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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Tilley Organic Airflow Hat > Test Report by Edwin L. Morse

TILLEY ORGANIC AIRFLO HAT
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 07, 2010
FIELD REPORT - August 12, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - October 08, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Edwin Morse
EMAIL: ed dot morse at charter dot net
AGE: 72
LOCATION: Grawn, Michigan USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lbs (32 kg) with food but no water. Since that first time I have made one and two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Last May I did a 2 week hike in Northern Minnesota. My starting pack weight was 35 lbs (16 kg), including 10 days of food and 2 qt (2 l) of water. I am slowly learning what lighter gear works for me.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Tilley
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.tilley.com
MSRP: US$ 77.00
Listed Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)
Measured Weight: 3.6 oz (102 g)
Other details: Listed brim measurements: front and back: 3 1/2 in (8.9 cm), sides 2 1/2 in (6.4 cm)
My measurements of the brim: front and back: 3 1/4 in (8.3 cm), sides 2 1/4 in (5.7 cm), measured on top of the brim from the crown to brim edge.
I thought it was odd that my measurements should differ since Tilley seems to be so straight forward in their statements. Then I remember two statements from my work and education about measurements: There is no such thing as an exact measurement, only refinements in precision; second it is even more important to know the starting and ending point of the measurement than the most precise distance. I measured the brim again while wearing the hat.
My measurements of the brim: front and back: 3 1/2 in (8.9 cm), sides 2 1/2 in (6.4 cm), measured from my head to the brim edge while wearing the Hat.
Now it appears to me that the Tilley brim measurement are the effective size of the brim. Now my measurements match Tilleys.

I think the Tilley Endurables website is one of the most informative, interesting and easy to use I have seen. The Tilley T4MO Organic Airflo Hat is listed under the heading of "New for 2010". One thing I found especially interesting was the guarantee, which seems to be common to most if not all the Tilley hats.
The guaranteed as copied from the website:
"THE GUARANTEE:
Your Hat is guaranteed for life (yours, mine or its) not to wear out or fall apart. We're delighted to think that yours may be passed on to the next generation!

INSURED AGAINST LOSS:
We understand the anguish of losing this reliable companion, or of having your dog terminally gnaw it. Should that happen, we'll replace your late, lamented Tilley at half the catalogue price.

With your Hat, you'll be provided with "The Straight- Shooter's Statement of Loss of a Tilley Hat" insurance policy. The insurance is for two years, all perils, 50% deductible, and is not issued by Lloyds."

I did not receive "The Straight- Shooter's Statement of Loss of a Tilley Hat" insurance policy. I looked all through the material in the 'secret pocket' and did not find such a statement.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Hat arrived in a plastic bag, in a shipping box. There was nothing else in the box.

There were three hangtags attached to the brim with the usual plastic loop. The first tag, on one side, identified the Tilley Organic Airflo Hat, listed the website and included a picture of Alison Tilley and her dad (Alex) both wearing Tilley Hats. On the other side there was a brief list of features and an explanation of how the Hat should fit.
The second tag identified the Hat (T4MO ORG-AIRFLO T4MO), gave the color and size (OLIV 7) and the price ($77.00).
The third tag stated "UPS 50+ and explained that Tilley Hat fabric has been tested according to ATSM D6544 and labeled to ATSM D6603. On the other side of this tag are suggestions for sun protection and warning about also protecting the eyes.

My first impression was that I have a very nice, soft, comfortable hat. Here is a picture of the Tilley Organic Airflo Hat sitting on my hiking pole. The longer loop hanging down is the chin strap. The shorter loop goes behind my head.
Tilley Organic Airflo Hat front
Tilley Organic Airflo Hat

