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If Goldilocks was in charge of designing a neck gaiter, the result would probably look a lot like the Iris Merino Neck Warmer. It's neither too long nor too short, and has just the right balance of warmth, weight and bulk. Plus it can be turned into the perfect beanie. It's not cheap but it is very good.
Made from incredibly soft 95% merino wool, mixed with 3% polyamide and 2% elastane for durability and stretch, this neckwarmer is largely seamless, apart from the top and bottom where the ribbed hems are stitched in such a way that the seams are virtually imperceptible. The logo label is designed to be easily removed, should that prove to be an irritation.
The ultralight merino fabric makes this very breathable and perfect for over-the-nose when the temperatures really dip (or as an emergency face covering), but it also straddles a wide range of temperatures as a neck warmer. The length is such that it can be worn over the nose while still protecting the gap between jacket or jersey collar and chin, plus it's long (and wide) enough to be pulled up over the head as an under-helmet head covering while still being a useful scarf.
The fabric weight, coupled with the ribbed cuffs, also means that a simple twist in the middle can turn this into a really normal looking beanie, making it extra versatile. As a beanie, it's sufficiently lightweight and low volume that it can easily be worn under a helmet on cold days or as a rest stop warmer.
It pops into a jersey or jacket pocket easily, thanks to the light weight and low bulk.
In use it's comfortable and cosy without being over the top. While warmer than many of the lightweight synthetic neckwarmers, it felt of a similar bulk to those low-profile options. I found myself reaching for this more often than any other warmer, at least in part because of its cosy softness, but also because of how breathable it is and how the fabric doen't contribute to overheating.
Okay, it's definitely not cheap, but as a merino option it compares pretty well against similarly woolly products like the equivalently boutique-brand Findra Women's Betty Neck Warmer, which has gone up to £30 since Caroline tested it. It's £1 more than the Showers Pass Merino Neck Gaiter at £23, but significantly more versatile thanks to its length, stretch and that ability to turn it into a decent looking beanie. Lusso's Merino Neck Warmer is just £10.99, but it's only 35% merino…
It looks great, is well made, comfortable and versatile, so I'd say it delivers well for the slightly high price. Keep it away from Velcro and it should last for years too.
Well thought through and high quality – a bit pricey, but very effective and versatile
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Iris Merino Neck Warmer
Size tested: One size
Tell us what the product is for
To add to warmth on colder rides.
Iris says, ' Is there anything worse than the feeling of a chilling cold wind around your neck and into your jersey?
'This seamless Merino neck warmer ensures you stay warm and dry, and – not unimportantly – adds a bit of style to your outfit.
'Place your neck warmer inside your jersey or jacket to seal the warmth. On colder days it can protect the lower part of your face or can even be pulled over the head when conditions are particularly grim.
'One size fits all.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Seamless main body with ribbed cuffs
Superbly made from soft seamless merino. Even the logo label is designed to be easily removed if it proves irritating.
Spot on for levels of warmth and breathability. Also very versatile.
It's very well made from high quality fabric but keep it away from Velcro or its lifespan will be slowly eroded.
Neat enough to not be baggy but with enough stretch to be versatile in use.
Barely heavier than most lightweight synthetic neck warmers but much cosier.
Very cosy and breathable. Makes a great under-helmet headcovering or beanie too.
It's not cheap but it is well made and it really delivers on performance and versatility for that money. You can spend less – you can also spend a little more for an equivalent product.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy to look after, washed well on a gentle cycle.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable, warm and effective, plus stretchy and long enough to be really versatile.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Looks great, warm, versatile, 95% merino, soft.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really, other than a slightly high price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's definitely not cheap, but as a merino option it compares pretty well against similarly woolly products like the equivalently boutique-brand Findra Women's Betty Neck Warmer at £30. It's £1 more than the Showers Pass Merino Neck Gaiter at £23 but significantly more versatile thanks to its length, stretch and that ability to turn it into a decent looking beanie.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Absolutely
Use this box to explain your overall score
A slightly high price is matched by excellent warmth to weight, good looks, high quality and genuine versatility. It's very lovely.
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.