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  1. #1
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    45 North - Lung Cookie Balaclava - Quick Review

    Purchased this expensive piece of winter gear as it appeared well thought out (from a Fat Biking company) to work as a Fat biking accessory. After about six rides - between temps of 0F and 20F - here are my thoughts.
    Summary: May work fine for a commuter not pushing very hard. For someone biking hard - mask captures/retains too much moisture and will become frozen stiff. Visor adds no value. Made in China.

    +Merino wool is thick and comfy
    +Ability to raise or lower nose/mouth cover
    +Genuine effort in design to direct exhaled breath down and away from goggles/glasses.

    - Too much exhaled moisture is retained by face mask (covers nose and mouth). If you start out with nose cover raised and then lower it - dont attempt to raise it again during the same ride. The moisture will freeze it stiff and when you attempt to replace it over you nose it is a rigid piece of ice. This is notable - when riding on a lake with the wind behind me it is better lowered - when I turn into the wind - I want to replace it but it is a frozen brick.
    - visor only complicates fitting of glasses & helmet - not buying that it will help keep snow off face.
    - expensive.

    I have modified mine by cutting out the thin piece of fabric that covers the mouth - this should allow breath/moisture to escape better. Have not had a chance to test this. Would remove visor if I didnt fear it would cause the rest of the head section to unravel.

    YMMV. Interested to hear others experience...

  2. #2
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    After using one for over a year my thoughts exactly. Also I wish it fit tighter, just seems so sloppy.

  3. #3
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    ... and if we just ...

    is anyone aware of facemask that doesn't fall victim to these exact issues? it sounds to me this 45nrth product is no more useful than the various 3 dollar masks i bought from china. it seems all face masks hold too much moisture and/or restrict breathing and lead to freezing and goggles fogging up. it is really irritating because this is the final piece of the winter cycling puzzle for me.

  4. #4
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    I bought a serius version that has warm neck area, neoprene face area, and thin material to go over your head. It is a little too warm in the neck area, and the numerous small holes provided for exhaust was modified to one large hole for huffing and puffing up a hill. For $20 its a deal.

  5. #5
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    merino wool wins over neoprene any day

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendricks97 View Post
    merino wool wins over neoprene any day
    I love my merino base layers but the Serius neoprene face mask is good for holding its shape over the cheeks, nose and mouth. I did the same thing as Johnshonda and cut a blowhole where the perforated part was. I haven't found anything better. Any fabric you put over your mouth will hinder breathing and freeze.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendricks97 View Post
    merino wool wins over neoprene any day
    As long as that day isn't spent scuba diving...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendricks97 View Post
    merino wool wins over neoprene any day
    For mask - neoprene wins over merino wool any day. I tried several merino masks and they all freeze up condensation real quick. Cheap neoprene - I am in heaven. And if it gets too cold - I put merino neck tube over it

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mongol777 View Post
    For mask - neoprene wins over merino wool any day. I tried several merino masks and they all freeze up condensation real quick. Cheap neoprene - I am in heaven. And if it gets too cold - I put merino neck tube over it
    I had just the opposite experience. I started with a neoprene balaclava and hated it. I tried the Lung Cookie and will never go back to neoprene

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendricks97 View Post
    I had just the opposite experience. I started with a neoprene balaclava and hated it. I tried the Lung Cookie and will never go back to neoprene
    My mask is the only neoprene piece of kit I have - almost everything else is merino wool. But it just did not work as a mask material for me

  11. #11
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    My Lung Cookie passes my "reach for it" test. Sure it isn't perfect but when I go for a ride I pass over my neoprene, synthetic, basic merino wool and other options and always "reach for" the lung cookie. I often ride with the mouth piece up over just my nose. Keeps my mouth area dry and my nose warm. Good this way to 0 or colder once I get my ride heat going.
    laotzucycles.blogspot.com

  12. #12
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    I have hated the Lung Cookie ever since I bought it, but yet I find myself reaching for it to give it one last chance...continuously. For the +15F-30F degree window it works well, but anything below that, my Outdoor Research Ninjaclava wins. The OR Ninjaclava has been below -20F without issue and can be trusted. The 45Nrth unit has left me nervously uncomfortable. The visor is worthless. It could use a little elastic. The nose cover piece fits well, but the mouth piece fabric is odd. It's not nearly as thick as the pictures make it look. It's the most disappointing piece of gear I own....but if you can find the perfect conditions to wear it in, it's quite nice.
    Jason
    Disclaimer: www.paramountsports.net

