I own a lot of hiking hats: hats with bills to keep the sun off my head and the rain off my glasses and hats to stay warm at night and that I can draw down over my eyes to keep out the light. Hats are a key components of my thermo-regulation system and I am always putting them on or taking them off depending on my level of exertion.
The fact is that I never go hiking or backpacking in the mountains near my home without a warm beanie, even in summer. It can snow year-round in my part of New England at higher elevations. I can’t wear wool hats because they make my head itch, even if they are lined, so I’ve gotten used to wearing polypro hats or windstopper fleece hats that are soft, comforting, and keep me warm.
That is, until I met Evan Cabodi from Black Rock Gear, a new cottage manufacturer of down winter hats that’s appeared on the ultralight gear scene.
Evan’s hats are special and unique in the industry because they’re made with 900 fill power down. This makes them really warm and really lightweight, weighing under an once (my medium weighs just under 21 grams.)
Like most cottage manufacturers, Evan is fanatical about the materials and workmanship of his products. For example, I was showing the sewing to my wife last night and she started gushing about the special stitching Evan uses for durability and to keep any down from leaking.
I’ve been using one of Evan’s hats for a few months and now that it’s gotten really chilly in the mountains, it’s my go-to day-to-day and hiking hat. I even wear it at home in the office!
When I first got it, I was a bit leary about wearing a down hat and I was concerned about the down getting wetted out by sweat or external precipitation. Not to worry. The hat has a built-in headband made out of Dry-tec which wicks any sweat off of your head. The hat’s shell is made out of Momentum-MR 90, which comes with a high-quality DWR treatment and is the stuff you find on a lot of higher-end sleeping bags.
Now for the really important stuff. This hat comes in PURPLE – my wife has demanded one for Christmas already.
The Ultimate Down Hat also comes in royal blue, agean blue (darker), beige, red, grey-green, and black. All of these colors are not listed on the Black Rock Gear site, but Evan sent me the fabric swatches for them, and I’m sure he’ll make one up for you if you contact him through his site. That’s the beauty of buying products from a cottage manufacturer. Evan is also willing to add custom features to the product for you, like a built-in stuff sack on the interior of the hat or an external one which I have.
So check out out Black Rock Gear and get yourself a special hat this winter.
Disclosure: Black Rock Gear provided SectionHiker.com with a sample hat for this review.