Neck gaiters are an excellent clothing item to keep in your survival gear. For those who don’t know, neck gaiters are tubular scarves, and are useful for covering your ears, face, nose, throat and head with its flexible coverage.
A gaiter sits differently on the head and neck than a scarf. Whereas a scarf is coiled around the neck, in normal wear, a gaiter is placed over the head and pulled down to the clavicle like a sock over a foot. While a scarf can loosen and come undone from how it was initially wrapped, a gaiter will stay secure; A good benefit to the user is hands free usage. It won’t loosen unless you manually adjust it.
How to wear it?
A gaiter can be pulled up and over the head until it forms the shape of a periscope. This look, while silly in appearance, fully covers your face and mirrors the appearance of wearing a balaclava hood; something that cannot be done with a scarf. Really, a gaiter has multiple configurations it can be worn in, unlike a motorcycle half-mask, bandanna or scarf. And it can be worn under a helmet, baseball cap or ski-cap while fully protecting the ears and face.
For tactical wear, you can quickly conceal your face from identification and unmask just as fast. A good pair of dark eye-pro helps too.
Unlike a scarf, a gaiter doesn’t need to be readjusted in order to perform vigorous activities such as sports, or chores.
Running in the winter is easier to do without being bothered by loosening protective wear. Riding your bike or cycle in the winter is great and bending over to gather firewood becomes more manageable too. Try bending over a running engine in the winter with a loose scarf and I think you’ll get a good choke.
The gaiter provides varying degrees of coverage for a wide range of conditions in hot or cold weather. It can be pulled over the skull and worn like a cap, or pulled up around the cheeks to protect the ears from chill. Unlike a scarf, a quality neck gaiter can be worn in summertime and keep out annoying insects such as chiggers, ants, mosquitoes, ticks and flies to name just a few.
When buying a gaiter, make sure you find something that fits snugly. If it’s loose with enough gap, cold air will be felt in the air pocket. Some products are advertised as one size fits all, and that may be, but check to be sure that it isn’t too short or long for you. You don’t want fabric bunching up your neck or a shortage of coverage. And keep in mind to look for thick or thin, depending on your needs.
Many models are available with an adjustable draw cord for a tighter fit and will seal out the elements.This is fine, but if you want full coverage above the cheekbones, find models that allow you to do so. The stitching and drawstring on some models prevent this from happening.
Some people prefer soft and natural materials like wool, cotton or alpaca and some prefer a synthetic make. No matter what you choose, make sure it isn’t scratchy or skin irritating. A gaiter with a blend of materials is excellent; A blend could be something like a 100% polypropylene exterior with a fleece lined interior to keep your face warm.
Synthetics are stretchy, insulate even when wet and will wick sweat away from your face. This is important for keeping you dry when you’re working up a sweat. In the end, your mask should produce a smooth feel, be windproof, breathable, washable, quick drying and minimize chaffing.
My personal choice is the military issue gaiter; Simply a tube constructed of fabric, but more versatile than some of the more expensive models on the market that have buttons, ties or zippers. I recommend, of course, black, desert tan, olive drab or the woodland pattern.
A feature on some gaiters is flame resistance and the ability to use them in both hot and cold weather. Check the features, try a few different models on, see if you like the feel and make your choice.