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The Galibier Barrier Merino Head Set comprises a stylishly lovely hat, scarf and (recycled) cardboard box, and as such it's an ideal gift for a cyclist. The fabric is soft and effective and the stitching is excellent, but the beanie-style hat can be tricky to fit under helmets.
Neck tubes are fantastic for their warmth-to-size ratio, so let's start there. This one is slightly more merino wool (55%) than polyester (45%) for a soft and very stretchy feel (according to the label, not the website), and all three seams are neatly flatlocked for unobtrusiveness.
I found it excellent for blocking draughts, and it's warm but not too warm, and breathable. It also didn't become noticeably waterlogged or uncomfortable when I was caught in some pretty heavy showers and (once) sideways hail, too, which is ideal.
This deep red is pretty stylish poking out of most jackets, I think, though if you prefer there are dark green, dark blue or black pairs instead.
The hat is made of the same stuff to the same quality, with the same solidly overlocked seams. The perfect colour match is attractive, too, though I just couldn't get on with the beanie style.
This isn't the only cycling beanie out there, but the need to double over a fair stretch of hem (7cm in my case) combines with the thickish fabric to make getting it under a helmet potentially tricky.
Doubled over, it squashes to around 2mm, which doesn't sound much. But if you add that all the way round a 56cm head it puts another 0.5cm on the circumference, and you need your helmet's retention band looser still to get it on without catching. You may not have that much adjustment; I found it very awkward with my lids.
You can't wear it unfolded as then it covers your eyes (the Highway Code doesn't specifically say but I'm going with 'that's bad'), and other people can't see the big stitched logo either. That's also bad.
It's ideal for cafe stops, puncture faffs and post-ride cleaning sessions, though, as it's ear-envelopingly warm and much less 'I CYCLE DID YOU KNOW' to look at than a skull cap.
As a pair they're particularly well suited to gifting, thanks to the coordinated stylishness and the super-hip carboard presentation box with its printed lining paper. It's recycled, too, so none of your giftees rides need be guilt trips.
Galibier kit is usually very good value, but it's tricky to put a number on here because it depends so much on what you want.
If you want pure performance, the Head Set doesn't look that good value: you can get very effective Buff-alikes and hats separately, and then you could spec a skull cap if necessary. Lusso's Merino Neck Warmer, for instance, is £10.99, while its Thermal Nitelife Beanie Hat is £14.99. Even though they're not bundled together, that's still a few quid less overall.
If you want style and comfort, though – particularly if you rarely wear a hat while actually riding – it's easy to spend more than the Head Set costs on just a neck tube, such as with the Velocio Signature Collar, 7mesh Colorado Neck Warmer or the Sportful Women's Neck Warmer. Each of these is £30.
At a nominal £14.13 (half the Headset's £28.25 asking price), the hat also stacks up well against solo competition. The Altura Skull Cap is £17, for instance, while the Kalf Merino Beanie was £20 when we reviewed it in 2018... though it seems it's no longer available. Maybe I'm not the only one who doesn't want a folded brim.
Rapha's Merino Hat is £35.
Both items in this Head Set are very well made, comfortable and effective, and while I found the beanie brim awkward with my helmets, you might not. They're attractive and attractively boxed, too – it's an excellent gift for a cyclist, whether it's yourself or someone else.
Warm, comfortable, breathable and stylish hat and scarf set – though the former is best for off-bike use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Galibier Barrier Merino Head Set
Size tested: One size
Tell us what the product is for
Galibier says: "Using the softest Merino wool, we present a gift box with the Classic beanie and warm, tubular scarf, for total head protection in Winter.
"A re-cycled presentation box contains a Lightweight Merino Wool multi-function scarf. Combined with a Comfortable and high stretch beanie, for maximum defence against the cold. Ideal protection and thermo regulation. A perfect gift to yourself or someone you love as much as you."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
505% merino wool / 50% soft spun polyester for the perfect balance between comfort and durability.
200g/m2 stylish single layer knitted hat in soft brushed merino wool mix with subtle Galibier logo embroidery
Produced with renewable resources and with respectful treatment of animals.
One size fits most.
The scarf is excellent on or off the bike, but the hat works best off it.
I've gone for 'average', but... on the one hand you can easily spend more than this on just a neck tube, and these things are wool (and stylish and well made). On the other, you can spend less, get both items and have a hat that works with helmets. Cheaper separates might not look as good, though, nor as impressive as a gift.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The neck tube is excellent – slim, comfortable and usefully warm. The hat's roll-brimmed beanie design doesn't work well with helmets, though; it's best kept for cafe stops and post-ride cleaning sessions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great construction, comfortable fabric, stylish looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The hat's design doesn't work so well with helmets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Obviously most items like this are sold separately, so it's hard to compare directly – especially as it's packaged in a way that makes it a perfect present, which puts it in an even smaller niche.
Looking at it purely for performance, however, there are plenty of similar quality neck tubes that cost more than this entire combo, but you can also buy separates for around £20 total – and have a hat that's good for riding in, too.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? As a gift for somebody, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are stylish, high-quality garments that match pleasingly and work well. For my money the hat should be a skullcap to make it easier to use on the bike, but not everyone will agree – and the beanie style does look great. Attractive recycled packaging rounds off the headset as an ideal gift, and the limitations are easy to overlook if you're on the receiving end; everything else about these is great. Overall it's a good package.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,