Here is another view of the front of the Hat.
front again
front again

The Tilley T4MO Organic Airflo Hat is mostly made of organic cotton. The following is copied from the note inside the crown of the Hat "98 % organic cotton, 2 % spandex with polyester mesh". There are two brass grommets on each side of the lower crown. A heavy cotton (?) shoestring, called the 'Wind Cord' on the website, is passed through all four grommets with a simple overhand knot fastening each end at the back. I added the question mark because I have no way to know if the Wind Cord is cotton. I assume the Wind Cord is cotton because it feels like cotton and the statement is made that the hat is 98% cotton, but that is an assumption not an observation. The headband is very soft and comfortable. There is a mesh band around the crown just below the top. According to the website the mesh is 3/4 in (1.9 cm) wide. Actually it varies from about 3/4 in (1.9 cm) front and back down to about 1/2 in (1.3 cm) at the sides. Inside the crown of the Hat is a note in both English and French. There are also two lines on which it is suggested that I write my name and telephone number. Between the note and the space for me to write my name is the hook and loop sealed opening to the "secret" pocket. I found the Owner's Manual sticking out of the pocket. Also in the pocket is a small plastic sack, with a Ziploc type closure, containing their removable "brag tags" which are intended to tell people how to obtain their own Tilley Hat.

I carefully examined the Hat for any flaws such as dropped or missed stitches or crooked seams or anything I could find. Even with a magnifying glass I found no flaws. This is a very well made hat.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

There are extensive instructions, some on a note inside the crown of the Hat and a four page owner's manual. The owner's manual was inside the secret pocket with one end sticking out. On the end sticking out was the statement:
Please remove this
Owner's Manual
Before fitting Hat

The first, front, page is mostly about the history of the development of the Hat and the company. The next three pages have sections titled:
Which is the front?,
How should it fit?,
We perspire - or Expire,
How the wind cord keeps the Hat on,
How to adjust the wind cord,
Like the Titanic, it floats, it can also sink,
Washing instructions,
Excellent UV Protection,
Is it a shade too large or too small?,
Suggestions from Experienced owners,
Insurance,
Our guarantee,
Background.

TRYING IT OUT

I wanted to try the Hat on as soon as I opened the box. When I started to put it on, I found and read the Owner's Manual (Wow, an owner's manual for a hat!). Putting the Hat on, first I thought it was too big. But the manual, and one hangtag, stated: "For a proper fit, you should be able to easily insert two fingers, flat, between the middle of your forehead and the front of the Hat". I did as directed and it felt the way the "How Should it Fit" paragraph said it should.

I put the Hat on, grabbed my camera and a tripod and went out to walk around the backyard. I used a hiking pole and the small tripod to take a lot of pictures. Most had to be deleted because the Hat was only partly or not at all in the picture. Here is somewhat of a side view.
side view
side view

The following back view was the most difficult for me to get.
back
back

The previous three pictures show how the Hat provides coverage for my eyes, ears and neck. This protection is the reason I've been wearing broad brimmed hats for over 15 years.

There is also a statement in the Manual titled "Which is the Front" that states "If you can read the "The Tilley Hat" label upright, you are about to put it on correctly." The next picture is what I see when I hold the Hat ready to put it on.
inside note
inside note

I also catch the back loop in my thumb so it goes behind my head.

I've taken a few short walks in the yard and down the road on very windy days. The wind seems to have no affect on the Hat.

SUMMARY

The Tilley Organic Airflo Hat appears to provide me with excellent sun protection. It stays on my head when I'm out walking in a stiff wind. On the other hand, I've said for many years that I wear no cotton when hiking and the only cotton I carry is my bandana. Perhaps this Hat will become the exception for my no cotton rule. The Hat is already as soft as my bandana. So, will it work to wipe the sweat off my face as well as the bandana? A hat on my head is even handier than a bandana in my pocket. Many years ago when friends and I wore the old cotton baseball caps we would soak them in water on hot August days. Will this work as well with the Organic Airflo Hat? If so the Hat truly becomes a multi use item.

This is going to be a very interesting testing period. Now I'm hoping for a long, hot summer rather than the cooler and cold that I usually hope for. I will be looking hard to determine if my long bias against cotton will hold true for a hat. I will also be looking for any negatives other than the fact it is made of cotton, which may not be so negative.

