The 6 best balaclavas
Whether you’re hitting the slopes or just strolling around town on a cold winter’s day, the best balaclavas can help keep you toasty warm. The best choices will be made from a fabric you prefer and designed to provide the amount of coverage you’ll need. While many hoods cover your head, face (minus the eyes), and neck, some choices allow you to have openings on other parts of the face (like the mouth, for example) if you prefer unexposed little more cutaneous. Whichever style you choose, make sure it’s made with a material that’s comfortable and suitable for your needs.
Balaclavas can be made from a variety of fabrics and fabric blends, each with advantages and disadvantages. Merino wool is an ultra-soft, natural option that is good for regulating temperature. The only downside? It tends to be expensive. Synthetic materials like polyester and acrylic can be excellent at wicking moisture and drying fairly quickly, which is perfect for wet weather conditions or sweaty activities – however, these materials tend to hold moisture in a bit more. smells. A polyester fleece balaclava can be a super warm and economical option, but it can be also hot for certain activities and certain weather. Also be aware that synthetics are often paired with spandex (sometimes called elastane) for stretch, allowing for a secure fit that moves with you.
Also pay attention to the thickness of the hood. Medium or heavyweight models will be the hottest options. However, there are instances where this may not be desirable. For example, if you’re looking to wear your balaclava under a helmet, a thinner, lighter choice that dries quickly might be best to ensure your helmet can still fit comfortably over it and you stay comfortable even if you sweat.
Finally, be on the lookout for features to enhance your balaclava wearing experience. The mesh ventilation will allow for better breathability, while the peaks with a drawstring closure are adjustable for a better fit. Some options can even be worn as a neck warmer when you don’t want to cover your entire head. Worried about sun exposure? Some balaclavas are made from UPF protective fabric and others have an integrated visor. For more heat, there are also options with a heating element.
Buy the best balaclavas
Press? Here are the top picks for the best balaclavas.
1. A fan-favorite balaclava with breathable mesh: Balaclava Achiou
2. A mid-weight merino wool balaclava: Minus33 mid-weight merino wool balaclava
3. A warm fleece balaclava under $10: Heavy Oldelf Balaclava
4. A fleece-lined knit balaclava with a visor: TAGVO winter knitted balaclava
5. A stretchable balaclava with a fleece lining: REDESS Balaclava
6. A heated balaclava for really cold weather: Sun Will Battery Operated Balaclava Face Mask
Don’t let the cold weather ruin your day – the best balaclavas will come to the rescue, as they’re designed to keep you snug even when the temperatures drop.
1. A fan-favorite balaclava with breathable mesh
This popular balaclava has over 18,000 reviews on Amazon, with tons of reviewers commenting that it’s breathable (since it’s all mesh) and lightweight but still warm enough. Plus, it’s thin enough to slip comfortably under helmets. Made from a blend of polyester and spandex, the balaclava will cover your head, face and neck, leaving only your eyes exposed. The UPF 50+ fabric will protect you from the sun. This pick is one size fits most, and it’s also available in a range of colors and some patterns. Choose from one or two packs.
Enthusiastic review from Amazon: “The quality is excellent. It’s nice and light, and very well made. The seams are great, the design is very well done, it is very [comfortable] to wear even if it is under something like a helmet!”
Size available: One size | Material: 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane | Available colors: 9
2. A mid-weight merino wool balaclava
If you’re looking for a choice in thermo-regulating merino wool, this balaclava from Minus33 is the best of the best. The mid-weight design covers your entire head, face (minus the eyes), and neck to keep you warm in freezing weather. Flat seams and knit construction combine to make this balaclava comfortable to wear. And if you’re worried about sun exposure, it has a UPF 50+ rating to protect you from at least 98% of UVA and UVB rays. Another major advantage of this balaclava is that it can be worn as a neck warmer – just fit your whole head through the opening and you’re done. (For colder temperatures, there’s also a heavy-duty version of this pick.)
Enthusiastic review from Amazon: “I was looking for a cute but very warm woolen hat/face covering. Came across this and thought I’d give it a try. I love it!! It is very warm and super soft. I have other merino wool base layers that are not as soft as this one. Also, it keeps me very warm. I live in New England and am often outdoors (looking after my chickens!)”
