Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review: Pearl Izumi Barrier Cycling Cap

Cycling hats rarely fit my fat noggin. And when they do, it's only until I sweat them out and then they shrink a bit. I love the Pace cotton caps (right side in the pic above), but after a month or so they shrink up and are too high-n-tight to wear comfortably. I've tried a few wool caps (left side in the pic above), which look great until I try to get them on my head, where they sort of mostly kind of fit, but more like a yarmulke with a bill. I look like a baseball player from like 1910.

In the winter, I typically wear a thin wool beanie, but I'd prefer a thin wool winter cycling cap that comes over my ears. There is one of those in that picture up there -- one that I bought from some guy online (from Portland?) a few years ago. It fits wells, but the wool is recycled from an old sweater so it gets all droopy when it gets wet. And the bill is all janky. So that never really worked.

The folks at Pearl Izumi sent me their Barrier cycling cap, which is a winter cap. And while not wool -- it's friggin perfect in how it fits. It's plastic-y stretchy poly -- so it fits my head wonderfully, which is sort of hard to document with selfie photos.

Luckily, we have some Jacks with fat heads too...

That's a lot of stretch.

Since it's poly, it picks up the funk quickly and holds onto it, which is not ideal.

But so far on cold morning runs and rides in the high-30's, I'm loving its essential function: to stay over my ears and keep my head warm.

I took a run in the pouring rain yesterday at about 40 degrees, and was soaked and warm and happy. That's probably more a function of how the head works than any particular cap, but it was nice to have a bill to keep the rain out of my eyes and the cap certainly kept the heat in.

And did I mention the stretchy part: it's super comfy. Definitely the most comfy cycling cap I've owned yet. I wish they'd figure out a stretchy way to make it out of thin wool -- that would make the best cap ever in the world -- but until then this one is good.

I'll report back at the end of the winter to provide a review of durability, super cold long commute fitness, and the like.


Alistair said...

Timely review John. I have the same problem, finding hats that fit well. I'll be giving this PI hat a shot I think.
I think the Portland guy you bought your recycled wool sweater hat from Was Shaun Deller? I've had one for quite a few years. Pretty decent hat. He's still making them.


Patrick Sullivan said...

I love wearing my Spokane hat. A buddy of mine thought Spokane was a brand name. I also met a guy from Bellingham when I was wearing my Spokane hat.
The Nitto hats you have are cool.

amidnightrider said...

I have had a lot of luck with Waltz caps. Click HERE for their web page.

John Speare said...

Alistair: I'm glad it's timely. For $35 it's a worthy gamble. Yeah: that was a Shaun Deller cap. I bought it when he very first started making them. I love the fit and the little ear flappy extensions are rad. I wonder if he's refined them a bit?

Patrick: one hat that's not there -- my favorite EVER is the Sugino hat. Rivendell sold it for a while, but I can't find it any more.

Midnight: two of those woolies on the left side of the pic are Waltz. They didn't work so well for my fet hed.

bikewrider said...

Ibex Muni is has been my go to cap for the past few years. Walz, Pace, etc are all too shallow for my big noggin.

I pair the muni with a Smartwool earband all winter.
Cap goes into a pocket when I start to build up some heat, but the band still keeps my ears warm.

John Speare said...

BWR: the ibex hat selection is interesting. I wish they made a Coppi with a Muni bill. OR a Muni with longer ear parts -- I get your solution.

My commute pile of crap is so unwieldy as it is, I hate to have to add more stuff to track. I really want to take stuff away, not add stuff. So cleaving my single "head-warmth" solution into two is not a good thing.

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