FUNKIER NUEVA THERMAL SKULL CAP
Funkier’s Nueva Thermal Skull Cap sits amongst their winter head-ware range, which also includes a balaclava and ear-warmers, too. Having tested Funkier gear before, I was expecting good performance at a very fair price. I’ve not been disappointed, with a nice snug fit and a cosey feeling under road and off-road helmets.
Pros: wicks well, warm and dry.
Cons: more expensive than simpler models.
Made from a combination of microfleece, Lycra, and thermoplastic polyurethane, Funkier’s Nueva UH 02 Winter Skull Cap comes in one size. The Lycra provides plenty of stretch; the microfleece lining keeps things cosy; the TPU coated front panel aims to give additional protection, where it is most needed, from rain and wind. That might give a nudge to head-down speedsters, but it is worth noting that thermoplastic polyurethane can be a very soft, pliable material – as it is in this case – so there’s no price to be paid in terms of comfort.
The panels are neatly stitched, and the whole thing exudes function and effectiveness, but it feels very comfortable with a smooth inner. Funkier state that it is windproof, waterproof, and breathable, which should keep it that way.
Some skull caps offer special designs to accommodate pony tails (see value section). These all give greater coverage of the head. The Nueva is more genuinely a skull cap. If you have a pony-tail, it may well work for you, depending on location and angle of elevation – it’d take me several months to reach a stage where I could comment.
Size and fit 3.5/5
I have an ‘officially’ big-head. Add to that the need for a snug fit under my lid, and there’s a decent challenge for a “unisize” garment. It passed with ease, and smaller-headed folk have found it a good fit, too. That Lycra clearly does its stuff. We’ve all found it a comfortable fit, too. Some felt that panels would be less appealing than a simple one-piece cap, but their concerns did not materialise.
This is a skull cap. It just reached over the very tops of my ears, but tended not to stay there.
Testing was during a UK mid-winter. Temperatures were around the 3-4C mark for the most part, although they did get higher at times. However, a real test was provided by the “lazy” wind on the north Norfolk (UK) coast. What’s that? Well, a north or north-east wind hits the coast having been uninterrupted since leaving the Artic. As the poem goes;
That lazy wind, that crazy wind,
From icy seas comes to yer;
She can’t be bothered going round,
And so she go straight through yer.
Alright, wind chill taken down below zero or just below, is not Green Bay in the middle of winter – as one reader regularly reminds me – but it gives some context. North Norfolk is primarily flat, but it is possible to work up a good sweat pushing in to a strong headwind. Other testing took place in the hillier edges of the Peak District.
A cosy feeling has been maintained throughout. That reinforced front panel certainly seemed to make a difference when heading into the strong north-easterly. Nor did things get too hot when riding quickly in more sheltered, hedge-lined lanes. Hitting longer climbs, I’ve found things have warmed up quickly, but the compensation has been absence of brain-freeze on longer descents.
It is worth noting that I cook at a degree C or so less than the average human. Building up a sweat on a good climb is inevitable, but this clears up quickly when the summit is reached. However, this is a warm garment, so in a changeable climate such aa the UK’s, a layered system (i.e. lighter-weight skull cap combined when necessary with a waterproof helmet-cover (or vice-versa) may be more efficacious for multi-day rides. Of course, different climatic conditions prevail elsewhere.
Waterproof? Well, it seems to be. steady drizzle and bursts of heavy rain haven’t left my hair soaking. Nor has sweat during faster bursts and hill-climbing, although a low levelk of moistness is to be expected, even with decent wicking. This is designed as a winter cap, so I’d not anticipate great wicking in higher temperatures. However, even on steep climbs, only a little sweatiness has accumulated, and that soon dispersed.
Care, washing, and drying 3/5
Care is easy. Just bung it in with the general wash. It takes a while to dry out, so expect overnight indoors, or a couple of hours on a breezy, sunny day outdoors.
Arriving at work after a rainy commute, the cap has dried - with the aid of a gentle heat source, by home time.
The Proviz Classic Skull Cap is much cheaper, lighter, and is more appropriate off the bike. Probably a better bet for all-year round use in your touring set up, it can’t match the warmth of the winter specific Funkier Nueva during colder weather. In that sense, for the regular winter cyclist, it is well-worth that bit extra to prevent brain-freeze! On the other hand, a combination of cheaper skull cap and helmet cover, such as this one from Raval, may well have a similar impact and offer more in the way of year-round flexibility.
Closer comparisons can be made with Altura Skull Cap, £17.00. Like the Nueva, it has a reinforced front panel. A trifle pricier is Seal Skinz All Weather Skull Cap, whilst Bontrager’s Windshell Skull Cap is cheaper but does not claim to be so effective against the rain. They all offer pony-tail compatible features. Pony-tail compatible helmets are available. On that topic, the relative shortness of the Nueva should make it compatile with pon-tails.
A very useful winter specific garment for the rider who keeps going throughout the winter months.