Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sweaty Band vs. Bondi Band

When I run, I usually wear an old blue Champion C9 wicking cap that I got on clearance at Target 800 years ago. For real, his thing has been part of me since at least 2005. To say I am attached to it would be an understatement. It's even been to Italy with me.

Alas, all good things must end, and our relationship lately has been less than stellar. My hair, shorter now than when I got The Hat, gets my hair shower-wet when I wear it, which is not conducive to doing anything in public post-run. The hair behind my ears sticks out like Pippi Longstocking braids after a few miles. My forehead has been breaking out. I don't like washing it (go ahead, "EWWW!" out loud, everyone does) because it never fits the same afterwards, and because I run so often, it never has time to fully dry in between. And, here's a runner's superstition for you, I think it's kind of bad luck. (Also, bad hygiene. But I digress.) SO I have been looking for alternatives to The Hat.

My hair is too short for a ponytail, so that idea is out. I don't want to fuss with a barrette. My next thought was "headband." But what kind? There are so many out there. The skinny ones made by ponytail-elastic people boing right off the back of my head and don't hold my hair down the way I'd like. I asked some friends what they liked and paid attention when other runners reviewed certain bands.

The first two I compared are a Sweaty Band and a Bondi Band. Sweaty on top, Bondi on bottom.

Sweaty Band (which you can get for $7 + shipping by choosing the "mystery grab bag" option rather than a specific print for $18) is made of ribbon backed with velvet. They claim it doesn't slip... and guess what? They didn't lie! This puppy stayed put through two of my mid-week runs totaling 9 miles.

I like that the back of the band, underneath the hair, is thin like a ponytail elastic. That thoughtful design keeps the band from bunching up my short hair.

One drawback to a Sweaty Band is that it does not wick sweat off your face during a workout. I didn't have as big a problem as I thought I would with this, since it was quite windy during my two runs and that helped me evaporate. I do recall swiping some trickles away, but it wasn't often. It might've been more of an issue if I was running indoors without a breeze. The fabric doesn't taper to the elastic part until it is well behind the ears, so things were kind of tight once I put on my sunglasses and over-the-ear headphones.

Tonight I tried my new Bondi Band ($8), which is made of a wicking fabric and meant to be worn lower on the head, or flipped/tucked up for a different look.

They claim to be "no slip, no drip." And yep, true to their word, like the other one.

The fabric is much thinner than I was picturing after looking at the website. It tapers at the back, but does not have an elastic like the Sweaty Band, so it sticks out more and makes my hair do the same. Not terribly so.

During my 3 mile run, I wore this down over my forehead and didn't have to stop once to swipe sweat. I almost forgot it was on. And actually, I had a really fast run! :) The lightweight fabric was great. Its thin profile behind my ears meant I could comfortably wear headphones and sunglasses without any crowding.

Both bands were comfortable. The one I choose to wear on any given day will depend what kind of run I have planned and where. There are some bands I've yet to try (Prana, lululemon, Old Navy) so this review is not exhaustive by any means, but I'm quite happy to have alternatives to The Hat!


  1. Thanks for the review- I've been trying to decide which to get myself!

  2. Thanks for posting!! I use cotton headbands that suck and had been tempted to try something different but wasn't sure where to start :)

  3. Oooh love this post! My headbands (drugstore buys) keep slipping off my head but I'm not sure if I want to spend $15-18 on a Sweaty Band (my local running store sells them for that). Thanks so much for the tip on the "mystery grab bag." I am totally going to do that. (I found your blog through the Nest, btw. Good stuff

  4. I love my bondi band I've been wearing it for about a year..but I've been dying to try a sweaty and lulu band too! I have shorter hair that I can't pull back too! Hoping to find a good sale though