The Wild Rambler

A blog celebrating nature, outdoor adventures, folk tales and crafts

Review: Buff Headwear for cool-weather trail running

Close up of girl wearing blue Merino wool Buff as a neckwarmer

Confession: for an outdoorsy person, I can be pretty lazy. I’m particularly bad in winter, when the freezing winds and incessant rain make it all too easy to find excuses not to go outside. All of which is a roundabout attempt to justify the fact that I haven’t been for a run since September.

Fortunately the lovely team at Kitshack recently gave me the opportunity to test out a Buff, which was the prod I needed to hit the trail again and see if this might finally crack my reluctance to run in anything less than 20 degree sunshine.

The main issue I have with winter running isn’t the poor weather, or even the high chance of slipping on mud and falling into a thorn bush (it happens). It’s more to do with the cold air, which I find hits the back of my throat and makes it difficult to breathe properly when I’m pushing myself.

The Buff seemed like it might be a good solution to this problem, as you can pull it up over your nose and mouth to warm the air as you breathe in and keep out the worst of the icy wind. I tried out the Merino version (£26.26), which has a ‘warm’ thermal rating suited for this time of year: when spring is just thinking about getting out of bed, but there’s still a bit of a nip in the air.

Girl running through woods wearing Buff

Here’s the full schpiel:

Wool BUFF is a multifunctional, tubular accessory ideal for many activities. The Merino wool keeps you warm in the cold, wicks moisture to keep you cool when it’s hot and being anti-microbial, does not start to smell after wear. This natural fabric is super soft and odour resistant.

WARM rating: 0-20°. Year-round weather protection for low-intensity activities, or high-intensity activities in cool temperatures.

Obviously I needed to test it ‘in the field’, so dragged myself out for a very muddy  5 kilometre run up on the hills. In reasonably chilly conditions (about 7 degrees with some exposed terrain and strongish winds) the Buff did a really good job of keeping my lower face and neck warm, and I definitely noticed an improvement in my ability to breathe. I had wondered if covering my nose and mouth would make it more difficult, but didn’t find this to be a problem in the end.

The fact that the Buff is so slimline means I’d be happy to use it for any other outdoorsy activities where I don’t want to be wearing anything too bulky, and the tube design also reduces the risk of catching a loose end and getting throttled (a definite bonus). For the depths of winter you’d probably still need a warmer version (like the Polar Buff), but fortunately there’s plenty of styles to choose from over on the Kitshack website.

Girl jumping over log while wearing Buff

If you’re planning some high-intensity log jumping, you’ll need to work out the best way to wear the Buff…

The only real problem I encountered with the Buff was working out the best way to wear it. My preference was as a neckwarmer with part pulled up over my face (as in the pics), but my head is slightly too small (unlike my ego) so while it stayed in place for walking, it kept falling down if I went faster than a jog.

They do make some ‘slim fit’ versions which might be worth considering if you have the same problem, but another alternative is to wear the Buff as a balaclava which keeps it tighter around your face. It’s not the most attractive look in the world, but I only tend to meet sheep on my runs and they’re surprisingly non-judgemental about my sartorial choices. If that still doesn’t float your boat then there are myriad other ways to wear the Buff, as demonstrated in this handy video.

Overall I think the Buff might be my new favourite outdoorsy accessory: it’s versatile, functional and solves a problem for me (I really love things that do that). It also comes in a slightly bewildering range of colours and patterns so there really is a style to suit everyone. While I’d need a warmer version for true ‘winter’ running, the Merino version should see me through the rest of this weird ‘inbetweeny’ season until it warms up. I’m even planning to go running again next weekend – if that’s not an endorsement I don’t know what is.

Girl sat on a tree wearing the merino buff

The Buff was  provided by Kitshack for me to review. All opinions are my own.

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1 Comment

  1. I absolutely love running in the cold. But I have the same problem that sometimes my phone start to just hurt. I love using my buff, it really helps. Great article!

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