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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Tilley Endurables TTWC Tec-Wool Cap > Test Report by Brett Haydin

Tilley Endurables TTWC 'Tec-Wool' Cap
Test Series by Brett Haydin
Initial Report - October 5, 2011
Field Report - December 12, 2011
Long Term Report - February 7, 2012

TESTER INFORMATIONAuthor

NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 38
LOCATION: Salida, CO, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.


Initial Report

October 4, 2011

Product Information & Specifications

tec-wool image
Image courtesy of manufacturer
Year of Manufacture:  2011
Manufacturer's Website: 
www.tilley.com
MSRP:
$76.00 US
Listed Weight:
4.2 oz (119 g)
Measured Weight
: 4.3 oz (122 g)  
Color Tested:  Black Mix (also available in Brown Mix)
Size Tested:
  Large (also available in small, medium, extra large and double extra large)
Warranty:
lifetime guarantee on defects in workmanship

Other Details provided by Manufacturer

  • Guaranteed for life not to wear out
  • Insured against loss
  • C-Change™ technology for 'temperature control' comfort
  • Unique tuckaway ear warmers
  • Treated for rain and snow repellency
  • Secret pocket
  • Dry cleanable

Initial Impressions

IMAGE : Inside Cap
The Inside of the Tilly TTWC Tec-Wool Cap
The Tilley Endurables TTWC Tec-Wool Cap (I'll just call it the Tilley, or cap) is a wool baseball-style cap that has integrated ear warmers.  The cap arrived with four hang tags.  These included a "made in Canada" tag, a product specific tag with a bullet list of information, a tag describing the C-Change technology and a price tag.  The cap is made of a blend of 75% wool, 19% polyester and 6% polyurethane fabric.  The stitching and craftsmanship appear to be top notch.  There are no blemishes, loose threads or any other visible issues.  According to the manufacturer, the hat is hand-sewn and it really shows.  

The cap has a simple cylindrical construction with a 1.5 in (3.8 cm) band on the bottom of the hat.  It is the same color and fabric as the rest of the cap but is an attractive feature.  The cap also uses the C-Change technology as a bonded membrane.  This membrane is supposed to react to temperatures and "open up" when the air is cold and I am hot.  This seems like a great addition to the hat.  The Tilley is also snow and rain repellent.  Interestingly enough, the C-Change hang tag describes the membrane as waterproof and windproof.

 The inside of the cap has a quilted construction that feels great!  There is a hook and loop tab built into the base of the cap that makes it adjustable.  My head is at the upper limit, but it fits great so far.  There is also a pocket built into the hat that is closed by a simple hook and loop strip.  The pocket is roughly 4.5 x 6.5 in (11.4 x 16.5 cm).  The pocket also has an informational patch sewn into it with very simple information.  It does have a place for me to write my contact information in case I lose it, which isn't likely.

The ear warmers are made of a fabric that stretches and feels like a polyester blend. It has a shaped cut, with the area over the ears having the widest cut.  The fabric is comfortable, however it is noticeably thinner than the cap.  I really like that the ear warmers can be stowed away when I don't need them.  The image to the left shows the cap's pocket and ear warmers deployed.    There is a sweat band wrapping the inside of the cap as well.  It isn't sewn into the cap completely like I have had with other hats, but it doesn't necessarily seem to be a problem.

Reading the Instructions

The Tilley website was easy to navigate.  The information is quite clear and navigation is intuitive to me.  There was quite a bit more information about the cap on the website than enclosed in the packaging which is nice.  Also, it states that the cap is to be laundered by dry cleaning only.  

Trying it out

I have worn the cap around town the past few days, especially for morning walks with my dogs.  It is already getting cold with some signs of frost occasionally.  The hat seems to do a good job of keeping my head warm, but it hasn't been cold enough for me to use the ear warmers yet.

Summary

So far the Tilley TTWC Tec-Wool Cap works for me.  I like the style and look of the cap and it seems to be pretty warm.

Pros
: Warm, easy to use and has a hidden compartment.  I'm not really sure what I will put in it, but it seems like a nice feature.

Cons: None yet.

