Hot heads: Winter headwear add warmth and breathability for rise in cold-weather aerobic sports

Headwear brands are finding ways to make dome-toppers warmer, more functional, more comfortable and more eco-friendly. Here are five trends to watch for this winter.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 23-26. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Winter headwear brands are finding ways to make dome-toppers warmer, more functional, more comfortable and more eco-friendly. Here are five trends to watch for this winter.

Whether we need it or not, brands are making hats even warmer. The ear-flap-adorned Acetylene Cap (MSRP $55) by Outdoor Research is insulated with PrimaLoft One. Manzella, which is launching 32 new hat styles this season, follows suit with its waterproof, PrimaLoft One-insulated Tundra Trapper (MSRP $40) and Bubble Down (MSRP $40). Columbia expands its OmniHeat into headwear. The space-blanket-like technology can be seen inside the Winter Blur Beanie (MSRP $35). Tilley’s full-brimmed TTC2 (MSRP $105) uses Schoeller’s corkshell, a softshell fabric made from recycled corks that claims to be 30 percent warmer than wool.

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More people are partaking in fast-paced aerobic winter sports than ever before. And brands are responding. Headsweats reveals its Eventure Grid fabric — a porous, stretchy, wicking poly-blend — in its baseball-style Everywhere Hat (MSRP $22). Manzella’s new Kensington beanie (MSRP $24) and Sloan hat (MSRP $24) come in non-pilling Polartec PowerStretch as does Rab’s first aerobic beanie, the Powerstretch Beanie (MSRP $15). Outdoor Research debuts the wicking, wind-resistant Centrifuge hat (MSRP $24) with fleece panels. And The North Face releases the baseball-style polyester Illuminated Hat (MSRP $35), with 360-degree reflectivity.

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Merino wool is naturally breathable, water-repellant, UV protective and stink-free. We’ll continue to see more it. Dale of Norway offers a unique combination of durable Norwegian wool hats with merino wool lining exhibited in the Trollfjord style (MSRP $55). Outdoor Research includes merino wool in 50 percent of its knit line and in a few other styles, like on the cadet-style Inversion Radar Cap (MSRP $45). And, because Patagonia is making a stand against Earth-harming acrylic, we’ll see more merino (of the eco-conscious chlorine-free sort) throughout its line, including in the new athlete-endorsed Slopestyle Beanie (MSRP $35).

Balaclavas are transitioning from thick nuisances to lightweight, multi-functional must-haves. Buff expands its tubulars into balaclavas with its lightweight merino wool Wool Balaclava (MSRP $37). The North Face’s stretchy Nomad Balaclava (MSRP $50), with windproof paneling, in its FlashDry fabric. A micro-porous particle additive in the fabric accelerates evaporation. Chaos’ polyester adjustable Adventurer Balaclava (MSRP $55) hits the market with a foldable brim and full-face mask. The Chimney (MSRP $50) is its under-helmet version.

Standing on its own as newer category of late, both Buff and Chaos are introducing hoods to be worn with hoodless jackets. Buff’s slouchy Thermal Pro Hoodie (MSRP $57), constructed from Polartec Thermal Pro, a fabric exclusive to them, has merino around the neck. Chaos’s wind- and water-resistant hoods are available in an insulated version, the Hall (MSRP $40) with a foldable visor, quilting and high-pile fleece lining, or in a simpler fleece-lined version, the Hanger (MSRP $36).

--Ali Carr Troxell

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