbs sweat easily. And it’s a stretchy material so if you are wearing it to the start line by accident, it’s relatively easy to pull off over a helmet if needed. It can also tuck into a saddlebag for those weird-weather rides where you may want an extra layer. Plus, we love the neutral but gravel-inspired design.
- Material: PrimaLoft® – an insulating, high-performance thermal yarn
- MSRP: $20
BEST BALACLAVA: PEARL iZUMi AmFIB Lite Balaclava
Below-freezing conditions, or planning a ride during a snowstorm? We like the PEARL iZUMi AmFIB Balaclava because, for a full-coverage balaclava, it offers a solid amount of flexibility. It’s easy to adjust as you ride, so if conditions warm up, you can pull the mouth covering down and let your face be exposed. (But when you do need full coverage, it won’t slip down.)
This one handles wash-and-wear well and can get tossed in the dryer without consequences, which is great since it’s impossible to wear it and not end up with it slightly sweaty/spit and snot-covered. Gross, yes, but it will keep you warm!
- Material: P.R.O. Thermal (90% polyester, 10% elastane), P.R.O. Barrier (100% polyester)
- MSRP: $35
PROS: Ideal for mixed conditions CONS: Gets a bit sweaty if you wear it in warmer conditions
BEST NECK GAITER: DeFeet DickadeeSome of us prefer a separate head and neck covering, allowing for easier temperature control, and the DeFeet Dickadee is the best neck gaiter we’ve tried. It has a dropped front to sit under your jersey, letting you unzip a bit while still maintaining wind protection. The top can pull up over your mouth and nose, or scrunch down below your chin. It comes in two sizes, both only in black. Just remember to pull it on before putting your helmet and sunglasses on!
- Material: 62% Recycled Polyester, 33% Nylon, 5% Lycra
- MSRP: $25