Field Report

December 12, 2011

Field Conditions

Over the past two months, I have used the Tilley Tec Wool Cap on two camping trips and four day hikes in the backcountry.  In addition to the back country, I have worn the hat nearly every day for my morning and evening walks with my two dogs.  First, I took a trip to Mt. Columbia in the San Isabel National Forest. I camped at about 10,500 ft (3,200 m) near an alpine lake. Morning temperatures dipped to 20 F (-7 C) and the daytime high was about 50 F (10 C). There were some strong winds at times with a mix of clear and cloudy skies. There was a small amount of snow where I camped, but the trails had slightly more accumulation.

I also took the cap on an overnight to La Plata Peak. I camped near the trailhead, which I had to hike into due to the snow, at 10,000 ft (3,000 m). Overnight temperatures dropped to 25 F (-4 C) but were pleasantly warmer during the day; 50 F (10 C). My hiking was with snowshoes due to the accumulation, which continued on and off throughout the trip. My round trip length was roughly 6 mi (9.7 km).

My day hikes were anywhere from 5-12 mi (8-19 km) all in the San Isabel National Forest in Colorado.  All of my hikes were in cool or cold weather with a low of 15 F (-9 C).  Some trails were snow free and others were halfway to my knees in snow.  In town, I had one morning where the temperature was -15 F (-26 C) which is quite uncommon where I live.  The only precipitation I encountered was snow.

Performance in the Field

Tilley
The Tilley Tec Wool Cap in the field

I am in love with this cap for winter hiking.  Let me just point out that even at -15 F (-9 C) this cap had no problems keeping my head warm.  Most often in the cooler temperatures I put the ear warmers over my head.  While I was hiking up Mt Shavano, just outside Salida, Colorado, the temperature was about 30 F (-1 C) I left the ear warmers tucked in the cap.  As the temperature cooled off in the afternoon, I took the ear warmers out and they were pretty damp.  While my ears remained warm, and the fabric dried within 30 minutes, I recognized that if the temperature was much colder that could have been a potential problem.  Amazingly, the hat is surprisingly comfortable in a wide range of temperatures.  Unlike many other garments and hats I own, when the temperature swings radically, I find myself wanting to put on or take off layers.  Despite temperature swings of 30 F (17 C), the cap has remained comfortable throughout my hikes.  Splendid!

The brim of the cap has remained fairly flat.  I generally like a nice curve with my brim, but this one holds its shape well.  The image above (middle) is of me hiking on LaPlata.  I may experiment with some techniques to adjust the brim shape, but frankly I am not bothered by it much.  The brim is wide enough that I can see clearly in the sunlight.  While climbing Mt Columbia just after I received the cap, the sun was out.  The sun was blocked adequately and the dark color absorbed much of the glare.

The Tilley cap is very comfortable.  The soft fabric (fleece liner and synthetic liner) are quite nice.  One thing I have notices is that the sweat band has a tendency to fold outward, particularly in the front.  This is not visible from the front (at least that I can tell) but I do notice that when I put the cap on the sweat band is out of sorts when I put the cap on.  I'm not sure that it would make much sense to sew it into the cap itself since the ear warmers need to fold outward as well.  It has only been a minor issue to date.  

I have walked or hiked with snow falling on about 12 different occasions.  At no point have I had a problem with moisture coming through the hat in any excessive manner.  To that end I can say that the water and snow repellent has worked flawlessly so far.  I have yet to find a meaningful use to the storage pocket in the cap.  My wallet is uncomfortable, and it is too small for a map.  I'll continue to look for use that I can report on in the Long Term Report.

Summary

Pros: Is comfortable in a wide range of temperatures.  Does a great job at wicking away perspiration.  Is very comfortable (and stylish) to wear.

Cons: The sweat band has a tendency to become tussled.  




  Long Term Report

February 7, 2012

Field Conditions

Cold temperatures have continued to plague me over the past two months with several additional morning temperatures at -15 F (-26 C) or lower!  Despite this, I have been on three more overnight backpacking trips with the cap. I have continued to wear the cap between three and five times per week on dog walks as well. I have certainly appreciated the warmth this cap has to offer!

