Not quite sure what a neck gaiter is? Well, it is similar to a scarf, but not quite. A neck gaiter, also known as a buff, is a donut-shaped piece of synthetic fabric originally designed to wear around your neck. Unlike a scarf, the gaiter is pulled overhead and down up to the clavicle bone, similar to a bracelet on your wrist, providing a snug fit to keep you warm and cozy during awful winter days. Quick secret though, the neck gaiter can be used for millions of other purposes than just resting on your neck.
Now I want to make it a point that not only canneck gaiters be used for any type of activity, but also for any type of season. The buff is directly associated with winter and snow sports to keep warm, but what about summer? Do you just throw it out for almost half a year until it gets to freezing temperatures again? Absolutely not.
There are many, many, ways you can transform your gaiter into a “Keep me cool” accessory, below I will show you 5 ways on how you can use your neck gaiter this summer:
USE IT AS A COOLING NECK WRAP
A way of using it to cool off before or after workout is by using the frosty neck gaiter. Dunk the buff in water, wring it so that the buff is damp and set in freezer for a minimum of 30 minutes. Once you’re done with your workout, it will be frigid enough for use. Wear it as a normal neck gaiter, head through pull over, and leave on for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you want the gaiter to be colder next time around, do not wring it as much and let more water be absorbed. Fun fact, the neck is one of the most important pulse point areas to target in order to chill your body and consequently lower your overall body temperature. By placing this garment on after exercising, you are contributing to your body’s natural recovery response to lower body temperature and restore a normal state.
USE FOR PRE-RUN COOLING
An alternative form of cooling down is following the same procedure as that in the previous method, frosty neck gaiter. Instead of wearing the chilled wrap, lie down and place it on your forehead instead. This will also help to significantly lower body temperature. The head is where most of the heat from your body escapes. By placing the wrap directly on your head, the brain will feel the chill almost immediately given its proximity.
Here’s a little twist for when it’s hot outside: rather than using the gaiter to cool you down after a run, why not try using it before you start? By applying the frosty neck gaiter either laid flat on your forehead or wearing it as a neck gaiter, your body temperature will decrease slightly. This technique is known as “pre-cooling.” There has been a significant amount of research conducted on professional athletes and Olympians using cooling vests before race. One study reported that cooling before a run can significantly improve your time in hot and humid conditions by 16%. Another study showed that with a decrease in temperature of just 2°F, a lower 5k race time was provoked. The Sport Science, a peer-reviewed site for sports research, showed results that indicated an increase in performance given strictly a decline in body temperature beforehand. Theoretically, pre-cooling extends the amount of time a runner has before they reach their temperature threshold. This means that you will be able to run harder for a longer period of time before you get hit by the “heat wave.” It is a sort of mental trick, your body perceives to be cooler so you push yourself harder. In order to actually see an effect on your performance, the neck gaiter alone may not be enough. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine proved that a combination of the cool towel applied to neck or head accompanied by ice chips before a long run in the heat improves performance. Try it out, maybe this is how you can beat the summer heat runs!
USE AS A WRISTBAND
The most obvious and easiest way to use the neck gaiter is a simple wristband; twisting it into a figure eight shape and slipping your hand right through the middle. This can help wipe sweat off your face, avoiding any sort of eye burns from your sweat tears. This is also a go to way for whenever you want to save the gaiter for later.
USE AS A HEADBAND
A more stylish approach to the gaiter is to use it as a headband. Hold the buff on each side with both hands and scrunch together to have one compact band. The fabric of the gaiter will absorb sweat from your forehead and lower neck to help cool you down, even it seems pretty impossible in 85°F heat. The thickness of the band and strength of fibers will limit its ability to slide off, allowing for a snug dependable fit. I advise women to wear it under their ponytail or bun, if you have your hair tied. So, headband gaiter keeps hair out of your face and cools you down, sounds useful enough.
USE TO HOLD BACK YOUR HAIR
For a “grab my hair out of my face forever” approach, there is the bandana/pirate style buff. The folding can be a little tricky so pay attention. First, turn the gaiter inside out, place both hands inside of the gaiter and hold the opposite ends, pull through the inside creating a knot like form in the middle. Now, adjust the longer end to fit your head. Once you put it on, tighten or loosen the bandana using the knot in the back. For a promising hold, place over a low pony-tail or bun, hiding all the hair underneath. This will hold every strand of hair out of your face and off your back. So now you have the permeable fabric cooling your head while also opening up your back for fresh air. I do not suggest using this style with a mid/high pony-tail because it may cause a pull back force on the buff, making it slip off your head very easily.
So, whether it is a hot summer afternoon or a cold winter morning, the neck gaiter can accompany you no matter what conditions are in place. Aside from all the versatile technical configurations and styles of the buff, there are even more design patterns and colors available for this accessory. Not only does it enhance your workout or running performance, but it can also give you an edge to your workout style.
Neck gaiters are made from a variety of materials such as wool, fleece, and polyester. A neck gaiter used for running needs ideal features such as wind-resistant and a fast absorption rate to help with sweat and other given circumstances. Ideally, a dominantly polyester buff will be most beneficial for an active life-style because the fibers are designed to have more of a lightweight, moisture-absorbing, and durable tone. These properties will allow the neck gaiter to withstand any extreme weather conditions it has been put under, and allow runners to perform properly without inconveniences such as chafing. Polyester is one of the most flexible fabrics so it will allow you to comfortably put on your neck gaiter without too much resistance. The elastic fibers allow the gaiter to be turned and twisted into any type of useful accessory. If this item is not on your running gear must-haves, better rewrite that list!
Neck gaiters can be found online or at your local sporting goods store; it is a quite common item for any sort of outdoor retail store. The typical gaiters you will find are the classic black or dark gray look.
If you are interested in something a bit more fun and colorful, Zensah offers a wide collection of buffers of just that. The assortment varies from paw prints to unique geometric arrangements, along with the seasonal collections depending on any upcoming marathons or holidays. It is important to note that Zensah Neck Gaiters have been engineered for athletes, specifically, to wear during runs or workouts. The polyester fabric chosen and design of the gaiter promotes moisture wicking, anti-chafe, and anti-odor features for a comfortable run.
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