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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Golightly Cashmere Featherweight Cap > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

OWNER REVIEW by Richard Lyon
June 6, 2010

Male, 63 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Email address: montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Dallas, Texas USA
Hat size: US 7 5/8

I've been backpacking for 45 years and regularly in the Rockies since 1986.  I do at least one week-long 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, but I do forced marches too.  Recently I've been actively reducing my pack weight, though I still often include my favorite camp conveniences and always bring a floored tent.  I spend much winter backcountry time on telemark or touring skis.


Golightly Cashmere Featherweight Watch CapThe Golightly Cashmere Featherweight Watchcap is functional backcountry luxury – a traditional watch cap made entirely of 3-ply cashmere. 

Manufacturer: Golightly Cashmere, Questa, New Mexico USA
Year Acquired: 2008
Size: Unisex Large/Extra-Large.  Also available in Small, Medium/Large, and Double Extra-Large.
Color: White silver.  At this writing the Featherlight Watchcap is available in eight colors not including this one.  The reader can see white silver illustrated on the website page for the standard Cashmere Watchcap.  If you just have to have the Featherlight in white silver or another of Golightly’s colors that’s not listed, the company will make one for an extra charge.
Related products: Golightly Cashmere offers five other cashmere caps.
Fabric: 3-ply Scottish cashmere
Weight, measured (no listed weight): 2.4 oz (67 g)
Measurements: 9.5 in (24 cm) diameter; 10.5 in (27 cm) height
MSRP: $145 US
Warranty: Lifetime guaranty for “the last hat you will ever want to own.”

Since receiving this cap as a Christmas present in 2008, it’s been on my head or in my pack in all four seasons.  In winter I wear it at around camp, on its own until the temperature dips below about 15 F (-10 C), when I may add a merino wool hoody layer underneath, and when ski touring at rest stops or when cold, wind, and blowing snow call for more protection.  In the other three seasons it’s generally limited to camp duty in the evenings, when the temperature in the Montana high country gets down near freezing or below.  The Featherweight has become an important part of my sleep system.  I’ve been using sleeping quilts more and more frequently, and when I do I need something on my head to keep me warm.  (The thinning hair no longer suffices.)  A merino layer (cap or hood) keeps me warm down to about 40 F (4 C); when it’s colder than that, out of the pack comes the Featherlight.

The photo below shows me wearing the Featherweight on a chilly (35 F/2 C) fishing day in March 2009, on the banks of the Yellowstone River near Livingston, Montana.

Over sixteen months I have worn the Featherlight at least fifty days in the backcountry, at temperatures from -25 to 50 F (-4 to 10 C).  It’s been on my head on many more crisp days in the front country.

Livingston fishing dayFit.  This cap appears to be made of two pieces of fabric: a single piece for the body, with one sewn seam from the brim to the other piece, a small piece of bunched fabric at the top.  As noted above, the Featherlight comes in four different sizes.  According to the manufacturer’s sizing chart, my 7 5/8 cranium fits squarely in the middle of the Large/Extra Large size.  Offering different sizes of this watch cap is a terrific feature for me, as my head is slightly too big for many one-size-fits-most wool caps.  I can pull them on, but they often squeeze up above my ears during vigorous or repeated head movements such as skiing or tossing and turning in my sleeping bag at night.  That was my only complaint with another cashmere watch cap, discussed under “Durability” below.  Not so the Featherweight, regardless of whether I pull the hem up for double coverage over my ears or keep it down for extended nighttime warmth.  That’s even true with a light merino layer underneath.  The Featherlight manages this without a stitch of Lycra or similar stretchy fabric.

Comfort. What more can I say - there’s nothing like cashmere.  The cashmere in the Featherweight is three-ply (medium weight) and super-soft, and the tight weave keeps my head warm whenever I pull the Featherlight on.  I’ve never seen a warmth-to-weight analysis of cashmere, but personal experience tells me cashmere’s got every other woven fabric beaten hands down.  Since the Featherlight is woven (unlike, say, baffled goose down) it breathes well too, wicking perspiration as well as merino, a very handy thing when using the cap in my sleep system.
Durability.  Cashmere may not come immediately to mind when thinking of a long-lived fabric for outdoor activities, but in those rare cases when it’s woven with hard use in mind it’s as stout as just about any other wool yarn.  After sixteen months of regular use my Featherweight looks as good as new, with no pilling, no sweat stains, and no loss of shape. 

I wasn’t surprised to find the Featherweight to be so durable.  That’s because it now shares head-warming duty with a cashmere watch cap that before Christmas 2008 I used just as often, for similar backcountry situations, for at least 25 years.  That older cap drew favorable comments from a backpacking friend who wanted one for herself after borrowing mine on a trip.  While the older cap’s manufacturer, the quaintly named Vermont Bird Company, passed into history years ago, we discovered that a new company, Golightly Cashmere, had purchased its patterns and related know-how. (In fact, this was Golightly’s principal advertising pitch at one time.)  I still use the older cap, and it still looks as good and performs as well as when it was new.  The Featherweight is now my first choice only because it’s slightly larger and therefore fits better. I’m expecting both of these caps to outlive their owner.

As noted, there’s no Lycra or Spandex or elastic, so there’s nothing stretchy to deteriorate. 

Care.  In part because of the cost, cashmere gets closer attention from me than ordinary wool, which may partly explain both caps’ longevity.  Golightly Cashmere recommends storing its products with cedar balls and washing infrequently in a front-loading washer.  I have a cedar-lined chest for storage, but I’d never expose anything cashmere to a washing machine.  I hand-wash the Featherweight, occasionally using a wool-specific soap but often using only cold water, and then air-dry it flat.  After washing the cap I’m careful to re-shape it gently and dry it on a towel.  This I do after every three or four athletic uses of the cap, to ensure that I’ve removed accumulated perspiration and soiling.  With this extra care I’ve preserved the warmest and most stylish watch cap in the Rockies.

Sized hat – this is the only manufacturer I’ve ever encountered that offered a watch cap (of any fabric) in different sizes.
Warm and cozy always
Very durable 

The Featherweight is extremely susceptible to “borrowing” or outright attempts at confiscation.  The Featherweight always seems to find its way onto the head of women friends, and I’ve had to promise one as a gift to get mine back.

Not one thing.  It’s functional, durable, and good-looking.  I’d prefer a lower price, of course, but to quote a friend, “Certain things in life can’t be logically justified.”  This watch cap is for me one of those things.  If you can’t afford it, just aim and time a suggestion properly, as I did before Christmas 2008.  In fact, my birthday’s coming up.  Another one in a different color would be great . . .

Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Golightly Cashmere Featherweight Cap > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

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