10 Best Neck Gaiters for Runners Reviewed

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Neck gaiters are a type of one-piece fabric tube designed as a one size fits all item of clothing. Many of them are made of either synthetic materials – mainly microfiber polyester for the most part, or wool.

The ones made of synthetic materials or microfiber are better for running, as it enables the material to “wick” away moisture, while keeping the person wearing the gaiter warm underneath. They can be an important item in a runner’s arsenal when they need to cover the neck, face and head  from the elements.

There are a wide variety of neck gaiters available and the ones on this list are just a few of the many out there on the market. If you’re looking for a new one, check out the ones on this list, and see what you think about them. As with any types of products on the market, look over the reviews and see what you think and buy the one(s) you think are the best fit for the types of activities that you do.

Last Updated: April 21, 2017

We have made a few updates to this buying guide. We have moved a option from Buff to the #1 spot, as well as added a ton of additional information, just below our list, to help make your decision a little easier.

We also put together a few frequently asked questions, and added them near the bottom of this page.

Buff Original Headwear
  • Buff Original Headwear
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 100% Microfiber
  • One size fits all adults
  • Moisture wicking
  • Polygiene active odor control
  • Price: See Here
Columbia Fast Trek
  • Columbia Fast Trek
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 100% Polyester
  • 250g microfleece
  • Machine Wash
  • Versitle Warmth & Softness
  • Price: See Here
Carhartt Fleece Neck Gaiter
  • Carhartt Fleece Neck Gaiter
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 92% Polyester
  • 8% Spandex
  • Hand Wash
  • Wind/Cold Restistant
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Neck Gaiters for Runners

 

1. Original Buff Headwear

Lightweight and thin, the Original Buff is a versatile, durable and compact piece of clothing.
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Important Features
Lightweight and compact – this is important because it’s small enough to fit into your pocket without being too bulky.

Extremely versatile. While many of the neck gaiters are extremely adaptable, the Original Buff is ideal for many uses. There were some complaints about the durability and loose fit, but overall, was considered a good product. If you need something for extremely cold weather, you might want to consider another option.

Cost & Value
If you’re looking for a lightweight starting neck gaiter that’s easy on the pocketbook, the Original Buff headwear is the way to go.
Pros
  • Cool Design
  • Easy to hand wash, dries easily
  • Durable
  • Versatile
Cons
  • Frays (“pills”) with age
  • Can be a little too loose

2. Columbia Fast Trek

The Columbia Unisex Fast Trek Neck Gaiter is a comfortable, albeit tight fitting winter wear neck gaiter. It is made of a moisture wicking, durable, and breathable polyester.
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Important Features
Moisture wicking materials are important for runners, because the more moisture builds up, the more the weather affects negatively the runner. Also, wicking materials help in odor reduction.

Some reviewers noted that the tag was itchy and the fit was pretty loose.

Cost/ Value
For the Columbia Unisex Fast Trek Neck Gaiter is an excellent deal.
Pros
  • Comfortable, snug fit
  • Small, compact size
  • Durable 100% polyester
  • Machine washable
  • Breathable
  • Warm
Cons
  • Scratchy tags
  • Rather tight for some users, may be too small for others

3. Arc'teryx RHO LTW

Made of natural merino wool and elastine, the Arc'teryx RHO LTW Men’s Neck Gaitor is a piece of equipment designed for winter wear. It is a non-bulky, durable piece of equipment that is designed to eliminate odors as well as wick moisture away.
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Important Features
The fabric used in making the gaiter a durable merino wool and elastine blend. The wool is stretchy by itself, but the elastine gives it a more of a spring so that it can "hug" the user’s face.


Cost/ Value
This is a more costly option than some of the other neck gaiters available for purchase, but many say it’s well worth the extra price paid in terms of durability and warmth. The price is the sole reason why it’s not higher on the list.
Pros
  • Soft, stretchy, non-itchy material
  • Warm & wind resistant (though not too warm)
  • Tight Fitting
  • Durable
Cons
  • Too thick/ hard to breathe in
  • Some users think it’s too tight of a fit

4. Smartwool NTS Mis 250

4. Smartwool NTS Mis 250
The Smartwool Unisex NTS Mis 250 Reversible Neck Gaiter is a soft double-layered gaiter designed for winter use.
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Important Features
This gaiter is constructed from merino wool fabric and is fire retardant, odor resistant, and naturally moisture wicking.

