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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Golightly Cashmere The Cashmere Watchcap > Owner Review by Richard Lyon


Test Report by Richard Lyon
November 4, 2016
Watchcap worn


Male, 70 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Hat size: US 7 5/8 (certifiably a fathead)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA

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. Summer adventures are often centered on fly fishing opportunities; winter on ski or ski touring.


This is a seaman's-type watchcap hand knitted entirely of six-ply Scottish cashmere - backcountry extravagance at its best. And I now own two of them, though the first came from a predecessor company that went out of business a few decades ago. When that occurred Golightly Cashmere, a New Mexico-based company, acquired the patterns and brand names. This Watchcap is a stouter version of Golightly's Featherweight Watchcap, the subject of another of my Owner Reviews on this site. Twice as stout, according to Golightly, as the Featherweight version is knitted from three-ply cashmere.

Manufacturer: Golightly Cashmere, El Prado, New Mexico USA
Year Acquired: 2013 or 2014
Size: Unisex Large/Extra-Large.  When I bought mine it was also available in Small, Medium/Large, and Double Extra-Large. Now it's only Regular and Extra Large, the latter size for heads US size 7 1/2 and larger.
Color: Hunter's Orange.  While text on the website claims 27 available colors, only 25 are illustrated and included in the ordering drop-down box.
Related products: Golightly Cashmere now lists ten other cashmere caps.
Fabric: 6-ply Scottish cashmere
Weight, measured (no listed weight): 2.1 oz (60 g)
Measurements, listed and measured: 9.5 in (24 cm) diameter; 10.5 in (27 cm) length
MSRP: $155 US
Country of Manufacture: USA [and they're hand-knitted, not manufactured]


Watchcap Readers of my earlier Owner Review of the Featherweight Watchcap have heard my lavish praise for use of cashmere in the backcountry. That included some references to my other Watchcap, which is now at least thirty years old and in great shape. Why get another one? Maybe I'm just an extravagant guy, but there was a more practical reason. Considerably more practical - safety.  I moved from an urban life to the Montana countryside, where hunters frequent many of the hiking trails I walk in the fall. Once rifle season opens, usually late September or early October, I want to be seen and not mistaken for a deer or elk. That's why I'm topped in orange on any day hike, backpack, or even walk in the neighborhood.  As the cap hangs from a peg in my mudroom when not in use, I also tend to grab it for outdoor winter chores around the house, particularly splitting firewood, or for a trip to town on colder days.  The Watchcap replaces its lighterweight brother in my pack whenever the nighttime temperature is expected to fall below freezing, to be used as a part of my sleeping kit, at rest stops, or whenever the wind kicks up, if I'm wearing lighterweight head gear when hiking. I've also worn it cross-country skiing.

I estimate that I've worn the hat on at least two hundred days, from bright sun and 40-50 F (4-10 C) to full-on blizzards at temperatures well below 0 F (-17 C) and most conditions in between. As well as wearing the cap during hiking or ski trekking, as a quilt user in all but the coldest conditions, I often use it to top off my sleep system, worn over a merino hoodie.  It keeps my head warm around camp.


Let's start with the comfort factor. Put simply, this is as good as it gets. Nothing beats heavyweight cashmere for irritation-free softness against bare skin (and given my long-ago receded hairline, much of the cap sits against just that). The cap is all cashmere, without any added LYCRA or similar fabric for stretchiness, so the cap does move around a bit with head movement or contact with a branch or my pack. If the contact is frequent, as it is when I wear the Watchcap when in my sleeping quilt, the brim can ride up over my ears. Wearing a hoodie underneath, as I often do, exacerbates this phenomenon. I can mitigate this somewhat by not folding up the brim to make a double layer over my ears, though of course that means less insulation. This hasn't been a serious problem, though, and I can attest that after thirty years of similar use my earlier model remains fully functional.

A great thing about a watchcap is that I can pack it almost anywhere, and this Watchcap has been just about everywhere. In my hip pocket, front pocket, water bottle pocket on my pack, shovit pocket, jacket pocket, inside jacket pocket, storage pocket on my ski jacket, and I'm sure there are more. It goes in the first or most convenient location I can find at the moment. On rainy days I might remember to bring along a zip-top pouch for storage, and sometimes even use it. With no stretching agent to wear out this Watchcap pops back into use without loss of functionality no matter how badly I mangle it.

The Watchcap keeps my head warm, considerably warmer than the Featherweight, probably because the heaver yarn blocks the wind more effectively. But it's a woven cap, so it breathes well enough to keep me from over-perspiring at temperatures up to about 55 F (13 C). At higher temperatures I'll suffer the sweat during hunting season.

I've already raved about durability. Any woven hat that lasts thirty years can't be flimsy. If my new one lasts half as long I'll be happy, after all I'm wearing it more frequently. (And I doubt I have another thirty years of testing in me.) At this point my new Watchcap really does still look like new.


The care this Watchcap receives has I'm sure contributed to its durability and continued good looks. 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 and a front-loader, but I’d never expose anything cashmere to a washing machine. As with all my cashmere clothing, I wash the Watchcap only by hand, using a wool-specific or other non-detergent soap, and wash it much more frequently than any of my other gear. Sometimes I simply rinse the cap in cold water to remove the perspiration.   After washing the cap I re-shape it gently and let it air-dry on a towel.  This I do after every three or four athletic uses of the cap, to ensure that I’ve removed accumulated sweat and soiling. Something of a chore, yes, but worth it given replacement cost.


Warm and soft

Multifunctional - good for skiing, hiking, backpacking, sleeping, everyday wear.

Easy to pack and store; easy to put on and take off.

Remarkably durable


The price. Cashmere is, after all, cashmere. But it's worked - I haven't been shot at yet. Think of it as an investment. And as I have said, quoting a friend, in my Featherweight Review, "Some things in life can't be logically justified."

Can't lend it to an intimate friend. I'd never get it back.

Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Golightly Cashmere The Cashmere Watchcap > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

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