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Wool Buff



Neck-warming luxury that should last for years if cared for properly

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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If you’re not familiar with the concept of the Buff, then you’re missing out on what is a supremely useful and versatile piece of kit. Named by the manufacturer as ‘Multi-Function Headwear’ the original Buff is essentially a lightweight seamless microfibre tube that can be used as a throat warmer, bandana, beanie, or any other variation you can come up with.

The Wool Buff is a new member of the rapidly expanding stable of Buffs, and is remarkably similar to the original except for a few differences.

First off, it’s made from 100% merino wool rather than microfibre. Merino is far less scratchy to wear than normal wool, having much finer fibres, yet it shares wool’s ability to retain heat even when wet and is great at maintaining a comfortable temperature. The main bonus of merino, however, for most active users, is its ability to resist odours. With natural anti-microbial properties, merino doesn’t smell bad even if you wear it constantly for weeks at a time without washing it, so it’s great for long tours or just for those of us who forget to take it out of a pocket, bag or pannier.

The other main difference, and one which I’m not so sure about, is the length of the merino version. It’s much longer than the original and as such is quite a generous amount of fabric to have coiled around your neck if you’re using it as a scarf. The additional length does make it better for use as a beanie or balaclava though. This extra length, and the merino fabric mean this is best suited to colder conditions.

In use it’s cosy and comfortable for long periods of time, keeping drafts out nicely, and it doesn’t take up much space or weight while making a big difference in temperature.

Not only is this a handy extra for cyclists, but is also just as useful to walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts, making it a great gift idea. If the worst came to the worst, you could even use it in a first aid scenario, it’s that versatile.

Comes in eight plain colours.


The Merino Buff feels luxurious, weighs little and will probably last for years if cared for properly. It warms you up nicely and won't smell if you forget to wash it for a while.

It's a versatile and useful piece of kit to take along on any ride. Best suited to the cold.

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Make and model: Buff Merino

Size tested: n/a

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?

The manufacturer market this as 'multi-function headwear'.

This description is spot on. The only limit to what you can use a Buff for is your imagination and ingenuity.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

100% merino wool

Wool retains its heat even when damp.

Merino is also non- itchy, pleasant to wear and has natural anti-microbial properties that mean no matter how often you wear it or how much you sweat into it, it'll stay pretty much odour free.

If it finally does get a bit whiffy it's washable in non-bio at 30.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

One of the best things about the original microfibre Buff is its seam-free nature. Like other Buffs the  Wool Buff doesn't have a seam running through it although it does have a soft flat locked hem top and bottom due to the nature of the fabric, but that doesn't chafe or irritate unduly. other than top and bottom it's still seam-free.

Rate the product for performance:

Best for cold weather.

Rate the product for durability:

Provided you don't wash it too hot, it'll just keep on going, and won't smell either.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

No reason not to take it with you.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Comfortable for cold weather use.

Rate the product for value:

Quite expensive for what it is, but its all round usefulness and versatility, together with the quality and durability of the merino mean it's worth the investment.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Great performance- warm and comfortable in use, even when wet or damp. Versatile.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Wearability and comfort of merino fabric.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Maybe a touch too long for quite the same level of versatility as the original Buff.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Definitely- especially for presents

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

Would have preferred it to be just a little shorter.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 1.65m  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, 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 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. 

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Old Cranky | 14 years ago

Dear Santa...

DaSy | 14 years ago

I've got the Rapha neck collar (no surprise there then), and it is tailored rather than just a tube. It drops down lower at the front to eliminate drafts, and doesn't bunch up, as it is wider at the base.

It is one of their better value items, and works really well. It is only for the one purpose though, rather than being able to be made into a slingshot, a papoose, a fan-belt, etc like the Buff can.

Tony Farrelly | 14 years ago

Well, this one is 100 % Merino while the Rapha one has 7 % Spandex in the mix (nowt wrong with that though).

One says Buff on it and the other says Rapha - not sure that there is much room for design variation on a woolen tube (although I'm sure someone will be along soon enough to tell me different) although when it comes to making multi-functional material tubes Buff are the experts.

On the other hand Rapha's buff-a-like Collar is designed to work with their Merino base-layer - which might mean it tucks in nicely eliminating any chance of a neck draft or might mean that it simply colour co-ordinates nicely, or more likely both.

Old Cranky | 14 years ago

How does this compare with the Rapha merino wool equivalent which is £4 more expensive?

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