This concludes my Initial Report.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Before I start on the Field Report I must add a correction to the Initial Report. When I was describing the wind cord I put a "(?)" after the word cotton. A few weeks later I received an email from the "Head of Hats" at Tilley Endurables assuring me that the wind cord is 100% cotton. Now I know that the manufacturers really do read our reports.

During the Field Report period I did five day hikes and six backpacking hikes.
May 8, 2010 this was a very short hike in the Pere Marquette State Forest southwest of Traverse City, Michigan. I was trying to get back into hiking in spite of the leg pain caused by a herniated disk in my back. The terrain is mostly flat with hardwood forest with scattered pines. The weather kept other hikers home. It was a mix of rain and snow and a chilly 38 F (3 C). I only hiked the first loop of the trail for a distance of 2.5 miles (4 km).

May 14 & 15, 2010 this was my first attempt at an overnight hike since I started having severe leg pains. The weather was cloudy, very windy and a cool 54 F (12 C) when I started walking. Since I didn't want to cause more problems I had selected an easy 2.5 miles (4 km) with no big or steep hills. The Manistee National Forest in the area is a mix of hardwood and pine. When I woke in the morning it was still windy but down to a chilly 34 F (1 C).

May 19, 2010 was another short hike in the Pere Marquette State Forest east of Traverse City, Michigan. It was sunny and a warm day with 84 F (29 C) when I started walking. This was just right for my first time with my new packraft. I hiked 2 miles (3.2 km), mostly downhill, to a small lake and paddled another 3 miles (4.8 km) just exploring and learning to control the packraft in still flat water.

June 5 & 6, 2010 was another short hike which started after a long day of trail work in the Manistee National Forest about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of the village of Baldwin, Michigan. After we finished I drove down another nearby forest road and hiked (bushwhacked) about a mile (2 km) from the Jeep. This is a very flat and open area of mostly red pine. It was very cloudy and a warm day at 84 F (29 C). The rain started soon after I got my tarp and hammock hung up and continued all night.

June 19 & 20, 2010 I selected a hilly section of trail in the Manistee National Forest about 45 miles (70 km) southwesterly of Traverse City, Michigan. It was a sunny 80 F (27 C) when I started hiking the five miles (8 km) to the area next to a creek I like to camp. The forest is mostly open oak and maple with stands of pine. The temperature fell to 66 F (19 C) by 10 PM when I got in the tent for the night. When I woke in the morning it was down to 53 F (12 C).

July 2 & 3, 2010 this even shorter hike was in the Pere Marquette State Forest east of Traverse City, Michigan. The terrain was easy hiking with a few hills, mostly down to the river and back up and down to the lake where we camped. The forest was mostly oak with stands of cedar along the river and pine near the lake. This was my first family backpacking in nearly 15 years, the first backpacking for my daughter in law and my granddaughter. My son had said his daughter could only do about three miles (5 km) and his wife asked for a lake. I planned an easy hike of just less than four miles (6 km) from the trail head to Dollar Lake. It was a sunny day and 83 F (28 C) when we started hiking. Since it was a short hike to a lake I also carried a packraft and two PFDs.

July 16 & 17 & 18, 2010 I planned to push myself to see what I could do while (hopefully) recovering from a herniated disk. The hike was in the Manistee National Forest with mostly hilly terrain covered with hardwood forest. I combined the very popular Manistee River Trail with the North Country Trail for a loop hike. I extended the loop by adding miles to the south end. I hiked 10 miles (16 km) the first day, 15 miles (24 km) the second day and only five miles (8 km) the third day. The first two days were sunny and warm with a high of 85 F (29 C). The third day was dark and threatening and a cool 52 F (11 C) when I woke. The rain started as I was taking down my tent. It was a steady downpour by the time I started hiking.

