Saturday, May 24, 2014

Headband Review: Halo vs. Bondi Band (and a gear update)

Since I started running, I almost always wore a cap or visor (usually a visor, so my head stayed cooler) when I ran. It makes me batty to have sun or sweat in my eyes and that took care of both!

But now that I'm running more trails (shady), and during the week I'm running mostly in the dark, visors seem like overkill, but I still needed to keep the sweat out of my eyes. When I did boot camp last year, I got a terry cloth sweat band that made me feel like I was doing a LeBron James impersonation and took 2 days to dry. I like the headband in theory, but that was not the right one.

I knew I could do better, so I researched and the two that came up the most were Halo and Bondi Bands. I picked up one of each at Luke's Locker and set about experimenting.

Near the finish (hence the smile) at
Whispering Pines 2014 wearing my Halo.


The Halo is made of a heavy-ish neoprene fabric, which means lots of absorbency but also some heat retention. Breezes aren't getting through this thing. The sneaky awesome feature it has is this plastic strip across the bottom on the forehead side that redirects sweat away from your eyes.

It's basically like a rain diverter you'd have over an exterior door on your house. And it works! I may have learned to love to sweat, but I practically get the shakes when it's pouring off my head and into my face faster than I can mop it up. Once it gets in my eyes, I'm just a big baby, and especially on trails where vision is so critical, eyeball sweat is just a non-starter.

They have a few styles. One ties in the back, the newest velcros in the back, and mine is just a sewn up circle. I have a pretty large noggin (thanks, Dad), and it fits me just right. I guess those with less well-endowed skulls should get an adjustable or know how to sew. They come in several colors but nothing particularly fancy. These are not "look cute" headbands, as you can see from my picture, but when it's 90% humidity and 85 degrees out, I'm not looking cute anyway. Might as well be comfortable.

Bondi Band

I could tell from the moment I picked up a Bondi Band, at least the "fashion lycra" version that was in plentiful supply at Luke's, that it was not a headband meant for serious sweat. It's very thin, light material. The upside to that is that once it's wet with sweat and you meet a breeze, it feels nice and cool on your forehead.

I've only used the Bondi for cooler, shorter runs. My weekday runs, it's fine. If it's 55 degrees out, it's fine. Despite the promise of "no drip, no slip," I do find it to be pretty slippery. It stays in place for the most part but it takes very little to shift it around.

Also, because the fabric is so thin and stretchy, the edges curl up, which isn't the best look. And while looks shouldn't matter, you're not buying these in one of the dozens of patterns and colors they offer because you don't care about how you look. They're cute and flattering and they're extra wide so they hold your hair back very nicely. The rolling edges aren't a big deal but it still just sort of annoys me and adds to the flimsy feel.

Despite using my Bondi for less sweaty endeavors, I have still managed to outsweat it to the point where sweat was dripping into my eyes. The flip side of it being thin and light and cooler is that it just doesn't have enough heft to absorb a lot of sweat. One thing I considered, if I see some lying around, is cutting a piece of ShamWow fabric and sandwiching it between my forehead and the Bondi Band. Not only might it help it stay in place better, but it would definitely increase the sweat absorption. Or... I could just wear my Halo.

Looking at Bondi's site, they do have some lines of "wicking" sweatbands that look sturdier and honestly look a lot like Halos minus the plastic diverter band. If I see one of those around, I'll pick one up and try it, but those don't come in fun patterns, so the Halo seems like a better choice.

Bottom Line

I actually like having both. For long runs and trail races, the Halo is the obvious choice. For shorter runs or cooler weather, Bondi Band is a less "industrial strength" solution. If looking cute is a high priority and/or you aren't a heavy sweater, Bondi might be enough.

More gear notes

I've been shopping a lot lately. I recently discovered Left Lane Sports, which has amazing deals on good quality sports products, and now am the proud owner of a Nathan Intensity hydration vest and, winning their way to me at the moment, a pair of Hoka Stinson Trail shoes.

The vest I ordered because my waist belt drives me crazy shifting around, plus it really doesn't hold that much water given the heat. I still have to plan routes around water fountains, which isn't really a "thing" when it comes to trails. This one has great reviews, is made specifically for the female physique (though I'm not sure how), and was around $50 on Left Lane.

The Hokas... I'd been skeptical of these silly looking shoes. But man, that race in Tyler last weekend beat up my feet and calves so badly. It's really taken me a full week to start feeling normal again. When I got the email that Left Lane was doing a big Hoka sale, and then when I saw that the Stinson Trail model was working for a lot of people with wide feet, and that I could get them for basically $100 off retail price (I had $30 in referral credits), I couldn't resist. Which turns out to be a really good thing, because unless they're out in my car, I'm afraid I left my trail shoes in the changing stall at Tyler State Park!

So, I'm looking forward to testing out my vest today and then getting the Hokas next week and, if they fit, giving them a try on the rocks and roots.

Also found a replacement set of my road shoes (NB1080) for way cheap and one of the 4 sizes left happened to be mine, and I got a second pair of compression shorts (I LOVE Road Runner Sports R-Gear brand... great quality and a HUGE pocket). I had lots of capris already, but in the summer, the shorts feel a little better. Wish I had the thighs to wear regular running shorts. They look so breezy! Alas, thunder thighs would chafe to pieces in those. *sigh*

Anyway, I'm off to run Arbor Hills with Rosie. First time up there, so I'm excited to check it out. Looking forward to some hill work!

Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. I didn't know that I had a big noggin, but my Halo with the sewed up back fits fine. I was debating a Bondi Band as I thought it might manage sweat better, but I guess not.