Size available: One size | Material: 100% merino wool | Available colors: 18
3. A fleece balaclava under $10
Priced under $10, this warm balaclava is definitely a bargain – and the quality is also particularly excellent. But don’t just take my word for it; Amazon reviewers raved about it on the site, giving the balaclava a solid 4.3-star overall rating after more than 12,000 reviews. This heavyweight pick is made from thick fleece to keep you warm in inclement weather. It’s even windproof and dustproof. The hooded shape is a bit different from the others on this list – it will cover your head, face (minus your eyes and part of your forehead), and neck, although the two adjustable drawstrings allow for a more personalized fit. The versatile design can be worn in many other ways, including as a neck warmer.
Enthusiastic review from Amazon: “This fleece [balaclava]/hood was a great buy. Its value and quality far outweigh [its] impressive price. […] It is also a heavy fleece […] The drape of the cape fits well around my neck and shoulders. Nothing to complain about the length. I feel like it fits extremely well inside a coat, even though the top of the zipper drops a few inches. I do not hesitate and recommend this product. In fact, I’m preparing to order probably a few more.
Size available: One size | Material: 100% Polyester | Available colors: 5
4. A fleece-lined knit balaclava with a visor
When a beanie meets a balaclava, the end result is this choice. Described as heavier weight by Amazon reviewers – who incidentally gave it an overall rating of 4.4 stars after more than 3,500 reviews – this balaclava features a fleece-lined interior with faux fur for ultimate warmth. The outer knit material is actually made from synthetic acrylic to keep you dry in inclement weather. And when the sun is out, a useful visor will keep it out of your eyes. It’s designed to cover your head, face and neck, just keeping your eyes exposed.
Enthusiastic review from Amazon: “I’ve been through some really harsh winters and this balaclava is what I need to keep me warm when the biting cold winds are blowing. I wear glasses so pulling the collar up to cover my nose gives me protection to pretty much total. The fur on the collar is so soft too. When the winter winds blow again, I’ll be ready with this hat!”
Size available: One size | Material: Acrylic, Fleece, Elastic | Available colors: 4
5. A stretchable balaclava with a fleece lining
Covering the head, neck and face (minus the eyes), this cozy balaclava will become your new cold-weather go-to, especially because it uses a combination of materials to reap each of their distinct benefits. Polyester and spandex make up the exterior – so it’s perfectly stretchy and moisture-wicking – while fleece lines the entire interior for a lot heat. Amazon reviews confirm that this pick can be used comfortably for long periods of time. And it can also be worn as a neck warmer, hat or scarf, if desired.
Enthusiastic review from Amazon: “It’s warm. It’s soft. It doesn’t get in the way of the eyes, nose or mouth. My husband uses it to blow snow and stays warm and dry. It doesn’t allow wind or snow to get in through the neck. He says it’s the best winter thing ever done!
Size available: One size | Material: Polyester, spandex | Available colors: 9
6. A heated balaclava for really cold weather
For really cold weather conditions, you’ll be happy to have this heated balaclava on hand – with a built-in heating element, it’s definitely the warmest option on this list. Powered by rechargeable batteries, the balaclava can stay warm for up to eight hours on low, five hours on medium and four hours on high. And when it’s time to recharge, simply remove the battery and plug it into an outlet. The balaclava is made of polyester and spandex, and it has a velor lining. It covers your head, neck and face except for the eyes, and a small mesh panel in the front allows for easier breathing.
Enthusiastic review from Amazon: “I got this for my son who is in college and rides a moped. He loves this balaclava! It comes in an awesome box with instructions on connecting the battery and washing. You can machine wash but I prefer hand washing Thick and warm on their own without the batteries, the batteries will surely intensify that warmth while walking or biking to class Also great for the ski slopes Be sure to charge 4 hours before use it.There are 3 settings: low, medium and high.Clear, well-written instructions for use, cleaning and charging are included.
Sizes available: Small — X-Large | Materials: Polyester, elastane, velvet | Available colors: 1