In Target, I actually found someone who worked there, and asked her if they had any single color, non-branded knitted caps. She gave me a dull stare like she couldn’t even imagine what I was talking about. So another quest had begun.
I wanted to buy some winter gear for my family but I just wanted simple gear, not branded, not patterned, a single color would do. At first I was confused by many seller’s listing of kid’s sizes and I tried to figure would what size my kids heads were. That threw me off for a bit.
And then tired of all of the endless Google advertisements, I decided to go to the source, the U.S. Military, the king of all stocking caps. So I bought four Rothco Genuine U.S.N. Wool Watch Caps. Not sure if this is the same exact cap used by the Navy, but they are good enough to get the D.O.D. seal. And if they are good enough for combat, chances are that they will work just fine on a snowy day in the back yard.
The caps fit me, my wife, my 12 year old and my 9 year old perfectly. No need for kid’s sizes, that was a red herring. These were a bargain at only $8 for 100% wool, made in the U.S.A.. Seems you just can’t get that at Target. They’re available in many places and you could do worse than supporting your local army/navy store. If you absolutely can’t find these caps anywhere else, you can find them HERE.
Since one thing leads to another, especially with me, I then found myself on a quest for un-branded mittens in general and the exact mittens of my childhood in particular.
The mittens of my childhood were called chopper mittens and consisted of a removable wool liner and a leather, (pigskin, goatskin or buckskin) outer shell.
Searching the web, I found that a lot of items were called chopper mittens, but many of them clearly were not. Many designs were complicated by a built-in liner, liners not made made of wool or lots of other alternate designs. At one point, I even ordered a set for my family from Amazon, but the quality was poor and the liners were not removable. So I returned them. So I ultimately concentrated on looking for stores or outfitters in areas that were known to have cold winters. And I finally found I found these choppers in the Midwest and indeed they were the real deal and a beauty to behold.
What I found were Joseph Lauer Chopper Mittens. I found mine in Plymouth, MN at a store called the The Foursome. From their website: This rugged and durable chopper’s mitt is assembled to last, according to quality standards established in the late 1800’s, when the enterprise was housed in the basement of Joseph Lauer’s clothing store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
And because I was confused about sizing, I even called them and spoke to someone who actually worked in the store and was super helpful. You too can probably find someone super helpful atÂ 763-473-4667. Or you can also order them online HERE.
The Lauer family tradition apparently continues under the name of the Milwaukee Glove Co. located in Marinette, WI. I worry of the future of this company since they have absolutely no online presence at all. And one of the senior Lauers recently died, also not a good sign. I haven’t tried, but you might try to get a printed catalog from them by calling: (715) 735-5921.
I wish you luck in your own cap and mitten quest. And don’t forget to support family owned businesses.