Chapeau!'s Merino Warmer is a simple way of keeping your neck or head comfortable, whatever the weather. Twenty quid is almost twice the price of synthetics, but it's still in line with comparable offerings from other brands. As well as keeping you warm in winter, the natural yarn's chameleon like qualities will also protect against sunburn and worse during hot weather.
Measuring 42x22cm, there's plenty of it, perfect for covering the nose and cheeks during bitterly cold days, without hampering breathing or turning soggy.
This, coupled with minimal bulk, means it doubles as a useful headscarf, whether worn on its own or beneath a helmet. Hair aside, I don't like my ears covered, but again the thin fibres offer protection from frosty starts or chilly descents without unwelcome bulk or impairing hearing.
When the rains come, there's no escaping the fact that you'll get wet, but you will at least remain warm. And once the storms have passed, aided and abetted by a gentle breeze the Warmer will wick dry in under 20 minutes. These qualities translate perfectly to indoor trainer sessions.
You probably wouldn't want to forgo the 'sweat net' or old towel, but the Warmer's thin, silky fibres lap up your salty coolant before it can cascade painfully into the eyes.
Back round the neck, the Warmer's temperature regulating properties mean you can unzip thermal jerseys/jacket for additional ventilation when temperatures fluctuate mid ride without running the risk of catching a chill.
There's no danger of things turning the wrong sort of funky in between washes either. This will, of course, vary from person to person but it remained socially acceptable for 10 days despite a relentless diet of training, commuting and turbo sessions. Nomadic tourists will be pleased to note, a quick bucket and soapy water hand wash will suffice, but standard 40-degree machine cycles won't cause any dramas either.
If petrol blue and hot pink is a little too metrosexual for some of you, there's also a plain grey option. Either way, they're neutral enough for cycling, running, or just standing spectating at cyclo-cross and mountain bike meets.
Useful garment with much wider horizons than winter riding
Make and model: Chapeau Merino Warmer
Size tested: One Size, Thin Stripe, Petrol Blue/Hot Pink
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Chapeau says: "Our Merino neck warmer is firm staff favourite. It's a natural fibre, lightweight product that is odour resistant and can be worn in a number of different ways; just on the neck, covering the chin or even an impromptu skull cap in case the cold wind catches you out!"
Mirrors my own sentiments.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% Merino wool, 42x22cm
Does everything you'd expect from a merino garment.
Should last a good while so long as washing and care instructions are observed.
Some will argue it's expensive relative to synthetics, but merino can be worn all year round and doesn't look "technical" so looks good with regular street wear.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, this merino warmer has performed faultlessly in all contexts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pretty much everything.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Overall performance is superb and it's not particularly pricey by competitor standards. However, while generally durable, merino requires a little extra care when washing/drying compared with synthetics.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81cm Weight: 70kg
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking