A Useful Review – Wool Skull Caps

Look, I know this is not my thing, giving useful information, pimping products, sharing my experience sincerely, but Padraig and I discuss products (sometimes) on the Paceline each week, and I just figured, especially based on last week’s TCI Friday, that it might be worth codifying that information in bits and bytes for those who prefer to read.

So here we go.

You need a thin, wool, skull cap, in order to have the most optimal winter riding experience you can have.

On the coldest winter days, when I head out to walk the dog, I put a regular beanie on top of one of those wool skull caps for maximum warmth. I call myself “Johnny Two Hats,” in this configuration and pretend that’s my mob name, because mobsters are notorious for their quirky habits and love stupid nicknames.

I should have been a mobster. What were we talking about?

Right, as I said on The Paceline a week or so back, a thin wool skull cap is an absolutely essential winter riding friend. “Skull cap” seems like an awkward name for this garment, but “thin hat” is sorta wishy-washy from a marketing point of view.

There are a lot of options for this kind of hat, lots of them windproof or fleecy, but I greatly prefer wool. Heat leaves your body through your head, and wool gives it the ability to escape rather than build up and leave you with a sweaty, mess of a head in cold weather. A cold, wet head is a primary ingredient in hypothermia and can contribute to helmet icicles, which, I will admit, are kinda cool. Wool also smells less bad after multiple wearings, and I require that.

Anyway, Castelli makes the Bandito Skully, a thin layer of merino wool that fits easily under your helmet. It has a polyester lining that wicks moisture away and keeps the hat from being too scratchy. There is a cap version also, but I prefer the plain one without a brim, because I find it more versatile, for dog walking or show shoveling, skiing or rubbing out my enemies. And for $40 retail, the value proposition doesn’t have to be much stronger than that. 

Smartwool also make a killer option, the Merino Sport Beanie. It’s only $25. The Castelli is a bit heavier, and good for real cold days. The Smartwool is lighter because the fabric itself is a merino/polyester blend, rather than a two-ply hat. As a result, the Smartwool has a longer season. But get both. They are incredibly useful and having a warm head (ears really) is key to survival and enjoyment of things like riding bikes and whacking rival crime bosses.

Either of these “skullies” will go easily under a helmet, a cycling cap, a baseball cap, a ski helmet, or a dunce cap, basically any of the headgear you’re likely to don in your daily life. And if you’re just walking the dog, you can even put another wool hat on top and no one will even know.

Join the conversation
  1. Blue Zurich says

    My version: 3 Walz caps. One wool, one cotton and one poly.
    (Ok, so there are multiple cotton caps in my drawer but 3 temp ranges basically)
    If I need my ears covered the Castelli Skully does the trick with minimal bulk and you can still wear a casquette

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      I f’ing love the Walz wool caps.

  2. TominAlbany says

    I have a fleece lined polyester beanie with a windproof front. That windproof front is the key because:
    a. I run cool
    b. I have no hair on my head

    I also have one that is more balaclava-like but, it has a nose/cheek cover to keep those parts warm as well, but still leaves a big hole for my ga(s)ping maw so I don’t build up icicles on my skiing, face gaiter.

Leave A Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More