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Think hat without the bulk, warmth without a weight penalty, a secure fit, and less risk of overheating, and that about sums up the Galibier Ardennes Headband. Inexpensive, comfortable and warm, and it doesn't impede your hearing.
Cold ears can be annoying at best, painful at worst. Stick a skull cap on and it can cause a helmet to become a little tight or for those with plenty of hair it can quickly result in a sweaty and overheated noggin. This is where a headband steps in: a lightweight, low-bulk option to keep the ears warm without interfering with a helmet.
The Ardennes Headband comes in two designs and is made from Carvico Dolomiti stretch thermal fabric with a single flatstitched seam housing a reflective strip.
The fabric has a brushed interior and is designed to be effective for temperatures between 0 and 8°C. It's incredibly soft and stretchy, and the raw edges mean it can happily stretch to fit any head without any interference from seams. It's quite broad and sits well over the forehead and covers the ears nicely, while being easy to position at the rear. For those with long hair, it's good for use with or without a ponytail.
It covered my ears really well, keeping out wind and cold nicely. It didn't cause any problems fitting under my helmet, and stayed put when I was riding.
One of the main points made by Galibier is that the headband should stop wind penetrating the ears without interfering with your ability to hear road noise. It's true – I found there wasn't any great reduction in my ability to hear; I was still happily aware of the sounds of traffic and pedestrians around me.
I like that the lightweight fabric is cosy but without the bulk of a hat; I often find that a beanie or similar under my helmet can quickly give me a hot head, but this headband allows heat to escape from the top of the head, so you can keep a steady temperature.
The headband is incredibly light and pops easily into a jersey pocket, making it a great option for cold-start rides that then warm up.
It's hard to argue with the price for the extra little bit of warmth this headband gives with no weight penalty. There are much pricier headbands available that do a similar job, like the Rapha Merino headband at £20 or Sportful's Matchy Headband at £16. The Van Rysel 500 Seamless Cycling Headband offers incredibly value at just £4.99, but £9 still feels like a good buy for the quality fabric, nice looks and lightweight bit of extra warmth.
If you are too hot-headed for a hat or simply want a minimalist warmer for your ears that doesn't cut out your hearing, this is a good looking, good quality option at a good price.
Warm, light, stretchy and made from good quality thermal fabric
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Galibier Ardennes Headband
Size tested: One size
Tell us what the product is for
Designed for year-round cyclists, to keep your ears warm at temperatures between 0 and 8 degrees.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made of Carvico Domitit thermal stretch fabric
One size fits most
Single flat-locked seam with reflective accent
Lovely soft high-quality brushed stretch fabric, but flatlocked stitched area could have a better finish.
Spot on for a bit of extra warmth over the ears, with minimal bulk and no weight penalty, plus it doesn't block out the sounds of the road.
If you don't lose it, it should last well.
Comfortable and adaptable to fit a range of head shapes and sizes.
One size designed to fit most. Should be suitable for all but those with particularly small heads.
Very very light for its warmth.
Very comfortable to wear, easy to forget about.
There are cheaper but there are also much more expensive and this one is good quality and offers a lot for the £9.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, washed well.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Easy to use and very effective at keeping ears warm.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I liked the softness and warmth of the fabric for its minimalist weight and bulk.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing to dislike really, as it's simple and straightforward and does its job.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are much pricier headbands available that do a similar job, like the Rapha Merino headband at £20 and Sportful's Matchy Headband at £16 (currently £8). The Van Rysel 500 Seamless Cycling Headband offers incredibly value at just £4.99 but £9 still feels like a good buy for good quality fabric, nice looks and a lightweight bit of extra warmth.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's simple and effective at a good price. It's made from a super-warm and soft fabric and does what it is supposed to do very well.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.