Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Product Review: CapoForma Winter Wool: A Mixed Bag
Two winters ago, I was looking for a winter training cap. I opted for this CapoForma Retro Wool Cap, MSRS $79. I was between a few different caps, but I found this cap listed for $9.95 on a new triathlon website. I put the cap in my cart and wasn’t able to order it because my single cap didn’t fulfil the minimum amount for the site. I put a set of Keo cleats (regular price) in the cart and made the cut. I may have spend $25 on the entire order including shipping.
The first thing that I noticed when I got the cap was the softness of the material. It was finer that a cashmere sweater. It felt like high quality T shirt cotton. The bucket has two layers of material, both 73% wool and 27% Spandex blend. The outer layer is thick, about as thick as a winter arm warmer, perhaps ½ a millimeter thicker. Make no mistake, this material is not rigid or stiff, in fact it is rather shapeless. The inner fabric is very fine, like athat 15 year old concert T shirt that you can almost see through, think breathable.
The cap itself molds perfectly to the head. It is very comfortable on the head. My only complaint about the bucket is that it is rather deep. If I pull it all the way down on my head tight, the bill is too close to my eyes, resting on my eyebrows. This cap is “One Size fits All,” which always really means that one size fits most. The cap stays securely on the head when not wearing a helmet. Even 2 years and many washes later, it remains stretchy and holds it original shape.
The cap fits comfortable under a helmet. It does not feel bulky or bunch up under the helmet. The cap remains securely in place even on long rides.
The back section that is meant to keep the back of the neck warm has a tendency to bunch up at the back of a helmet when you keep your head in a logical riding position.
Perhaps this section could be made shorter on future models? But perhaps then I would complain that the back of my neck was cold. Perhaps this is a comprise that CapoForma has considered already.
The cap retains warmth even when saturated with water. I have ridden a number of 60-70 mile races in driving 35 degree rain this cap and I my head has never felt cold. In fact the cap is too warm for temperatures above 40, even with driving rain. I have not ridden in conditions that are too cold for this cap. I usually train outdoors in any temperatures above 20 degrees. This cap has served my head warmth needs well in all of the these conditions.
The bill has a great shallow shape that points down at a perfect angle for keeping rain, snow and sleet out of the eyes when traveling at standard cycling speeds. The bill interfaces well with both pairs of Specialized glasses that I regularly use.
Despite my like of the bill, my only problem with this cap is the the bill’s flexibility. Most cycling cap’s bills have rigid pieces of plastic inserted between the material so that they remain in place and retain their shape in the wind and rain. The CapoForma bill is constructed of two layers of the thicker wool material with no reinforcement. When the bill gets wet it flops down and dangerously obscures my vision. This also happens in dry conditions in a strong headwind or when descending. I usually flip the bill up, which negates the point of having a bill. I find that the bill fails exactly when I need it the most. When I am descending at 45-50 miles an hour in 35 degree rain, I NEED an effective visor to keep the rain from slipping in through the top of my glasses and blinding me.
Obviously, I seriously underpaid for this cap. Overall, I have been satisfied with the cap, though I don’t know if I’d be as willing to accept its visor’s shortcomings if I had paid anywhere near full retail price for the cap. The quality and workmanship is top notch; it is certainly a durable piece of clothing. None of the threads have popped, there are no pills on any part of the cap and there is no visible wear anywhere after two full winters of training in New England.
Some of my friends heard about the deal that I got and went on the website and ordered multiple caps. The website wised up and refused to fill their orders. I am the admiration of them all when I wear this cap, since they all know that some triathlete basically gave it to me for free.