For years, I wore a black fleece hat with a roll-up brim. I thought it was cute. It had a flower pattern stitched into it. I bought it on sale. One day this fall, I realized it was awful. It was time for a beanie.
Just about that time, WinterWomen.com contacted me and asked me and my 12-year old son to try some beanies and mittens. Clearly I was sending out a beanie-vibe.
The first time I put on the bright magenta beanie from Coal, my 12 year-old laughed at me, “It looks like you’ve got some sort of nodule on your head.” He walked over, snatched the beanie off my head and then in a complicated and physically violent manuever, tried to put it back on my head sans nodule.
Now this beanie is just a thick, straightforward knit cap. Nothing fancy, so I’m wondering how hard can this be. I ask him.
“This is hard,” he said. “It’s not working. I’m glad I’m not a mom and don’t have to dress people.” No kidding. Pushing here, smooshing there, he finally got it back onto my head. I had to admit he was right. It did look better. Before, I had a nodule on my head. Now, the back rolled under about an inch and the top comfortably slouched toward the back of my head. I looked stylish. Or as he put, “You look like you’ve got a style.” Not style, but a style. Excellent.
The next time I put on the beanie, the same son told me, “Now you look like you have a nugget on your head.”
“Really?” I thought. “This again? Is this just some sort of sadistic game he’s playing?” More pushing and smooshing and finally giving up. Nodule or nugget, we weren’t getting it right with the Coal beanie.
Long story short, we were in a ski shop just a few days later and both sons and I were trying on beanies. Now call me unaware, but I’d never thought about differences in beanie construction. My boys are all about slouchy beanies. The Coal beanie is not about slouch. It’s a thick knit with cut and seam construction. Clearly it’s not meant to slouch. Once I gave in to reality, all semblance of nugget and nodule disappeared.
Not only that, but I didn’t really want to look like a 12 year-old boy anyway.
WinterWomen.com Product Reviews
Coal Frena Beanie and 686 Tala Beanie: You’ve heard the story of the Coal beanie. It’s a great, thick warm basic winter hat that is super soft. I love it. And, while I thought I was too old for pompons, the 686 beanie is a stylish, chunky white knit that doesn’t look (too) young. And, it goes with everything from a ski coat to city coat.
Burton Approach Mitt: I had high hopes for these mittens, mostly based up on their name. Approach…sounds like they should be Everest-ready. I put my hands into them and….they’re gloves! While they look like mittens on the outside, they have a thick fleece glove liner on the inside. I pulled out the liner and the mitten is actually just a shell. There is no other insulation. I’ve used them twice for skiing and they are a bit cold for me. But, they are perfect for cross-country skiing. I’ve also been thinking about using them for winter biking.
Kombi Charlotte Gloves: I’m a mitten loyalist and having never skied with gloves before, I was a bit nervous that these might be cold. I used them on a sunny, but chilly, day at Copper Mountain in October and my hands stayed warm. While I really like their look, the fit is too snug to add thin liners on a cold day.
WinterKids.com Product Reviews
Here’s what my son had to say after testing his products.
686 Icon Visor Beanie: “It looks ridiculous, like something for weird people.” A week later, I was at a college soccer game and half of the college guys in the crowd were wearing visor beanies. So what does a 12 year-old know?
North Face Blues II Beanie: “This is an average beanie, warm, comfortable, pretty great. l like the dark colors.” He wears this one a lot.
The upshot: Beanies are a matter of personal taste.
Kombi Storm Cuff Mitts: “They are very warm and comfortable and they have a grip on them so you can grab stuff. Really nice. I like the look, even though it is not exceptional.” (What? Exceptional? Who is this kid?)
In addition to wearing these mittens, he also experimented, putting them under the tap to see how they shed water. You can see the results below.
Obermeyer Radiator Mitten: “These are very warm, very comfortable. They run a bit small, but have a nice grip. I am not thrilled with the outside covering and the design on the outside. But I would buy Obermeyer.”
The upshot: Both mittens are very good, but the Obermeyers more comfortable.
Thank you once again to WinterWomen.com and WinterKids.com for both helping me with this fall’s Ski Fashion 2012 post and for facilitating this post by sending over 4 beanies and 4 pairs of mittens/gloves. It has been a pleasure working with you.
As always, all opinions expressed in this post are my own (except for anything attributed to our in-residence critic-at-large) and are exactly what we would tell our family and friends. And as you may have noted, our son doesn’t exactly mince words.
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