Under Review: Black Rock Gear – The Original Down Beanie

Why Buy?

When I head to the mountains, I carry a beanie. It doesn’t matter if it’s 90 degrees at home or if the forecast is clear. I never know when I could spend an unplanned night on the trail or when the weather will take a turn for the worse. While I am concerned with pack weight, my safety take precedence. I have been able to keep my pack weight manageable through the use of UL gear.

Weighing in at under an ounce, The Original Down Beanie is the flagship product of Seattle-based Black Rock Gear. Seeing their reviews online and seeing the beanies in a backpacker.com article piqued my interest.


  • DWR treated 15d Fabric. DWR is a coating that repels rain, snow and sleet, while being breathable.
  • Sweat wicking Dryline Headband
  • Premium 950 loft Goose Down
  • Guttermann Polyester Thread
  • BlackRock Clip Point Label
  • 27 grams (<1 ounce) for size large

My Observations

  • The Good
    • Extremely light and packs down very small. When It arrived in my mailbox, I didn’t realize there was anything in the box other than paper.
    • Soft and very comfortable. It covers my ears, while not putting any pressure on them. This has been a problem when I wear beanies with glasses.
    • Not itchy like the wool hats I’ve struggled with in the past
  • The Bad
    • Expensive, but the craftsmanship and materials are of high quality. I have yet to find inexpensive, quality UL gear.
  • The Bottom Line 
    • Further testing is needed, I am impressed with weight and craftsmanship of this hat. I plan to carry it on my hikes this winter.

Future Testing

Before publishing a full review, I need to test:

  • the beanie in cooler temperatures (I’ve only had it down to the low 40’s) to see how it performs
  • the beanie’s durability
  • if sweat becomes an issue with the hat being insulated with down. Part of the hat’s interior is lined with Dryline which is advertised as having excellent wicking and antibacterial properties (no stink).



7 Responses

  1. Hikin' Jim

    I’ve got one, and it’s hands down my favorite beanie. VERY light *and* very warm while compressing down to nearly nothing when packed away.


    • TheHikingGeek

      Thanks for your comment HJ. I value your input!

      I put mine in a zippered pocket when I took it off yesterday (hiked Baden-Powell). It is so light, that I kept thinking it somehow managed to fall out of my pocket!

  2. Hikin' Jim

    Yeah, they’re pretty wonderful. It’s pretty nice to have something so light and compact be so warm and functional when you need it.



    Don’t have one, but it’s on my list. Because i live in So Cal, not much demand except in the Sierra for me. I would like to know how it is to sleep in. Does it stay on or slide off? I am getting a quilt and need to decide on this or a down baklava.

    • TheHikingGeek

      I have yet to sleep in mine, but others that do use them for sleep haven’t mention them sliding off. It probably really depends on how restless you are. If you are a restless sleeper, maybe the baklava would be a good idea. https://www.blackrockgear.com/product/blackrock-clava/

      What quilt are you buying?

      • axel

        Going with Enlightened Enigma because I am curious about the vertical baffles, but have not dialed in the specifics yet. I sleep cold and still need to decide if this will replace my Versalite for the Sierra or keep it light and augment with down garments. The Versalite has 5+ inches of loft but every Quilt manufacturer that i have checked out, all loft out at 3.25 inches.

  4. Ben W

    Love these hats. I have 2 for myself (L and XL), and one for my wife. Great hats, my head never has an excuse to be cold. We both sleep in ours as well, and cant say them slipping off has been an issue.

    The only downside is the rustling fabric over the ears that you don’t really get with a fleece hat. I often wear a thin fleece beanie under my XL which solves the issue. The tiny weight makes up for the small annoyance in my opinion. My large, I often roll the headband up a tad to clear my earholes if its not windy.