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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Tilley LTM5 Airflo Hat > Owner Review by Brett Cook

TILLEY LTM5 AIRFLO HAT
BY BRETT COOK
OWNER REVIEW
August 22, 2007

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brett Cook
EMAIL: brett@cooksplace.us
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Tucson, Arizona
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 180 lb (81.60 kg)

I often bushwhack with climbing/caving gear and buy equipment that won't fail in the field. I've gone a little towards the light side, but I need gear that won't let me down. I go hiking several times a month, generally 6-10 miles (10-16 km) with elevation changes of 1500' to 4000' (457 - 1219 m). Terrain varies from scrub-thorn to mountainous. My pack weight varies between 10 and 30 lbs (4 - 14 kg) with occasional loads of 50 lb (23 kg) or more.

PRODUCT INFORMATION


Manufacturer: Tilley Endurables www.Tilley.com
Year of Manufacture: 2006
MSRP: US $69
Listed Weight 3 oz (85 g)
Measured Weight: 3.5 oz (99 g)
Size: 7 3/8 (22 ¾ in, 58 cm)
Listed Brim Dimensions:
Front: 2 5/8 in (57 cm)
Back: 2 ¾ in, (7 cm)
Sides: 2 1/8 in (5.4 cm)
Measured Brim Dimensions:
Front: 2 5/8 in (57 cm)
Back: 2 ¾ in, (7 cm)
Sides: 2 in (5 cm)
Color: Khaki with Olive underbrim

DESCRIPTION

The LTM5 is a light-weight, synthetic hat with a 360 degree brim and a small band of mesh near the top of the crown. The brim is about the size of a military style Boonie, but much stiffer.
I like full-brim hats because they offer better sun protection than baseball caps. I've worn several types of caps; baseball caps, the Boonie, cowboy hats, patrol caps (military Ranger-style), etc. I purchased this hat because I wanted a full brim to protect my ears, nose and neck from the sun, but I didn't want such a large brim that it would interfere with my pack or make it difficult to see.

Front view of hat
Figure 1. Front view

FIELD USE

I've had this hat for about a year now, and have used it in conditions ranging from near freezing to over 106 degrees F (41 C). The mesh strip ventilates a bit much for a winter hat, but it was fine on a moderately strenuous climb to the top of Mt. Humphries in northern Arizona where the temperature was a little above freezing.
I don't think I sweat any more than average, but it doesn't take much exertion when the temperature in Tucson is 106 F (41 C) to make me wish the mesh panel was a bit wider or had larger openings.
Having a full brim helps protect my head and neck from direct sun. But, there are always trade-offs and it does occasionally touch the top of my tall backpack. I'm happy with the compromise.
Gusts of over 40 mph (64 kph) are not unusual during the summer rainy season in Tucson. I've been exposed to heavy winds that were strong enough to pelt me with stinging grit. The wide brim is more likely to catch the wind than a baseball cap, but the wind cords kept it from flying away.
Generally, just using the chin cord is enough, but I've had to use the rear cord when I had a strong wind on my back. I've never had the hat fly off. Besides being a bit more expensive than a baseball cap, I'd hate to be without my sun protection!
I had a chance to test it recently in a heavy downpour while hiking in the Catalinas that lasted nearly an hour.
The hat shed rain and didn't collapse. The brim stayed up out of my eyes so I could still see. I didn't notice any rain getting in through the mesh, although it's likely that some water would have made it through. I could feel the wind blowing through the mesh to help reduce the steamy feeling due to high humidity. I think the combination of material and the narrow mesh band are a good combination for physical exertion during rainy conditions.
The LTM version is made with a proprietary material Tilley calls Nylamtium®. The material is very light and easy to clean, but I sometimes wish the lower section of the crown was made of cotton. On days much over 100 degrees F (38 C), I sweat enough to overcome the sweatband, and sweat droplets run to the edge of the brim and drop off. I think cotton would hold more moisture and provide better evaporative cooling. I like the way the brim holds its shape and doesn't flop down in front of my face like a typical Boonie hat.
Tilley makes another model, a TM11, with an all-mesh crown and cotton brim (same dimensions as the LTM5) that weighs 4 oz (113 g). The styling is a little different, and the mesh is synthetic, so I doubt it would help evaporative cooling any. This model also has a fine liner behind the mesh that would limit airflow. I can't say if the TM11 would have any better airflow than the LTM5.
I did have a bit of trouble getting the right size of hat. None of the local stores carried the LTM5, so I went shopping on the internet.
I measured my head according to the description given on the Tilley website and measured 22.75 in (58 cm). This is at the upper end of the range for a 7 ¼ hat, so that's what I ordered. The hat arrived few days later, but it was too small. I stretched it out according to the instructions on the website (pulling it against using my knee), but it was still too small. So, I returned it and ordered the next size up, a 7 3/8. It shrinks a little after I wash it, but I can just wear it for a while and it loosens up and becomes very comfortable.
The hat does get a bit crushed when I shove it in my backpack, but the wrinkles go away for the most part after I wear it again for a little while.

Wilderness of Rocks 8-07
Figure 2. Wilderness of Rocks 8-07

PROS

The hat is light, holds its shape and is easy to clean. The mesh does a good job of allowing air to flow across the top of my head, keeping it cool.
The dark underbrim helps reduce reflections from the underside.
I like the looks of the hat, though it does stand out in a world that seems to be populated with baseball caps.

CONS

The synthetic material doesn't absorb moisture, and the headband can't keep up when I'm sweating heavily.
The brass grommets on the sides of the hat cause a green coloration to leach into the surrounding material after a few hours of heavy sweating. This is really only cosmetic and washes out easily.

Green stain from grommets
Figure 3. Green Stain from grommets

CONCLUSION

Even though there are some shortcomings with the hat in high temperatures, it still works better for me than my other hats and does an excellent job of keeping the sun off of my face, ears and nose. I will continue to wear it.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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