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Reviews > Clothing > Accessories > Mental Gear Head Case > Test Report by Amanda Tikkanen

April 22, 2008



NAME: Amanda Tikkanen
AGE: 26
LOCATION: Southeast Indiana, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I have been hiking and backpacking since the spring of 2000 throughout Michigan and Indiana, covering several hundred miles, always with a dog by my side. Beau, my second trail dog, has been happily carrying a pack since 2002. My style of backpacking is moving from overnights to long distance hiking, including multi-day trips. Even though I have Beau with me, I'm usually the solo human on the trek, so I like to go as light as possible while still being comfortable. I document our adventures and misadventures on my website,



Manufacturer: Mental Gear
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $14.95
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 1 oz (28.4 g)
Measured Length: 18.5 in (47 cm)
Measured Circumference: 19.5 in (50 cm)
Materials: Polyester micro-fibre

Headcase on Card
Menal Headcase


The Mental HeadCase arrived on a round cardboard display which showed instructions on how to use the accessory. The instructions were pretty straightforward, which is nice. It had suggestions on several ways possible to use the item, with plenty left to the imagination. Suggested uses are: bandana, head band, face mask, balaclava, scrunchee, helmet cover, beanie, neck warmer, and skull cap. The back of the card also has tips on folding the Headcase into a beanie and a skull cap. It also states that the accessory "works for all kinds of activities. It provides maximum comfort and protection against wind, snow, sun, etc." It also states "The HeadCase is constructed without seams and will not loose its shape. The micro-fibre dries in minutes, retains it elasticity and does not fray."

I should note that "loose" and "retains it elasticity" is what is printed on the instruction/display card. This is incorrect spelling/grammar.

Headcase Instruction Card

The HeadCase is a tube of knit polyester micro-fibre that, when laid flat, is a rectangle. The outside of this tube is printed (in my case a BRIGHT tie dye scheme) with white on the inside. The "Mental" logo is printed on the outside several times. The nature of the way the material is knit up makes the cut edges of the tube curl up, like the way a T-shirt does once the hem stitching has come loose.

Headcase Laid Flat

The polyester is soft and feels a lot like cotton. It is slightly shinier than cotton, though. It is also very stretchy in the circumference, but not much, if at all, in the length. It does seem very light, so I am unsure at how well it will insulate in the cold, but only testing will show for sure!


I like multiple use items. During the test period I'll be using the Mental Headcase in as many ways possible, including how the manufacturer advertises and any other ideas I come up with. I have no (well, very little) facial hair, so I will see how it works as protection for my face and neck against the elements. I wonder how it will work with my layering system (especially my jacket and hat). I also wonder if it works well as a hair tie as shown on the manufacturer's website.

As I am not likely to see serious amounts of sun over the next few months, I doubt I'll be using the HeadCase for sun protection. I'll be looking to see how well the Headcase sheds precipitation, keeps me warm, and cleans up. I'll also be looking at how much wear it shows during testing, including loose fibers, worn spots, and losing its shape. I'll look to see how comfortable the garment is, with regards to “hand feel” of the fabric, fit (too tight or loose), moisture regulation, and temperature regulation. I'll make note of anything else that comes up during the test cycle.


Initial Likes:

Cool colors
Multiple uses

Initial Dislikes

Spelling/Grammar mistakes on labeling

I thank Mental Gear and Backpack Gear Test for the opportunity to test the Mental Headcase



I tested the Mental HeadCase in Southeast and Northeast Indiana, and Southwest Ohio on six day hikes over the past two months. Temperatures ranged from 15 to 50 degrees (-9.4 to 10 C). Trip lengths were day or evening hikes from 2 to 4 hours. I also used it while running errands around town since it fills the gap between the collar of my sweater and the brim of my hat.

Elevation ranged from 983 ft (300 m) in Southeastern Indiana to 972 ft (296 m) in Southwest Ohio and1053 ft (361 m) in Northeastern Indiana.

The only precipitation encountered was light snow.


So far I have used the Mental HeadCase as a neck gaiter, face mask, beanie, balaclava, and a hair tie.

In the temperatures encountered the HeadCase worked well at keeping the chill off my face and neck--a pleasant surprise since it is very thin. On the hikes I took it wasn't very windy, so I cannot comment on how well it blocks the wind.

When worn as either a face mask or a neck warmer it was used as part of a layering system which included a baselayer shirt, a wool sweater or fleece softshell jacket, a puffy jacket or vest, and a close-fitting wool or fleece cap. It was snug to my face, without being so tight that it strangled me or so loose that it fell down. It covers the gap left between the top of my sweater or jacket and the bottom of my hat. I'm able to pull the Head Case up over my nose and cheekbones to protect them from the cold. When worn in this fashion I can also cover my ears with the top of the Head Case without the bottom pulling up and exposing my neck, thanks to the length of the item. Covering my nose also helped warm the cold air before I inhaled through my nose. Normally breathing in cold air irritates my nasal passages, but I noticed less irritation with just the light layer of clothing provided by the Head Case.