August 3 & 4 & 5, 2010 this was a group hike planned and led by the man who laid out the route and led the trail building crew. We were mostly strangers until we met for dinner the first night. The days were sunny and warm with highs of about 85 F (29 C) and lows in early mornings of 64 F (18 C). The terrain was glacial moraine mostly covered with hardwood and stands of pine in the Brule State Forest south of the small town of Brule, Wisconsin. The first day was a short 0.8 mile (1.3 km), the second day was 10.7 miles (17.2 km) and the third day was 11.5 miles (18.5 km).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Tilley Organic Airflo Hat has done very well for me in a variety of conditions. I nearly always use the wind cord to make sure the hat stays on my head. I have not pulled the wind cord tight under my chin even in the windiest weather we've had this year. With the cord both under my chin and behind my head the hat just sits comfortably in place.

I've hiked in the rain twice since I submitted the Initial Report. The first time I knew I would only be walking 2.5 miles (4 km) I left the rain jacket hood zipped in the collar. My head did not get wet but the hat was getting soaked through by the time I got back to my Jeep. The second time it was a much harder rain and I had twice as far to hike. I pulled the hood of my rain parka up over the hat. The front of the brim kept the rain away from my glasses but the hood did restrict movement of my head.
I didn't hike in the rain on my June 5 & 6, 2010 very short backpack trip but I did wear the hat in the light rain while taking pictures and several other tasks away from the tarp. Here is a picture taken in the morning while it was still raining.
IMAGE 6
hot cereal and hot coffee


I especially like the Tilley Organic Airflo Hat when the weather is hot and sunny, which was the case with most of my hikes and backpacking this summer. Here are two pictures taken July 2, 2010 when my son and family hiked with me to a small backwoods lake.
Ed and Tara exploring
Ed and Tara exploring

Since it was a short hike I carried along my new packraft, paddle and Personal Flotation Device (PFD or life jacket).
Tara, Bandit, Nancy, Doug & Ed
family supper at the lake


Below is a picture of the group of backpackers in Wisconsin before the North Country Trail Association 2010 Conference.
IMAGE 9
NCTA 2010 Backpacking group


The Tilley Organic Airflo Hat does a good job of shading my face and neck. The hat band does get sweaty but it is cotton and there is no sweat running down to my eyes.

SUMMARY

I am very happy with the Tilley Organic Airflo Hat and pleased to add it to my permanent gear list. My Tilley hat will be along on my every outing when the temperature is mostly above freezing. I was very doubtful about adding cotton apparel for hiking but I'm now willing to make one exception. I'm doing my best to 'beat it up' but the hat is showing no effects of my rough treatment.

This concludes my Field Report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've been on eight day hikes of various lengths and one day of paddling for which I wore the Tilley Organic Airflo Hat. I have not done any backpacking in the last two months.

August 17, 2010 I hike 17 miles (27 km) with our youngest son. We parked his car at Harvey Bridge and left my Jeep near Hodenpyl Dam. The temperature was 70 F (21 C) when we started hiking and got up to a warm and sunny 85 F (29 C) by the time we got to Harvey Bridge. We were hiking mostly along the Manistee River partly on a high ridge and partly down close to the river. This gave us frequent short climbs up or down.

August 24, 2010 I planned an eight mile (13 km) hike without driving. I walked a short distance from home to a trail through the woods to the village of Interlochen, Michigan. Then I started walking a short distance to another trail. My right ankle hurt from the start. The pain rapidly got worse and I soon decided it was not a good day for a hike. I followed an old railroad grade back close to home. I had only walked three miles (5 km) on a cloudy day with the temperature holding at 75 F (24 C).

August 26, 2010 I parked at Hodenpyl Dam Road and hiked south on the North Country Trail in the Manistee National Forest. My purpose for this hike was to check the section of trail I had adopted to maintain so I carried a pruning saw. This is a hilly area covered mostly with oak and maple trees with stands of pine. The weather was mostly cloudy with the temperature rising from 65 F (18 C) up to 80 F (27 C) while I was slowly hiking and clearing fallen branches off the trail. I hiked just over ten miles (16 km).

