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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Tilley LTM6 Hat > Owner Review by Larry Kirschner
I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time backpacking at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness in Manitoba. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've progressed down to mid-weight, and continue to work toward going lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Tilley Endurables
Model: LTM6 Airflo
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website: www.tilley.com
MSRP: USD $72.00
Size: 7 5/8 (corresponds to 23 7/8 in/ 61 cm head circumference--yes, I have a big head)
Other sizes available (13 in total): 6 7/8 through 8+ (55-66.5 cm)
Listed weight: "about 4 oz" (~110 g)
Measured weight: 3.5 oz (100 g)
Dimensions as listed: Front and back brims: 3.25 inch/83 mm. Sides 2.5 inch /64 mm
Dimensions as measured: Front and back brims: 3.35 inch/85 mm. Sides 2.75 inch /70 mm
Color scheme: Khaki with Olive Underbrim
Other colors available: Natural with green underbrim, Olive, Grey
The Tilley LTM6 Airflo hat is a wide-brimmed hat suitable for "General Outdoor Use", including (according to the Tilley website) "backpacking, hiking, paddle sports, beach/resort, and gardening". It is constructed out of "Nylantium", which is described as a water-repellent and mildew-proof type of nylon. It has a 0.6-0.8 inch (1.6-2 cm) high mesh strip just below the top of the hat to provide extra ventilation. The mesh follows the contour of the hat, and there is slightly more mesh at the front and back than at the sides. The fabric is UV-resistant to a level of UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 50+, meaning that it only allows 1/50th (2%)of the UV radiation through. The hatband is constructed out of Hydrofil (a woven modified-nylon lining fabric) and is designed to keep the sweat off the brow. The LTM6 comes with two straps to prevent it blowing off in the wind. Unlike many hats, the straps on the Tilley hat are meant to be tucked up inside the hat for most general activities. If it is windy, the back strap can be used to wrap around the back of the head below the hair to keep the hat on. In gusty wind, the second strap can be used under the chin. The straps are actually part of a continuous loop, and the ends are fixed with sliding knots to allow easy adjustment of the length of the cords to meet the needs for varying conditions. There is a layer of polyethylene foam located under the crown of the hat. This foam allows the hat to float, and also provides a small amount of protection from blows to the top of the head. There is also an area on the inside of the hat to write one's name and phone number.
The LTM6 came with a 4-page "owner's manual", describing the history of Tilley as well as providing useful information like "Which is the Front?" and details about the wind cords. It also includes washing instructions for the hat, and encourages frequent washing, as skin oils and dirt will cause the fabric to decay. The hat can be machine washed warm or cool, or it can be hand washed with mild soap or shampoo. It should not be bleached, nor placed in a dryer. After washing, it is recommended to reshape the hat and allow it to air-dry. If the hat shrinks, it can be stretched and wrinkles can be removed by wetting and stretching. Also included among the folksy anecdotes is a guarantee, which promises that any worn-out (unbleached) hat will be replaced free of charge, although shipping costs are not included.
I bought my Tilley LTM6 Airflo hat in the spring of 2006, just as I was starting to get into significant backpacking with my son. Since that time, I have worn it on just about all of my backpacking/hiking/other camping trips over the past 2½ years, except for cold-weather trips when I traded my wide-brimmed hat for a wool cap. These have included numerous weekend backpacking and camping trips in and around Ohio and Pennsylvania over this time frame. I have also worn the LTM6 in the mountains of Cimarron, New Mexico, on the lakes of Manitoba, and in the Florida keys. Temperatures during the hikes have been as low as the 40's F (4-8 C) and as warm as the 80's F (27-31 C), and the weather has ranged from bright sun to wind to significant rain. Aside from this backpacking usage, I also wear the LTM6 around town when the weather is rainy, or when I want to just look snazzy.
I initially purchased the hat in preparation for my backpacking trip to New Mexico. I wanted something to keep the sun off my head and out of my eyes, and had heard good things about Tilley hats. I tried on some Tilleys at a local outfitter, and found that I had no trouble locating a hat in my size, even though my head is fairly large. I chose the LTM6 Airflo model because I liked the large brim size and the mesh on top. The hat felt comfortable on my head because it was light and did not fit tightly.
