If you want a top-quality, 100% merino neck warmer (and don't mind paying an extremely high price for it), the Poc Thermal Neck Warmer Tube should go straight to the top of your shortlist – it's brilliant. Perfect moisture and temperature regulation, very soft fabric and a comfortable fit means I've been wearing this not only on the bike, but also for hiking, running, going to the shops, and even just around the house.
Merino at its best
I absolutely loved testing the Poc Thermal Neck Warmer Tube. The use of 100% merino wool isn't the norm in cycling-specific neck warmers (it's often paired with polyester or nylon and elastane), yet it's the perfect choice for this application because of merino's natural properties of thermal regulation and moisture wicking – properties that Poc has enhanced with the way it has constructed the garment.
Poc's neck warmer is made in a single tube with no seams running down its length, and uses a fine knit which allows breathability, preventing moisture build-up and overheating, but also keeps hold of your hard-earned warmth perfectly well. Without any use of elastane, it's the fine knit that also provides the neck warmer's elasticity, allowing it to be pulled over any part of your head and face with ease – and stay there.
What surprised me was that you can have it pulled over your mouth and nose on a descent and not instantly fog up your glasses – it doesn't just funnel your hot breath up into your glasses but allows it to escape somewhat through the fabric – something I've not experienced with other neck warmers. Used in 'ET Mode' (pulled over the back of the head), you still get ample protection on the neck and nice toasty ears due to its 36cm length. The naturally antibacterial merino leaves the fabric odourless between washes.
The colour of the neck warmer is extremely black ('uranium black' as Poc calls it), which, contrasted with the small white Poc logo, looks pretty cool. It goes well with all my kit and doesn't look bulky or drooping when just around the neck. I have no other Poc gear, but I can imagine this neck warmer would work very well with its other products. I have a small gripe about the use of the white washing instructions label – once you cut this out, you're left with white remnants on an otherwise extremely black garment, and if the top of the neck warmer rolls down, this could be visible and doesn't look great.
The elephant in the room is the £40 price tag. At the time of writing, I could only find one pricier neck warmer online, the Escapism Knit Neck Tube by Pas Normal Studios, which costs £45. But this is quite a different offering, made with a thick polyester and polyamide blend, and is available in colours that match the company's winter kit).
Poc's neck warmer is a whole 25% more expensive than the next-most expensive neck warmer we've reviewed, the 7Mesh Colorado Neck Warmer that has a lot more obvious tech and is made of a polyester/elastane blend, and Hollis rated it highly – but still felt it was expensive at £30
Comparing 100% merino neck warmers, the Findra Women's Betty Neck Warmer that Caroline liked comes closest and costs £28, although weighs twice as much (67g), and looks to be a bit thicker and perhaps less performance oriented. Poc's neck warmer ticks all the comfort and performance boxes and is very close to justifying its price tag.
On the surface it appears to be a very basic garment – a tube of material with a small white logo on it. Sometimes the things that look the simplest are the result of a lot of design behind the scenes, and I'm inclined to believe this is one of them. It really is a quality piece of kit, and despite being able to buy multiple cheaper neck warmers for the same price, I'd go for this one any day. At 33.6g and rolling up to about the size of a sausage, it brings so much benefit for its size and weight – this is coming with me everywhere until summer.
The best neck warmer I've ever used – its construction lets merino wool's natural qualities shine. But wow, it's expensive!
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Make and model: Poc Thermal Neck Warmer Tube
Tell us what the product is for
This neck warmer is for those who are after the best kit, rather than something more affordable. Poc says: "Stay warm and comfortable on longer rides with the Thermal Neck Warmer Tube. Flexible and soft, the Tube can be worn in a multitude of different ways. Constructed entirely from Merino Wool, the neck warmer is soft next to the skin and benefit's from wool's natural thermal regulation properties. The neck warmer is long and thin enough to be worn over the head, under a helmet." - there's nothing I can disagree with there.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% merino does the job perfectly, the knit density is spot on, allowing moisture and thermal regulation, and the shape is perfect - it stays where you put it.
Rate the product for quality of construction:
It's a simple tube, but it's the right size to allow great versatility.
Rate the product for performance:
It does exactly what you'd want it to - keeps warmth in, lets moisture out.
Rate the product for durability:
After a few rides and washes, it no longer looks brand new, but there's no damage or fading of the colour, and the logo is still very white.
Rate the product for fit:
It's slightly looser than my other neck warmers, but it stays where you put it so it isn't a problem.
Rate the product for sizing:
For me, the size was perfect. The stretch would allow a good fit for those larger or smaller than myself too.
Rate the product for weight:
Lighter than most neck warmers, yet there's no sacrifice on size.
Rate the product for comfort:
Very comfortable - you forget you're wearing it.
Rate the product for value:
Undeniably, this is very expensive for a neck warmer. Also undeniably, this is an excellent piece of kit.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, no problems at all after three or four regular washes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Across the board, this neck warmer performed exceptionally.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The breathability – this allows you to be sed over your nose and mouth on cold winter descents without fogging up glasses or gathering moisture.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A small detail - the care instruction label is white, so when you cut it out it leaves white label remnants that are visible if the neck warmer's top section folds down in use.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This is the most expensive neck warmer we've ever tested, by quite a way.
Did you enjoy using the product? A lot
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 is everything I'd want in a neck warmer. If it were 25% less expensive and had a black washing instructions tag, I'd give it a 10/10.
Age: 33 Height: 174 Weight: 63
I usually ride: Ridley Fenix SL Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Bikepacking
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