Best Neck Gaiter & Warmers for Skiing and Snowboarding

Erin Spence – November 21, 2021

Best Ski & Snowboarding Gaiters

Brand Product Category Price Material Type
Helly Hansen Polartec Neck Best Overall $20* Recycled Polyester Lightweight Buy Now
Turtle Fur The Turtle’s Neck Best Budget $15.99* Acrylic Heavyweight Buy Now
Turtle Fur Neckula Best for Cold Temps $23.95* Polyester Heavyweight Buy Now
Buff Original EcoStretch Best for Warmer Temps $20* Polyester Lightweight Buy Now
Burton Midweight Neck Warmer Best for Snowboarding $24.95* Polyester Blend Midweight Buy Now
Dakine Ninja Balaclava Best Full Balaclava $30* Polyester Lightweight Buy Now
Smartwool Merino 250 Best Merino Wool $30* Merino Wool Heavyweight Buy Now
Skida Alpine Neckwarmer Best Patterned $28* Polyester Heavyweight Buy Now

A neck gaiter, also known as a neck warmer, is an underrated piece of clothing that can really save you on a sunny or cold day on the mountain. These garments have multiple uses and will be an important addition to your winter ski closet. In this article, we’ll break down what to look for when buying one, as well as some of the best neck gaiters on the market. Once you find the right one for you, we promise you won’t ski or snowboard another day without it.

The 8 Best-Rated Neck Warmers and Gaiters

  • Helly Hansen Polartec NeckBest Overall
  • Turtle Fur The Turtle’s NeckBest Budget
  • Turtle Fur NeckulaBest for Cold Temperatures (Heavier)
  • Buff Original EcoStretchBest for Warmer Temperatures (Lighter)
  • Burton Midweight Neck Warmer Best Ski Gaiter for Snowboarding
  • Dakine Ninja Balaclava Best Full Balaclava
  • Smartwool Merino 250 Neck GaiterBest Merino
  • Skida Alpine NeckwarmerBest Patterned

Helly Hansen Polartec Neck | Best Overall

Price: $20.00
Material: 100% Recycled Polyester
Type: Lightweight Neck Warmer
Buy Now

Bottom Line

The Helly Hansen Polartec Neck neck gaiter is considered the best overall due its unmatched versatility. It is considered a lightweight neck warmer, but the plush microfleece makes it feel warm and soft. It is the ideal middleman for warm or cold days.

The technically made Polartec fleece is breathable yet warm, making this the perfect option for sunny and cold days. This simple neck warmer will ensure that you stay comfortable throughout an entire day of skiing or snowboarding.

Pros:

  • Made with 100% recycled polyester
  • Microfleece material feels soft on skin
  • Lightweight material makes it easy to breathe through
  • One size fits all
  • Stretch material makes it comfortable and easy to take on and off

Cons:

  • Not ideal for super cold or super warm conditions
  • Only basic colors to choose from

Turtle Fur The Turtle’s Neck | Best Budget

Price: $15.99
Material: 100% Acrylic
Type: Heavyweight Neck Warmer
Buy Now

Bottom Line

The Turtle Fur The Turtle’s Neck neck warmer is a classic option. The technology behind this double layered neck warmer hasn’t changed much in the last 40 years, so you know it’s going to get the job done.

Made with Turtle Fur’s signature fleece, it will trap heat against your face to ensure cold air won’t bother you. And at a substantially cheaper price point than many other neck warmers, this Turtle Fur is a great budget option for all of your winter adventures.

Pros:

  • Two layers of soft Turtle Fur fleece for warmth
  • One size fits all
  • Ultra plush fleece is soft against face and neck
  • Great price point

Cons:

  • Too heavy for warmer days
  • This neckwarmer won’t do well in wet conditions as fleece isn’t quick-drying

Turtle Fur Neckula | Best for Cold Temperatures

Price: $23.99
Material: 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex, Lining: 100% Acrylic
Type: Heavyweight Neckwarmer
Buy Now

Bottom Line

The Turtle Fur Neckula neck warmer has the amazing fleece interior of the classic Turtle Fur products in addition to some more technical features. It’s lined with two layers of plush turtle fur fleece, and has an additional outer shell material called Comfort Shell that acts as an additional barrier between you and rain or snow.

This shell is water resistant and sweat wicking, making it the top cold weather option for warmth and protection. Despite the fact that this neckwarmer is so warm and technical, it is also still breathable and stretchy, making it a versatile option for any activity on chilly winter days.

Pros:

  • Double layer fleece inside for warmth and insulation
  • Comfort Shell helps to wick moisture and keep neck warmer dry
  • Comes in a variety of color options and patterns
  • Insulation and outer shell make it the best option for cold and wet weather days

Cons:

  • Too heavy for warmer days
  • Slightly higher price point, but worth it for the added protection

Buff Original EcoStretch | Best for Warmer Temperatures

Price: $20
Material: 95% Polyester, 5% Elastane
Type: Lightweight Neck Warmer
Buy Now

Bottom Line

The Buff Original EcoStretch neck gaiter is the best option for warmer days when you need to protect your face from the sun. This neck gaiter is totally seamless, as well as stretchy and flexible.

