First Lite Wind River Balaclava Review: It was about time that the standard balaclava head cover got a revamp. First Lite took Little River Band’s lead about making a Cool Change and created the Wind River Balaclava.
First Lite Wind River Balaclava Review
Balaclava: Try and say that fast five times in a row. A balaclava is basically a sock/helmet for your head. The problem with most balaclavas is twofold: One, they are often made from a crappy poly-pro fabric. Two: They either completely mask your nose and mouth causing excessive condensation and discomfort, or they leave the nose/mouth area totally uncovered and unprotected. The next obvious issue is that balaclava’s put the kibosh on your ability to hear, which by the way, is pretty important to a hunter. First Lite’s Wind River Balaclava (WRB) solves both of these issues with an articulated face cover and… (drum roll)…. EAR HOLES! I’m not sure why someone didn’t think of that sooner?
My hunting buddy, Cozy Toes, immediately admired the ear hole feature and thought he ought to have a WRB of his own. If I had to nit pick though, I’d suggest that the ear holes be just a touch larger. it’s a minor complaint, but I found that sometimes the WRB would twist on my head and the ear holes would become askew.
The Balaclava Advantage
Warmth: The main reason I invested in a balaclava. As mentioned previously on this site, I get cold easily and at risk of feeling like a Lonesome Loser, I’ve occasionally been forced to quit the woods early. I’ve found that a good balaclava makes a world of difference. We all know that the human head is basically a huge heat exchanger. Covering the head, neck, and face with merino wool has an amazing effect on retaining heat, moving perspiration vapor and blocking the wind. If you’ve never tried one, wearing a balaclava makes a world of difference.
Colors. Colors. Colors. No Crips. No Bloods.
The WRB is offered in the standard First Lite color/pattern line up. To avoid a uni-pattern look, I chose dry earth because it is neutral and blends well with my other First Lite stuff in ASAT and Fusion, plus I think wearing different camo patterns together actually helps to break up my outline. The black balaclava would be my choice for hunting out of a pit blind or a pop-up.
Don’t Fear The Wool
A guy or a Lady with sensitive skin should not fear the wool. Help Is On Its Way. The WRB is made of a super fine 18.5 micron merino wool to ensure no-itch comfort. Trust me on that. Constructed of 230 gram merino wool, the head cover is neither too heavy and bulky, or too skimpy.
First Lite Mix And Match
The Wind River Balaclava pairs perfectly with the First Lite Brimmed Beanie (click for review). I found this combo to be the best one-two punch for cold days in my Lone Wolf treestand. It can easily and comfortably be worn under the brimmed beanie for “full coverage”.
One of the best features of the Wind River Balaclava is that fact that it makes a very effective face mask. I tested my WRB on spring turkey hunts where full facial coverage is critical. Because the WRB conforms to the contour of the face, it performed much better than those baggy mesh headnets and the ear holes allowed me to hear gobbles from long distances. At first I was concerned that the merino wool would cause me to overheat on warm mornings in the turkey woods but this stuff is truly a three-season fabric. In fact, the WRB has become the Yankee Hunter facemask of choice for all types of hunting from deer, to turkey, to waterfowling. It would also be perfect for The Night Owls that need face camo for chilly after dark predator hunts.
The WRB retails for about $35-40 depending on pattern. A small price to pay considering how it will step up your cold weather game and that it serves a dual purpose as a three-season head net- it’s more than worth it. Buying a WRB through my link below provides a small commission that helps me run this site. I know there are a lot of places where you could order this product, but I hope you enjoyed the review and I really appreciate all orders. No buyer’s remorse here!
The Yankee Hunter Little River Band Collection