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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Tilley Endurables Camo Hat > Test Report by Kerri Larkin
TEST SERIES BY KERRI LARKIN
The Tilley Hat. It's spoken of with an almost hushed reverence it seems: the Tilley hat (hereafter called the Tilley, or the hat) appears to have something of a cult following among hat wearers. In fact, I became aware of the brand some years ago when I first returned to walking and camping. It was loud and clear: Tilley was the hat to own. Funny thing was, I never did get around to buying one as I was a bit skeptical about how well a hat bought online would fit. When I was offered the opportunity to test a Tilley hat for BackpackGearTest.org, I was over the moon. At last I'd get to experience the joys of owning my own Tilley.
Selecting the size for my hat was made very easy thanks to clear instructions on the website, and I'm pleased to say despite my anxiety about ordering online, my hat fits perfectly! It arrived in a large box, which really surprised me: The hat sat in the box in all its glory - no squashed and wrinkled apparition, here was a Tilley hat ready to wear right out of the box, so to speak. Attached to the hat were a few cards and labels, one stating the hat was "proudly made in Canada, where we can keep a watchful eye". Another explains that although the hat is rated at UPF 50+ in terms of blocking harmful UV rays, it's still important to wear sunscreen and sunglasses. Inside the hat was an instruction booklet and eight "Brag Tags" which request the person being presented with the tag to buy me a beer because I'm wearing a Tilley hat. It will be interesting to see if that happens during my test phase. Tilley is happy to send me more, free of charge, once I've given the standard eight tags away.
There were no loose threads and every seam looked well finished.
This Tilley hat is in a multi-camouflage print, which gives it a military look. This is compounded by the ability to snap the brim up on one, or both, sides. With one side snapped up, it looks like an Australian Army hat, so it looks right at home here. The hat looks quite tall, but that's because Tilleys are designed to be worn low on the head and should be touching the eyebrows if worn correctly. I'm not used to wearing a hat so low, but it immediately felt comfortable to do so.
There are two large brass grommets on each side of the hat and these are for ventilation. There is also a brass press-stud on each side of the hat which allows the brim to be snapped up. I know the reason the military snap the brim up on one side is to allow carrying of a rifle without it banging the hat brim all the time, but I have no idea why someone would want to snap up both sides, other than as a style statement.
The brim is listed as 2-3/4 inches (7 centimetres) at the front and back, and 2-3/8 inches (6 centimetres) at the sides, although mine is a little larger, which is still not a large brim. However, because the hat is worn so low, it feels like a much larger brim. The brim is stitched with concentric circles radiating out from the centre like ripples on a pool. I'm guessing this is to give some strength to the brim and to stop it being very floppy. I'll be interested to see how this works with use. Commonly, I stuff a hat in my pack when not being used, but the instructions recommend filling the hat with socks or other soft items, to help it keep its shape and stop it wrinkling. Perhaps the fashion-conscious backpacker wouldn't be seen with a wrinkled hat, but I'm less concerned about that!
Inside the hat is a sewn-in patch with information about the hat and washing instructions in both English and French. Another small patch provides a place to write my name and contact details.
Up in the crown of the hat is the 'Secret Pocket" which is held closed by a hook-and-loop tab. This pocket could be used to hold some emergency cash, cards or anything small. Opening the pocket reveals the closed-cell foam located in the crown of the hat, and allows the whole crown to be used for storage.
Threaded through two smaller grommets on each side is the wind cord. The way this is configured is to provide two loops that hang down from the hat, rather than a single chin strap. The idea is that this can be used with one strap under the chin and the other behind the head 'Mountie' style. The recommendation is to use both straps if it's windy, or just the rear strap in gentle breezes.
The hat came with a folded booklet which is filled with humour. That was perhaps the first thing I noticed on the Tilley website - the humour. It's lovely to see a company that doesn't take themselves or their products too seriously. All the information is in the instruction booklet, but it's presented in such a readable way it made me actually want to read the booklet from beginning to end, rather than feel I was enduring the instructions out of duty. This instruction book is simply fun!
The first page gives a little history of the Tilley's development. The second page explains how to tell which is the front of the hat (both sides look similar), how to use the wind cord, how to retie the wind cord knot if needed, and a disclaimer about how the hat floats in most conditions, but can still be swamped and sink. The third page contains detailed washing and drying instructions, how to stretch the hat if it's a bit small, and information on UV protection. The last page has some usage ideas, information on both the insurance and guarantee and a little about how the company started. This page also has contact information for the US, UK, and 'World headquarters' in Canada.
Apparently, my hat is insured against loss in the first two years with a no questions asked discount of 50% off the current price of a replacement hat. Not many companies are that generous! Obviously, if I'm wearing the hat in a tornado without my chin strap, they won't cover that as it's my fault, but if it's otherwise lost, stolen or destroyed, I'm covered.
There is also a lifetime guarantee (the brochure says, "Yours, mine, or its (the hats) life") against the hat wearing out. Simply pay the shipping costs and Tilley will send a replacement. That's also an amazing offer!
A hat is a hat right? Nope! The Tilley is worn quite differently to most hats: it sits very low on the head. When I first put the hat on it felt a bit strange to have it sitting across my eyebrows, but after a few minutes it began to feel very natural indeed. The fit is also quite loose (Tilley recommends being able to fit two fingers inside the brim) so it's held on by gravity rather than pressure on the head. That feels really nice! Many hats feel like they squeeze my head if they are tight enough to stay on, but Tilley decided it was not the best way and came up with the wind cord to keep the hat on rather than pressure. I love it! I'm also pleased to report that the instructions for selecting hat size on the website were clear and easy to follow. My hat fits exactly as recommended.
