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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Buff Headgear Cyclone Buff > Test Report by Derek Hansen
Buff Headgear Cyclone Buff
MULTI-FUNCTIONAL HEAD GEAR
Test Series by Derek Hansen
Inset photo and logos courtesy www.buff.eu.
7 Oct 2008
The Original Buff, S.A., Cyclone Buff (hereafter Buff or Cyclone) is a piece of multi-functional headwear for colder climates and seasons. It is essentially a long tube of fabric that can be pulled, twisted, and folded into different configurations for wear and use. The Cyclone Buff is made of 99% polyester with a two-layer microfiber section sewed onto the micro fleece section. Around the micro-fleece portion is a section of soft-shell Gore-tex® Windstopper® fabric for wind protection.
The two-layer micro-fiber top portion of the Cyclone is seamless. The bottom portion with the Gore-tex® fabric has a few flat-felled seams connecting the Windstopper® fabric to the seamless microfiber. The microfiber is extremely flexible and has a one-way stretch. The Gore-tex® fabric has moderate flex, but not enough to really pull over my head. The Gore-tex® fabric is separated by a section of two-way stretch fleece making it easy to pull over my head.
At the very bottom of the Gore-tex® section is a small 1 in (2.5 cm) hem of fleece.
The Cyclone Buff packaging contained simple pictures indicating proper wear. In addition to the product packaging, Original Buff, S.A. sent a product catalog that included pictures of other very interesting methods of wear and use, including a camera wrap, a baby wrap (imagine a baby in an armpit-to-ankle toeless sock), and if I have two Buffs, I can also make a handy arm sling.
Perhaps the most common configurations are the beanie, neck gaiter, and balaclava.
I currently own an “Original Buff” that I’ve used in late Spring and Summer. I love how versatile the Buff is to wear and I’ve used a few different configurations with success (even the “blind chicken” to cover my eyes and ears for a good night’s sleep!). The Buff is fairly easy to configure and wear, but there are some styles that take some practice.
The Buff website has recently changed, as of this writing, and has an updated user interface and graphics. The new site took more clicks to finally see the catalog and the ADULT - JUNIOR - BABY sections were a little more difficult to find under a photograph. Once in the catalog, I was able to easily find the product I was searching for. They have a handy slider that let me see the Buffs designed for colder and warmer seasons.
One feature on the new site that is hard to find is the “how to wear” videos. In the old site, there were several videos with both male and female actors demonstrating how to wear the buff. I could only find one video on the new site that was found on the main page.
The Cyclone Buff is warm and comfortable to wear. To manipulate the fabric into different styles requires a different approach than the Original Buff, which I own. For example, I did not need to turn the Cyclone inside out in order to make the beanie. Since the Cyclone has a double-layer of microfiber, all I did was twist the top and pulled down the microfiber over the Gore-tex® to make it work. In preparation for really cold days, I tried making the balaclava, which was easy. Depending on how far down I pull the microfiber, I can get full or partial coverage on my head and forehead. The Cyclone provides much more protection and is more durable compared to my Original Buff.
Using the Cyclone with other headgear is easy. I first pulled the microfiber Cyclone into a balaclava and then put on my extremely itchy wool beanie. With the microfiber over my forehead, I wasn’t bothered at all by the wool, and since there are no seams in the microfiber, I didn’t feel any pressure points.
In comparison to the microfiber, the Gore-tex® fabric is less flexible. When wearing the Cyclone as a cap, it feels tighter around my head, but still comfortable. I will see how this feels as I wear the Cyclone over the test period.
So far, I really like the Cyclone in both feel and warmth. I love how versatile this product is and I expect to use it in a variety of configurations and uses.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in about two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for more information.
3 Jan 2009
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
In addition to the field locations below, I have used the Buff almost daily as my headgear of choice. Most notably, I used the Buff as I drove across the country from Virginia to Utah to visit family. The Buff was invaluable as I daily loaded and unloaded bags from on top of my van over the four day trip. During this road trip I regularly encountered 20 F (-7 C) temperatures, freezing wind, rain, and snow storms.