It also boasts of a UPF rating of 50+, helping to keep your face protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Despite it’s thin appearance, this Buff will still keep you warm in cold weather. Because this neck gaiter is so thin and compacts easily, it’s also the most versatile option with many ways to wear it

Pros:

  • UPF 50+ rating helps with sun protection
  • Easy to breathe through when wearing over face and mouth
  • Seamless and stretchy for comfort
  • Extremely versatile with multiple ways to wear

Cons:

  • Not ideal for super cold winter temperatures
  • May bunch up around the neck if not tucked into goggles

Burton Midweight Neck Warmer | Best Ski Gaiter for Snowboarding

Price: $24.95
Material: Polyester Blend
Type: Midweight Neck Warmer
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Bottom Line

Although the type of neck gaiter you wear doesn’t matter if you ski or snowboard, this option from Burton would be great for snowboarders because Burton is such a well-known snowboarding brand.

Dubbed as being midweight, this neck warmer is extremely breathable and warm. Made from a polyester blend fabric, it offers a quick-drying material, four-way stretch, and warm fleece. The variety of colors and patterns mean that you won’t have any issue matching your outfit for your next day of snowboarding.

Pros:

  • Midweight makes it a solid option for warm or cold days
  • Four-way stretch offers superior comfort
  • Quick-drying fabric means it won’t get soggy when wet
  • One size fits all

Cons:

  • Slightly higher price point than other options
  • No other major cons with this product

Dakine Ninja Balaclava | Best Full Balaclava

Price: $30
Material: 100% Polyester
Type: Lightweight Balaclava
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Bottom Line

When you want more full coverage in a neck warmer that will wrap all the way around your head, the Dakine Ninja Balaclava is going to be a great option. It’s made from a lightweight polyester material that is thin enough to easily fit under a helmet.

This balaclava has a soft fleece inner material with a smooth outer material. What puts this balaclava above other options is the hinged design that allows you to adjust the facial covering above or below your mouth without messing with fit.

Pros:

  • Lightweight polyester material is highly breathable
  • Inner fleece material is soft on skin
  • Variety of color options
  • Thin enough to fit comfortably under a helmet
  • Hinged design lets you adjust facial covering without altering the fit around your head

Cons:

  • Thin material may not be suitable for colder winter days
  • No other cons associated with this product

Smartwool Merino 250 Neck Gaiter | Best Merino Wool

Price: $30
Material: 100% Merino Wool
Type: Heavyweight Neck Warmer
Buy Now

Bottom Line

Wool is an amazing material because of its moisture wicking properties. The Smartwool Merino 250 Neck Gaiter is made from 100% merino wool, meaning that it will work to wick sweat and moisture.

When it does get wet, it stays warm. Some people may fear that wool will be an itchy material to have around sensitive skin, but this neckwarmer is made from a very soft knit. When you want the power of wool to help you stay dry, this will be your best option.

Pros:

  • Made from 100% merino wool
  • Soft, non-itchy knit material
  • Considered heavyweight but also very breathable due to knit material
  • Will wick moisture better than other polyester products

Cons:

  • Slightly higher price point
  • No other cons associated with this product

Skida Alpine Neckwarmer | Best Patterned

Price: $28
Material: 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex
Type: Heavyweight Neck Warmer
Buy Now

Bottom Line

When you need a little color and patterns in your winter life, Skida has you covered. These functional but fun neck warmers are a heavyweight option made from a polyester and spandex blend.

They offer a UPF rating of 50+, and will keep you warm with a Polartec microfleece material that is soft and plush. Their fun prints range from flowers to snowflakes to fish and come in just about every color under the sun, meaning you’ll have no issue finding a way to express your style on the mountain.

Pros:

  • Poly-blend outer fabric works to wick moisture
  • Microfleece inner lining is soft against the face and neck
  • Offered in many prints and colors
  • UPF rating of 50+

Cons:

  • Not ideal for those who want neutral and simple neck warmers
  • Heavyweight isn’t ideal for warmer days, although Skida does make lighter weight neck warmers

Difference between Neck Warmers, Neck Gaiters, Balaclava, and Snoods

Neck warmer and neck gaiter are entirely interchangeable terms. They both mean a tube-like accessory that is worn around the neck to protect your neck and face from the cold. They are commonly worn skiing or snowboarding, as they are low-profile and take up very little space under a jacket, unlike a scarf. You will hear people refer to these garments as either a neck warmer or a neck gaiter.

A balaclava is similar in that it is a fitted tube that is pulled over your head, but rather than stopping at the top of your neck, a balaclava will also cover your entire head. It will leave your face uncovered, but generally has the ability to be pulled up above the mouth and nose. Like a neck warmer, it serves to keep your neck warm from the cold, and also protects your head and ears from the cold.

A snood scarf is also worn over the neck, but rather than a simple tube shape, it generally has a drapey cowl design. A snood scarf is worn as a fashion statement to keep your neck and shoulders warm, and is not generally considered a technical piece of clothing that you’d use for skiing or snowboarding.

