Especially when a ride starts early, I tend to wear a few light insulating layers that can be easily removed as the day warms or when the intensity nears 11. Designed to fit above the ears and under the helmet, Headsweats’ Skullcap is a lightweight Coolmax cap that of a thickness that I’ve found works well for spring and fall road biking as well as high-intensity mountain biking on colder days. Headsweats also pitch the Scullcap as a wicking layer for summer activity. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to try it during the summer, I do know a few balding riders who swear by the company’s products for under-helmet sun protection. Lacking the vestigal tails of other Headsweats products, I would consider Skullcap a great choice for transitional season rides- with one small tweak… Click ‘more‘ to find out what would make it so- and who it’s perfect for now.
A well-known and well-established fabric, Coolmax has almost become a generic term for polyester fabrics that do a good job of wicking moisture away from the skin. For their Skullcap, Headsweats combine four panels of thin fabric in standard beanie fashion, with a hem around the base. Though the fabric isn’t especially elastic, the Skullcap fits well and I’ve never found the seams to be noticeable- let alone uncomfortable- when riding.
What I do notice, and what I have the most trouble with, is the Skullcap’s size. In fact, almost every Headsweats product that I have tried has been too big. When worn under a helmet, pulling a too-big hat up can make for uncomfortable wrinkles and folds. Rolling (cuffing?) the bottom edge has the same effect. Unfortunately, on my medium helmet-sized head, the Skullcap is too long, coming down to cover about half of my ears. This is an odd sensation, warmth-wise, and a bit unstable. When the Skullcap moves, so too do any glasses worn over it. That sensation is annoying enough to keep me from wearing the Skullcap much at all. In the same fabric, Headsweats’ Midcap is designed to cover the ears and should be more stable and help to keep wind out of the ears.
As it its fabric is a fairly open weave, the Skullcap seems better suited to mountain biking’s high intensities and lower speeds- on the road bike, it doesn’t really provide much insulation at speed, but warms quickly on climbs. When all is said and done, Headsweats’ Skullcap doesn’t really work for me. taking 1/2in off of the hat’s lower edge- or offering more than one size- would make it much more comfortable. For road biking, though, it really needs to be more tightly woven. At $14, the price is right: mountain bikers with larger heads looking for something that sits above their ears (or riders with small heads who are looking to cover their ears) could do well to check it out. Us medium folks, though, will have to keep looking…