Anti-gearhead gear review: the neck gaiter

This week, temperatures plunged below zero. It’s the type of cold that lends even a mundane outing the thrill of a polar expedition. Without a car and low on groceries, I’ve found myself scooting around town by bike. I’ve yet to slip on a patch of black ice, and, somehow, I’ve enjoyed my winter rides: the quiet — as if the whole town has slipped into hypothermia— and the snow — that can make even a coal-fired power plant look tranquil. But best of all are the strange looks shoppers in the parking lot send my way. They stare as I lock my bike among the drifts. I fire back a smug grin. Little do they know that they’re the ones missing out. 

Ready to run!

The secret to riding in the cold lies in how you dress. And in the past weeks, I’ve discovered my new favorite companion for winter rides and runs — a neck gaiter. These fleece tubes are a near-perfect design for snowy adventures. It seems strange to praise such a simple piece of gear in a world bursting with “high-tech” winter apparel and marketing teams so good they’ve convinced an entire generation of runners that tights are cool. 

A neck gaiter allows you to turn any outfit into a pseudo turtleneck — ugly but warm. While most people assume the proper way to wear a gaiter is straight up and down, covering your face, they haven’t discovered the magic of its stretch. By tilting the gaiter forward, you can comfortably cover both your ears and chin, while leaving your face uncovered. For mouth-breathers like myself, this is a welcome relief from the moist discomfort of running with your blowhole covered. Not to mention, gaiters are easy to fit under a bike helmet and offer a number of nifty ways to wear them so you don’t overheat. 

Enough about a silly winter garment. If you haven’t tried wearing one, dig through your friend’s ski box and give it a shot. And remember, if you’re warm, winter is almost as fun as summer.