Mental Gear HeadCase
Tested By Pat
Initial Report: December
Field Report: February 14, 2008
Long-Term Report: April19, 2008
Name: Pat McNeilly
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,
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.
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
Report Date: December 5, 2007
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.
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.
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.
Report Date: February 14, 2008
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Report Date: April 19, 2008
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
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.
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
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
3. Warmth for the weight
4. 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 BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test