Beneath the Helmet
Headgear doesn't just mean a helmet. Oh no, there are all sorts of options available to optimize your noggin's riding experience. From stuff to keep you warm, to stuff to keep you cool, to stuff to keep your stinky garlic breath from fogging up the visor, I recently tested a few of the available items.
Schampa coolskin balaclava $14.99
This wickable and breathable silkweight balaclava can be worn under a full face or half helmet to keep your head dry and comfy. It won't be enough for severe winter weather, but it does a nice job of taking the edge off of an evening chill and especially helps with chapping due to wind exposure. The flat seamed garment offers a smooth fit and reduced irritation. It's so comfortable, you might forget you're wearing it, but if the clerk at 7-11 pulls a shotgun on your ass, you might want to take it off....sloooooowly! One size fits most.
Schampa full bandito $11.99
Now here's what you want for winter wear if you're a devout half-shell kinda guy. Everything from your nose down will be feeling toasty, swathed in 200wt. single-layer fleece. A lycra band ensures a secure fit that won't drift down your face. Makes a perfect stocking stuffer for that rugged individualist with icicles growing out of his nose. One size fits most.
Schampa skull face mask $9.99
Poseur-wear at its finest! Little kids love it. Cagers freak when they see you. Bank tellers just plain soil themselves. Schampa skull facemasks, they're not just for Halloween anymore! Oh shut up Sean, you know you want one.
Foggy face mask 11.99 pounds (UK)
The Foggy face mask works on a simple principle. If you create a seal around the bridge of the nose and cheeks to redirect your breath downward away from the visor, you eliminate fogging. Wait a minute, that's way too easy! It could never work! Well, guess what. It does. The device is made of soft neoprene for comfort and attaches to your helmet's liner. Once fitted, it needn't be removed, but if you care to give it a cleaning, it's machine washable. The device comes in seven different colors as well, including rakish carbon-fibre.
MotoCoolStuff skullcap $12.50
OK, now here's where things get high-tech. Let's talk about PCMs. What? You've never heard of phase change materials? Welcome to the 21st century, amigo. These fabrics are coated with billions of microencapsulated chemical bubbles that change their properties from cooling to warming around the equilibrium skin temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. There are dissertation-length explanations for how this works, but we'll leave that for the reader feedback section to debate and discuss. I did have a problem with the Velcro though. It made the cap difficult to seat properly in a full face helmet. The extra material bunched and the Velcro tabs irritated my skin. In a half helmet I really didn't have a problem though, probably due to a less snug fit. The material really did work though. It never felt dramatically hot or cold but it kept me comfortable at all times and substantially reduced sweating under hot conditions.