I’m a tall, leaky man.
If it’s more than 65 degrees outside when I test running socks, workout headphones, or electric bikes, I emit what can only be described as a staggering amount of liquid.
Whether its my Nordic heritage or the fact that I was raised in Portland, Oregon—a town with hardly a drop of humidity—I’m essentially a feeble human snow cone. Put me in the sun for more than five minutes, and I’ll melt into a puddle.
For years, I’ve taken the Forrest Gump approach to summer workouts: Hats or headbands required. It's not even worth leaving home without one. Without a stretchy cotton halo, I can barely jog a mile from my house before sweat sears my eyes.
And both types of headwear have their issues. Hats are great for the sun, but they don’t absorb much sweat. Workout headbands are much more moisture-wicking, but they stretch the more you use them. A cotton band that feels like it will squeeze your brain out on the first run of the month feels like the neck of an old T-shirt by the time rent comes due. It’s annoying to replace your headwear more often than your running socks.
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Enter the Treadband
I recently found out about a sweatband company called Treadbands, a brand that claims to have solved my sweatband frustrations using a thin blend of polyester and spandex that you tie behind your head like a bandana. I've always been intrigued by flatter headbands geared toward longer hair, but the best ones I've found have only been in women's sizes.
Spandex and polyester blended headbands aren't exactly cutting-edge territory, but Treadbands has perfected the craft. The bands are stitched together well, and the stretchy material is super easy to tie. They're also as gender agnostic as I wish all workout companies were.
Treadbands cost $16 – $18 and come in two major sizes: a 2.5-inch wide version called "All-Terrain" and a 1.5-inch version called the "Low-Profile". Both work excellently.
The thing that really sets Treadbands apart is a tiny rubberized strip in the front of each headband. The strip holds the headbands in place with shocking ease, and it also tends to keep sweat from dripping down the front of your head. The pressure of the rubber against your skin pushes liquids towards the knots in the back. It's a simple mechanism that works amazingly well. I've even noticed when they get supersaturated with sweat, it will actually drip off of the ties in back before sweat drips down my face.
When I recently discovered the company calls devotees "TreadHeads," it seemed about right. After a few weeks of runs, I've become as obsessed as my friend who rambles about "that" live recording of the Grateful Dead's 1968 show at the Carousel Ballroom. I don't leave home without one.
Tie Back or Bust
Treadbands are not necessarily the prettiest things ever—I look a bit like the David Foster Wallace of fitness—but they get the job done better than anything I’ve ever used before. I especially like the thicker All-Terrain size when running with earbuds, because it helps hold them in place better than earfins alone. That extra width also buys a bit more absorbance, so it's been my go-to on longer runs.
The company also makes non-tying versions, and sent me one to try, but I just didn't like it as much as the two tie-behind bands. I like pretending I'm a warrior tying my headscarf before battle to pysch myself up for exercise—and besides, tying them myself guarantees a perfect fit.
Speaking of knots, I've just been double looping them. The stretchy spandex material is super easy to untie even when soaking wet, aided in part by the taper at each end of the band.
I haven't been using Treadbands for too long yet, but I feel fairly confident in their durability. I've been using the same two bands nearly daily for weeks, and they're holding up. In fact, they dry fast enough that you can even get two runs or rides in a day with the same band—a feat I've been hardpressed to achieve with hats or traditional sweatbands.
If you care about how you look when working out, you can even match them to your outfits. They come in a wide assortment of colors, heathered colors, and patterned designs. I’ve been running with a tie-dye one, but I’m eyeing one of these taco-print versions to go with my favorite running socks.
Call me a Treadhead, I guess? These are the best bands I've found.