I wore the hat for the first time on a weekend backpacking trip on the Wildcat Hollow trail in southeastern Ohio. The weather was warm and sunny, and I found the hat did an excellent job shading my head from the sun overhead. The Hydrofil headband absorbed the sweat without becoming uncomfortable. I left the hat outside overnight and it had mostly dried by morning. It was just as comfortable to wear on the second day of the hike as the first.
My most strenuous usage of the hat was on my 10-day trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. I wore the hat essentially non-stop for the 10-day trip, during plenty of sun and significant amounts of rain. In addition to keeping the sun off my head, the hat's wide brim did a very nice job of keeping the rain out of my eyes. Sometimes I wore the hat under my rain hood, and sometimes I wore it over, depending on the severity of the rain. Despite the dry air in the mountains, the headband never completely dried out, but it never became uncomfortable. The main part of the hat shed water easily and never became wet. The mesh allowed my head to breathe so that even wearing the hat in the bright sun and mid-80's F (~30 C), my head never became overheated. The photo below was taken right after I had gotten off the trail, before I had a chance to clean up at all. Even though I am starting to look a little ragged, the hat still looks stylish!
I also wore the hat for most of 10 days while canoeing in the Atitaki wilderness of Canada. That trip was generally quite warm (85 F/29 C) and sunny, and I wore the hat most of the time on the water. As before, it functioned admirably. There were a few days when it was quite windy on the water. Although I did not put a strap around my chin, I used the back strap to fasten the hat to my shirt collar using a small carabineer. With this arrangement, I had no worries about the hat blowing away.
More recently, I wore the LTM6 on a 6 day trip to the Florida keys, which included canoeing, fishing, snorkeling, and other water sports. The hat was essential, as the sun felt it like it was 10 feet (3 meters) overhead during the hot afternoons. Under these conditions, I usually took the hat off while in the shade. However, when I was out in the sun, my head was much cooler with the hat on than with it off. This photo shows me (along with the fabulous Mrs. K, wearing a different style Tilley hat) deep-sea fishing off the Florida keys. Even with the hat on, I was starting to wilt.
In addition to these longer trips, I have worn the hat on just about all of my hiking and backpacking trips, probably totaling upwards of 50-60 days on the trail. I have become so accustomed to it that I really don't go hiking without it. I have worn the hat in temperatures as warm as 90 F (32 C). It is reasonably comfortable at this temperature if it is not humid or if there is a breeze. However, if it is hot AND humid, I find that temperatures above about 85 F (29 C) are just too hot for me to wear the LTM6 during exertion, even with the venting feature.
I usually wear sunglasses in addition to the hat, and the LTM6 causes no problems with this arrangement. When it is rainy out, I store my sunglasses on the hat brim, most of the time just sitting on top so that I can put them back on if the clouds clear. Tilley also suggests that the earpieces from sunglasses can be hooked through the straps on the hat brim. I have tried this arrangement a few times, but I don't generally care for it. First, in order to do this, I have to take off the sunglass strap, which I generally try to avoid if I can. Also, I don't care for the extra weight on one side of the hat, as it makes the hat feel a little unbalanced to me.
As noted above, the hat has a small pocket under the top of the hat. I typically use this pocket to stash an emergency 5 dollar bill and a business card in case either the hat or I get lost. I used the hat pocket during my canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness to carry the fishing licenses for my group. They stayed put during the trip, and I never noticed any difference in the way the hat felt.
As a result of all this usage over the past 2-3 years, the hat has probably been washed over a dozen times. Although it no longer has the brand-new look which it kept for the first 5-6 washings, it still holds its shape well and remains quite comfortable on my head. The reason why I have not washed it more often is the hat is extremely dirt-resistant. I was wearing the hat one day to work when a sudden gust of wind blew the hat off my head right into a large mud puddle. After many expletives, I picked up the muddy hat and gingerly carried it with me into my office. When I got in, I rinsed it in the sink. All the mud came off within a few seconds. I shook the hat a few times to clear off any free water, and the hat was once again its usual self.
The Tilley LTM6 Airflo hat has been one of my standard pieces of backpacking gear over the past 2 ½ years. It keeps both the sun and the rain off of my head, and keeps the sweat from rolling down my brow. All of these features are provided at a modest weight and with a stylish appearance. I especially like the fact that the hat is low-maintenance.
Things I liked about the Tilley:
This concludes my Owner Review on the Tilley LTM6 Airflo hat. My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org for providing an unbiased forum to evaluate backpacking gear.
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