With the temperature at this year’s Strathpuffer hitting a mercury low of -12oC, a woolly hat was the weekend’s must-have. From fair isle to Lidl aisle, it was head wear heaven with the bobble size debate appearing to rival that of tyre choice as the bobble-free beanie, the baby bobble and the plus sized bobble all jostled for head space. Wearers opted for hats in a range of materials, from superlight, performance-led merino down to that hybrid of the knitwear world, cheap and cheerful acrylic. In a homage to The Beano, chunky stripes were a big trend whilst others opted for a more refined look à la Meghan Markle (yep, we’ve jumped on the Royal Wedding bandwagon too).
So here we go, from the sublime to the ridiculous, these are Singletrack’s best of head warmers from the icy catwalk of the Scottish Highlands.
First up, the hugely popular Big, Bold and Bobbled. This style has become omnipresent at MTB events over the last few years and at ‘Puffer the thickly knitted, massive bobbled and garishly coloured hat was almost as common as the ice-spiked tyre.
1. Big, Bold and Bobbled
Extra points here for the yin-yan colouring for this pit crew with their green white / green black clashing splendidly with their team colours. 8/10
2. Big and Bobbled but not so Bold
And here, the hat doubles as a shade against the low winter sunshine. Whilst this wearer is bang on with this season’s fashion it’s rather disappointing to see that he has failed to colour coordinate his head wear with the rest of his outfit or team gazebo. 5/10
3. Shy and Retiring
The winter fashion bobble hat of 2017/18 features a more modest knit, subtle grey colouring and standard sized bobble compared to its big brother, perfect for pizza delivery on the way to the pub. Or are the pizzas and happy smiles just a means of distracting us from the dull hat hue? 6/10
4. A Cry For Help
It’s difficult to know what help the wearer is requiring, he’s certainly not looking in any distress at the point this picture was taken. But given this is 24 hour racing in north Scotland in the depth of winter, he’s probably just planning ahead. Meanwhile the guy behind with the grey woolly number seems to have lost something, perhaps it’s his bobble… 7/10
5. Lost, Alone and Afraid
Cold, alone and abandoned. If it could talk, what stories would it tell? Was it tossed aside by an ungrateful wearer for something brighter and more bobbly or did it escape for a better life, sick of being trapped against a head of sweaty hair and dandruff? Either way we wish it a happy life of solitude in the peaceful Highlands. No score, entries invalid without a wearer.
6. The Patriot
It wasn’t just riders and crew that were lining the Strathpuffer course, local residents were out in force too to cheer on the riders, show off their hats and do their bit for patriotism whilst reminding the southern majority that they’re much harder than everyone else and don’t need to wear a coat. 6/10
7. Here’s One I Killed Earlier
Despite the ubiquity, it wasn’t all about the bobble. Here we have both form and function with the traditional fur-lined trappers’ hat in its element in the frozen Scottish hills. Note how the furry ear flaps flow into the jacket’s collar for additional insulation. Sadly the model didn’t have a deer carcass slung across his shoulder to complete the look but his granddad was a real life trapper so definite points there for legitimacy. 9/10
8. The Attention Seeker
This number offers no insulation from the cold although it’s probably quite good at keeping the winter sun out the wearer’s eyes. Additional points for jersey colour coordination, minus points for not listening to his mother and going out without his coat, trousers and thick gloves in this kind of weather. 8/10
9. The Sleeper
This hat clearly fails to provide warmth to the wearer as can be clearly seen by the need for the humongous down jacket and tassled blanket. Or maybe the hat is doing a fine job in keeping the wearer warm and the other insulation is required to keep safe from the dodgy pit electrics. 2/10
10. I’ve Beanie Warmer
Dan from Alpkit proving it’s not all about the bobble, sometimes only a beanie will do. Or maybe it won’t, if he had something warmer on his noggin maybe he wouldn’t need the three coats he was wearing (unless the layers were just him trying really hard on the product placement front) 6/10
11. Too Much Exposure
Simon from USE Exposure keeping things nice and smart with his black thermal number. Simple, effective and understated but best suited to the warmer temperatures of the event tent rather than a tent half-way up the hill. Actually, come to think about it, he’s not even really trying, he’s not even deployed the ear flaps yet. Perhaps he should be on a road bike in the south east rather than a mountain bike race in Scotland. Form over function. 4/10
12. There’s Always One
Hopefully not an indication of this mechanic’s spannering abilities, the Jester doesn’t perform strongly on the warmth front but does has the advantage of employing bells to help locate the wearer if he should get lost in the 17 hours of darkness. 5/10
13. The One And Only
And finally, the handmade in Scotland Singletrack Special. What can we say? Is it the steely far-away adventure stare(TM) and rugged stubble of the model or the style and warmth of this classic fashion item that which makes it a winner? Whatever the reason, it’s a clear 10/10.
Follower of fashion? Get your Singletrack bobble hat here.
(With thanks to Adele Mitchell for her fashion writing expertise)