What to Look For When Buying Neck Gaiters for Skiing & Snowboarding

Material & Weight

When buying your first neck gaiter, there are a few important things to look for. Because they are so versatile, they also vary quite a bit in material. It’s helpful to know what exactly you want to get out of your neck gaiter. Do you need it for warmth, or to protect your face from the sun? What materials do you generally like to wear against your skin? What types of conditions do you typically ski or snowboard in?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to make the most of understanding what to look for when buying a neck gaiter for skiing or snowboarding.

Fleece

Fleece is the most common neck gaiter material. It is versatile and a great option for everyone because it is so soft and comfortable against the skin. Some fleece neck warmers will have a brushed fleece lining with a smooth outer layer.

Most fleece neck warmers are going to be quite thick, and will be one of the warmest materials. Thicker fleece can also be useful in this case as the material will help to keep your neck warmer upright and not bunch up around your neck.

One con of fleece is that it tends to get soggy and cold when wet, so it’s best to use fleece neck warmers in dry conditions. The listed Helly Hansen and Skida products are both great fleece options, ranging from mid-weight to heavyweight.

Acrylic

Acrylic is a material that is generally used for thicker and heavyweight neck warmers. Acrylic materials are generally not breathable, so they act as a great insulator, and are made in fabrics that are very soft to the touch.

Both of the Turtle Fur options are made from 100% acrylic in the form of ultra soft fleece, and are both considered heavyweight options that will insulate your neck area while skiing.

Merino Wool

Wool neck warmers are a good option on a wet or humid day because of wool’s moisture wicking abilities. If your neck warmer gets slightly damp from your breath when you wear it over your mouth, wool can be a good option as it works to wick that moisture.

Additionally, if your neck warmer gets wet from outside precipitation, a wool material will ensure that the neck warmer still continues to keep you warm despite being wet. If you have sensitive skin or tend to get itchy from wool, you might want to avoid the material altogether.

The Smartwool neck warmer that is listed may solve this con, as it is made from a very soft knit merino wool.

Spandex

Some neck warmers are also made out of spandex. Oftentimes spandex will be blended with one of the other listed materials to ensure that your neck gaiter is stretchy, flexible, and easy to take on and off. To make sure you have the most comfortable option, check to see that your neck gaiter has at least some percentage of spandex or elastane.

Spandex also helps with the versatility of your neck gaiter, as they are generally stretchy enough to wear as a hat or pulled over your whole head. The Buff option as well as the Dakine Balaclava are two ski neck gaiter options that offer a good amount of spandex that is evident in the stretchiness of their fabric.

Fit & Comfort

The fit of neck gaiters should be pretty standard throughout your choice. Almost all neck gaiters are going to be one size fits all. Even children most likely won’t have to choose child specific options. Your neck gaiter should be fitted around your neck, but not be too tight or loose.

If it’s too tight it could cause discomfort around your neck, and being too loose will cause it to fall down and not adequately protect you. When you try on one, remember that you will be wearing it for extended periods of time. It should be so comfortable that you hardly even notice it.

Functionality

Neck gaiters are a greatly functional piece of clothing. They can help prevent sunburn, windburn, frostbite, and keep your face protected from any elements.

Versatility

Neck gaiters are extremely versatile. While we just discussed the primary functions of a neck gaiter, it’s important to note that it can also be used in a variety of other ways.

The lightweight and thinner ones are the most versatile as they compact easily. In addition to a traditional neck gaiter, they can be worn as a hat, a makeshift balaclava, a hair tie, a headband, etc. The options are truly endless.

Breathability

The breathability of your neck gaiter will depend a lot on the type and material you buy. The thinner the material, the more breathable it will be. If you are wanting maximum breathability, you should choose an acrylic and spandex material.

It’s also helpful to note whether you will wear your neck gaiter pulled all the way over your mouth and nose. While some people just wear it around their neck, others like to have their entire face covered. If you want full coverage, good breathability is crucial as you’ll likely be breathing hard from skiing or snowboarding.

FAQs

What is the point of a neck gaiter?

The point of a neck gaiter is to serve as an extra layer around your neck to protect both your face and neck from the cold and sun.

How Tight Should a Ski Mask Fit?

Your neck gaiter or ski mask should be fitted, but not tight or loose. It should stay upright around your neck but not be constricting in any way. The neck gaiter should fit very comfortably, as you’ll likely have it on for multiple hours.

What Is the Best Material for a Ski Mask?

The best material for a ski mask or neck gaiter entirely depends on your main use for it and what is comfortable for you. Consider what base layer materials generally work best for you and what you want the main functions of your neck gaiter to be.

Do Ski Resorts Require Face Coverings Due to COVID? 

This is entirely dependent on the resort. It’s always best to check the resort website for COVID-19 information prior to your day of skiing so you can be prepared.

Can I wash my winter neck gaiter in a washing machine?

Most of the specific products we listed can go in a washing machine. Be sure to check the label on the garment to see if it has specific wash instructions. It’s also important to note that while wool materials can be washed in a machine, they should not go in the dryer for too long due to the chance of shrinking. Opt to use tumble dry low or simply air dry your wool neck warmer.