You don’t enter many booths at Outdoor Retailer and get a product walk-through with the company owner. Fortunately for me, that was exactly the case with Balconi. Renee Balconi is the owner and driving force behind the stylish hats that were popping up all over the Summer Market. She completely embodies her companies’ mantra, “Wear your confidence.”
Balconi hats were born out of experience: while playing professional soccer in Iceland, Renee wanted a lid that would work with the ever changing conditions. Bright sun, rain, snow and cold temps come and go by the hour in Iceland (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). She began cutting the tops off of her beanies to create a hat that would keep her face out of the sun, ears warm and still allow breathability: voila! The Balconi hat was born.
The hats are 100% made in the USA and come in three styles. The Endurance hat is an acrylic material that feels great on the skin and can be worn year round. The Polar version is a wool/acrylic blend perfect for bitter cold temperatures; ditto for the Polar X, but it also includes a polyester interior liner for those of us who hate itchy wool against our foreheads.
Renee was a blast to talk to, and the full story behind the brand is an inspiring one. I spotted the caps all over the floor at the 2011 Outdoor Retailer, so it looks like the masses are digging the style. Balconi also makes neck gaiters and performance tee shirts, so you can gear out from the waist up. The trend for most outdoor companies these days is to support charitable causes, and both the Breast Cancer Fund and American Heart Association get a % of every item sold. All items are available for online purchase at Balconigear.com