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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Tilley Organic Airflow Hat > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

Tilley Endurables T4MO Organic Airflo Hat

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER

Tilley T4MO Hat


INITIAL REPORT - May 12, 2010
FIELD REPORT - August 17, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - October 12, 2010


TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (92 kg)

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 over the past few years backpacking the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness of Canada. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've shrunk to medium 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…


INITIAL REPORT
May 12, 2010

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Tilley Endurables
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Country of Manufacture: Canada
Manufacturer's Website: www.tilley.com
MSRP: USD $77

Measurements

Listed Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)
Measured Weight: 3.25 oz (92 g) on non-digital scale
Size tested: 7 5/8 inch hat size (corresponds to 24 in/61 cm head circumference)
Sizes available: 6 7/8 through 8+

Brim Measurements (Listed and confirmed): Front and Back: 3.5" (89 mm) Sides: 2.5" (64 mm)
Hat height (Measured): 4.5" (114 mm)
Color tested: Khaki with Olive Underbrim
The bottom is a different color!
Other colors available: Olive


ITEM DESCRIPTION

The T4MO Tilley Organic Airflo Hat is a wide-brimmed hat for hiking, boating, and really any other outdoor activity imaginable. The hat is made of 98% organic cotton and 2% spandex, so it has a very soft, cottony feel. The texture is somewhat of a contrast to my previous Tilley hat, which was made out of their nylon fabric (Nylamtium), which has a more plastic-y feel to it. The fabric provides 98% protection against UVA/UVB rays, but one of the hang tags still recommends using additional sun protection.

The hat is made with a mesh area around the top of the hat of about 0.75 inch, which is designed to allow air flow and cooling of the wearer's head. The hat also contains a small closed cell foam pad under the crown, which enables the hat to float in the water.

The design of the hat includes two windcords which can be bunched inside the hat when it is calm out. In moderate wind, the rear windcord can be wrapped around the back of my head to prevent the hat from flying away. In more severe winds, the cords can be tucked under the chin for complete security, as shown being modeled by my suitcase handle in the photo below.
Tilley windcords

The two windcords are made from a single string, and both ends of the cord have sliding knots, which allow adjustment of the total length of the windcord. The cords pass outside the hat and back in via a pair of grommets located on each side of the crown, which can also be seen in the photo above.

Although some Tilley hats have a hook and loop tab for securing sunglasses to the crown, this feature is not present on the T4MO. However, I could still slip the temples of my sunglasses in the cord to allow carrying when I'm not wearing them.

There is 1 1/8 inch (29 mm) anti-sweat band on the inside of the hat which is made of a wicking material.

Another neat feature of the Tilley hat is a small pocket in the top of the crown. This pocket is closed with a hook-and loop closure to keep things inside secure. Inside the pocket are 8 'brag-tags', which carry small stories on one side and information on how to find information about Tilley hats. The tags come with the cheerful suggestion that they be given to folks inquiring about the hat. They also indicate that "it is customary to provide the giver of Tilley Hat procurement information with A WARM HUG, OR STAND HIM OR HER TO A DRINK." The tags sit in a small plastic bag "useful for stowing a fishing license or a spare $10 bill or a 5-euro note". The Tilley warranty and instructions are also written there, along with a space for the user to write his or her name. The photo below shows the tags sticking out from the pocket.

Hidden pocket inside


INSTRUCTIONS AND WARRANTY

Tilley is very proud of the fact that the hat comes with a "Four-page owner's manual". The instructions cover important topics and some history about the company. It is recommended in the manual to wash the hat regularly, which can be done in a washing machine using warm or cool water. The hat can also be washed "by hand, with a scrub brush, with soap, soap powder, liquid soap, or perhaps shampoo." The hat should NOT be bleached. After washing, the hat can be smoothed and reshaped to make sure it maintains its original shape. It can also be stretched over the knee if it shows any sign of shrinkage.

