BUFF PACK BIKE CAP
The Buff Pack Bike Cap is a lightweight, packable design for milder weathers. If you find traditional road types a bit too toasty but want a porch like peak, the bike cap makes a great three season’s option.
Pros: Lightweight, durable, with all the features of a traditional cap.
Cons: Pricey compared with traditional caps.
It’s primarily a knitted polyester fabric, with a honeycomb construction. More specifically, the crown is 94% polyester, 6% elastane, the elastic band is 100% polyester, ditto the inner sweatband and side mesh panels. The peak (or visor, as Buff prefer) is 100% polyurethane.
Aside from being smitten by the graduated grey colour and orange/black detailing, I was struck by just how thin, yet rugged it felt. (There are five other “colourways” to choose from, by the way). I was also pleased to discover stitching was similarly uniform throughout. The thin material, coupled with honeycomb construction equates to “Fast Wick Extra+” technology a tag-team serving to regulate temperature, while wicking fast. So, a soggy climate should be very short-lived in a heatwave or following a heavy shower. The inner band and silver are designed to regulate sweat and odour.
Some caps are more packable than others, though most are easily stuffed in a jersey pocket. In this instance, true to claims, it scrunches down very compactly and pops out, ready to wear, not remotely misshapen.
Now, we’re always saying that “one size fits all” begs for contradiction. For those needing specifics, this translates as 18.5x24cm and head circumferences between 53 and 61cm. As I intimated earlier, the blend of materials and soundly engineered construction permits oodles of worry-free stretch. The circumference of my head is 54cm and it graced me like the proverbial, with no unsightly elastic branding.
I’ve tested ours in temperatures ranging between 3 and 18 degrees. For a synthetic, the material feels incredibly tactile almost to the point where I was oblivious (only the big peak reminded me). Wind-chill accounted for the outing in 3 degrees and at that point, things were turning just that little too airy for comfort-especially on a 30mph descent, where I was ambushed by a slightly debilitating “ice cream” headache. Otherwise, I’ve cruised along in total comfort.
As the mercury climbs, at a decent temp there’s a very faint glow, but this is fleeting. I’ve a good shock of hair and never once felt damp, let alone soggy. The thinner material also ensured it trumped some favourites, in the comfort stakes, beneath a helmet.
Sure, I’ve tended to relax and then tighten the lid’s thumbwheel before setting off but no issues with bulk induced gathering, a minor niggle with an original buff (with peak), which I used to good effect for many years. Being a multi-use garment, the original could also be bound tight to protect children’s heads and eyes, from heat and chill.
The peak is also perfectly proportioned and marginally easier to tweak, incrementally, or when swapping between road, MTB and commuter/touring hybrid lids. While I always wear cycling specific glasses, the peaks profile has done an excellent job of shielding my eyes and upper face from the sun, wind, grit and airborne particles. Similarly, it offers decent protection to the neck, should priorities change.
Regular cut throughs along unmade roads green lanes and bridle paths confirmed it was equally competent, without compromising peripheral vision. Gert caught in a short, sharp shower and with a gentle breeze, bargain on 15 minutes before its nigh on dry. No funky smells either, despite constant wearing for 5 weeks and 600 miles.
Couldn’t be easier, toss in the machine (ideally at 30 degrees, although in with the household stuff at 40 hasn’t done anything nasty) with minimal detergent and dry naturally, either on the line, or airing-cupboard. Bargain on 30-40 minutes before its bone dry.
Depends on your yardstick. Subjectively, it ticks most of my metaphorical boxes, so would get 4/5. Nonetheless, £25.58 is hardly small change and though not quite comparable, In the like-for like stakes, you can buy waterproof and breathable caps for £25. Or alternatively, a water-resistant cap, such as the Prendas Ciclismo Lisboa . The latter will also stuff inside a jersey/jacket pocket if not required and without becoming misshapen. However, it is heavier and wicking prowess isn’t quite on a par.
In short, the Buff Cap does exactly what it promises in the blurb and very capably. I’ve really enjoyed using it, in all but the coolest conditions. When the mercury has slid to the lower end of single digits, something like the Prendas Ciclismo Lisboa Waterproof Cap is arguably a better companion.