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Reviews > Clothing > Accessories > Columbia Mad River Headband > Owner Review by Kathleen Waters

February 08, 2009


NAME: Kathleen Waters
AGE: 57
LOCATION: White Lake, Michigan USA
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

I started hiking in 1998 after an eye-opening climb up Hahn's Peak in Colorado. Hooked, I return to Colorado often. I've hiked/snowshoed glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in domestic and exotic locations, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. At home, I plan for 2-3 hikes of 6-8 mi (10-13 km) weekly and one weekend hike monthly. Weekday hikes take place in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a mixture of heavily-wooded moderate hills and flat terrain. Weekend hike locations vary. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) including food and water


Manufacturer: Columbia Sportswear Company
Year of Manufacture: 2001
Manufacturer's Website:
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 0.5 oz (14 g)
Size: One Size Fits All
Colors: 16 different colors
Color Reviewed: Blue Yonder (Blue)
Manufacturer's Description: "Ward off the wind with our specially designed headband made for the mountain. "
Fabrics and Features
  • 100% polyester MTRô Fleece

  • Single layer fleece
  • "Maximum Thermal Retention" (MTR) fleece is a quick-drying, non-pilling polyester stretch fleece.
  • Mad River Headband
    Picture Courtesy of Columbia Sportwear Company


    The Columbia Mad River Headband is a fleece headband approximately 3 in (8 cm) wide and uniform in width. Laying flat, the headband measures 7.5 in (19 cm).

    There is a single seam which sits at the back of the head when the headband is worn. A double stitched hem runs along each side. There is a very discreet black label with the Columbia Sportswear Company name and logo. Two cloth labels are sewn into the single back seam inside the headband. One label is a Columbia logo label indicating the headband is "unisex" and "one size fits all". The other label offers care instructions and the fabric composition. Both labels indicate the headband was "Made in Taiwan".

    Care instructions are listed as: "Machine wash cold in mild detergent with like colors. Do not bleach. Tumble dry low. Do not iron. Do not dry clean." The usual international symbols for care are also given.


    Over the past 7 years, I have worn my Mad River Headband just about everywhere I've hiked except for tropical locations like Costa Rica and hot desert regions like Death Valley. From Colorado to Michigan and Iceland to Slovenia, I've donned the headband whenever the weather warranted some ear protection but not full head covering. Terrain varied greatly from rain forests to deserts, glaciers, mountains, prairies and just about everything in-between.

    I've worn the headband in temperatures as low as 1 F (-17 C) and temperatures as high as 65 F (18 C). At the lowest temperatures I wore the headband in addition to another hat, usually a cloche type fleece hat. At the highest temperatures, I wore the headband, not for warmth, but to keep out blowing winds. Rain, snow, sleet, wind and sunshine all have been experienced by me while the headband encircled my noggin.

    I first purchased the Mad River Headband for the most frivolous of reasons. It matched my Columbia Jacket! I was looking for alternative headwear for a snowshoe trip I was taking near Beaver Creek, Colorado. I knew I would need ear protection, but not necessarily whole head protection. The Mad River Headband looked like it would fit my needs and was priced right. Sold!

    It wasn't until I actually started to use the headband that I realized how neat it was for me. The softness of the material felt great against my face. While I don't truly know if "one size fits all", I can say, the sizing was perfect for me. It even fits comfortably over my sunglasses without compressing the arms into my head. Once on, I forget I even have it on. It's that comfortable. Obviously, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to put on or take off, but one handed adjusting isn't a feature of some of my other head gear.

    Waterproof, the headband is not, but in a light mist or snow, it doesn't absorb water quickly. It sufficiently keeps moisture out of my ears. And when wet, it can easily be wrung fairly dry.

    The headband keeps my ears warm, but since most of my head is exposed when wearing the headband, I don't get overly hot. When it is too cold for even a traditional hat, I have worn the headband underneath a hat. There is very little volume in the material so even my tightest caps fit over the headband.

    In warm (or cold) windy weather, the headband is invaluable to me. I've worn what is called "completely in the canal" hearing aids in both my ears since early adulthood. Wind blowing my ears is not only headache inducing, but causes me to be extremely hard of hearing. I often have trouble wearing headgear because, conversely, not having free movement of air (sound) has a negative result - I can't hear well. The Mad River Headband treads the very thin line of being tight enough without being too tight. It keeps blowing wind out, but lets in sound. So I am able to hear him, should my husband shout "Bear!" The headband has a secondary purpose in windy weather of keeping my hair out of my face.

    I can't say I've taken any special care of the headband. I throw it in the cold wash with all my other dark wash and it usually gets tossed in the dryer, too. It's held up for 8 years now and I expect it to last many more.


    1. The Mad River Headband keeps my ears warm in even the coldest weather.
    2. Light weight and compact size means I can carry the headband anywhere and everywhere until it's needed
    3. The Mad River Headband is soft and comfortable to wear.


    1. The choice of colors for the Mad River Headband is so great that I want one in every color - bad for my pocketbook ;).


    It's a rare backpack when I don't carry my Mad River headband. Even in the summertime, I never know when our famous mountain "breezes" are going to play havoc with my hearing aids. Since the headband packs down so small and weighs so little, I can tuck it into a corner of any pack I'm carrying or pocket of any pants/shorts I'm wearing.

    Up until now, the headband has worn like iron and I will continue to use it extensively. When it finally gets ratty enough, I will be replacing it with another Columbia Mad River headband. Thanks Columbia Sportswear Company for a great product!

    Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

    This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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