Swobo Six Panel Beanie
'Tis the season for digging out the cool weather riding gear. However much we hearken back to those bygone, summer days of bare arms and legs, we're faced with the certainty of our impending costuming. Out will come the arm and knee warmers, the packable vest, and the long fingered gloves. As the mercury drops, we'll dig deeper into our chests for the serious cold weather clothing. One frustrating problem with cold weather riding has to do with covering our heads while wearing a helmet. It is tough to find a hat that looks good, fits well, and can be layered under a skid lid. The Swobo Six Panel Beanie is such a garment -- it just doesn't get much cooler.
The Swobo Six Panel Beanie is a hybridized cross between a paneled stocking cap, a traditional cycling cap, and a hat we might see worn by our grandfather out on the tractor. It is made of 100% Merino wool from New Zealand and can be machine washed. The hat is called a Six Panel Beanie, but it is actually made of twelve fabric panels -- it has two layers. We're sure that the folks at Swobo meant it to be this way, although they don't advertise it as such, but the Six Panel Beanie can be worn inside out or outside in. It's cool because you can get one with some color, like our yellow and black edition, or turn it inside out and be more subdued with plain black. It's nice and stretchy, so it stays put once you get it in place. The beanie has a bill like a cycling cap, just big enough to shield our eyes from the sun, but not so big that it impairs vision. The bill can be flipped up as well. It has a flip down ear flap that wraps around the back.
Even though the Swobo Six Panel Beanie has two layers, it is still thin enough to fit under a helmet. We haven't had any issues with the seams being noticeable under our helmets, but that might depend on the particular helmet, fit, and head shape. The bill is very resilient and always springs back to its natural shape when we pull the beanie out of our packs or pockets. We're guessing that the stiffener is made of rubbery plastic. The ear flap mostly covers the ears. For some testers it completely covered the ears down past the earlobes, for others it did not. The Swobo Six Panel Beanie is a one size fits most, and it does.
The Swobo Six Panel Beanie is the perfect weight for those days when a baselayer and a long sleeve jersey will do. It breathes well. The wool remains comfortable over a broad temperature range. We like that we can wear it to get started and it doesn't soon make our heads feel as though they were roasting on an open fire along with the proverbial chestnuts. The Merino wool construction also ensures that the Six Panel Beanie will continue to insulate when it becomes damp from sweat. It also doesn't keep funky odors like some synthetics do.
The Six Panel Beanie may be a little light for very chilly days out on the bike. Biting wind would be the downfall for the beanie. Its breathability, a mostly positive attribute, becomes its weakness when the rides go out below 25°-30°. For those days, perhaps a hat with windblock material would do better. However, not every rider goes out in those kinds of offensive conditions. So the Swobo Six Panel Beanie remains a killer little hat. It is made with the same attention to detail that we love and expect from Swobo.
The Swobo Six Panel Beanie fills its niche well. It is a good looking cycling cap firstly. Secondly, it offers a degree of insulation and warmth. It can be worn front forward or backwards like any self-respecting cycling cap. It can also be worn inside out. We sport ours on the road, trail, or for the daily commute. Get in that drawer and look for last year's favorite winter cap. If it's lost, smells bad, or undesirable this year, try something new -- the Swobo Six Panel Beanie is a staple here.