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Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: SweatVac Ventilator Cap

I don't know about you, but one of my limiting factors when cycling is sweat output. Basically, the point at which sweat runs into my eyes is the point at which I have to back off my effort level and slow down. One of the problems of growing up in the tropics is that you develop excessive sweat glands, which means that any time you workout you sweat way too much: enough to leave salt stains on your clothing and salt on your face after a hard ride. The best solution, of course, is to not let your kids overheat when they're growing up or they'll end up with too many sweat glands too. But that's too late for me.

Type "sweat band" into Amazon, and you'll get a collection of terry-cloth bands. These might work if you're a tennis player, soccer player, or basketball player, but any sport where a helmet is essential safety gear rules those out: they puff up your head to the point where a helmet won't fit. Ages ago, I bought a 3-pack of lycra sweat bands that were perfect from Nashbar. They were thin, and absorbed sweat very well. They were also comfortable, because they didn't come with elastic: you tied a knot, which let you adjust the appropriate tension. Their fatal flaw is that they're easy to lose, and this year I lost the last of them and of course, neither Nashbar nor anyone else carries anything similar (they were probably too low profit margin). This illustrates the major principle of cycling as a hobby: if you see something you like, make sure you buy a lifetime supply, because the cycling "industry" is incapable of leaving something that works very well alone.

By the way, the best sweat band ever made is the cotton cycling cap. They're great and I use them when touring in the Alps, where multi-hour climbs are the norm. But they don't work well under helmets and give me a headache if I try to use them in combination. And of course, when touring with my son I can't not wear a helmet if I'm to set a good example.

So now Nashbar only carries two types of sweat bands, the skull cap, or the elastic band which is much thicker than the lycra bands I used to use. I ordered both types. The elastic band looked like it'll die on me after a few rides (elastic does tend to do that), so I tried the SweatVac cap first. It's thin, fits nicely under the helmet, and not too tight.

Unfortunately, a mere 50 minutes of hard riding up a mountain and these immediately fail to keep up with my sweat output. I was once again forced to back off my effort and slow down. Not recommended!

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