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Reviews > Clothing > Accessories > Mental Gear Head Case > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

Mental Gear HeadCase
Tested By Pat McNeilly

HeadCase on bearInitial Report: December 5, 2007
Field Report: February 14, 2008
Long-Term Report: April19, 2008

Name: Pat McNeilly
Age: 45
Gender: Male
Height: 5’ 8” (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
Chest size: 40 in (102 cm)
Sleeve length: 32 in (81 cm)

Email address: mcne4752 at yahoo dot com.
City, State, Country: Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking for at least 20 years but backpacking for only the last four years.  Most of my backpacking is done as overnight trips and occasional weekend and weeklong trips.  My typical packweight is approximately 18 to 20 lb (8 to 9 kg) before food or water.  Most of my backpacking is the three season variety in the mountains of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  In addition to backpacking, I also fish, hunt, and have been involved in disaster relief.  As a result, some of my backpacking equipment gets used in a number of different venues.

Product Information:

HeadCase packagingProduct: HeadCase
Manufacturer: Mental Gear
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Color/Style: Flame Trick
Size: One size fits most
Weight (listed): 2 oz (57 g)

Weight (measured): 0.9 oz (26 g)
MSRP: $14.95 USD

Initial Report
Report Date: December 5, 2007

Product Description:
The Mental HeadCase is multi-purpose accessory constructed of 100% polyester micro-fibre which is designed to provide comfort and protection against wind, snow, and sun.  The HeadCase can be fashioned into many different configurations including a beanie, neck warmer, head band, face mask, or balaclava.  This product is constructed without seams and the material will not fray or loose its shape.  The micro-fibre material is wind resistant, breathable, wicks moisture, and dries quickly. 

Product Review:
The Mental HeadCase is basically a cylindrical piece of polyester micro-fibre which when laid flat measures 18 x 9 in (46 x 23 cm).  The product does not have any seams and the ends of the fabric are simply cut to size without any finished edges.  This is just what I expected from the company’s website.  The material stretches a fair amount and I note that after handling the fabric the edges tend to roll up.  I initially thought this might be a problem when forming the HeadCase into various shapes but I found that giving the product a quick shake the HeadCase retuned to its original shape.
HeadCase laid flat
The HeadCase comes wrapped around a circular piece of cardboard packaging which illustrates the various uses of the product.  The packaging shows nine different configurations.  Some of these styles, such as the headband and neck warmer, are easy to understand but others require a bit more thought in how to form them.  The packaging does describe how to create a beanie and a skull cap.  I found that I needed a couple of tries to get these styles just right, even with the instructions.  I was a bit disappointed that other configurations, such as the helmet cover and legionnaire styles, were not further described either on the packaging or the manufacturer’s website.  The packaging and the website also do not describe any laundering instructions, although the website indicates that the material is color fast.

I have briefly worn the HeadCase in a number of the configurations described and I find that the product fits firmly but is not too tight.  The only exception I have found to this so far is that when worn like a balaclava the fabric is very tight underneath the chin.  This made me think of the nuns I had in elementary school and how they might have felt wearing their habits.   The material is smooth but not what I would call particularly soft.  I would like to see if the item softens with multiple washings.

I am expecting to test this item while hiking, trail running, and orienteering.  I will be wearing the HeadCase in as many different configurations as possible.  My hair is short, so wearing it as a scrunchie is probably out for me.

Field Report
Report Date: February 14, 2008

Field Conditions:
I have been using the Mental HeadCase during a variety of activities including hiking, orienteering, or trail running over the past couple months.  I wore this product on six day hikes in the central Maryland or northern Virginia area which ranged from 4 to 8 miles (6 to 13 km).  These hikes were on maintained trails at elevations of 300 to1350 ft (100 to 400 m).  I encountered temperatures of 25 to 65 F (-4 to 18 C) on these hikes and dry conditions. 

I have worn the HeadCase on a few trail runs and during three orienteering events.  Trail runs were always on maintained trails, usually of dirt or gravel.  Orienteering involved both on and off trail running over a variety of terrain.  Typical distances covered either trail running or orienteering were approximately 3 to 4 miles (5 to 6 km).  Weather conditions included temperatures of 25 to 50 F (-4 to 10 C) and generally clear, although I did encounter a couple instances of rain showers.

I brought the HeadCase along on a weekend trip with my local Boy Scout troop to the George Washington National Forest in West Virginia expecting to give it a try in some colder conditions.  This trip involved car camping but allowed for some day hiking of approximately 2 to 3 total miles (3 to 5 km) at elevations of 1100 to 2100 ft (300 to 600 m).  The temperatures on this trip ranged from 4 to 35 F (-16 to 2 C) and the conditions involved snowy, icy trails.

Product Review:
I have been getting quite a bit of use out of the Mental HeadCase (I really love the product name).  I have been trying to wear it in as many different ways as possible.  As might be expected, there are some configurations I like better than others.  Some are much easier to deal with and don’t require as much fussing.  I find that the simplest configurations are best for me.  Simply slipping it on my head in a single layer and tucking the excess fabric in the back (like wearing a bandana on my head) is much easier that fussing with the manufacturer’s description of making a skullcap.  I have been wearing the HeadCase as a headband during orienteering events to keep sweat from running into my eyes.  I have also worn it as a neck warmer and in the legionnaire configuration (i.e. slipped over the head and the excess fabric simply draped over the back of the neck). 

