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Cometh the cold, cometh the reversible Storm Buff. Some might reason 28 quid a bit steep for a polyester cloth, even one with Gore Windstopper on one side, but the cost of a bad chill-especially before a big race, or lost income if you're self-employed is worth taking in to account... and Windstopper fabric isn't cheap.
The arrival of our orange/black/grey sample coincided with plummeting temperatures and although the man-made fibres don't quite compete on the same terms as Merino wool when it comes to wicking and odour control; the ability to transform it from hat/headband to scarf or mask in thirty seconds offsets those reservations - especially come dusk when temperatures can drop with little warning.
Women and hirsute gents will be pleased to note the drawstring closure ensures graceful, unrestricted escape for flowing ponytails. Something of an institution, the Buff has been doing its thing in various guises for nigh on two decades while a choice of innovative colour schemes means it looks fine worn with technical or street clothing. This model is designed for tough and changeable conditions so early December's cold snap proved very timely. Blessed with a good thatch, it necessitated some adjustment of the helmet straps worn beneath a lid but the drawstring doesn't tangle annoyingly in the vents or against the shell. No fabric can completely keep pace with our own natural coolant, so after twenty minutes at a steady twenty odd mph, the inner climate was becoming a little muggy.
After dark and closer to zero this is a moot point and to be fair, the fabrics work harmoniously to provide a temperate, chill free climate and given a minute or two to catch up, things remain fairly dry. If I had any reservations about breathability, these vanished when I wore it as a mask. Completely covered, my mouth and nostrils were able to breathe in air with no greater effort than normal, even though my legs had other ideas on a very long, gradual gradient, although it took a few rides to get used to the slightly clammy sensation around the cheeks caused by the collision of hot and cold air.
Super versatile headwear on and off the bike but synthetics can't quite match natural fibres for moisture transportation.
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Make and model: Buff Reversible Storm Buff
Size tested: Black/Orange
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Gore Windstopper/Polyester micro-matrix cloth.
Technology that uses silver ions which prevents bacteria from developing in textile fibers. It is antibacterial and prevents unpleasant smells from developing – providing the sense of freshness. Even with considerable physical effort this textile assures proper hygiene of the clothing hence it is recommended for sportswear and outdoor wear. Polygiene® technology has received bluesign® certificate and has been put on the list of safe clothing".
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Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The buff is something of an institution for outdoor-types and this reversible storm version covers all bases surprisingly well. Retaining heat on the one hand while allowing unhampered breathing worn as a mask,comfort is markedly better than standard models in really cold weathers without turning clammy in milder, wetter contexts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Versatility,comfort and the "scratches" colour scheme quickly grew on me too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing of note given the design brief.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Quite possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Overall rating: 7/10
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)