Not machine washable (at least according to the label – do so at your own risk). Some reviews have stated that it can be machine washed, but air dried, by laying it flat.

Cost/ Value
This is one of the more costly options, but for what you’re getting, it’s not a bad deal. The reason why it’s not higher on the list is because of the fact that it wears poorly.
Pros
  • Made of 100% merino wool
  • Clean finish seams  
  • Very warm, even in the coldest conditions
  • True to size fit
  • Moisture wicking/ dries quickly
  • Contains natural anti-odor properties
Cons
  • Irritating tag and/or seams
  • Not machine washable 
  • Not as good of quality as some other gaiters on the market, fabric tends to “pill” as it wears. 

5. Oakley Factory

5. Oakley Factory
The Oakley Men's Factory Neck Gaiter is made of comfortably soft, stretchy, and durable 100% polyester microfleece material.
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Important Features
It's fabric component is very soft, durable microfleece polyester. It is also form fitting which is an important factor, because some of the other brands on the market tend to fall off the face.

Cost/ Value
This is one of the cheaper choices out there, without complaints in regards to quality of construction. The reason it isn’t higher rated is because of the rough seams that bothered a lot of reviewers.
Pros
  • Soft & comfortable
  • Form fitting (doesn’t fall off face)
  • Made of Durable 100% polyester
Cons
  • Seam somewhat rough
  • Imported

6. Minus33 Midweight

6. Minus33 Midweight
The Minus33 Merino Wool Midweight Neck Gaiter is made of a naturally odor blocking material that insulates.
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Important Features
Merino wool is a good material to make a neck gaiter out of because it’s fire retardant, odor resistant, and naturally moisture wicking.


Cost/ Value
This is a middle of the road price, but due to the fact that it gets free shipping, it’s really not that bad of a deal.

Pros
  • Soft and warm
  • Breathable and moisture wicking
  • Machine wash (cold only)
  • Form fitting
  • Fire resistant  
  • Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating 50+*
Cons
  • Not designed for extremely cold weather
  • Uncomfortable for extended wear
  • Tends to roll up after extended use.

7. Under Armour No Breaks Gore Windstopper

7. Under Armour No Breaks Gore Windstopper
As the name implies, the Under Armour Men's No Breaks GORE WINDSTOPPER Neck Gaiter stops wind and cold from coming through.
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Important Features
Very good at blocking wind and cold from reaching the skin. This is important for cold weather runs where the user doesn’t want to breathe the harsh cold air.

It also has a tight fit so it doesn’t slide off the face is an important feature for runners because the user is always moving. The material is also very breathable.

Among all the brands on this list, this one seems to be the most successful at blocking out the wind according to the reviewers. The reason why it wasn’t higher rated is because even though it is somewhat stretchy, some users thought it could use a bit more elasticity and they complained that it felt like it was choking them.

Cost/ Value
This is a good value for what it offers.
Pros
  • Made of odor blocking materials
  • Wind blocking, yet breathable
  • Reflective logo for nighttime running
  • Made of wicking materials
  • Soft fleece lining
Cons
  • A little Tight/ Could be a bit stretchier
  • Some users didn’t think it was as thick as it should be
  • Imported

8. Buff UVX Head Mask

8. Buff UVX Head Mask
The Buff UVX Head Mask is made out of breathable "Polygiene Active Odor Control" fabric. This fabric blocks 95% of the sun’s damaging rays, wicking away sweat to keep the user cool.

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Important Features
It's fabric component is that of a very lightweight material and good for summer use. This neck gaiter is designed to filter out dust and insects – perfect for those summer runs along dusty roads or those dawn or dusk runs where you disturb insects resting in the grass. Reviewers wished the UPF rating was higher.

Cost/ Value
This is a good value for a summer neck gaiter.

