Buff merino neckwarmer review

We've been testing the Buff merino neckwarmer this winter. What are the advantages of the merino version over standard polyester?

Cycling Weekly Verdict

A step up in luxury and comfort from the standard Buff, this merino version is warm, itch-free and very versatile. It’s a bit more expensive and needs more careful washing, but should last and last.

For
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    Simple, light, packable

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    Comfortably warm

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    Very versatile

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    Lots of colour options

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Against
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    A bit more expensive than the polyester version

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    Hand wash only

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Like Hoover, Buff has become synonymous with the product it makes (although also like Hoover it makes other items too). It’s a Spanish company, having been founded in 1992 by Juan Rojas, taking its name from the Spanish word bufanda, meaning scarf.

A buff has become pretty much an essential item for many people participating in outdoor activities in cooler weather in a broad range of disciplines. The original product was polyester and we’ve tested the Tour de France collection made of this material.

>>> Neck pain after cycling? Try these exercises for upper body relief (video)

But Buff also makes a merino wool range including this tie-dye design. Merino wool has advantages over synthetic fibres: it’s warmer in the cold, but also wicks moisture without getting clammy if you get hot. It also has anti-microbial properties so it doesn’t get smelly. And of course, it’s super-soft and non-itchy.

At over 50cm long, there's lots of length to play around with

Buff’s buff is also seamlessly tubular-knitted, with only a low-profile hem at each end. Despite weighing just 46g, the merino buff is over 50cm long, so there’s a lot of fabric to play around with. Depending how desperately you need to keep warm, as well as the obvious round-the-neck option Buff also suggests using it as a mask, a hood, a balaclava, a hairband, a scrunchy or various other forms of headwear. Most of these options shouldn’t get in the way of your helmet either.

Watch: Buyer's guide to spring and autumn clothing

So your buff is a versatile way of keeping your head and neck warm without needing to wear a cap too and can be pocketed easily if you do get too hot.

>>> Pro rider tips for winter cycling

I’ve mainly used the merino buff as a neckwarmer where it’s been very effective at closing that gap above a jacket’s collar. It’s happy being handwashed and dried and adds a bit of luxurious comfort to chilly rides.

If you don’t like this Amber Dye version, there are 26 other colours to choose from, with the plain colours a bit cheaper at £22.25.

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Paul Norman
Paul Norman

Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.

He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.