The one style that I do take the time to put together is the beanie.  It took me a couple tries to get the get it right but it was easy to master.  I found that it was possible to make the beanie too tight which in turn does not allow enough length for the beanie to cover my ears.  If kept looser, I could keep my ears warm if it was cold out.  Wearing the HeadCase in this configuration lead to my discovering that this product was great for wearing under a baseball cap in cold weather.  There were a couple times where I did not have anything with me to keep my ears warm but I needed to keep the sun out of my eyes.  I simply put the HeadCase on as a beanie and plopped my hat on top.  It kept the ears and back of the neck warm and didn’t interfere with the cap.

The HeadCase has worked well as a neck or face warmer.  I wore it in these fashions during some colder, windier weather and felt that it worked well.  The face warmer configuration allows me to cover face and neck plus still covering my ear lobe in the back.  I did not have problems with the fabric slipping down in this configuration.  I don’t know that I would call the fabric windproof but it is certainly better than having nothing on the exposed skin.  When worn with the fabric doubled on itself, it is warmer but I can still feel a stiff breeze through it.  I still don’t like wearing the HeadCase as a balaclava, it is simply too tight around the neck this way.  I was not comfortable with the legionnaire style because the HeadCase did not seem long enough to adequately cover the back of my neck and I constantly had the feeling that the product was going to snag on something and be pulled off my head.

Rolling edge of HeadCaseI have laundered the HeadCase a couple times in a washing machine in warm water followed by a cycle through a dryer.  I found that the HeadCase seemed to become softer with each washing.  On one occasion, the product came out of the dryer damp and was simply hung on a hanger and appeared to dry quickly.   On my first couple times wearing the HeadCase as a neck warmer, I found that it felt rather scratchy on my neck.  I wasn’t sure what was causing this.  After washing the product, I no longer notice this.

The HeadCase is quite light and folds up to a small size.  It easily fits into a pocket and can be quickly pulled out when needed.    It does provide a fair amount of warmth for the weight and can be used in a variety of ways.  This product seems like something that I might consider using in an emergency kit as a spare hat.
Fraying edge
A couple of minor issues I have include the fact that the edges of the HeadCase tend to roll up (as mentioned in my Initial Report) which seems to be somewhat worse after washing the product; and that I have seen some minor fraying of the fabric edges.  The rolling of the edges does cause some inconvenience when trying to form the beanie because the fabric has to be folded back on itself.  This makes it difficult to line up the fabric edges easily.  The fraying has not caused any problems but I will watch for any continued problems with this.

Long-Term Report
Report Date: April 19, 2008

Field Conditions:
Since my last report, I have worn the Mental HeadCase on four single day hikes.  These hikes all took place in central or western Maryland and ranged anywhere from 4 to10 miles (6 to 16 km) with elevations of 300 to 1100 ft (91 to 335 m).  I encountered temperatures of 25 to 50 F (-4 to 10 C) on these hikes.  Two of the hikes were done in clear conditions; I encountered snow on one hike in the Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland; and the last hike was done in light to moderate rain.  I did have moderate to stiff winds on at least two of these hikes. 

I also took the HeadCase along to two orienteering events in northern Virginia.  The mileage was between 3 to 4 miles (5 to 6 km).  The temperatures were from 35 to 50 F (2 to 10 C) and the weather was overcast but not raining.

Product Review:
I have continued to wear the HeadCase as much as possible over the long-term testing phase.  I have come to the conclusion that there are four configurations that I like best with this product.  Those four are the bandana, headband, beanie, and neck warmer.  These are the configurations that I find myself using the most, depending on the situation.  If I am hiking, I have been most likely to use the HeadCase as a beanie or neck warmer. When running, such as while orienteering, I favor the bandana or headband.  I attribute the difference in preference to whether I am using product for warmth or if I need moisture wicking capabilities.  Most of the testing for the Mental HeadCase was done in colder weather, so I did not have a great deal of opportunity to hike with sweat pouring off me.

While orienteering, I am typically running through a variety of terrain and varying degrees of vegetation (everything from completely open forest to thick greenbrier).  I don’t like to wear a hat during these events because it will almost certainly get caught on something.  However, I do like wearing the HeadCase during these events because it keeps leaves and other debris out of my hair and the fabric does not seem to catch on vegetation.  I have had it come off only once but for the most part, once it is in place, it stays that way.  I have found that the HeadCase fabric also does not appear to hold onto debris, such as seed pods or leaves.  For me, fewer “hitchhikers” is a good thing.

I did hike in some wet snow in western Maryland.  I was wearing the HeadCase as a beanie and it was pretty wet mid-way through the hike.  As the day progressed, the wind picked up and before I knew it, the HeadCase was dry.  I was a little surprised by this because I would have thought there might have been some noticeable cooling action going on.  I will give a thumbs-up for how quickly the HeadCase dries.

After four months of testing, the HeadCase has not become stretched out nor has the color faded.  I have seen only a bit more of the fraying that I described in my Field Report but this does not seem to cause any problems.  One of the nice things about this product is the fact that it is an item that can simply be taken off and thrown into the laundry.  There are no special washing instructions and it comes out looking like new.

The Mental HeadCase is a lightweight tube of polyester micro-fiber which can be worn in a variety of configurations to protect from wind, snow and sun.  The HeadCase is warm enough to be worn as a hat or face warmer but may not be completely windproof.  The product dries quickly but does have some minor issues with rolling and fraying of the fabric edges.

Things I like:

1. Multiple wearing options
2. Very light and compact
Warmth for the weight
Effectively wicks moisture

Things I don’t like:

1. Rolling fabric edges
2. Slight fraying

This concludes my testing of the Mental HeadCase.  I would like to thank Mental Gear and for the opportunity to test this item.

Read more reviews of Mental Gear gear
Read more gear reviews by Patrick McNeilly

Reviews > Clothing > Accessories > Mental Gear Head Case > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

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