I used the HeadCase as an emergency hair tie after my normal elastic broke on a hike. It is a little bulky--more than what I'd normally like and what would normally be offered by a hair tie-- but it was still much better than loose hair flopping around. I had to bunch up the Head Case and then wrap it around my hair about 4 times to get a snug fit for a ponytail. I didn't notice any slipping or my hair working loose while hiking. Normally when I pull an elastic hair tie loose from my ponytail a few hairs are pulled free with it this didn't happen with the HeadCase, which was really nice.

I wanted to see how the HeadCase would perform as a beanie (close fitting stocking cap) so I folded it as directed in the instructions. When I did so the length of the resulting hat was very short, leaving my ears exposed to the elements. I will attempt different tying configurations to get a hat that fits during the long term test phase of this trial.

When I tried to use the HeadCase as a balaclava I had trouble fitting it over my head--it feels very tight and constrictive at my throat. Also when worn in this configuration the material bunches at my throat just behing my jaw and the bottom edge pulls up, exposing my neck. I can minimize the cold that reaches my skin if I'm also wearing a turtleneck or mock turtleneck top, but with a crewneck top I am definitely feeling a breeze. I will see if I can get the item to fit better in the Field Test portion of this test.


I will continue to use the Mental HeadCase over the next few weeks in the cold, then, provided the weather cooperates, I will see how it performs in warmer temperatures for the duration of the test cycle. I will see how it performs in its other uses, such as the bandana, head band, and beanie.


So far I've been happy with the HeadCase. Please check back in approximately two months for the final report of this test series.


Many uses
Warm in moderate temperatures


Doesn't cover my ears when used as a beanie
Doesn't fit well when used as a balaclava
Slightly bulky when used as a hair tie

I would like to thank Mental Gear and for the opportunity to test the HeadCase multipurpose accessory.



I have used the HeadCase in southeast Indiana and southwest Ohio while on dayhikes or while doing my normal day-to-day stuff. Conditions were very similar to those found during my field report portion of this test, with temperature and precipitation differences noted below. In all I have used the Head Case approximately 5 additional days.

During the long-term phase of this test temperatures ranged from around freezing to 50 degrees (10 C) and precipitation has been light rain.


During the final portion of this test I used this item as a head band, but it never really felt comfortable. The bulk of the rolled up material is rather tight on my head and puts a lot of pressure on my temples and forehead. Since I never got very sweaty, I didn't notice how it worked as a sweat band. It is also possible that the material did a good job at wicking away any moisture.

I attempted to use the HeadCase as a bandana, pulling the tube into position as directed. It doesn't feel very snug when I do this. Combined with the loose fit, the knot formed when I do wear the Head Case as a bandana hits my pony tail and feels like it is going to fall or be pulled off my head. I was unable to get a good fit even after several tries. For me this isn't much of a problem since I rarely wear a bandana anyway.

I did figure out how to use the HeadCase as a regular hat! Instead of twisting the center of the tube, as instructed, to make a beanie, I simply tied a knot in one end and pulled the open end over my head and ears and wear it as a toque. It's simple, but I no longer have cold spots on my head or ears. When I do this the material holds a knot very well and can be hard to untie. I have included a picture of the Head Case worn as a toque.

A toque is a hat!

I enjoy the HeadCase while worn as a toque since it's not heavy or bulky. It's nice to have in case it's a little cool out, but still too warm for a thick fleece or wool cap. When worn in this fashion it's stretchy and pulls down over my ears and forehead without being too tight.

I still haven't discovered a comfortable way to wear the Head Case as a balaclava, which bothers me a little since I'd like to have that option to add a little better protection to my layering system.

I'm still a fan of the small size of the Head Case. It easily packs away in a jacket, pack, or pants pocket when I don't need it. When I pull it out of wherever I crammed it I only need to shake it lightly to get it to open up for use.

I did get some unidentifiable forest crud stuck to the outside of the Head Case, but whatever it was scratched free with my thumbnail. It seemed to dry pretty quickly from any precipitation it encountered. I also rinsed it out in my sink with no ill effects.


I will use the HeadCase in the future both as part of my layering system in the colder months as well as while in my sleeping bag as needed.


The Mental Gear HeadCase is a light weight, versatile accessory.


Cleans up well
Takes up little pack space


Fits too loosely when used as a bandana
Fits too tightly when used as a balaclava
Slightly bulky and tight when used as a sweat band

I would like to thank Mental Gear and for the opportunity to test the HeadCase multipurpose accessory.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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