Pros
  • Good for summertime use
  • Made of odor-blocking fabric
  • Wicks away moisture
  • Nicely stretchy
  • Good pattern
  • Contoured to fit neck and shoulder area
Cons
  • Holes get stretched out
  • Only 95%, which figures out to approximately 25 UPF. Other such masks have a higher  Ultraviolet Protection Factor ratings
  • Not meant for winter

9. Carhartt Fleece

9. Carhartt Fleece
The Carhartt Men's Fleece Neck Gaiter is made of a soft and warm, super-stretchy 92% polyester and 8% Spandex blend.

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Important Features
The fact that the gaiter is made of a stretchy polyester and spandex blend is an important factor for runners to consider when examining this product, because some of the other brands out there are too tight.

Reviewers complained about the breathability.

Cost/ Value
This is the cheapest of all the selections on this list and not that bad for the price.
Pros
  • Sturdy construction that doesn’t “pill” like some of the other ones out there
  • Comfortable
  • Stretchy
  • VERY Warm
  • Snug fit for the lower half of the face.  
  • Good price
Cons
  • Hand wash only
  • Delicate
  • Irritating tag        
  • Muffles voice of over mouth/ can chose the user

10. Turtle Fur Heavyweight Neck Warmer

10. Turtle Fur Heavyweight Neck Warmer
The Turtle Fur Heavyweight Neck Warmer is double layered gaiter made of a specially processed 100% acrylic material that gives it a soft feel.
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Important Features
Double layered construction is an important feature for runners because it’s vital for cold weather conditions, to be able to not worry about getting cold easily. The material is moisture wicking.

Cost/ Value
This is a good price, but may not be a good value, as it may not be as durable as you would like. If you’re looking for a specific color, you may find that the colors are not true to what you see on the computer screen.

Pros
  • Soft, luxurious texture
  • Microfleece material
  • Stretchy material which pulls over the user’s head easily
  • Machine washable (according to users), air dry.
  • Warm
  • Moisture wicking (dries quickly)
Cons
  • Colors not true to photographs
  • Not super breathable
  • Size variable, according to some users.

Neck gaiters are a very versatile piece of equipment able to be used in both hot and cold weather can be used in a variety of ways.  Among these are:

  • Scarf or neckerchief
  • Standalone turtleneck
  • Hat (beanie or skull cap) or hat liner
  • Hood
  • Face mask or breathing protection device (keeps out the cold and, depending on the make and model, dust and insects as well)
  • “Ninja’’ face mask hood  for under a helmet.  Also called a balaclava.
  • Headband, saharine, bandana, or sweatband
  • “Do –rag” or “pirate rag”
  • Water bottle holder
  • Alice rag or headscarf – away to keep hair out of your face
  • Tube top
  • Pony tail accessory
  • Wristband (twisted back onto the wrist) or a makeshift pair of gloves/ mittens if you have a pair of them (Useful if you have sweaty hands, but don’t need fine motor control)
  • Ear muffs

 

The Criteria Used When Looking For The Best Neck Gaiters For Runners

Keeping warm during any running session is very paramount. Especially during a cold climate. As a runner you will definitely fall into the temptation of getting scarves and balaclavs in order to keep warm during your running session. At the end of the day it’s very important to protect your neck. And the market has several neck warms and gaiters from various manufacturers and brands. when the winter weather sets in, it  doesn’t mean you isolate yourself and commit to the treadmill till the cold season ends.

When you leave your face exposed the harsh weather elements can cause different types of damage to your facial parts like wind and sun burns, skin irritations and frost bites. Severe cases of these can lead to serious skin infections and conditions. Your face chaps easily when running in a cold and windy climate, and this means your face is vulnerable for more skin damage form the sun and wind. There are many sports gears that are weather resistant and one can use to keep warm and protect their face and neck form harm.

A neck functions like a normal scarf, retaining heat around the neck and your face hence keeping you warm. They are worn more like neck scarfs and are made of of polyester that means they have fast drying abilities hence are able to keep you warm in cold weather. When looking for a good neck gaiter for your running, make sure the gaiter has an extra long front than the back part.  This means you will have maximum coverage and also enjoy a good fit. Some brands of neck gaiters have a simple cinch-cord that increases the tightness of the gaiter around the wearer’s  neck, enhance the perfect fit and retain more heat. Neck gaiters are also made to deal with windy running conditions.

