Tuck’s Tooques are the perfect antidote to cold mountain nights. The thick wool hat with fleece lining provides protection from cold and wind. The traditional Nepali designs come in a variety of patterns and colors to brighten up any hiking or snow sports ensemble. The hats have a tassel on the top and two ties to secure the hat under the chin.
The name deserves some elaboration. Those residing in border states near Canada probably recognize the term toque, a term used to describe knit hats. Tuck is a special young man who loves the outdoors and spends a lot of time with his Dad, Dennis Mashue. Dennis is committed to developing sustainable employment for 16-year-old Tuck, who is autistic, by selling hand-knitted hats. The goal is for Tuck’s Tooques to be profitable and teach Tuck needed skills such as inventory management and customer service. It also funds an organization they started, called Outer Self Initiatives. Through this program, they help families affected by autism connect with resources through workshops and a peer-to-peer program. They have paired up with other groups to fund nature camps and a teen exercise program, in addition to other services. They fund one project a year.
Tuck and Dennis have a friend, Rabi, who goes to Nepal a couple of times a year to lead expeditions. Rabi is able to act as an agent to provide a steady supply of hats from a co-op of artisans, which benefits the local populace.
Two hats were tested by the reviewer and her husband, Steve, on a recent independent backpacking trip in Peru. Dennis and Tuck asked Steve to pick a second choice as they carefully inspect each hat to make sure it meets their quality standards, and the hat he initially picked didn’t meet their expectations. The hats performed well in the Sierra at the end of ski season but the true test came in Peru.
The author wore a colorful blend of red, blue, pink and aqua to brighten up an otherwise drab set of gear while Steve sported a sophisticated design of black, gray and white wool. He was uncertain if the hat would be too hot, but during the rainy and cold ascent to 15,600 feet on the Santa Cruz Trail he felt the value of the hat’s insulating power, wearing it night and day. After nearing hypothermia at the end of one hiking day, the author was only too happy to don her hat, warming up within minutes. On a different trek, this time to Machu Picchu, it wasn’t as cold but the hat still felt good when cool rain showers blew through. Both reviewers find wool scratchy against the skin so the soft fleece lining was much appreciated.
The only improvement could be to make the ties a little longer. It would make it easier to tie the ear flaps up when it’s cool but not freezing.
After spotting a photo of the 16-year-old godson of the reviewer, Dennis and Tuck included an extra hat for him. He picked out a hat similar to Steve’s and is looking forward to debuting it on an overnight trip in Yosemite National Park this summer.
Tuck and Dennis provide high-quality warm hats and personalized service while building a sustainable future for Tuck. The hats are ideal for the cold temperatures found in the Sierra, winter or summer, and high mountains in South America or anywhere.
Price: $25 each, or three for $60. Shipping is free within the continental US.
Contact: Facebook page
Disclosure of material connection: I received a sample for testing purposes but the opinions expressed are solely my own.