Balaclava help

8:01 p.m. on March 4, 2019 (EST)
Phil Smith
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429 forum posts

Does anyone make one of these damn things that is isn’t so tight it nearly squashes your nostrils closed? I do not have a big nose, I don’t look like Jimmy Durante or Geddy Lee in profile, but every size of every brand I’ve tried is incredibly tight across my face. I tend to just pull them down below my mouth (because my other problem with them is exhaling into the fabric fogs my glasses) but this obviously negates the face protection which is why you get a balaclava in the first place instead of just a hooded jacket. 

12:50 p.m. on March 6, 2019 (EST)
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Geddy Lee!

I have a big head; the only actual balaclava I've found so far that's even tolerably untight across my face is the OR Option. Still pretty snug though.

I've since switched to using a merino Buff for all my stretchy headwear needs. It's not the best balaclava, but it fits comfortably and is useful in other modes as well -- in particular it's perfect for covering the neck and lower face (which I combine with the aforementioned hooded jacket as needed.)

1:10 p.m. on March 6, 2019 (EST)
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I have a Patagonia balaclava which is suitably loose and comfortable when worn.  Purchased some time ago.   Time may be your friend.  Wear one a bit and see i it doesn't loosen up. 

5:15 p.m. on March 6, 2019 (EST)
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A lot of my cold outdoor gear is cross used from cold weather hiking-camping/motorcycling/snowmobiling/skiing/army-air force gear.  There is so much available on eBay.  Try staying off of the name brand sites and check out what people are using in relation to more than just name brand hiking gear.  Some of the best balaclava style gear that I own and mostly use for cold weather motorcycling is some old school airplane/air force gear that can be had of off eBay or at army surplus stores for silly cheap.  I also use a wrap around face mask made of neoprene that holds together using Velcro that I believe was made for snowmobiling when its wet outside.  It has a protrusion for the nose, holes on either side for the nostrils and holes in front of the mouth.

5:33 p.m. on March 6, 2019 (EST)
Phil Smith
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429 forum posts

I do have an extremely heavy duty nomex balaclava from my armored vehicle crewman days, it’s overkill as far as warmth but pretty comfortable. My favorite thing about it is that it has a sort of cape that goes well below the collarbones to keep it in place and keep drafts out. At least I think I still have it, I may have given it to a friend. 

i suppose I can always look for a huge styrofoam head and try stretching a wet balaclava out on it. 

8:47 p.m. on March 8, 2019 (EST)
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I picked up one of the buff scarfs they have marketed more towards the female crowd, but it is about the size of two bluffs combined, and when twisted/doubled over makes a very comfortable wear. Dude with a very fat head testifying on that.

9:43 p.m. on March 8, 2019 (EST)
Phil Smith
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429 forum posts

I’ve been thinking a shemagh would work great, but I’ve only seen them in 100% cotton. A wool or fleece one would be good. 

NorthxNorth has a shemagh and neck gaiter that look like they might work. The shemagh could also be used as extra insulation for the feet while sleeping, keep hair oil out of the sleeping bag, etc. 

12:06 a.m. on March 9, 2019 (EST)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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i also have two patagonia balaclavas.  one is really old, basic polarfleece.  doesn't always stay over my nose, it's too loose.  i'll use it for shoveling when the weather is messy.  the other is better, made from their r1 grid fabric.  they still sell balaclavas, but they're wool with a fleece lining. don't think they still sell either today.

because i often wear patagonia's r1 hoody in cold weather, though, i don't use the balaclava as much.  zipped all the way up, the r1 hoody covers my mouth and nose.

for the worst weather, high winds in very cold weather where i'm concerned about frostbite, i have a neck gaiter from the north face where the front half is windblock material. not sure if they still make it, but it's a staple in the white mountains in the winter.  once again, several years old, not sure they still sell this.

finally - Outdoor Research appears to be the blue ribbon winner for balaclavas, they sell several different types.  that might be a good place to start. 

5:39 a.m. on March 9, 2019 (EST)
Phil Smith
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429 forum posts

I have an OR Ascendant balaclava, it’s worse than my Seirus for being tight but not quite as bad for fogging my glasses. The Seirus has a fleece-lined neoprene cup for the chin & nose, this is semi-rigid and leaves large gaps on either side of my nose where exhaled air blasts right up to my glasses. 

3:28 p.m. on March 9, 2019 (EST)
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Just a suggestion.  Do you know anyone who has a sewing machine and can give you a little extra room in the coverings that seem to work but are just to tight?  Maybe add a bit spandex sewn into the back to give it a bit more stretch?  I have a friend that is always adjusting my gear for me.

5:14 p.m. on March 9, 2019 (EST)
Phil Smith
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I actually had that backwards, the OR fits looser than the Seirus but fogs my glasses worse because of it. What it really needs is a flexible aluminum splint above the bridge of the nose, like on inexpensive dust masks, so I can close the gaps where my warm, moist breath comes out right under my glasses. 

4:18 p.m. on March 10, 2019 (EDT)
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A balaclava is perhaps one of the easiest DIY garments to make. If you or someone you know has a decent sewing machine, play around with some different sizes and materials until you make the one that you like best. Personally, I use a homemade fleece balaclava when hunting, camo pattern on one side and bright orange pattern on the other. The possibilities with homemade gear are endless.

9:37 p.m. on March 10, 2019 (EDT)
Curtis Evans
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82 forum posts

Serfas makes a somewhat loose balaclava. 

The best are loose enough to wear as a hat, a face cover and a neck warmer depending on where you put it.  Most nowadays are to tight and small.

1:52 p.m. on May 4, 2019 (EDT)
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I have a light fleece balaclava mainly for sleeping in cold weather.  It is a Serius I believe. 

I carry it in my hunting daypack in case of bad weather to wear under my LL Bean fleece baseball cap.

Eric B.

July 2, 2020
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