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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > DUCKWORTH MAVERICK BALACLAVA > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

Owner Review by Richard Lyon
July 19, 2018


Male, 72 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Hat size: 7 5/8 US
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains

I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Winter trekking often focuses on downhill skiing or ski touring; summer on flyfishing opportunities.


Duckworth 2Duckworth 1

The Maverick is a jersey-knit balaclava that, according to its manufacturer, can also be worn as a neck gaiter. It's made of merino wool -  and not just any merino wool. This Montana company certifies that it's woven entirely of "pure source-verified Montana grown Helle Rambouillet wool." Duckworth promotes this as its Sheep to Shelf trademark, as a means of quality control.

A single-layer, lightweight, durable, and highly functional piece of headgear, I've found the Maverick to be almost indispensible in all four seasons.

Manufacturer: Duckworth Co.,
Year purchased: 2015
Weight, measured: 1.25 oz [35 g]
Length, measured: 14 in [36 cm] [Note: When worn it stretches a bit.]
Color: Hunter orange. When I purchased mine it was also available in white or black.
One size and unisex
MSRP: $40 US


Almost all use has occurred here in Montana or nearby Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

I'll start with winter, the season most often associated with wearing a balaclava. On snowshoe hikes, day hikes with cleats, resort and backcountry telemark skiing, cross-country laps and touring, dog walks, and outdoor chores I've usually got the Maverick on my face or in a pocket. I've worn it at temperatures as low as -30 F [-34 C], in fair and stormy weather, on its own or under a hat or helmet. At the bitterest temperatures I've worn it under another Montana balaclava, my Alpacas of Montana Helmet Liner [subject of another review on this site].

The Maverick stays in use for backpacking and day hikes in the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, primarily for the expected or unexpected snow squall or gusty winds. Especially at rest stops or on chilly camp mornings I'll slip it on as a windblock, either by itself or under a wool hat or baseball cap. Only when I don't expect temperatures below 50 F [10 C] will I leave the Maverick at home. The Maverick finds its way into my fishing vest, for use on chillier or windy days.

And I might not shelf it even in summer. Readers of my reviews know that some years ago I became a dedicated quilt user, in no small part because sleeping bag hoods can trigger claustrophobia. Even in summer the nighttime temperatures in the Northern Rockies regularly drop to 40 F [4 C] or below. The Maverick is a useful alternative to a watchcap or beanie for bedtime warmth.


Fit. One-size-fits-all headwear often doesn't fit my very large head comfortably, but that's not been the case with the Maverick. But then I don't have much hair to cover. Whether I pull the collar over my chin or not the balaclava fits snugly but is not confining or overtight. Though both website and label indicate 100 per cent wool - no Lycra or similar fabric -  there's a bit of stretch that I attribute to the top-to-bottom stitching along the back of the piece. This fit allows easy and barely noticeable use under a ski helmet, a very much-appreciated function at the ski hill. The Maverick is long enough to cover my neck even when my jacket isn't zipped up all the way.

The Maverick fits me better as a balaclava than as a neck gaiter. A few times I have pulled the head covering down to the back of my neck, where it tends to bunch up. It works but isn't always comfortable. If not needed for full head coverage the Maverick usually goes back into a pocket.

Comfort. The jersey knit is soft and comfortable against my skin; I've never felt scratchy when wearing the Maverick. (I probably should give some credit to the Montana wool too.) Merino wicks wonderfully, even under a helmet, so I've never suffered from excess perspiration either.

Warmth. I've often praised merino wool's insulating features and the Maverick's has lived up to my high expectations. I rate it very useful for blocking wind and avoiding a light chill. But this is a single lightweight layer that needs help keeping my head warm in winter conditions.

Durability. Truly fantastic! I've worn the Maverick almost daily through three winters and washed it scores of times (see next section) and not a stitch is loose and not a single pill visible. This is a lifetime accessory.

Care. During winter I wash the Maverick whenever I have a batch of other woolens, usually every week to ten days or so. I load an agitator-free washer and use a cold water cycle and a detergent-free wool-specific soap. I air-dry the Maverick on a peg. In Montana's dry climate it's fully dry in a few hours.

Ease of use. The Maverick is so lightweight that I never hesitate to stuff it into my pack or stash it in a jacket pocket even when only irregular use is anticipated. It scrunches down to a tiny size so it can go almost anywhere. Its simple design means that I just pull it on or off; there's nothing to go wrong.


Just about everything. This is an uncomplicated and very useful clothing accessory. Its truly remarkable feature is its amazing durability.


Can't think of a single thing. As a complement, not a replacement, I wouldn't mind a heavier version. Duckworth has obliged here with the Comet, which has a similar look but is made of something called hydro-ply fabric "for colder and burlier conditions."

Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > DUCKWORTH MAVERICK BALACLAVA > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

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