August 28, 2010 looked like a good day for paddling. I put my Packraft in at a public access site on Green Lake and paddled down to the Betsy River outlet. It was very sunny and 80 F (27 C) when I got in the raft at 10 AM. The Betsy is a very slow river in this section so it isn't much more effort paddling upstream than it is going down. I paddled about three miles (5 km) down to the dam and ate lunch at a county park. Then I had a long afternoon paddling upstream then up wind back to the access site. I found that dipping the hat in the river would help cool me off. The temperature was up to 90 F (32 C) when I took the Packraft out of the water.

September 13 and 14 were short hikes from home through the village of Interlochen. These were both sunny days with the temperature at about 70 F (21 C). I walked a total of about five miles (8 km) each day.

September 15 and 19 2010 I went to the Lost Lakes trail in the Pere Marquette State Forest about five miles from home. I hiked 6.5 miles (10.5 km) each day in slightly rolling terrain with a mix of oak and pine forest. Both days were cloudy with temperatures of about 65 F (18 C) while I was hiking.

October 2, 2010 I hiked my adopted section of the North Country Trail again. I found several trees down across the trail in the first two miles (3 km). The first was a very large oak that also pushed two other trees down when it fell. The last one had fallen on the Eddington Creek bridge, breaking the railing and tilting the deck. I hiked to a forest road that marked the end of the section I maintain. I sat down on a log to eat lunch and rest. I talked to three backpackers and four bike riders while sitting by the trail. The hike back was much easier since I had cleared off all the down branches I could move. I hiked a total of 10.5 miles (16.9 km) while the weather was constantly changing. The temperature was 52 F (11 C) when I left the Jeep with dark clouds overhead and very windy. Several times it was up to 65 F (18 C) and mostly sunny then soon the sky would get cloudy and the temperature would fall. The temperature was down to 47 F (8 C) when I got back to the Jeep. This was one of the few times I kept the retainer cords down and tight while hiking in the forest.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Tilley Organic Airflo Hat has done very well for me. It protects my ears, eyes and neck from the sun. I keep the retainer cords down and snug when there is the slightest chance of losing the hat from wind or not quite overhead branches. The dark color and cotton fabric does absorb heat from the sun but this is somewhat balanced by the mesh around the top if there is any wind. I have had the Tilley hat blown off the top of my head in gusty winds but the loose retainer cords kept it from getting lost.

I've worn a variety of broad brimmed hats in the last 30 years. I nearly lost two when they blew off but I was able to recover them. Two others were lost. The first was on Mt Katahdin in Maine and I was able to chase the hat down before it went over a cliff. The second I was paddling on a windy lake in Michigan and I was able to catch up with it after some hard paddling. The first one I lost I was paddling on a river that was too much for my skill. When I tipped over I managed to grab the kayak when I came up. My son caught my paddle but couldn't find my hat. The last one was just over a year ago when I was bushwhacking (taking a shortcut) from my campsite back to the trail in Florida. I was wearing the hat over a light weight hood. Someplace the hat was brushed off while I was ducking under branches. It was about a half hour later I realized I didn't have a hat. To me, the best thing about the Tilley hat is that it stays with me because of the way the wind cord is designed.

SUMMARY

In my opinion the Tilley Organic Airflo Hat is a keeper. Once in a while I find a piece of gear that just fits my needs and my style. This hat is one more item for me. It keeps the sun (and some rain) off my head and neck. It stays on my head, or at least with me when the wind blows hard. I can use the hat to wipe the sweat off my face and neck. On a hot day I can dip the hat in a creek or lake and cool off my head.

It would be nice if the hat could be a lighter weight. A lighter color might draw less heat from the sun. On the other hand I know that a lighter color would soon be very dirty from the way I use it.

The hat shows no signs of wear even though I've worn it for backpacking, hiking and many days of trail work. It has been washed, with other hiking clothes, at least six times. The hat still looks almost like new after it is washed. The one exception is a spot of blue paint on the crown. The only blue paint I've used this year was painting blue blazes on a new section of trail.

This concludes my Long Term Report.

My thanks to Tilley and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to evaluate, use and test this fine Hat.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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