Best Neck Gaiters & Warmers for Skiing & Snowboarding

by Simon Naylor | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Recommended Gear

Looking to stay warm on your next ski trip and take away that chill from your face. Then a neck warmer is exactly what you need;

Neck warmers (or gaiters) are magical pieces of cloth that keep your face and core body temperature warm on cold brisk days. Like a sophisticated scarf - neck warmers are closed loops that you put over your head and sit around your neck. You can pull them up over your face and back down when you need to eat, talk or get too warm.

asian fit ski goggles

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Neck warmers protect your face from sunburn, windburn, frostbite, and the pains of snow and rain hitting you at speed. Not only are neckwarmers a lifesaver on the slopes, but in all cold-weather - whether you skiing, snowboarding, snowshoes or just walking the dog!

After hours of research scouring the web for the best deals - below are my top picks for the best neck warmers in 2020. Full reviews further down the page.

Top 4 Best Neck Warmers

  1. The Turtle’s Neck Original Fur Fleece
  2. Tough 12-in-1 Headwear
  3. Buff Midweight Merino Wool 
  4. Condor Outdoor Thermo Neck Gaiter

1. The "Turtle's Neck" Original Fur Fleece

  • Material: 100% Acrylic
  • Weight: Heavyweight, 90 grams / 3.2 oz

Turtle Fur the brand behind this neck warmer was the original investor of the fleece neck warmer in 1982 - and it's still one of the best-selling gaiters on the market. It's very soft and has a one-color classic look with a small turtle logo.

It comes in 9 color options and a no-fuss one adult size which will fit most people. It's machine washable and can be tumbled dried on a low heat setting. It's made from 100% acrylic and will quickly dry, wick away moisture, and importantly keep you warm on the slopes - no matter the windchill.

The Original Turtle neckwarmer is very affordable and has a very high rating with over 1k reviews.

Cons: Maybe too warm in spring or a bit thick for some people.

Pros: Long shape, good coverage, wicks away moisture,

Where to Buy: Check Price on Amazon

2. Tough 12-in-1 Headwear

  • Material: 100% Microfibre polyester
  • Weight: Lightweight

Another well-respected name in the headgear world. BUFF Original is made from microfibre polyester which is moisture-wicking and quick drying. It’s breathable but not the warmest

Cons: Great for mild days, but not for very cold days – it’s not the thickest or warmest gaiter on this list.

Pros: Lightweight and moisture-wicking, ideal for a light breeze or spring weather skiing.

Where to Buy: Check Price on Amazon

3. Buff Midweight Merino Wool

  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Weight: Midweight 250g/m2

This Buff neckwarmer is very warm and made from super soft merino wool. It is breathable, dries quickly, and stays warm even when it’s wet which makes it perfect for skiing or snowboarding come rain or shine. Merino wool is softer and warmer than synthetic materials and as the added bonus of being more resistant to bad small from sweat as the wool is naturally anti-bacterial.

Cons: It’s pricier than others gaiters on this list, but it’s worth the extra cost if you want a softer feel.

Pros: Very breathable, antibacterial, warm, and soft.

Where to Buy: Check Price on Amazon

4. Condor Outdoor Thermo Neck Gaiter

  • Material: Microfleece
  • Weight: Midweight, 40g

This is a warm microfleece neck warmer with an elasticated band that allows it to sit comfortably on your face without falling down. It’s very warm without being bulky and absorbing too much water when wet.

Cons: It’s doesn’t have the best coverage and unlike some other brands it is not very long. If you’re looking for longer coverage I’d go for the Turtle Fur which has more scrunched-up materials that go further.

Pros: Nice balance between warmth and not being restrictive.

Where to Buy: Check Price on Amazon

goggles ski

Neck Gaiters Essentials: What To Look For?

1. Protection

Neck warmers for skiing serve quite a few purposes, so it’s a good idea to pick a neck warmer that is big enough and versatile enough to:

  • Keep your lower face and neck warm.
  • Insulate your core temperature and stop heat rising out of your jacket.
  • Keep your skin dry from the outside elements and away sweat from your skin.
  • Protect your skin from UV and high-altitude sun exposure.

2. Choose The Right Material

There are three/four main types of materials that you’ll find across the range of neck warmers for cold temperature – synthetic and natural materials;

  • Fleece
  • Polyester & Acrylic
  • Merino wool

Polyester and fleece are the most popular materials as they are cheap and lightweight. While it is a form of plastic it can be made from recycled bottles to offset its environmental impact.

Merino is a fine wool that comes from sheep, it is very soft and warm. Some skiers with sensitive skin may not be able to wear merino and it does usually come with a hefty price tag.

neck warmer
Photo by Robert Tadlock licensed under CC BY 2.0

3. Thickness

There are many types of neck warmers all in a variety of thicknesses from ultra-thin to ultra-thick. From 2 inch fleece to a few mm of light polyester. Too thin and wind will easily pass through, which won’t provide enough of a thermal barrier to keep you warm. Too thick and it will collect moisture, weigh you down, and feel too restrictive. A thicker neck warmer is not always the warmest and if it's snowing or raining and it gets wet, then it will wick away heat as it dries.

The perfect neck gaiter is warm, not restrictive, easy to pull up and down, and versatile to be worn all day – as a balaclava, scrunchie, bandana, or hat!

BUFF Original 12-in-1 Headwear

4. How Much To Spend?

Neck warmers are not going to break the bank. Expect to pay in the region of $10-30 depending on your needs and the style you like the look of. If you want to save money, you can buy in the offseason when retailers are looking to get rid of old stock. But if you're going on a ski trip, then getting a neck warmer beforehand is definitely a priority.

Final Thoughts

Neck warmers are incredibly simple things that you should always have with you. Even on still warm days in the mountains - the wind can pick up at a moment's notice or a storm can roll in.

Being prepared is the number one rule for mountain safety and staying comfortable throughout your ski trip. Neck gaiters are small, lightweight, and will easily fit inside your jacket pocket or backpack.

Tip: How To Prevent Goggle Fog

Goggles fog happens when warm air inside our goggles gets trapped and comes into contact with the cold surface of the lens. If the temperature has enough of a difference then water vapor will condense as droplets onto the lens and create a layer of fogging that reflects like and makes it very difficult to see through.

bag for ski

Don't Tuck In Your Neck Warmer

The main way to prevent goggles from fog is to not overheat and send warm air into our goggles. Many times goggle fog is caused by tucking out balaclava or gaiter too far up into our goggles. The warmth from our body and breathing travels up through the material and into our goggles.

Other ways to stop goggle fog:

  • Don't wipe your lens with your finger
  • Shake off snow from the vents
  • Don't overheat

Bonus: How To Stay Warm

Wearing a neck warmer or balaclava is the first step to staying warm on the mountain. To maintain warmth in cold weather and spend all day out in the cold - the best way to stay warm is to:

1. Wear The Right Layers

ski layers clothing

Knowing how to layer and what to wear is crucial. Start with a thermal base layer, followed by a midweight fleece and then a fully waterproof and breathable ski or snowboard jacket.

Further reading: How to Layer For Skiing: Do’s & Dont’s

2. Drink Warm Drinks 

Thermal Flask

Fueling up on warm food and hot drinks on the mountain not only feels amazing, but it will actually raise your core temperature and help insulate you against the cold.

My favorite way to stay warm is to bring a thermal flask of a hot tea or coffee (or any hot drink). The Zojirushi stainless steel mug has excellent reviews and is less than $30 on Amazon.

For more great tips on staying warm read Skiers Ultimate Guide to Staying Warm.