The 6 Best Balaclavas To Keep Your Face, Head & Neck Comfortably Warm

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Best balaclavas
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Whether you’re hitting the slopes or just walking around town on a cold, wintery day, the best balaclavas can help to keep you toasty warm. Top picks will be made from a fabric you prefer and designed to provide the amount of coverage that you’ll need. While many balaclavas cover your head, face (minus the eyes), and neck, some picks let you have openings at other parts of the face (like the mouth, for example) should you prefer a bit more skin exposure. Regardless of the style you go with, make sure it is made with a material that feels comfortable and suits your needs.

Balaclavas can be made from a variety of fabrics and fabric blends, each with benefits and drawbacks. Merino wool is a natural option that’s ultra-soft and good at regulating temperature. The only downside? It tends to be costly. Synthetic materials like polyester and acrylic can be great at wicking away moisture and drying rather quickly, which is perfect for wet weather conditions or sweaty activities — though, these materials tend to retain odors a little more. A balaclava made from polyester fleece can be a super-warm and budget-friendly option, but it can be too warm for certain activities and temps. Also know that synthetic materials are often paired with spandex (sometimes called elastane) for stretchiness, allowing for a secure fit that moves with you.

Also, pay attention to the balaclava’s thickness. Mid- or heavy-weight designs will be the warmest options. However, there are instances where this may not be desirable. For example, if you’re looking to wear your balaclava underneath a helmet, a thinner, lighter pick that dries quickly might be best to ensure your helmet can still comfortably fit over it and you stay comfortable even if you work up a sweat.

Finally, be on the lookout for features to improve the wearing experience of your balaclava. Mesh ventilation will allow for better breathability, while picks with a drawstring closure are adjustable for a better fit. Some options can even be worn as neck gaiters when you don’t want to cover your entire head. Worried about sun exposure? Some balaclavas are made from UPF protective fabric, and others have a built-in visor. For extra warmth, there are also options with a heating element.

Shop The Best Balaclavas

In a hurry? Here are the top picks for the best balaclavas.

1. A Fan-Favorite Balaclava With Breathable Mesh: Achiou Balaclava

2. A Mid-Weight Merino Wool Balaclava: Minus33 Merino Wool Midweight Balaclava

3. A Warm Fleece Balaclava Hood Under $10: Oldelf Heavyweight Balaclava

4. A Fleece-Lined Knit Balaclava With A Visor: TAGVO Winter Knitted Balaclava

5. A Stretchy Balaclava With A Fleece Lining: REDESS Balaclava

6. A Heated Balaclava For Really Cold Weather: Sun Will Battery Balaclava Face Mask

Don’t let cold weather dampen your day — the best balaclavas will come to the rescue, since they’re designed to keep you nice and warm even as temperatures plummet.

1. A Fan-Favorite Balaclava With Breathable Mesh

This popular balaclava boasts more than 18,000 reviews on Amazon, with tons of reviewers commenting that it’s breathable (since it’s all mesh) and lightweight yet still quite warm. Plus, it’s thin enough to fit comfortably under helmets, too. Made from a blend of polyester and spandex, the balaclava will cover your head, face, and neck, leaving just your eyes exposed. The UPF 50+ fabric will keep you protected from the sun. This pick is one size fits most, and it is available in a range of colors and some patterns, too. Choose from a one or two pack.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “The quality on this is excellent. It's nice and light, and very well made. The seams are great, the design is very well done, it is very [comfortable] to wear even if it's under something like a helmet!”

Available size: One size | Material: 88% polyester, 12% spandex | Available colors: 9

2. A Mid-Weight Merino Wool Balaclava

If you’re looking for a pick made from temperature-regulating merino wool, this balaclava from Minus33 is the best of the best. The mid-weight design covers your whole head, face (minus the eyes), and neck to keep you warm in icy cold temperatures. Flatlock seams and a knit construction combine to make this balaclava comfortable to wear. And if you’re worried about sun exposure, it has a UPF 50+ rating to keep you protected from at least 98% of UVA and UVB rays. Another major plus of this balaclava is that it can be worn as a neck gaiter — simply pull your whole head through the opening, and you’re all set. (For the coldest of cold temperatures, there is also a heavyweight version of this pick.)