The hat comes with "insurance", which is a 2-year period during which any lost, stolen, or destroyed hat will be replaced at 50% cost. Beyond this, any Tilley hat that wears out (as long as it has not been bleached) will be replaced free except for shipping costs.


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS and EXPECTATIONS

I'm not sure what I was expecting from the T4MO hat, but it looks essentially EXACTLY the same as my LTM6 Tilley Airflo hat. The main difference is that the material is quite different, with the T4MO having a softer feel, consistent with the fact that it is made out of cotton. This is not a bad thing, as I really like my other hat. Aside from the feel in my fingers, I could tell when I slipped the hat on my head that the material was softer with more give.

Right now, I'm excited to get this hat out on the trail and see how it holds up after a couple of days in the, rain, dirt, and (hopefully) sun.


THE STORY SO FAR

    Impressive
  • Stylish, well-made hat
  • Large brim with 50+ UPF sun protection
  • Soft, comfortable fabric
  • Pocket in hat crown provides storage for small stuff
    Concerns
  • None found to date


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FIELD REPORT

August 17, 2010

FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the FR phase of testing, I wore the Tilley T4MO on a 2-day/2-night hike on the Symmes Creek Trail in Rio Grande,Ohio. It was sunny and hot on that trip, with daytime temperatures around 88 F (31.1 C) in the bright sun. The total distance on that trip was about 10 miles (16 km) with elevation gain <300 ft (<100 m). I also wore the T4MO on a dayhike from Lake Poway up Mt. Woodson and back when I was visiting San Diego, California on a business trip in mid-June. Mileage on that trip was about 7 mi (11.2 km) with a 2000 ft (610 m) elevation gain on the way up, and vice versa on the way down. Temperatures peaked at 83 F (28.3 C) on that hike in the bright sunlight. I also wore the hat most days during a 2-week stay at the Boy Scout National Jamboree at Fort AP Hill in Bowling Green, Virginia during the end of July-early August. It was very sunny for most of the week, with a maximum temperature of 106 F (41.1 C), although high temperatures most of the week were around 92 F (33.3 C). I typically walked 3-5 miles (5-8 km) most days, although covered about 12 miles on one day.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

My first trip with the T4MO was probably the most typical of my usual hiking style. I wore the hat the whole time when I was on the trail. It got quite warm during the afternoon, but wearing the hat didn't make me feel warm. In fact, the headband helped keep the sweat from dripping down my face. The trail wound in and out of the trees, and I liked having the wide brim providing me shade for my head. Once I finished hiking, I took the hat off to let my head breathe a little. It was warm overnight, and the hat had dried by the morning.

In order to wear the hat on the Mt. Woodson hike, I had to bring it with me on my business trip. The hat was unceremoniously packed in my carry-on bag and came out quite flat. However, a few quick shakes and it was good to go, as shown in this photo taken near the summit of Mt. Woodson.

Near the top of Mt. Woodson

On the hike, it was warm when I started out, and the trail started uphill almost immediately. It was warm enough to make me start sweating right away, and the sweat dripped down my face for the first 30-60 minutes. Once I got underway, the sweatband seemed to function better. I did not wear any suntan lotion on the trip, despite that there was almost no tree cover on the trail. When I got back from the hike, I had a significant sunburn on my arms, but only just a little bit of redness on my neck, which had faded by the next morning. I took this to mean that the hat provided sufficient shade to protect my face, ears, and neck from the sun overhead. I hiked from about 10 am until about 3 pm, so I was really out during the heat of the day. It was also fairly windy up on top of Mt. Woodson. Most of the time I did not use the windcords, but I did fasten the cord around my neck when hiking through particularly windy parts of the trail. This turned out to be a good idea as the wind whipped the hat off my head on 2 separate occasions. I would have had to chase the hat down the mountain if I had not used the windcords. When I got back to the trailhead, I noticed some staining around the sweatband, shown below with the arrows.

Sweat staining after a long, hot hike

However, when I washed the hat next, this went away.

