At road.cc 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.
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
The Kalf Merino Beanie is well made, functional, and fits under a helmet easily. It also looks good enough that it can be worn as a standalone hat. It's nice and warm, doesn't hold too much moisture and is easy to care for. It's one size only, though, so check it fits.
It's a bit looser than a skull cap so I felt some wind getting in on very cold days, but it covers your ears and when you take your helmet off, you needn't feel quite so self-conscious (see poor old Stu here as an example of what I mean). In fact, I'd go as far as to say the Kalf Merino actually looks quite good, so you needn't take it off at the cafe stop. My head is around a 58cm circumference, about average, and I found the fit to be fairly loose. The beanie is one size, so if you've got a small head it might be a bit too big.
Two colour options are available, burgundy or black, and while the £20 price tag is on the steep side for a poly blend beanie, it's not outrageous. It's not quite as warm as my favourite beanie for cycling, the multi-purpose Buff Ketten, but Kalf's definitely looks better off the bike.
Gore's Universal Thermal beanie is around the same price, but I find it a bit shallow so it doesn't cover the ears as well, and it's thicker.
Overall, I'm a real fan of this beanie, and tend to reach for it on most mornings in temperatures of 6°C or below. Credit to Kalf for its contribution towards making under-helmet winter headwear more fashionable.
A functional and warm beanie that actually looks quite good too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kalf Merino Beanie
Size tested: One Size
Tell us what the product is for
Evans says, "Sometimes your helmet isn't enough to keep your head warm during those winter rides. That's where the Kalf Merino Beanie comes into its own. Made from a soft merino/polyester blend, it's designed to fit under your helmet for the ultimate combination of warmth and protection. It comes with a thermal lined headband for extra warmth and is available in colours that fit perfectly with the rest of the Kalf winter range."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Evans lists these features:
50/50 merino/polyester blend
Thermal lined headband
Designed specifically to fit under a helmet
Very well made, nice and warm, no irritating seams.
Fits under a helmet, comfy, doesn't get too sweaty, no problems.
Quite wide and a bit loose on a medium head.
If you've got a small head it might be a bit loose – it's one size.
Very comfortable, no itching.
On the pricey side, but won't break the bank.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues with a machine wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Looks acceptable on its own, unlike skull caps! And I like the colours.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not a form fit so some wind chill can get in.
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 overall score
It's a decent bit of functional kit, a little expensive, but it looks better than most thermal cycling hats and it's comfortable. The one-size-doesn't-fit-all meant a few draughts for me, but it's still good – more so if it fits your head better.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac) My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon races
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.