10–11 Oct 2008: George Washington National Forest, near Front Royal, Virginia. This was a beautiful overnight backpacking trek with a friend. I noted a high temperature of 74 F (23 C) and 45 F (7 C) for the low. The terrain was rocky as it climbed about 1,000 ft (305 m) up and down the signal knob. The forest is mostly deciduous with Virginia pine along the way.
21–22 Nov 2008: Prince William Forest Park, near Dumfries, Virginia. Clear and very cold conditions with a low of 15 F (-9 C) and a high of 42 F (6 C). Had some brand-new Scouts with us and we did a hike around the park. The trail was clear with about 500 ft (152 m) of elevation change. Lots of deciduous trees and Virginia pines.
27 Dec 2008: Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness, north of St. George, Utah. Clear and cold conditions with about two feet of snow on the ground. I was going to attempt an overnight camp, but I wasn’t prepared for the deep snow (no snowshoes!), so this solo expedition (I was determined!) turned into a painful 6-mile slog. The temperature hovered around 40 F (7 C) with a slight wind. The rough mountain landscape was punctuated with red cliff faces, juniper, pine, and cedar trees. Elevation was 4,500 ft (1,372 m).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
With my sideline activities (cross-country road trip, day hikes, cycling, and jogging) the Buff performed wonderfully warm. In fact, when I tried jogging with the Buff worn as a balaclava, I quickly overheated with outdoor temperatures hovering around 30 F (-1 C). But during my cross-country road trip with the icy winds and cold temperatures, I was happy to have the Buff as a close companion as I worked outside. I found I could make a tight balaclava with only a small slit for my eyes. The Windstopper® fabric is does a great job in blocking the wind, but I noticed moisture collecting by my mouth and nose. This was a reasonable trade-off because the alternative was exposing my skin to high-altitude dry, cold air. The Buff was convenient and didn’t get in the way as I transformed it from full head-and-neck coverage to a simple scull cap.
During my backpacking trip with my friend in October, I kept the Buff in my pack as I hiked—it was just too hot to use. However, I used the Buff at night as I slept in my hammock. The Buff helped to block out some of the sharp sounds of the forest and was snug around my head and neck. In fact, when I awoke, I noticed that my jaw was a little sore where the Windstopper® fabric was tight against my face. It was slightly uncomfortable because Gore-Tex® fabric is not as flexible.
With the Scouts in November, I was happy to have the Buff on my head day and night. The temperatures were very cold, but the Buff was comfortably warm. As we hiked in the park, and as I warmed up, I pulled the Buff up on top of my head to help cool my neck. I love how easily the Buff folds over itself and doesn’t feel like it ever gets in the way.
I loved the Buff in the snow as I hiked in the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness. I used the Buff mostly as a head-over as I hiked, keeping the breathable microfiber fabric around my neck and head. The Windstopper® fabric is a little difficult to breathe through when I am really exerting, so I like to keep my mouth and nose exposed to keep the moisture down.
FIELD USE SUMMARY
I’ve had a lot of fun with the Buff so far. About everyone I meet asks about the Buff and I’ve enjoyed giving the demonstration on the different ways to wear the fabric. In my opinion, the Cyclone Buff is a little too warm for hiking in temperatures above 50 F (10 C), but I was glad to have the Buff as the temperatures have dropped. It is very easy to pull and adjust the fabric up and down my head without needing to take it off completely.
The Windstopper® fabric really works well in the conditions I’ve experienced. It can be a little difficult to breathe through, but I’m not complaining especially when the temperature is low.
Roses: Very warm; multi-functional; easy-to-use; cuts the wind.
Thorns: Windstopper® fabric is tight around my jaw and chin when worn as a balaclava; breath moisture collects behind Windstopper® fabric.
