The Love Tube

Why I can't seem to part with a 20-year-old neck gaiter.
The Love Tube

How old is my black-with-purple-trim fleece Patagonia neck gaiter? As of next February, it can legally booze. (I assume it will order Scotch.) I got it in 1992—when neck gaiters were still cool—and I continue to wear it with pride.

It’s easily the most senior piece of my kit. Every year, I resolve to bequeath the artifact to charity, perhaps to protect the chilly-necked children of Africa. But I always retain it instead. Though its purple trim is fraying and there has been occasional pilling, the thing still keeps my neck warm. On bitterly cold outings—when I pull it over my chin, mouth, and nose—it wards off frostbite. It throbs with utility and efficiency. Plus, it’s fuzzy.

I realize that neck gaiters get no respect these days. One reason: puffies. It seems ski culture has been usurped by waddling, overstuffed

Michelin Men. Sure, a zipped-to-the-brim puffy can warm one’s Adam’s apple. But I invariably catch my whiskers in the zipper���which is incredibly painful, as you guys and certain New Agey gals probably know.

Another argument: bandannas. They’re lighter and dry quicker, I’m told. Kids today think it’s easier to heave off their gloves and laboriously tie bandannas around their necks than spend a nanosecond donning a totally reversible tube that can’t, by its very nature, be backward or upside down. Fools!

Troll the spew on ski message boards and you’ll find haters fuming over a gaiter’s propensity for clamminess. True, respiration does lead to the dreaded swamp fleece. But this is America, dammit. You’re perfectly free to spin the gaiter around to a dry spot.

One particularly Frowny Frank complained, “Neck gaiters suck. They’re way too bunchy and crowd up on the back of your neck.” Me, I didn’t know “bunchy” was an actual word. Yet it is, defined in the dictionary as “bulging or protuberant.”

What about you? What are you wearing? I’d love to hook up this winter and show you my bulging, protuberant love tube. (You’re not a cop, are you?)