Just as much as the market is flooded with these neck clothing for the cold season. It doesn’t mean that all the products will work for you, that’s why we have used the below factors in picking out the best neck gaiters for you.

Overall Features to Look For

Neck gaiters have different features that make them stand out and also make them function more effectively. Some of these features are:

Attachment

Many neck running gaiters are made in a way that when worn they can comfortably fit around the neck and hence be able to keep the neck warm always. This means that you need to have the perfect fit of your neck gaiter. Something to lose will mean that it cannot cover your whole neck and it will loosely hang on the lower part of your neck, making you to get over heated on that particular part of the neck. Something too tight will make you uncomfortable and probably cause a skin rush and make you feel too much heat. The best fit is something that you can comfortably move your neck without any feeling of discomfort.

Weather resistance

If you plan to run in the snow, or in wet, muddy conditions, you’ll want to get a gaiter that provides you with some weather resistance.  Make sure that your neck gaiter is definitely wind resistant and water resistant. This will guarantee that you are always warm regardless of the cold weather. Keeping your neck warm is very important as this will not only keep you warm but also prevent any infections that you may get when running in a cold weather. Make sure that the neck gaiter you get is weather resistant.

Fit

This is one of the most important factors when looking for a neck gaiter as fit will determine your whole running experience. Make sure you try the neck gaiter out before making any purchase, also take into consideration the material used whether it stretches or not. When you have the perfect fit you will be able to enjoy comfort and hence make your running experience more enjoyable. Also you can always inquire from the sales person if you are making a physical purchase in a store, but if you are doing an online purchase then you can always refer to buying guide charts provided by most online shopping platforms.

Breathability & Comfort provided by the Neck Gaiter

The same way you want a comfortable and good running pants or vests so do you need a neck gaiter that both comfortable and breathable. Comfort will be achieved by getting the right fit and also picking the right material that doesn’t affect your skin. The breathability of the gaiter is also a vital criterion when shopping for your next pair of neck gaiters, this means that there will be great air circulation around your neck that will enhance.  Good material will ensure that you enjoy comfort and breathability. Ask about the material used in making the neck gaiters. Some neck gaiters use a fabric that is double weave and a little stretchy that offers good breathability around the neck. It is a ideal hard to get a neck gaiter that is full-length and not very stiff as this will make your neck to over heat.

Weight

Light is right when it comes to sporting gears and accessories. Most athletes make the mistake of ignoring usability and durability of sporting gears and concentrating more on the weight.  And a neck gaiter isn’t supposed to be so thick that it over burdens your neck regardless of the quality but then this doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice all the other important factors when considering the weight of your neck gaiter.But then with the current technology you will definitely find a durable neck gaiter that offers amazingly lightweight features but then they tend to be a little more expensive.

 

Other factors to consider

Abrasion resistance

All gaiters will feature some degree of abrasion resistance, providing high durability to prevent your gaiter from tearing should it catch on an obstacle along the trail. The Inov-8 Debris Gaiter has the lowest level of abrasion resistance that we carry, as the material is softer and more sock-like than the others. Since it does not provide as durable protection as the others, it is best for simply keeping debris out.

Durability

Most athletes desire to own or have sporting apparel and accessories that are able to withstand wear and tear. It’s important that when you buying any neck gaiter you consider the durability of the product. A durable product means you have good value of your money. Most people face dilemma when thinking of weight and durability of a gaiter. Many opt for lighter gaiters and ignore durability, but then the idea is not to go for something that will be able to shred just after a few runs. Look for durability second to comfortability in order to avoid spending more money on getting new gaiters each season.

Selecting the Right Neck Gaiter

Like many decision when getting a running clothe, getting the perfect neck gaiter to suit can turn out to be a  very complicated task. With the wide collection and variety in brands, its easy to get a neck gaiter that will be able to keep you warm during the cold season and also provide the comfort that you are looking for when running in a cold or windy weather.

