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Smartwool Merino 250 Reversible Headband review: a streamlined sweat solution for cold weather adventures

This comfortable headband relies on the power of wool to keep the wind out and wick away sweat on winter runs, snowshoe hikes and ski days

Smartwool headband
(Image: © Smartwool )

Our Verdict

If you want a straightforward approach to keeping the sweat out your eyes and the wind out your ears, look no further than this warm, comfortable, high quality headband

For

  • Very comfortable, not too tight
  • Warm
  • Sweat wicking
  • Reversible
  • Made using natural materials

Against

  • No high vis details
  • Only one size available
  • No ponytail hole
  • Gets a little itchy on warm days

Smartwool Merino 250 Reversible Headband review: first impressions 

Smartwool takes a straightforward approach to this headband, opting to rely on the power of merino wool instead of fancy frills, and the approach pays off. The Reversible Headband is a wide, four inch band that offers plenty of coverage whether you’re trying to keep the wind out of your ears or the sun off your scalp.

Made using a double layer of 100% merino wool, this band offers plenty of warmth on cold days, however its moisture wicking properties mean you don’t overheat and it works for milder conditions too. It also doesn't get stinky quickly if you’re sweating a lot.

It wears extremely soft next to the skin, though it can become slightly itchy on warm days, and manages to be snug and stay in place without being tight or pulling your hair, making it an extra comfortable alternative to a beanie hat. The reversible feature means you can choose between a fun pattern or bold solid depending on your mood.

It doesn’t have any high vis detailing or a ponytail hole, which means you might wear your ponytail a little higher, but in terms of quality and performance, it will be indispensable for your winter adventures.

Specifications

• RRP: £19.99 (UK) / $22 (US)
• Sizes available: One size
• Unisex: Yes
• Materials: Merino wool (100%)
• Colors: Black, Charcoal, Heather, Deep Navy, Pinwheel
• Best use: Trail running, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, cross country skiing 

Smartwool Merino 250 Reversible Headband: on the trails 

Smartwool headband

The Smartwool Merino 250 Reversible Headband is easily the most comfortable headband I’ve tried (Image credit: Smartwool)

The Smartwool Merino 250 Reversible Headband is easily the most comfortable headband I’ve tried and it’s a definite winner for my cold adventures where I want to keep the wind out of my ears but don’t want to overheat. 

The look is a bit more classic ski bunny with a straightforward, four inch band with no gathering or ponytail holder. I love the width because it covers my entire part on a sunny day and is big enough to pull down over my forehead a bit. It’s actually a viable alternative to a winter beanie.

The merino wool is nice and soft against the skin and only becomes a little itchy if it's warm day. It’s very stretchy and not tight at all so no hair pulling or headache, but it stays put on a trail run. The double layer is definitely designed for warmth and I’ve found that I far prefer this to my old fleece band for cold days, because it isn’t bulky and has great stretch. It does a great job of wicking away sweat, however even though it’s thermoregulating I wouldn’t wear it for warm, summer trail runs. This is definitely a winter accessory for me.

It doesn’t have a ponytail hole but after experimenting a bit, I found that it has enough give that I can just tuck my low ponytail into it and it feels fine. You might have to wear your ponytail a bit high otherwise, however I haven’t found this to be a problem.

I’ve been able to sweat a lot in this without it getting stinky which is a huge bonus. It’s at the higher end of the moderate price range for this type of product, but the quality is excellent and since it’s reversible, it’s like you get two for the price of one.

Here’s how it performed:

Sizing

One size fits all. With lots of stretch, this really should work with all head sizes. 

Fit

Snug and wide without giving me a headache or pulling my hair. 

Comfort 

Extremely comfortable due to soft merino wool fabric and a not-too-tight fit. 

Temperature regulation 

Will definitely keep your ears warm and wick away sweat on a cold day, however too warm for summer runs. 

Breathability 

This headband does what it’s supposed to do and wicks away sweat nicely. 

Durability 

Great materials and construction and doesn’t require much washing. 

Here’s where we tested the Smartwool Merino 250 Reversible Headband: 

This beautiful trail run takes your through the forest and along the shore of Loach Ard in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

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.