Black Rock Gear ‘Synthetic Beanie’

Black Rock Gear Synthetic Beanie

Greeting Adventurers!

I am now super happy to announce that the Black Rock Gear Synthetic Beanie is available to buy!

In September of 2015 a conversation between myself and Evan, the owner of Black Rock Gear, started happening about the possibilities of him and I working together to bring to market a synthetic version of the crazy popular Black Rock Gear Down Beanie.

The concept was simple:

keep everything that is awesome about the animal down version of the BRG beanie, but introduce a synthetic insulation version.

The “why?” is simple too:

  1. it would allow BRG to have another product in their catalog
  2. because some adventurers find themselves in situations where synthetic gear is of additional benefit
  3. because some folks have either medical and/or ethical issues regarding animal down products
  4. because, well, I wanted one as I have switched to using synthetic gear (with exception of feathered friends down booties) and while Evan was able and willing to make a one-off for me, when I posted photos of it, a fair amount of people showed interest in buying one – enough so that Evan/BRG felt it was worth try to bring to market an initial production run of synthetic beanies.

In November of 2015 the first prototype was made (see attached photos) and I have been using the prototype 4 or 5 days throughout each week that I have had it.

The initial prototype has held up exceptionally well, as expected, without any fabric or thread issues, nor any noticeable decompression / deterioration of the insulation.

I have used it while sleeping, while hiking and trail running during the winter season, and around town on cold days. While out on the trail I have used it both at night and during the day. In good weather and in wet weather – including heavy fog and even in the rain, it is synthetic insulation after all.

The insulation being used is Climashield Apex (2.5 oz) and the fabric is 20d siliconized nylon fabric – a slightly heavier weight fabric (15d) than the animal down version, in order to allow a siliconized fabric to give it even more bad weather use.

These Black Rock Gear Synthetic Beanies, like all BRG products, are hand made in Seattle, Washington USA.

While the synthetic versions does cost BRG more to make than animal down beanies, they are keeping them priced at the same price point as the animal down versions.

My synthetic beanie (size large) on my calibrated scale is 31.3 grams.

If you want to buy one of these really great synthetic beanies, head over to:



I will attempt to update this article with any questions that I get, along with my answers to said questions.

David C. asked: If you have experience with the down version, is there any perceptible difference in drying time?

My response: Hey David, I have probably 5+ years of use with the animal down version. I would never ever have worn my animal down beanie in the rain. A few times in light fog, but that was about it. I always considered it too precious for it to get wet, as I usually wear them at night. That said, I have been wearing my synthetic version day and night, including in the rain. Drying time is crazy fast. Usually can just tuck it under my base layer and it is dry in very little time.

Here is a q&a regarding threading through the Climashield Apex insulation:

Chad (sticks) Poindexter: I am curious though, why is it still sewn through like the down version? Probably of little concern, but CA doesn’t need to be sewn through like down, just stabilized at its borders, which would also eliminate “cold spots.” (Maybe these spots allow the hat to “breathe?”)

Response from BRG: We baffled them out for both aesthetics and overall durability. Having worked with the Climashield Apex I think more baffles and sewn through construction will do nothing but make them last longer. It’s a delicate material and if you’ve ever owned a synthetic jacket with no baffles you know how they start to fall apart over the years. Constant folding and compressing of the goods weakens the synthetic fibers and makes them prone to clumping over time. Not only did we think the hat looked a lot better baffled out, but it held it’s shape better and kept our BlackRock hat looking like a BlackRock Hat.

Here is a q&a regarding the BRB Synthetic Beanie versus a microfleece beanie:

Sara D: What would you say is the main benefit of this over a micro fleece?

Response from BRG: Our hats have a much larger temperature and conditions range for use. I would say that a BlackRock hat is more comparable to wearing something like a heavy knit wool ski beanie around. The difference being they are nearly as light as a fleece toque and take up about as much room in your pack. I know of a number of customers that actually bring both styles of hats with them when they hike. A super light wool or fleece skull cap or toque and a BlackRock hat. If they are on the trail and moving fast, kicking up a sweat and really pushing it in the cold they may want the extreme breathability that you can only get from a super lightweight cap. But for slower going or colder temps. Sleeping or hanging around camp in the evening when temps drop it’s nice to pull on that BlackRock hat with the extreme comfort and warmth it gives you.


Black Rock Gear has been a (non financial) sponsor of mine since December of 2012. I have worked closely with Black Rock Gear to bring multiple products to market. My relation with Black Rock Gear is one of great respect. It is a honour to be able to work with cottage companies like Black Rock Gear to help both them and those adventurers who use their products. Please help support those few and rare cottage companies within our community that strive to produce small quantities of truly exceptional hand made gear!
Thank you,
John Abela


8 thoughts on “Black Rock Gear ‘Synthetic Beanie’

    1. Thanks Jim!

      Making the switch to synth gear has been able to allow me to have an entirely new approach to the way I plan my gear when I am heading out. The idea/concept/approach of doing whatever I can to stay dry, to not worrying about if I and most of my gear gets soaking wet, has allowed me to learn a bunch of new things – and as you know, learning applicational hiking is what it is all about for me. Not saying this approach is better, nor saying it is worse – it is not, but it has allowed me to learn a bunch of cool new things. Being able to be out on the trail in cold and wet weather while wearing a synth beanie is something that has required the brain to rewire itself a bit, that is for sure. But, it has allowed for moments like this where I just absolutely do not care one bit about how yet I get. Screws with the brain, that is for sure, but is that not kind of the point… putting oneself into new positions to learn what can and cannot work for each of us.

      Hope that Nunatak Balaclava I sent ya has gotten some use – it sure is a head/brain burner, eh!!

  1. I have two down BRG beanies and love them. Just used one on the TGOC in Scotland almost daily. I am keen to get a synthetic one now. The switch to synthetic gear is interesting but I love my down stuff so it will take time. Cheers. Dara

    1. One can never have enough BRG down!

      I am really sorry we were not able to get this into production before your TGO hike. Things just got delayed a bit longer than I had initially expected. Would have been an awesome trial run for the beanie to get used on the (usually crazy wet) TGO. Hope your hike went super awesome!

      If you order one of these synth versions, would love to hear about it!

      1. Ordered it today. Relaxing in Tuscany after a great TGOC crossing. I am putting together my gear notes and will have them on my blog such as it is. Dara. An interesting thing is the lack of Altra insole durability. I love the Altra but the insoles lasted less than 250 kms leaving me walking on hard soles. More later depending on Altra support responses. BRG kept me warm for ure and Zpacks pack and rain jacket superb. Some issues with the stand alone duo tent. Cheers from wine country in Italy. Next hike in Canada again soon.

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