Rumour has it that Shaun White didn’t only bring snow sports amazing ariel halfpipe tricks, long luscious locks of red hair and his own personal gum flavour, but also the popular facial shield: the Bandana.
When Shaun began wearing a bandana in his earlier years of stardom, bandanas began popping up on skiers and snowboarders faces across the globe. The simplicity of the bandana was likely what made it so popular; kids bought one for 99 cents at the dollar store, folded it in half from the corners, tied an overhand knot with the tips and were on their way.
But is the bandana really an effective face shield in a mountain environment?
The traditional bandana, which was the type Shaun started with all those years ago, is a basic cotton bandana and when put to the test has a very poor ability. Because of the unbreathable nature of cotton and tendency to absorb moisture, the bandana clog easily. The bandana, now damp, is susceptible to freezing and will then cause even more problems to the user. What was a great, cheap face shield before is now a frozen, cold and completely clogged membrane of cotton directly in front of your face. Can you relate? Even if it is completely dry out and there is no precipitation, the mere moisture produced from breathing is enough to freeze a bandana.
But freezing isn’t the only issue when it comes to the functionality of a bandana; coverage becomes an issue as well. Many traditional not-designed-for-snow-sports bandanas are far too small for usable and effective facial coverage. Either the bandana is worn on the face and part of the neck is exposed, or the bandana is worn around the neck where it falls deep beneath the collar of your jacket. This design also offers little to no protection to the side and rear of the neck.
Luckily, these issues have seen some improvement by snow-specific bandana manufacturing companies. Airhole Face Masks have incorporated a hole where the mouth meets the bandana for easier breathing and ventilation while other companies like Celtek and Spacecraft Collective have incorporated a warmer more breathable fleece lining to the inside of their bandanas.
Perhaps bandanas began as a fashion statement with mediocre performance in actually keeping you warm, but with todays advancements made in the world of face shields, we can actually thank those who pushed the envelope and deal with such a crappy means of facial protection so that evolution could one day bring us a product that will actually perform. For those who kept going even though their bandanas totally failed them, we thank you.
For me, I’ll stick with my wool neck tube, it’s warm, it’s soft and it’s damn cool! And let’s face it, we’re not cowboys.