Review: Rapha Winter Hat (Cap)
(2017) Winters in upstate New York are truly a test of seasonal endurance. The difficult part of the darkest season near the Canadian border is the lack of a concise finish line. Sometimes winter would depart early, sometimes April lacrosse practice had to be moved indoors because of a sudden snowstorm. To keep the head warm became a study in not so much of what looked good but what worked. At one point, a snow patrolman advised me to go indoors because of the icicles hanging from the earlobes gave him a nagging feeling I could come down with frostbite. I don’t need to explain the struggle that the winter hat had wiggled its way up the noggin leaving the ears exposed.
That struggle translated into winter riding. What would start out as a toasty toque that covered the head and ears smartly would eventually settle itself a portion higher to leave sensitive areas exposed. Helmet straps, neck warmers, and a craning neck aided in the ambulatory aspect of the headgear. After multiple winter cycling hats – and even some attempts at using winter hiking hats – the hope that a fully functional headgear would be discovered was abandoned. That is, until the Rapha Winter Hat was put in our hands.
The past weekend was an excellent time to find out whether our abandoned hopes could be resuscitated into a thriving experience. Putting the winter hat on felt natural and comfortable. Every part of the head engineered for cover by the hat was wrapped in lovely goodness. The helmet ran no interference between the winter hat and itself. The curiosity of whether the performance would continue down the roads with wind was gaining eagerness.
The most striking feature highlighted by Rapha is certainly the ribbed earguard with the woven contrast stripe. While it looks good, it’s the piece that makes this hat worth the purchase. Its extra expandable fabric makes ear coverage extremely comfortable and far reaching. The ears stayed nicely tucked up under the guard and that should be all you need to know about whether this is worth the price. But there’s more. The soft mesh lining allows for an even more comfortable fit. Furthermore the rigid brim added to the ease of riding in low-light horizon conditions. It made it easier to flip up when needing to be stowed. One curiosity is the fleece lining under the brim. Considering we would never wear it backwards, we’re not really sure what the purpose is for the patch of fleece.
We truly welcome the Rapha Winter Hat into our rotation of headgear to serve a purpose. The hat was extremely comfortable for the entire ride while keeping the head warm. It’s certainly exciting to have a hat that alleviates an annoyance that comes with riding in the winter. It would even be a cap to wear in late cyclocross season as a spectator. With a hat that performs as well as this one, worrying about whether icicles will show up on the ears is a distant memory. Buy this hat. You will absolutely love it.
The Rapha Winter Hat is on sale for $50 (USD) per rapha.cc. We got our hands on the navy, but light blue as well as a grey/ coral option are currently available.