Cold Weather Cycling: Head Gear-Myth Revealed

Me in cold gearHeat Loss Myth

I just learned something new! I was about to begin this blog by quoting the statistic I’ve heard for years:  You lose up to 40-50% of your heat through your head. Logic dictates that keeping your head covered is more important than protecting any other part of your body, right?

Wrong! With a quick check on the web to support my fact, I learned the truth: this is a myth!

According to WebMD“The head only represents about 10% of the body’s total surface area. So if the head were to lose even 75% of the body’s heat, it would have to lose about 40 times as much heat per square inch as every other part of your body.”

Makes sense, but when did this all begin? Like I’ve said, it’s been drilled into my head for YEARS! Thanks, MOM. I wonder what other myths she’s brainwashed me with? 🙂

Live Science reports that research experiments from the 50’s as the culprit. “This heat-loss myth probably came from experiments in the 1950s, when military researchers exposed subjects to frigid temperatures. While their bodies were bundled up, their heads were exposed — and they were found to have lost more heat from their noggins.”

Head Gear Revisited

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear something on your head while cycling in the winter. If anything, this proves we should cover/protect their heads/faces in the same way we do the rest of our body. And if you’re an “over 50 cyclist” like me, this is especially true since our aging bodies can’t keep us as warm as when we were younger.

Below are what I wear on extremely cold days. When temperatures are in that “hard to tell zone” where you don’t want to overdress but fear nothing will result in icicle ears, I wear a light-weight balaclava (not pictured.) For what it’s worth, I wear the skull cap (“Full Sail” in the picture) year-round. In the hot seasons, it keeps me cool by protecting me from UV rays, but more importantly, keeps sweat from burning my eyes. I learned this the hard way on a spring ride when the mist turned into a heavy shower. Rain, mixed with my sweat & sunblock, burned my eyes making it nearly impossible to see. With rush hour traffic zipping past (another lesson learned: don’t ride where & when they do!) I was thankful to get home in one piece.


Other Options

Ear warmerSome riders I know, who don’t get as cold as I do, only wear an ear warmer like this. The bottom line is to wear something on your head when it’s cold and to experiment with clothing to find what works for you.

There you have it; hope this helps. Keep on riding and remember, winter training will make spring rides awesome!

One thought on “Cold Weather Cycling: Head Gear-Myth Revealed

  1. My biggest fear on going on a trip is forgetting skull caps, summer stops sunburn and winter stops me feeling like I am slowly turning into a snowman.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.