Giro's Ambient Skull Cap is a thin thermal fleece lined cap to keep your head and ears warm.
Sewn together from four panels of water resistant DWR treated material the front panel offers further protection from the winter by being made from Windstopper fabric, to stop the wind giving you an ice-cream headache. The inside of each panel is fleece-lined for warmth and there's an extra strip of fabric along the inside seam of the brim for sweat absorption.
A deep flap extends from the sides all the way round the back, coming down far enough to keep even the most wingnutty of ears warm, and the nape of the neck toasty, but it's easy enough to fold up out the way should things get too hot on a climb or if a feeble sun comes out. Although that means the cute reflective Giro logo on the rear of the flap gets hidden. Shame.
The peak is a fraction of the size of a normal cycle cap, Giro don't even call it a peak but a micro-brim, which is probably a clue, and at only a fat finger's width deep it's no good at all for keeping a low sun or slanty rain out of the eyes. Which is a pity as you'd expect a lot of both in the kind of conditions this cap is designed for. The micro-brim does have a strip of reflective piping along the edge though, which is nice.
The Giro cap is easily thin enough to fit under a helmet and all the joins are flat 'Smart Seams' so they don't rub, and it's snug enough on the head to wear helmet-free without it feeling like it's going to rip off at speed or go a bit Noddy at the crown. The Ambient comes in two sizes, small/medium and large/x-large with the latter fitting this standard medium head comfortably, but not too tightly, with plenty of stretch to spare for bigger bonces.
That Windstopper front works well, halting icy breezes in their tracks once they've made their way through the vents in your helmet that are specially designed to channel lots of cold air onto your forehead, but as the DWR coated fabric is only water resistant rather than proof it will only keep a brief shower at bay.
But most importantly it's a lovely warm cap, though not so warm that you get a instant brow sweat under effort - obviously your operating temperature will have a bearing on what temperature you'll find this hat useful at, but safe to say as soon as the thermometer hovered near zero then the Giro Ambient came out. Flaps down for the first bit of the ride while things tried to warm up. If things did get a bit warm and sweaty the Ambient cap did a good job of wicking moisture away so the head didn't become a damp and frosty lump once on the chilly descent.
It's also been quite handy indoors recently.
Light, thin, warm winter cap that's easily and comfortably worn under a helmet or just on its own.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Giro Ambient Skull Cap
Size tested: One, white
Giro say we've all been there - out for a ride without a cap, the winter wind biting at your ears, then your arms start to shake and things get dicey from there. Our new Ambient Winter Skullcap can help solve all of that, keeping your dome warm with a soft thermal fleece lining, a wind-stopping front panel and cozy ear flaps. Bonus: It's designed to fit within a variety of helmets.
I've never gone for a winter ride without some sort of cap or hat on so we'll skip that bit. But the rest of it is right enough, it's a cap, a warm wind-stopping cap that fits under a helmet, with ear flaps.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Thermal fleece lined cap designed to fit within a variety of helmets. Water resistant DWR treated material, wind stopper front panel with ear flaps, small micro-brim for use with helmets, Smart Seam construction.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On the whole, great. Warm, good ear coverage, not a problem under a helmet. The micro-brow was disappointing and marks the cap down a few points, making us wish for a proper peak to shield low winter sun and shitty rain.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warm ears, comfy fit, you can look like Stirling Moss in the white one.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The peak was too small, you might look like Stirling Moss in the white one, so it's also available in black.
Did you enjoy using the product? Mostly, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe, the micro-brow issue might put me off to be honest.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
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: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.