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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Seirus Dynamax Quick Combo > Test Report by Andrea Murland
I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.
Care instructions (from tag):
Hand wash only, hand dry, drip dry, or dry flat. Do not bleach, press, iron,steam, or wring dry by hand.
Description & Initial ImpressionsThe Seirus Dynamax Quick Combo is a skullcap, neckwarmer, and facemask all in one. The skullcap and neckwarmer are made from 90% polyester and 10% spandex, and are stretchy and soft. The inner surface is fuzzy. The fabric is Dynamax, which the manufacturer says is warm, wicking, and wind-blocking. The skullcap has six seams that start mid-head height and combine at one point at the top of the cap. The band of the skullcap is a double-layer of fabric. The neckwarmer is sewn into the band of the hat, and connects to the facemask just in front of my ears. The facemask is made from 70% neoprene, 15% nylon, and 15% polyester, and also has a soft, fuzzy inner surface. The bottom and sides of the facemask are sewn into the remainder of the neckwarmer tube. The facemask has a flat seam down the front, running from just under my nose to the bottom of the neoprene. On either side of the seam are twenty small holes that sit in front of my mouth. A few of the holes aren’t completely punched out. Above the seam is a slit and then a piece of the neoprene fabric that sits out a bit and covers the end of my nose.
Trying It Out
The product packaging shows four different ways to wear the Quick Combo. One is in full balaclava mode, with the facemask up. One is to pull the facemask down to below my chin. This was easy to do and seemed comfortable for the few minutes I left it there. One is to wear just the neckwarmer and mask, with the beanie pulled back off my head, which seems strange because I can’t imagine having a facemask and neckwarmer on without needing a hat. In this configuration my ears weren’t fully covered, and the neckwarmer wanted to slip down in the back. The last method is to stuff the neckwarmer and facemask into the beanie and then just wear the beanie, which worked but felt lumpy (though it did make the skullcap fit better!).
I also tried the Quick Combo with my ski helmet and goggles. My ski helmet has always been worn with a beanie so space in the helmet was no problem. I was able to pull the skullcap back a bit on my head and even with a wrinkle in my helmet that was sufficiently comfortable. I did note that the chin strap of my helmet has to go on top of the Quick Combo, which seems obvious now, but I have always worn a neckwarmer on top of the strap. I was able to adjust the facemask to sit just under the edge of my goggles. I wear glasses under my goggles, so I am interested to see if fogging will be a problem.
SummaryThe Seirus Dynamax Quick Combo is a full face-covering balaclava and skullcap that looks like it will keep me warm this winter. I look forward to trying it out and seeing how it performs while skiing and hiking. I hope the fabric stays nice and dry as I breathe through it, and that my goggles and glasses don’t fog up!
Field ConditionsThe weather cooperated and gave me some nice cold temperatures to try out the Quick Combo during this test. It started out with a day hike in February with morning temperatures of -18 C (0 F). Throughout the test period I took the Quick Combo on three additional day hikes. I had one full day of Search & Rescue training, at a ski hill, with a morning temperature of -23 C (-9 F), which involved skiing and avalanche search work. I used the Quick Combo during six days of downhill skiing, in temperatures between -32 C (-26 F) and -15 C (5 F). I also used it for one trail run at about -15 C (5 F) and one skate ski at about the same temperature. Finally, near the end of the test period, I took it on an overnight hike, to use while sleeping, when the temperature dropped to close to freezing.
ObservationsWarmth and Moisture Management:
The first trip I used the Quick Combo on was a hiking trip, where it was -18 C (0 F) at the car in the morning. I put on the mask but found that while standing around getting ready my head was cold. The beanie alone wasn’t enough insulation. I added another hat on top and that worked. Once I started hiking uphill, my glasses fogged up almost immediately with the mask up over my mouth. I gave up after about 5 minutes and pulled the mask down below my chin. That kept me comfortable for about another hour of hiking uphill, until I was way too hot with the whole thing around my neck. I then pulled off the Quick Combo and hiked in just a hat for the rest of the day. I had similar experiences on later hikes. If it was cold enough that I was using the Quick Combo, the beanie alone wasn’t warm enough and I needed another hat, and I had trouble hiking in the mask anyway due to fogging. It didn’t seem to offer any advantage to just using a hat and a neck gaiter for hiking, as I still had to carry the hat anyway.
The run and skate ski at about -15 C (5 F) gave me similar experiences to hiking, though in this case the beanie was enough insulation once I got going and heated up (though I was cold at the start). However, fogging of my glasses was more of a problem during these activities and I found that I couldn’t keep the face mask up for long, and fairly rapidly wanted it off completely because I wanted my neck to vent more heat. Since I couldn’t remove the Quick Combo entirely (I still needed the hat), I actually did use the method of stuffing the mask and neckwarmer up into the beanie for the rest of my run or ski.
During the SAR scenario I took the Quick Combo on, I had mixed feelings. We were using ski lifts and our skis to access the site, and I liked having it on for that. The mask kept my face warm against the wind. I found that my glasses (under my goggles) fogged up while I was riding up the lift, but once I started skiing they cleared rapidly. The air that I was breathing through the mask was still cold though, and I’m not sure if that’s related to the holes in the mask or just because it was cold! However, once we arrived on our scenario scene and started our transceiver search, probing, shoveling, and then eventually probe lines, I rapidly overheated. I pulled the mask down, but couldn’t remove the Quick Combo entirely without stopping and taking off my ski helmet, and then I had nothing to put on instead of the Quick Combo. So, I just unzipped jackets and dumped heat in every other way I could.
Downhill skiing was where I really liked the Quick Combo. I got the advantages of the warmth, without overheating on the way up. I used the Quick Combo for six days of downhill skiing in temperatures between -32 C (-26 F) and -15 C (5 F). Even at the higher end of those temperatures, when I wouldn’t normally cover my face, I found myself reaching for this item in the morning to keep my face warm…it might just turn me into a wimp! As I mentioned, my glasses fog up on the way up the lift, but clear once I start moving again. The mask is big enough on me that there is extra fabric, so I can have it pulled up right to my goggles without being tucked under them, and the mask stays there. It also doesn’t creep down as I ski, which is nice. The fabric gets wet from my breath rapidly, but the fabric stays soft on my face. I did find that the wind blowing through the holes on the wet fabric was a bit chilly on the way down. Also, because the mask doesn’t cover the bottom of my nose, any air that I breathe in through my nose is still very cold! With a regular neck gaiter, I usually rotate it at lunch so that I have a nice dry spot to start with in the afternoon. Obviously rotating the Quick Combo isn’t an option, so I had to put it back on wet after lunch. I did dry it under a bathroom hand dryer on one particularly cold day, and it was mostly dry after about five minutes. You can see in my picture that a bit of frost forms on the outside of the mask in particularly cold temperatures. Overall, I like the Quick Combo for skiing on very cold days and it will be used for that in the future.
The final trip that I took the Quick Combo on was an overnight hike this spring. The temperature dropped almost to freezing overnight, and I anticipated needing a hat, so I thought I’d try this out. I usually just tuck my face down into my sleeping bag. I found that my head was a bit cold, so I added another hat after a bit of dozing. I also found that I didn’t like the feel of the wet fabric against my face while I was trying to sleep. I eventually removed it and just wore my toque and curled up in my bag for the rest of the night. Perhaps for colder weather I’d use it, but I really didn’t need it at those temperatures.
Comfort and Fit:
Overall, the Quick Combo is comfortable. The fabric is soft against my skin. It is very large on me, so I had to tuck it up into my ski helmet, but didn’t find that the wrinkle bothered me. I did find that the lower edge of the beanie liked to catch on my earrings while I was skiing, so I had to remember to take out my earrings if I was planning on wearing this item during my ski day. The most noticeable thing for comfort, for me, was the seam at the top of the bottom band of the skullcap. This seam runs across the top of my ears under my ski helmet and after a few hours became noticeably uncomfortable, and left a sore spot after removing all of my gear at the end of the day.
I washed the Quick Combo four times over the test period. The first time I hand washed it and dried it on my drying rack. The other times I put it in the wash with my regular laundry and then put it on the drying rack. It still looks as good as new. I actually can’t find any indications of wear on it at all.
SummaryI quite like the Dynamax Quick Combo for downhill skiing. I found it to be a great way to keep my face warm, and any fogging issues were manageable by starting to ski again. For activities with less wind and more huffing and puffing, I unfortunately found that the fogging is a deterrent to using it. As well, as I warmed up, I couldn’t remove just the part on my neck very easily, and often still had to carry another hat. I think I will continue to use a separate neck gaiter and hat for those activities. I have added the Quick Combo to my bin of gear that’s ready for a SAR call. If it’s really cold out, I will probably put it in my bag, as I can see it being a better solution than separate pieces for when I’m working around helicopters and snowmobiles, or for hunkering down in a shelter for the night.
Stays in place as I ski
Dries quickly with forced air
Sore spot on top of ears under ski helmet
Skullcap not warm enough on its own
Not very modular
Thanks to Seirus Innovations and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test the Dynamax Quick Combo!
Read more gear reviews by Andrea Murland
Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Seirus Dynamax Quick Combo > Test Report by Andrea Murland