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Columbia Unisex Trail Shaker Headring review: a fleecy ear warmer for cold, sunny days

This lightweight, snug-fitting fleece headband is compatible with your eyewear and retains your body heat on chilly hikes

Columbia headband
(Image: © Columbia)

Our Verdict

This fleece headband is designed for adventuring on cold, bright days, using thermal reflective technology to retain body heat and boasting handy holes for your glasses or sunglasses

For

  • Thermal reflective technology retains your body heat
  • Fleece is sweat wicking
  • Eyewear compatible, so you can comfortable wear your glasses or sunglasses
  • Wider around the ears
  • Two sizes available

Against

  • No high vis details
  • No ponytail hole
  • A bit warm for running in milder conditions
  • Not as stretchy as some headbands
  • Doesn’t cover part line for sun protection

Columbia Unisex Trail Shaker Headring review: first impressions 

In the Trail Shaker Headring, Columbia goes for optimizing warmth using thermal reflective technology and a wider design around your ears, and they’ve even provided holes for the legs of your trail running sunglasses.

The inside of the band uses is thermal reflective technology, which basically means it’s studded with lots of tiny, silver dots that reflect your body heat back into you, while in between the dots the band is made of fleece, which is breathable and means it’s great if you’re working up a sweat on a cold hike or trail run.

The band is a bit narrower (under three inches) at the crown and nape and wider around the ears, so it’s designed for keeping your lobes and forehead warm more so than keeping the sun off your scalp. The narrowness around the nape also means you don’t notice the lack of ponytail hole.

Two small holes at the temples are perfect for sliding your glasses or sunglass legs through, so that you can wear them comfortably and securely while you move.

It’s not as stretchy as some headbands, but comes in two sizes so you can size up if you need a larger band and should expect a snug fit.

Specifications

• RRP: £13 (UK) / $16 (US)
• Sizes available: S/M, L/XL
• Unisex: Yes
• Materials: Polyester (100%)
• Colors:  Black, Chalk
• Best use:  Winter trail running and hiking, snowshoeing, skiing

Columbia Unisex Trail Shaker Headring: on the trails 

Columbia headband

Two small holes at the temples are perfect for sliding your glasses or sunglass legs through, so that you can wear them comfortably and securely while you move (Image credit: Columbia )

It doesn’t seem like there would be all that much to say about a headband, but I found this one to be full of surprises. Compared to my old, bulky fleece headband which I’ve worn on trail runs the last few winters, this one is lightweight and really low profile, meaning it even fits under my ski helmet. That said, the thermal reflective technology means it’s really warm. So warm, in fact, that I only use it for running on the coldest days, but it is excellent for winter hiking in place of a beanie.

When I first pulled it out of the packaging, I couldn’t figure out why there were two holes in it that look like button holes. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I assumed they were for my earphones at first, however once I pulled it on, I saw they were up by my temples. A quick look on the Columbia website revealed that they were for my sunglasses (it does also say earbuds but I don’t see how that can work unless you have a very unusual head). If I pull the headband down a bit so it’s more over my forehead than scalp, my sunglasses thread through perfectly! Usually, I’m either wearing my sunglasses on top of my headband, where they slide around against the fabric, or under the head band to keep them in place, where they hurt my head and ears. This solution means they stay in place without hurting and I think is absolutely the biggest selling point of this headband, especially if you wear regular glasses or live somewhere very bright and sunny.

In terms of fit and comfort, the seams aren’t as comfortable as some of my other headbands, and I found this one to be ever so slightly too tight. I think I have a fairly normal sized head and the smaller size feels a bit snug on my forehead. It definitely stays in place but I start to notice it pretty quickly. It’s not as stretchy as some other bands too, but the good news is that they do offer it in two sizes to accommodate this.

I love that it’s wider around the ears for warmth, though it’s not designed for covering up your part line so make sure you apply sunscreen or tie your hair differently. It doesn't have a ponytail hole but I can comfortably wear a low ponytail and even tuck it into the band. Finally, it does get stinky faster than wool or cotton because it’s polyester so it does require more frequent washing if you sweat a lot.

All in all, I’d say I’ll save this one for really cold trail runs, but I like it as an alternative to my beanie for winter hikes and cold ski days.

Here’s how it performed:

Sizing

Two sizes available, the smaller is quite snug and not very stretchy, so if your head is anything less than small, get the larger size. 

Fit

Quite snug and even a little tight around my forehead, wider around the ears. 

Comfort 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is uncomfortable, but with the tightness and seams, I was more aware of it on my head than I prefer. 

Temperature regulation 

This is designed for warmth and does the job. 

Breathability 

Fleece material does wick sweat away. 

Durability 

This is a sturdy piece of gear. Being made from polyester, it does get stinky if you sweat in it a lot so will require more washing, however. 

Here’s where we tested the Columbia Unisex Trail Shaker Headring: 

Cochno Hill is a fab wee hill at the northern edge of Glasgow offering reservoirs and cityscapes.

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.