Have you ever noticed how sounds are muffled when you wear a Windstopper balaclava on winter hikes? This isn’t a problem when I’m hiking solo, but it’s an issue when I’m hiking with other people and I can’t understand a word they say.
Outdoor Research Sonic Balaclava is designed to address this issue. Weighing just 2.4 oz (in a size L), the Sonic is made with Windstopper fleece and like most balaclavas can be worn as a hat, a mask, or as a neck gaiter, as conditions warrant. The Sonic also comes with a mesh breathing port and an articulated nose that reduces fogging for easy marriage with a ski mask and may eliminate the need for a separate neoprene mask under certain conditions.
However, what’s unique about the Sonic are the fabric panels over the ears. These are made with a thinner weight fleece, which is also wind resistant called Wind Pro and makes it possible for me to hear other people talking when I’m hiking with it on. The lighter weight ear panels don’t reduce the warmth of the Sonic in any noticeable way and I’ve switched to this balaclava for serious winter hiking and climbing trips.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.