  13. #13
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    The normal balaclava's seem to work the best for me. I have some face-masks, but the problem with those is that while there are cutouts for the nose and nostrils, they STILL end up flinging the air back up into my glasses, worse than the straight up balaclavas when I have those covering my entire face except my eyes. I have a thin stretchy balaclava and a heavy fleece one. I'm able to "breathe through" both, which is really how they work, as it allows the air to be pre-heated and slows the rate it comes into my lungs. It was 2 degrees F this evening when I rode home, but yesterday it was -5 or so and a few days before that it was -10. I find that the lighter-weight one is good down to about 10 or so, and the heavy fleece one takes over there, but sometimes my head gets hot enough that i have to pull it away and expose my face, or I'll overheat (especially if it's above zero). Usually it's not cold enough to have serious problems, but when it's below zero I have experienced it get pretty darn hard from the moisture that accumulated, but I can still pull it up and breathing hard for a few minutes will melt it and it will go back to working just fine. Being able to pull these down to my chin or put them up at my eyes seems to allow for the most flexibility. The stuff with cutout-holes is fine when skiing sometimes or walking around, but in practice it doesn't seem to work when fatbiking for me.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  14. #14
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    Having been a snowboarder/skier for many years, I can say that I've had all of the masks that were made... neoprene, merino wool etc... and like others have said neoprene has always been the best. That isn't to say that they don''t all hae problems, but overall it seems to cover the moisture the best. Generally I wouldn't wear one unless subzero or blasting winds, have used merino wool Buffs occasionally which i felt were better in those 10-30 degree temps.... easier to move around your face etc...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridebikeme View Post
    have used merino wool Buffs occasionally which i felt were better in those 10-30 degree temps.... easier to move around your face etc...
    Unless I'm skiing/boarding, where the windchill gets significant because I'm going 40-50mph, you are usually outputting so much heat cycling that in between 10 and 30 degrees you can't really cover your face at all. Maybe at 10 degrees for a couple minutes at the beginning of the ride, but then I have to uncover, or I'll die from heat exhaustion. Having some insulation around the rest of your head on the other hand, is usually necessary at around 10 degrees for sure, depending on what kind of helmet you are using.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  16. #16
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    this has been working well for me: DOUBLE LAYER NECK GAITER

  17. #17
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    If you remember, simply riding a bike creates an decrease in temperature simply because air is going by you. For me, when I was snowboarding, I was definitely wearing many MORE layers than I am while I'm riding... I definitely do NOT want to sweat while riding... so I'm careful with what I wear. I always wear at least a skull cap with my helmet, and depending on temps.., either wear a cycling helmet or my snowboard helmet with colder temps. But reality for me is that I dress for the sport that I am involved with... wouldn't even consider using most of my snowbaord clothing for riding.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridebikeme View Post
    If you remember, simply riding a bike creates an decrease in temperature simply because air is going by you. For me, when I was snowboarding, I was definitely wearing many MORE layers than I am while I'm riding... I definitely do NOT want to sweat while riding... so I'm careful with what I wear. I always wear at least a skull cap with my helmet, and depending on temps.., either wear a cycling helmet or my snowboard helmet with colder temps. But reality for me is that I dress for the sport that I am involved with... wouldn't even consider using most of my snowbaord clothing for riding.
    Well, I'd say the opposite is true, riding a bike creates an increase in temperature due to body heat, much more than is easily offset by moving at 9mph, I have to go pretty thin on the layers when it's around zero degrees F out, one thin base-layer long sleeve shirt, one thicker base later T, a thin nylon shell jacket, base-layer leggings and thin nylon shell pant. There's nowhere near as much insulation here as when I'm snowboarding, but the issue is you generate a lot of heat when riding (especially uphill) and you have to be able to easily wick it away/not overheat. My snowboarding/skiing clothing doesn't work because it won't wick the moisture away, heavy outer shells and heavy insulation (relative to the riding stuff) make that impossible. So I agree, don't use the snowboarding stuff, but generally my body doesn't make nearly as much heat when snowboarding either (and you reach faster speeds much easier and spend more time at those speeds).
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  19. #19
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    I use this one. It has a large pore foam insert that works to warm the inhaled air with the heat from your exhaled air. Every 20 or so minutes I put my head down and forcefully exhale and it clears the built up moisture. No extra breathing resistance and it help to keep my exercise induced asthma in check on the cold days. Cold being in the negative Fs.

    N-FernoŽ 6970 Extreme Balaclava w/Hot Rox?
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