Custom Design, Technical ‘Do-Rag’ From Boulder Brand

Anyone who has read GearJunkie over the years knows we love our Buffs. The hard-to-categorize headwear has kept us warm all over the globe for years. (Indeed, we named a Buff among our “Best Gear Of 10 Years” in 2012.)

This year, we decided to test the Pandana, a similar product from Curve Cycling. The small custom cycling apparel company out of Boulder, Colo., started offering the seamless, polyester fabric tubes this year.

GearJunkie editor Stephen Regenold wears a Pandana on a brisk fall day

Pandanas are obvious copycats of the Buff. But the fabric is different, and they cost a little less. The company also has a unique design-it-yourself custom program. We built a GearJunkie Pandana this fall using the brand’s program.

I’ve worn my custom GearJunkie Pandana for daily training runs in Minneapolis and even during a 30-hour adventure race last month. It’s kept my head warm in temperatures down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The headwear also works under a bike helmet in warmer temps when a hat is too much.

When not on my head, the Pandana packs down to about the size of an energy bar. It’s been the perfect piece of gear to keep in my pack for unpredictable Minnesota weather this fall. I’m looking forward to seeing how it holds up as the temperatures drop. —Amy Oberbroeckling

The Gear: The Pandana

Price: $16 each for the original pieces or customized

Available: Now

The Pandana is an 18-inch long piece of fabric

Where To Test It: Use it as a headband in the summer to soak up sweat, as a beanie-type hat in the spring and fall for warmth or as a balaclava or scarf in the winter to keep the cold off your face and neck.

Who’s It For: Those who are looking for a versatile and inexpensive piece of gear that they can wear for almost every outdoor activity.

Boring But Important: The Pandana is a seamless 18-inch tube made out of a polyester. It’s thinner than the Original Buff and may not be as warm in cold weather.

Made In: Bulgaria

Killer! In addition to the in-house designs, the company offers small-batch customization. The customization process is pretty slick — you pick your layout, choose a color, and then you submit a vector logo to the brand. There is a 25 piece minimum on orders. Turn around is four weeks.

Flaw: Unlike the Buff, the Pandana comes in only one fabric option.

Side by side there’s almost no difference between the Pandana (left) and the Original Buff

First Impressions: It looks almost the same as the Original Buff. I wore my Pandana at the adventure-racing nationals with team GearJunkie/WEDALI. I folded it into a headband to wear under my helmet during the heat of the day to soak up sweat. At night, when the temperature went down, I turned it into a hat. It kept me warm all night long.

Who Should Buy It: Anyone looking for super versatile headwear who wants to save a few bucks. The Original Buff starts at $22, and the Pandana is $16.

Contact Brand/More Beta:

—Amy Oberbroeckling is an assistant editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at Photos © Monopoint Media LLC

GearJunkie athlete Thomas Puzak (2nd from right) wore his Pandana for the win at a local cyclocross race

Amy Oberbroeckling

Amy Oberbroeckling, an Iowa native, joined GearJunkie out of college and brought a passion for endurance sports as well as a flawless record in arm wrestling matches against famous rock climbers. Find her biking, trail running, cross-country skiing, camping, or tipping back a cold IPA.