Price

Just because you want a good neck gaiter doesn’t mean you should not consider the price of the neck gaiter. The price doesn’t mean that it relates to the quality of the neck gaiter, though price might be a good factor to consider. It’s good to look into reviews that are given on a particular product before making a purchase. Neck gaiters are good investment that should be given great consideration before making the purchase.

While picking out the best neck gaiters other factors were also considered like:

Their durability, and, of, course you will not waste your money buying a neck warmer that will never last for the expected months/years

Moisture wicking ability, it is not funny to find some neck warmers that doesn’t wick moisture.

Versatility; you need to be economical; the best neck warmer should have the ability to be used in wide range of activities like skiing, hunting, snowboarding, and riding.

Breathability; will you buy a neck warmer that doesn’t allow your skin to breathe? Of course, don’t even attempt.

 

FAQ

 

Q.  What is a running neck gaiter?

A. This is a type of clothing that is wrapped around the neck and keeps the neck warm during cold weather. It has the design similar to that of closed tube. Worn around the neck by just slipping it on & off. Made of thick and stretchy fabric, in case of colder weather you can pull it over your mouth and nose to protect them form the cold.

Q. Is it okay to put on  my neck gaiter on hot or warm days?

A. A running neck gaiter is a winter wear; therefore, it will be very uncomfortable if you wear it during summer unless it’s very windy of course.

Q. Would this be good to wear when riding a bike in the cold?

A. Yes, better as a scarf in the winter day. Warm and soft. And it is elastic for you to wear it in some ways such as face neck warmer, beanie. I think riding a bike with it will be a good choice.

Q. Is the neck gaiter water-repellant, i.e. does it stay dry in the snow?

A. Most of the neck gaiters that are available for purchase are not water repellent and hence cannot stay dry in cold season.

Q. Is the neck gaiter washable?

A. The neck gaiters like any other sports’ wear are washable.

Q. How to Use Neck Gaiter?

A. It is simple to use a neck warmer, just ensure that it zips up your neck, and no air is leaking out of your body. Once they perfectly snug into your neck, they will automatically block cold air from entering into your body.

Q. How does neck gaiter work?

A. They are just like a scarf, and when worn, they wick moisture and dries quickly to retain heat. They are designed & made from fleece like fabric, and so they are perfect in keeping the body warm. Since they are wind and water resistant, they are ideal for blocking away cold.

Other Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Neck Warmer

  • It should be affordable
  • Able to wick moisture and it is wind and waterproof
  • Made from high-quality material and able to retain its original size even after multiple washes
  • Fits comfortable and keeps the body warm
  • Breathable and able to retain warmness

We all know that the primary sources for heat loss are the head and hands, but what many don’t realize is that a tertiary, yet significant location for heat loss is the neck. Wearing a simple neck gaiter is extremely helpful because not only can it keep your neck warm, but it ought to be pulled up over your chin and mouth if it’s brutally cold. I prefer lightweight gaiters that still keep you warm without causing excessive sweating.


Here are some sources we used while conducting our research

Sources

  1. Caven O'Hara, Pactimo Neck Gaiter, Sporting Website,
  2. Jonathan Looi, Buff Review: Does the Buff Headwear Live Up to the Hype?, Consumer Website,
  3. Editor, Gear Review – Buff Original Headwear, Consumer Website,
  4. Kaila Sharlene, Columbia Youth Fast Trek II Full Zip Fleece Review, Consumer Website,
  5. spartanat, REVIEW: Arc’teryx LEAF Rho LTW Neck Gaiter, Sporting Website,
  6. Grace and Thane, DIY Basic Double Layer Neck Gaiter, Consumer Website,
  7. Editor, 5 Unlikely Tips for Winter Running, Running Website,
  8. Allison Pattillo, A Buff Is A Versatile Piece Of Gear Every Runner Should Have, Running Website,
  9. Peter Larson, Winter Running Gear – Reviews of Personal Favorites From Head-to-Toe, Sporting Website,
  10. Benbiz, What is a Neck Gaiter?, Running Website,
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