My first backpacking trip was an overnight on Mount Shavano in the San Isabel National Forest. This is my normal stomping grounds for quick getaways. My hike was cut short after hiking in 2.5 mi (4.0 km) due to the severe wind damage the forest withstood. After climbing over and under trees, at times 20 trees deep, I called it quits, set up camp with my dog and relaxed. We camped at an elevation of 10,200 ft (3,100 m) with overnight temperature at about 30 F (-1 C). Highs during the day were about 50 F (10 C) and bluebird skies and the trails were snowy, but only about 6 in (15 cm) deep.

Another trip I took was in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness on Colorado along the Rainbow trail near Bushnell Lakes. I have previously been up this way and after the long cold spell, the temperatures of 20 to 40 F (-7 to 4 C) were a welcome respite from what we have encountered. Like my other trip, this one was cut short by the amount of downed trees in the area and was 7 mi (11 km) round trip. The trail was snow packed with an average of 24 in (61 cm) and at elevations up to 9,600 ft (2,900 m). Again, clear skies adorned this beautiful hike, making the meteor viewing spectacular!

My final trip was also to the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness on the Simmons Peak Trail.  Overnight snow persuaded me to forgo a morning summit due to the shaky snow conditions in the region but the temperatures were reasonable; between 20 and 40 F (-7 and 4 C). I camped at Salamander Lake at 11,000 ft (3,350 m) which was about 3.5 mi (5.6 km) from the trailhead.  The trail was snow; plenty of it in fact!

I also took three day hikes during this test period with weather, temperatures and conditions all similar to my overnight hikes.  Two of the hikes were quite cold, including another hike on La Plata (see field report) where the morning temperature was a mere -10 F (-23 C)!  Collectively, I took 5 overnight trips and 7 day hikes.

Performance in the Field

On La Plata
Wearing the cap on a cold mountain: La Plata
All of my uses have reinforced what I love most about this hat.  It is quite warm and breathes very well.  I was very concerned about wearing the cap on La Plata when I saw the temperature was only -10 F (-23 C).  As a precaution, I brought along extra layers but I never even needed it!  I made it up on to the ridge at 12,300 ft (3,750 m) where the temperature had risen to a balmy 7 F (-14 C) and my head was not the body part fighting the cold.  The image to the left shows me about 250 ft (76 m) below the ridge.  While my jacket hood is over the cap, this was more to protect my face from occasional wind gusts.

The cap has done a great job of protecting me from snow precipitation.  I haven't experienced any rain during this test, which isn't surprising in a Colorado winter!  The hat is thick enough that I can't tell how much snow accumulates and yet it doesn't feel particularly cumbersome.  In the snow, the cap does collect snow, but the "drier" snow here in Colorado is easily brushed off.  At no point did the cap become saturated from precipitation.  

The cap still fits as well as when I first received it.  In fact, the quality of workmanship is still as impressive after four continuous months of wear.  All of the stitches are still intact and the cap shows no signs of deterioration whatsoever!  Amazingly, the cap does not smell bad even though I haven't laundered it at all.  Every other cap I own has sweat stains but this Tilley cap remains stain-free!  

On most of my hikes I like to stop at a local restaurant both to sample the local food and to support the local economy.  What I love about this cap is that I can wear it right off the trail and not worry about completely looking like I just came out of the woods (regardless of how bad I may smell...).  Actually, I have received a number of compliments about how attractive the cap is!

My only criticism of the cap has been the unsecured sweat band.  I spoke to a representative of Tilley Endurables at a trade show and they did mention that subsequent production will have the sweat band stitched into place.  Nice!

Continued Use

The Tec-Wool Cap has easily become my "go to" headwear for the winter months.  I bring it along snowboarding since it makes a great après-ski accessory in addition to my hikes.  I actually prefer the Tec-Wool Cap to any beanie I have worn!

Summary:

I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate this cap.  Tilley Endurables has a real winner with the Tec-Wool Cap.  It is simply staggering that such a stylish cap can perform so well in the backcountry.  

Pros: Exceptionally warm, comfortable, odor and stain-resistant

Cons: none really

This concludes my long term report.  I would like to take the opportunity to thank Tilley Endurables for their generosity as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.

Read more reviews of Tilley gear
Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin

Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Tilley Endurables TTWC Tec-Wool Cap > Test Report by Brett Haydin



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