This is headwear as in, not the helmet. I have sensitive skin and helmets come with disappointing washing instructions. I don’t understand what problem there can be with washing a regular helmet, but I do actually want the protection, so I follow the instructions. That makes me need something washable and breathable between the helmet and me during all seasons. For some people, wearing a headband is about trying to avoid sweat streaming into their eyes, and once I’m doing centuries across Georgia and Alabama through the heat of the summer, I may have that issue as well. For now, I want something to relieve the skin irritation so that I’ll wear my helmet properly.
With the exception of dollar store headbands (which don’t have a good bulk versus benefit trade off) the headbands that I’ve tried are all expensive, so, as a seamstress, I’ve tried my own versions too. I haven’t found the solution to end all searching for something better. Surprisingly small differences in thickness cause re-adjustments in my chin straps, so I’d like a bunch of the same thing, once I choose that thing. It keeps me from constantly adjusting the straps. Chin straps are also a problem. I just wash them anyway, especially in the summer.
My first experiment with a solution was a pleated cotton band made of woven fabric from REI. It had a covered elastic bit at the back. The pleats expand to the desired width, the elastic kept the fit snug and it didn’t interfere with the helmet fit because it was low in back. I made some of my own. They were awkward to sew and it was frustratingly time consuming for a little headband. I could have made something much more impressive in the same amount of time. The nice part was that I made mine of Liberty’s Cotton Lawn. I could swim in that stuff, not just the gorgeous look of prints like William Morris originals, but the feel too. Going into their store is like a little slice of heaven for a fan like me, and paging through what they have online now is always drool worthy, so I liked the look too. I don’t have a picture of these to show. REI doesn’t sell that one anymore and the ones I made with my beautiful Liberty’s Lawn were lost in a house fire.
My most recent headband trial was from Headsiweats. I ordered an assortment of hats and bands in grab bags. This is the headband I liked best from Headsweats. I was afraid I wouldn’t Like the terry, but it was very lightweight. And, after having sewn headbands, I have more respect for the cost too. I also ordered what is to date, my favorite mask from them. I ordered a grab bag for that too, and they sent me Bigfoot Camo. That doesn’t just appeal to my sense of the ridiculous, it is also the best fitting and most comfortable for me, and seems high in safety as well (but a little too small on Russ). At first I was disappointed that no one seemed to notice all those little sasquatches, but then, I realized I didn’t want them that close.
Headbands for winter are easy. The stretchy fleece bands that widen to protect ears are good from every company that I’ve tried. The problem is that I need to wear my sunglasses now, and at the same time, I’m looking for mask solutions to see me through the winter. (I loved the neck gaiters for riding, but then research came out that they weren’t the better thing to do. I experimented with layers to improve performance, but haven’t found the solution I like). I need headwear that allows all of the pieces of gear on and around my ears to actually stay on my head AND doesn’t interfere with my chin straps or my hearing. Anything that is near the ear canal seems to create that effect you get when you hear the ocean in a seashell. So, headbands need to be completely over my ears in colder temps, and probably completely off in summer.
Options from Smartwool and Junk look like they might be worth trying. I know nothing about Junk, but I have a few pieces of Smartwool and I love them. Moths finally found my first smartwool shirt. I keep thinking I’m wearing it for the last time, that I’m going to cut it up and sew it into leggings for my granddaughter, and then I wash it and next time I want a base layer, I put it on. It wasn’t made for cycling, but it is STILL a favorite and it STILL goes under as a layer every time I ride under 60 degrees.
If I could have anything for a headband? It might not be a headband in the traditional sense at all. Something made of Liberty’s or Smartwool (in a William Morris print, of course) that attaches to the inside of the helmet with bits of velcro or microsnaps. Maybe it would have a layer of ultra thin cotton terry or merino cloth on the side that touches me, and it would be reversible (as in inside out) or, come with a laundry bag, so that it doesn’t collect loose threads or damage other clothes in the wash. I also have a redesign in mind on those first headbands I made. I may get busy sewing soon, but it will wait till after I do more mask experiments.