The press-studs on the side are easy to use to turn the side brims up on either side, or both sides. They require a firm pressure to engage, so won't pop out unexpectedly.
I was a little concerned to find a piece of closed-cell foam in the crown as I get very hot, especially in the head. I wonder whether this will insulate the hat and keep the heat in, or whether the ventilation grommets will be enough to keep my head cool. It's something I will be paying close attention to during this test.
Putting the hat on requires a bit of juggling to get the wind cord in the right place, but I'm sure I'll get more used to that with more experience. The option is to use both wind cord loops, only the back loop, or the front loop. I can also use neither of them by tucking them into the crown. Adjusting the loops is very easy thanks to a knot which appears to be a double fisherman's knot - it simply slides the two ends of the rope closer or further apart without needing to be retied. Once fully adjusted, the wind cord feels very secure on my head, much more so than just a single strap.
I was wondering how such a low-riding hat would work with sunglasses or reading glasses and I'm pleased to say that so far, it manages both very easily.
The Tilley arrived just in time for a big trip I took to Fraser Island, Queensland, the largest sand island in the world. I departed just a couple of days after the hat arrived and wore it pretty much for the entire week. Field conditions varied from very warm and humid to cool and wet. Highs reached 31 C (88 F), with averages around 28 C (82 F) and the lowest overnight temperature was 12 C (54 F). Humidity stayed mostly around the 70% mark but was up to 80% some days when there were showers. We camped one night in a large open paddock, but five of the other nights were in a deep forest with towering Kauri Pines. The last night was spent in a coastal dune area with strong winds and showers.
I've also worn the Tilley most days when I go walking and it lives permanently in my car to make sure it's always ready for action. At the beginning of my testing period for this hat, temperatures were quite mild but have increased during this test period with the approach of summer. We're now having days with maximums up to 36 C (97 F). In total, I would estimate I've worn the Tilley for about thirty days.
The Tilley has surprised me: it's been a lot more comfortable and versatile that I expected. I still need to arrange the wind cords before putting it on, rather than just bunging it on my head, but when it's on it is really quite comfortable. Although this hat fits perfectly in Tilley terms (i.e. Tilley sizing provides for a loose fit), it still seems a bit loose compared to other hats I've worn. That's refreshing in that it doesn't squeeze my head or leave a Frankenstein ring around my forehead. By being a little loose it also seems to move around a little on my head, so acts like a bellows to encourage air movement in and out of the hat. The downside is that this hat needs the chinstrap more than any other hat I've worn. Using the single strap Mountie-style at the back of the head doesn't offer too much security in anything other than a zephyr breeze. Anything more than the mildest winds needs the chinstrap to be used as well to stop the hat blowing away (I learned that lesson the hard way). The brim does tend to flap around in the breeze too, but not alarmingly so.
The way the hat sits so low on the head has taken a little getting used to also: I've never worn a hat across my eyebrows before. The benefit of that is that it acts as a de facto sweat band and helps keep the sweat out of my eyes. Increased sun protection is another benefit of wearing the hat low. It does tend to bend my ears slightly though.
My Tilley has not been babied - I've casually tossed it in the car, stuffed it in my pack, and done a lot of sweating into it. It still looks as good as new despite this, and even when the brim gets bent out of shape it doesn't take long for it to return to normal. Usually, wearing it for a while is enough to get it back to normal shape so I haven't done anything special to reshape the brim at any time.
I wore the Tilley in a couple of light showers with no problems at all. The fabric seemed quite water repellent and never got soaked. I remained nice and dry underneath it. Perhaps the wettest the Tilley has gotten has been from my sweat during long walks on humid days but I still haven't noticed any problems with getting the hat dry by the next day. Surprisingly, it never got a funky smell to it either. As per the instructions, I've wiped down the sweat band fairly regularly to prevent sweat staining the hat or degrading the fabric and, so far, it seems to be working.
As summer has approached, the warmer weather has made the Tilley a lot warmer to be wearing and I'm beginning to find it a bit too hot to continue wearing now. This seems an ideal three seasons hat for sub-tropical conditions, but I feel it may be too warm for summer, at least in humid weather. While the brass grommets do seem to let some heat out, they can't cope with hot and humid conditions, but in fairness, nothing does. I often find summer here too hot to wear any hat, and resort to my Hoo-Rag for sun protection. Having said that, there's a lot to be said for simply putting up with the heat and wearing a wide-brimmed hat in terms of sun burn protection, insect protection, and as a source of portable shade.
The Tilley Snap-Up Camouflage Hat has met or exceeded my expectations. It's very comfortable, gives plenty of shade, copes with the rigours of being tossed in a pack or car, and looks pretty cool. What more could one want from a hat? Perhaps a bit more ventilation in hotter climates, but that's all I can think of. This hat ticks a lot of boxes, especially with the guarantee and support available. Tilley markets the hat as being the last hat anyone need ever buy, and I think they may just be right about that.
I'll definitely continue wearing my Tilley long after this test series is complete, and hope to have it around for many years to come.
This concludes my Long Term Report on the Tilley LT3C Snap-Up Camouflage Hat. I'd like to thank both Tilley Endurables and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
Read more gear reviews by Kerri Larkin
Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Tilley Endurables Camo Hat > Test Report by Kerri Larkin
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