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I was searching for a cute but very warm hat/face covering in wool. I came across this and thought I would give it a try. I love it!! It is very warm and super soft. I have other merino wool base layers that are not nearly as soft as this. Also it keeps me very warm. I live in New England and am outside a good amount (taking care of my chickens!)”

Available size: One size | Material: 100% merino wool | Available colors: 18

3. A Fleece Balaclava Hood Under $10

With a price tag of less than $10, this warm balaclava is definitely a steal — and the quality is particularly great, too. But don’t just take my word for it; Amazon reviewers have raved about it on the site, giving the balaclava a solid 4.3-star rating overall after 12,000-plus reviews. This heavy-weight pick is made from thick fleece to keep you warm in the worst of weather. It’s even windproof and dust-proof. The hooded shape is a bit different then others on this list — it will cover your head, face (minus your eyes and some of your forehead), and neck, though dual adjustable drawstrings allow for a more customized fit. The versatile design can be worn in many other ways, including as a neck gaiter.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This fleece [balaclava]/hood was an excellent purchase. It’s value and quality far outweighs [its] awesome price. [...] It’s also a heavy weight fleece [...] The drape of the cape portion fits well around my neck and shoulders. No complaints in the length. I feel that it tucks inside of a coat extremely well even if you have the top of the zipper down a couple of inches. I have no hesitation and recommend this product. In fact I’m getting ready to probably order a couple more.”

Available size: One size | Material: 100% polyester | Available colors: 5

4. A Fleece-Lined Knit Balaclava With A Visor

When a beanie meets a balaclava, the end result is this pick. Described as having a heavier weight by Amazon reviewers — who, by the way, have given it a 4.4-star rating overall after more than 3,500 reviews — this balaclava features a fleece-lined interior with faux fur for the ultimate warmth. The outside knit material is actually made from synthetic acrylic to keep you nice and dry in inclement weather. And when the sun’s out, a helpful visor will keep it out of your eyes. It’s designed to cover your head, face, and neck, just keeping your eyes exposed.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I have lived through some very rough winters and this balaclava is what I need to keep warm when bitter cold winds are blowing. I wear glasses so pulling the neck piece up to cover my nose gives me pretty much total protection. The fur on the neck piece is so soft, too. When the winter winds come howling once again, I will be prepared with this hat!”

Available size: One size | Material: Acrylic, fleece, elastic | Available colors: 4

5. A Stretchy Balaclava With A Fleece Lining

Covering the head, neck, and face (minus the eyes), this cozy balaclava will become your new cold-weather staple, particularly because it uses a combination of materials to reap each of their distinct benefits. Polyester and spandex make up the exterior — so it’s perfectly stretchy and moisture-wicking — while fleece lines the entire inside for plenty of warmth. Amazon reviewers confirm this pick can be utilized comfortably for long periods of time. And it can also be worn as a neck gaiter, hat, or scarf, should you please.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “It is warm. It is soft. It doesn't get in the way of eyes, nose or mouth. My husband uses it for snow blowing and stays warm and dry. It allows no wind or snow to go in through the neck. He says this is the best thing for winter that was ever made!”

Available size: One size | Material: Polyester, spandex | Available colors: 9

6. A Heated Balaclava For Really Cold Weather

For extra-cold weather conditions, you’ll be glad to have this heated balaclava on hand — with a built-in heating element, it’s definitely the warmest option on this list. Powered by rechargeable batteries, the balaclava can stay warm for up to eight hours on low, five hours on medium, and four hours on high. And when it comes time to recharge, simply remove the battery and plug it into an outlet. The balaclava is made from polyester and elastane, and it features a velvet lining. It covers your head, neck, and face with the exception of the eyes, and a small mesh panel in the front allows for easier breathing.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I got this for my son who is in college and rides a moped. He absolutely loves this Balaclava! It arrives in an impressive box with instructions on connecting the battery and washing. You can machine wash but I prefer hand washing. Thick and warm on its own without the batteries, the batteries will surely intensify that warmth walking or biking to class. Great for the ski slopes as well. Make sure you charge 4 hours prior to using it. There are 3 settings: low, medium and high. Clear and well-written instructions for use, cleaning, and charging are included.”

Available sizes: Small — X-Large | Materials: Polyester, elastane, velvet | Available colors: 1