I’m a fan of the cotton cycling cap. Even though jerseys that flutter in the wind and ankle socks are as fashionable as hoop skirts, the cotton cycling cap is no less stylish now than when Fausto Coppi wore one. Neat trick. There’s something to be celebrated in that. I like being able to see at least one of cycling’s oldest traditions still in heavy rotation.
But, that said, I have often wondered what it would take for me to conclude that someone had finally improved upon the world’s least-technical material. Sure, we have the mutt—the thermal cycling cap—but it’s special purpose and isn’t a substitute for a cotton cap.
I’ve tried my share of polyester caps, and while it’s nice that you can sublimate them, they really are no substitute to the OG version.
Then this spring, in the midst of the rainiest winter on record in my town—we topped Seattle, people!—I was introduced to the Seal Skinz Waterproof Cycling Cap. Waterproof you say?
I learned years ago in spring road races in New England that a cycling cap did nearly as good a job of keeping debris out of your eyes as glasses, but didn’t fog up in the wet. So in seriously wet conditions, I make sure I have a hat in case I end up ditching the eyewear. During my recent trip to Japan, with daily rain and temperatures in the 50s, I needed to keep my head warm and dry as well as my eyes clear of road detritus.
The Seal Skinz cap kept my head warmer than any other cap could likely have accomplished. Just being dry, or at least dry-ish, made me a good deal more comfortable, but the extra insulation offered by a dry garment preventing the cold wind from sailing across my pate turned out to be a great help. It’s reasonably breathable thanks to the micro-porous membrane sandwiched between two layers of polyester. The inside of the cap is lined with mesh to better wick away whatever moisture you’re head does release.
The camp carries a suggested retail of $40, which isn’t bad considering the non-technical cotton cap usually goes for $20 or $25. Unlike most cotton caps, the Seal Skinz waterproof cycling cap comes in two sizes, S/M and L/XL.
My only knock against the cap is that the bill is too stiff. Flip it up and it causes the cap to pull tight, and that’s only if it stayed flipped up, which it wasn’t keen to do. Considering my need in the cold and wet, I didn’t actually mind.
Final thought: a warm, dry head is a happy head.
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