On my trip with the Boy Scouts, it was brutally hot and humid for most of the trip. Whenever I was out in the sun, I wore the hat as cover. Again, I did not wear any suntan lotion, and I had no problems with sunburn. I also had some sweat staining, but this again washed out easily.

My only concern about the hat is with the styrofoam piece in the crown of the hat. Somewhere during my travels, this piece got a fold in its middle, giving the crown of the top of the hat an uneven appearance. I took the piece out of the hat and let it sit under a few books for 3-4 days to re-flatten it. I put it back in the hat and this seems to have helped quite a lot. If it becomes a recurrent problem, I will probably try to call customer service and see if they have any suggestions.


WEAR AND TEAR

The hat has been sat on, flatted in a suitcase, and generally been abused. However, a few shakes and it looks nearly as good as new. As noted above, I have also washed it 4-5 times already with no ill effects.


FIELD IMPRESSIONS

So far, I have been quite happy with the Tilley T4MO hat. I still like the feel of the fabric, and the hat continues to function well and with style. My only concern about the hat is that the brim is a bit "droopy", meaning that brim tends to curl down, particularly in front. Although I haven't really noticed this myself when hiking, I can tell whenever I look at a photo taken while I'm wearing the hat. This can be seen best when photos are taken from the side, as shown below.

The brim is curling in front



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LONG-TERM REPORT
October 12, 2010

FIELD CONDITIONS

During the course of the long-term report, I wore the Tilley on a 3-day/2-night trip on the Wildcat Hollow trail in Glouster, Ohio. The trip covered just over 15 miles (25 km) in beautiful weather, with a daytime high of 82 F (28 C) and an overnight low of 41 F (5 C).

Tilley at Wildcat

I also wore the hat to work on rainy days, of which there have been about 4 or 5 during the course of the long-term report.

All told, I have worn the Tilley T4MO about 20 days under trail conditions, and another 10 days of "in-town" use.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

I've worn the Tilley quite a bit over the course of this test, and it is truly a great hiking hat. I found the brim wide enough that I really didn't need any suntan lotion, despite the fact that almost all of my trips have been in the bright sun (shocking, isn't it?). There have been a few times during the test when I have felt my head getting warm, but that has really only happened at temperatures over 90 F (32 C) with a fair amount of humidity.

The T4MO has a tendency to get darkened with sweat after a long day on the trail, but the discoloration washes out easily. I have washed the Tilley 4 or 5 times during the course of this test, and it continues to look fabulous. Another feature I really like about the hat is its ability to bounce back from abuse. I can cram the hat into a backpack, a suitcase, or a corner of the tent, and I know it will look its usual spiffy self when I shake it out and put it on my head.

It hasn't rained when I've been on the trail yet, but I have worn it in the rain on multiple occasions. The waxed cotton seems to get stiffer, and water rolls right off the brim. The hat also seems to dry quickly, although I haven't been able to test this on the trail directly. I have gotten multiple positive comments on the hat from my co-workers, who are wondering how I can look so debonair in the rain!

The only concern I have about the hat is the fact that the knots in the wind cord have come loose once or twice. This is really only a minor issue, as it has been no problem to retie the simple knots and restore the wind cord to its original state.


SUMMARY

All in all, the Tilley T4MO Organic Airflo Hat is currently my favorite hat to wear when I am hiking. It is also my favorite hat to wear on any occasion when rain is expected, be it on the trail or around the town. It is also my favorite hat to wear when I am traveling, since I know it will keep its shape no matter how I treat it. In summary, this hat is really a favorite!

Things I liked about the Tilley T4MO Hat
  • Wide brim keeps the sun off my head
  • Washing is no problem
  • Hat is practically indestructible
  • Pocket in brim is useful to store small useful items for the trail
Things I disliked about the Tilley T4MO Hat:
  • Knots in windcord came out once or twice.
  • Some bending in the front brim

This concludes my report on the Tilley T4MO Organic Airflo Hat. My thanks once again to Tilley Endurables for providing this equipment for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.


-larry kirschner


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