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inov-8 Race Elite Headband review: luxuriously soft protection for warm and cool trail runs

This headband focuses on lightweight comfort with super soft fabric and minimal seams but doesn’t skimp on performance, with great sweat wicking capabilities

inov-8 headband
(Image: © inov-8)

Our Verdict

Trail runners will love this fast drying, sweat wicking headband that delivers unbeatable comfort using buttery soft fabric

For

  • Breathable, sweat wicking and fast drying
  • Comfortable, stretchy fit and super soft on your skin
  • Lightweight
  • Fun logo design
  • Only one seam that can be worn at the nape of your neck

Against

  • No high vis details
  • Only one size available
  • No ponytail hole – but wears easily without it
  • Not insulated

inov-8 Race Elite Headband: first impressions 

Not surprisingly, the inov-8 Race Elite headband is made with runners in mind, focusing on the comfort you need when you’re out on a long trail run. Made using buttery soft Meryl Hydrogen microfiber, this headband is soft on your skin and constructed with only one seam that can easily be tucked away at the nape of your neck. With lots of stretch, it’s designed not to be too tight so there’s no worry of developing a headache after a few miles, however it stays in place when you’re on the move.

This lightweight headband is made using breathable fabric so it’s great for keeping the sweat out of your eyes and it’s fast drying whether it gets soaked in sweat, rain or both. It’s wide enough to cover your forehead and still protect your part line from the sun and while it’s not insulated, it does help keep your ears warm enough on a chillier run. It doesn’t have a ponytail hole but stays low enough you don’t need one. Overall, most runners and hikers will love the feel, performance and look of this headband with it’s fun, but not-too-flashy logo design.

Specifications

• RRP: £15 (UK)
• Sizes available: One size
• Unisex: Yes
• Materials: Meryl hydrogen (94%), Elastane (6%)
• Weight: 14g / 0.5 oz
• Colors: Black/white, Blue/red, Pink/blue
• Best use: Trail running, hiking 

inov-8 Race Elite Headband: on the trails 

inov-8 headband

This lightweight headband is made using breathable fabric so it’s great for keeping the sweat out of your eyes and it’s fast drying whether it gets soaked in sweat, rain or both (Image credit: inov-8 )

The best thing about the inov-8 Race Elite headband is easily how soft and comfortable it is, which is no surprise since inov-8 is a running-focused brand and understands that the last thing you want is to be scratching your forehead for your entire run. In fact, it is so comfy I was curious to know how they did it, so I ended up going down a bit of a rabbit hole learning about Meryl Hydrogen before I got it out on the trail. In short, it’s a microfiber that’s spun to be especially breathable, light and soft and it even claims to hydrate your skin while you’re wearing it, though I cannot personally attest to that property. It’s used in luxury pantyhose and if you’ve ever touched a particularly soft pair, that’s what it feels like, but it’s lot flimsy or fragile.

The other thing I really like about this headband is that it’s stitched to only have one seam, which runs horizontally across the band (rather than along the perimeter) so you just make sure that’s down at the nape of your neck and you’re free from annoying rub or walking around with a creased forehead for the remainder of the day.

On the trails, I love that it’s wide enough to easily cover my ears and forehead but still covers my part line on a sunny day. Lately, I’ve been doing more rainy runs than anything else though, so I’m glad to see it’s fast drying, and even though it’s not fleecy or insulated, it provides a bit of protection for chilly days. In terms of performance, it’s definitely breathable and keeps the sweat out of my eyes and I’m able to wear any height of ponytail with it.

Because it doesn’t cling to my head, I was worried that it might move around a bit or slide back, and while I can get it to move if I circle my head around, it stays in place on my runs without pulling my hair or giving me a headache. And not that it matters for performance, but I do love the way it looks with no bulk, nice colors and a fun design.

Here’s how it performed:

Sizing

One size fits all. 

Fit

It’s surprisingly snug and secure but doesn’t feel tight at all. Nice wide band is flattering and gives good coverage. 

Comfort 

Buttery soft fabric, tons of stretch and only one small seam makes this one of the most comfortable headbands out there. 

Temperature regulation 

It’s great for keeping you cool and though not insulated, provides some protection on chilly runs. You might prefer a fleecy band for frigid days. 

Breathability 

It does a fantastic job of wicking away sweat and dries quickly. 

Durability 

Well made using luxury fabric and the minimal seams mean less weak spots for fraying and degradation. 

Here’s where we tested the inov-8 Race Elite Headband: 

Loch Ard is a beautiful loch located in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park that is surrounded by rolling, forested tracks perfect for trail running.

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.