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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Buff ThermoNet Hinged Balaclava > Test Report by Nancy Griffith

April 01, 2022



NAME: Nancy Griffith
EMAIL: bkpkrgirlATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 55
LOCATION: Foothills outside Sacramento, California
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

My outdoor experience began in high school with a co-ed scout group which made a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since college in Pennsylvania. I have hiked 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail and 2/3 of the Pacific Crest Trail. My typical trip is in the Sierra Nevada from a few days to a few weeks long. My base weight is lightweight at 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt. Longer mileage summer trips are now stoveless.



package rightpackage leftManufacturer: Original Buff, S.A. Spain
Year of Manufacture: 2021
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: $30 US

Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 2.3 oz (66 g)

Color Tested: Ambit Grey
Other Colors Available: Black, Pur3 Black, DABS Rose, Itakat Bark, Coast Multi, Ethereal Aqua

Made in Barcelona, Spain


frontbackThe Buff ThermoNet Balaclava is lightweight headgear that is designed to keep warmth in during cold outings while also being breathable. The Buff Balaclava PrimaLoft fabric is made from 96% Polyester (53% recycled and 43% not) and 4% Elastane providing a comfortable stretchy fit while also being quick-drying. There are reinforced holes laser-cut at the mouth area to provide for ventilation of the breath and to keep goggles or sunglasses from fogging. The Buff Balaclava has an articulated design such that the head (cap) portion can move somewhat independently of the neck portion. There is a ponytail opening in the back.


My initial impression was that the Buff Balaclava seemed a bit longer than other similar balaclavas that I own. Seeing that only one adult size was offered, I was concerned that it would be too large for my smaller head size. However, upon donning it, everything lined up like the mouth vent, the eye opening and the visor portion above my eyes. I wore it for a short time while working in the yard and found it difficult to find a comfortable spot for the lower portion over my chin. The fabric felt tight if I pulled it below or even onto my chin. The weather wasn't very cold that day and I ended up just wearing it as a cap, so I'll have to experiment more. I didn't have any issue with the 'cap' feeling too hot so it must have been breathing well since it was doubled up over my head.

wearingponytailThe color is pretty much as shown on the website. Most of the colors are a patterned blend of various colors so it was difficult to get an idea just from the smaller picture when I originally decided which color pattern I preferred.

The neck portion extends down and widens out at the bottom covering to well-below my collar bones in the front and just to the top of my shoulders in the back. The coverage seems very good where my jacket would easily cover over top of the Buff Balaclava without leaving air gaps.

I tried the ponytail opening since my hair is long enough and I often wear it tied back. I would wear a ponytail under the balaclava all of the time in order to keep my hair reasonably organized. I don't have the thick quantity of hair to want to use the opening just to reduce the 'hair bump'. Rather, I would use the hole to help keep my hair away from my neck for comfort.

I found one reference to the Buff Balaclava being wind-resistant and I'm curious about that. I love the full coverage that it provides, but whether the wind comes right through or not is key to keeping warm.


The care instructions say to hand or machine wash in warm water with mild soap. I'm just getting used to nearly everything being washed in cold water these days (best with the new machines and detergents along with using much less energy) so I find this surprising. I'll plan to hand wash it since I don't do much laundry in warm anymore.

The instructions also say to not use fabric softeners or bleach nor a machine dryer or iron. Those directions will be easy to adhere to especially if I'm hand-washing. That way the balaclava won't get tossed in the dryer.


The Buff ThermoNet Balaclava is a lightweight yet warm head covering that is still breathable.

Initial Likes:
Great coverage
Mouth ventilation holes

Initial Concerns:
Wind protection



lake folsomI wore the Buff ThermoNet Balaclava for lots of outdoor cooler weather activities including snowshoeing, hiking, mountain biking, running, lake and ocean fishing, ATV riding and motorcycling. I'd estimate that I wore the ThermoNet twenty times over the test period.

Coldstream Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California: 4.8 mi (7.7 km); 5,935 to 6,236 ft (1,809 to 1,901 m) elevation; 21 to 24 F (-6 to -4 C); partly cloudy and breezy

Georgetown Nature Area, California: 2 mi (3 km); 2,480 to 2,600 ft (756 to 792 m) elevation; 42 to 48 F (5 to 9 C); clear

Olympic National Park, Washington: 2.5 mi (4 km); 45 F (7 C); 342 to 431 ft (104 to 131 m) elevation

Forest Road H and I, Albion, California: 6 mi (10 km); 48 F (9 C); 505 to 542 ft (154 to 165 m) elevation

Five hikes in the Auburn Recreation Area, California: 2.5 mi to 5 mi (4 to 8 km); 764 to 921 ft (233 to 281 m) elevation; 40 to 47 F (4 to 8 C)

Mountain Biking:
Magnolia Ranch, California: 8 mi (13 km); 562 to 940 ft (171 to 450 m); 34 to 41 F (1 to 5 C)

Folsom Lake, California: 466 ft (142 m); 45 to 60 F (7 to 16 C); lots of wind chill testing out boat motor early in the morning

Pacific Ocean, Fort Bragg, California: sea level; 36 to 48 F (2 to 9 C); windy morning on the ocean


snowshoeThe Buff ThermoNet Balaclava was a nice item to have for the cooler winter conditions. I loved it on cold mornings for outdoor activity like running, snowshoeing and hiking. It kept my head warm while also covering my mouth and neck to block cold air. Even in warmer temperatures above freezing, the ThermoNet was very welcome when there was any kind of wind chill. This was especially helpful for motorized or faster activity like ATV and motorcycle riding, boating and even mountain biking. For ATV riding in the desert, it provided the added bonus of not only blocking the wind chill but also blocking dust from the trail.

Two thumbs up for Buff!
On many occasions, I started out wearing the ThermoNet over my head, neck and mouth but then got too hot as my body warmed up with activity. I would then pull the opening down over my mouth but leave it covering my neck. Then that would be too hot too and I'd pull it up like a hat until finally I'd have to remove it completely.

The fabric was breathable and I had no issues with sweat or heat build-up. During vigorous activity the mouth vents breathed fine but afterwards there was a lot of moisture inside around the holes. The coverage of my neck was good since the hem extends down below my collar bones. This allows for my jacket to cover it and keep out any cold air.

The balaclava stowed with ease into a pack or even a pocket since it is quite small and compressible. The size made it a go-to for always wanting to carry with me even just in case.

I generally wore it with my hair pulled into a ponytail and then fished the ponytail through the hole in the back of the balaclava. This was comfortable but was especially comfortable when I wore a helmet too. I would guess that I washed the ThermoNet five times over the test period in cold water. It still looks great with no wear issues showing at all.


The Buff ThermoNet Balaclava is a lightweight yet warm head covering that is still breathable.

Great coverage
Mouth ventilation holes
Wind protection
Ponytail opening

Not a thing

This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Buff and for allowing me to test this product.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Buff ThermoNet Hinged Balaclava > Test Report by Nancy Griffith

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