LONG TERM REPORT
17 Feb 2009
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
14 Jan 2009: Bull Run Occoquan Trail, Virginia. I had a lot of free time in January, so I hiked 14 miles (22.5 km) of the BROT from Fountainhead Regional Park. Elevation was from sea level to about 500 ft (152 m). Deciduous forest with occasional pine and holly trees. This is a beautiful trail with lots of stream crossings and ample water. The trail was clear, which made hiking easy, but temperatures remained around 25 F (-4 C) during the hike with cooler wind gusts.
31 Jan 2009: Centennial Trail, Flagstaff, Arizona. Trail running in the Coconino National Forest. Bristlecone Pine forest at 7000 ft (2134 m) with rocky elevations with patches of snow on the ground. The temperature was 16 F (-9 C) with dry air and bright, harsh sunlight.
7 Feb 2009: Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona. My son and I went backpacking around the San Francisco Peaks and had a glorious time. The temperature was around 30 F (-1 C), but it was a dry cold. We were lucky on our trip because two days later Flagstaff was hit with a major series of storms, dumping two feet of snow in as many days. We hiked to 8500 ft (2591 m) among Bristlecone Pine and other local vegetation.
Including the above field locations, I have used the Cyclone Buff almost daily in a variety of activities.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I wore the Buff mostly as a balaclava while hiking the Bull Run trail. I was hiking fast, trying to cram in 14 miles (22.5 km) in short order. It was very cold outside and I was sweating heavily. The Buff was nice and warm and wicked a lot of moisture. I liked how well the material could fit and wrap around my entire head.
Moving to Arizona has been a big change, especially in climate. One of the things I love about where I live is that I can step outside my house and go trail running almost immediately. The air temperature was much colder than in Virginia, but it didn’t feel as cold to my skin (although my lungs did burn once I made it back home!). I again used the Buff as a balaclava to cover my face as much as possible. I can breathe through the microfiber fabric a little easier than through the Windstopper fabric.
While hiking with my son I made more of a conscious effort to try different configurations of the Buff. One style that stuck for a while was the “pirate.” To get this style, I turned the Cyclone Buff inside out, placed my right hand, palm-side up inside the Buff, and then placed my hand with the Buff on my head. While holding the Buff with my right hand, I pulled the rest of the material over my head with my left hand. In this way, the Windstopper fabric is mostly visible and the microfiber is tucked underneath (see photo). This style fits very snug around my head and is a great way to keep the Windstopper fabric on the outside (the cap style, in comparison, folds the microfiber on the outside and bunches the Windstopper near the bottom).
One (possible) downside of the Windstopper wrapped around my ears is that it makes it harder to hear. This can be both good and bad at times.
The Buff continues to be very snug, almost too snug at times. The material is often very tight around my neck and chin. To counter this, I aggressively stretch the material when I pull it over my head. The only negative experience I had with the Buff’s tightness was when I went to sleep one night and had the Cyclone wrapped around my head as a balaclava. Sometime in the middle of the night I began to feel a choking sensation which startled me awake. The material was tight around my neck and chin and I ended up pulling it up and over my head for the remainder of the night.
I have also used the Buff almost daily at my new job in Arizona where I put in a lot of walking outdoors between meetings on campus. During a snow blizzard, the Buff was my only protection from the sleety snow, which pelted me vigorously for about an hour. I had the Buff wrapped as tight as possible around my entire face, providing only an inch or so where I could look out. The Buff did a tremendous job shedding snow on the Windstopper portion and was only slightly wet where the microfiber fabric wrapped around my head.
I really like the Cyclone Buff. It is extremely versatile, warm, and reasonably comfortable. For head and neck protection it works wonderfully. Its warmth really showed as the temperatures dropped and the winds picked up. With heavy exertion, it is sometimes difficult to breathe through the Buff, and the material can be a little tight (especially when wrapped around my head like a balaclava).
Even with the small concerns, I find the Cyclone Buff to be a perfect winter accessory and necessity!
I would like to thank Original Buff, S.A. and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.
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