One of the great things about the cottage gear industry is I just keep finding great companies. This usually comes about through reading blogs like this or through other online sites. I especially like it when I find a company that is locally based (Seattle area) and today we have a winner: Black Rock Gear. This company's reputation is based on meticulous sewing, great customer service and winning products. I have to wholeheartedly agree on all counts. Like many small companies you will not find these products in your typical big box store and you may have to wait for stock, so instant gratification is not necessarily a given. In my case I purchased both of these products when they were in stock so I received them just a few days after placing the orders. I used the Original Hat this summer and only recently bought the Foldback Mitts so have not had them in the field.
One of my quirks is a localised furnace; I produce copious amounts of heat allowing me to get away with lighter sleeping bags and clothing, with the exception of my fingers and hands. This is not Reynaud's Syndrome but my fingers will chill way before any of my hiking partners. Cold fingers have been a thorn in my side for quite a while, and I have experimented with different mitts and gloves over the years to combat this. After a particularly miserable (for my fingers) hike in drenching rain and chilly temps in October, I decided to go for the Foldback Mitts. You'll notice the incredible amount of loft, evenly distributed I might add, in these handy mitts. It is quite easy to get your fingers out for dexterity, including the thumb, with no assistance from the opposite hand, making these very handy for camp chores (exactly when I would be using them). Out for work, in for warmth in a snap. 900 fill down makes these 41 gram mitts a no brainer for me to bring on every trip. Keeping my hands warm in rain will be addressed in another blog article.
I've been wearing my 27 gram Original Hat this past season whenever I am not actively hiking and there's a chill in the air, plus I've worn it all night for sleeping. Comfortable, incredibly warm, packable, super light and it adds a splash of color to my ensemble. These products are not cheap, but they are worth the price. The pieces are a great addition to my kit in my quest to find the best gear manufactured by companies here in the US, which is much harder in the clothing department. And yes, I paid full price for this gear.