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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Tilley Outback Hat TWC5 > Test Report by Brian Hartman

TILLEY TWC5 HAT
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - April 17, 2010
FIELD REPORT - June 27, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - August 21, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 42
LOCATION: Noblesville, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I have been hiking and camping for over 20 years and enjoy backpacking solo and with my kids in Scouting. I especially enjoy fall and winter backpacking and camping. My backpack and gear are older and weigh 40+ lbs (18 kg). This has limited the distances I have been able to cover while hiking. My goal over the next several years is to replace my existing clothing and gear with more suitable and lighter weight alternatives.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Tilley Endurables
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.tilley.com
MSRP: US $74.00
Listed Weight: 4.7 oz (133 g)
Measured Weight: 4.9 oz (139 g)
Size: 7 1/4
Color: British Tan
Material: 100% cotton with waxed finish.
Brim Measurements: Front: 2 5/8" (6.6 cm) Back: 2 3/4" (6.9 cm) Sides: 2 1/8" (5.4 cm)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 1 As an avid hat wearer, I admit that I had some preconceptions regarding the Tilley TWC5 Outback hat. On previous occasions I had considered buying a Tilley but didn't because I wasn't convinced it would hold up over time. Maybe it's because I have owned so many hats that have eventually worn out. Regardless of my concern, I was really looking forward to the arrival of this hat. So when the Tilley Outback arrived at my doorstep in a small, lightweight cardboard box I was quite excited. Upon opening the box and removing the Outback, I was immediately impressed by its styling. This is one good looking hat! It is dark tan with matching threads. The uniform color gives it an understated elegance. Eight brass grommets are visible from the outside. Four of these grommets are located in the top crown of the hat, two on each side. These grommets are larger and are meant for ventilation. The four smaller grommets are located near the brim of the hat and are intended to secure the wind cord. The hat is constructed of 100% cotton with a waxed finish. The wax makes the cotton stiffer and provides some degree of waterproofness.

The Tilley Outback is solidly constructed with lock stitching throughout. The cotton fabric is thick and tightly woven. It feels sturdy and hopefully is able to hold up in tough conditions. My presumption was that the hat may be flimsy, but this is not the case at all. Overall the hat is slightly stiffer than I expected. A piece of wire runs around the outer edge of the brim and keeps it in place after being moved. The stiff brim should work well in heavy rain as long as the rest of the hat doesn't soak through. During field testing, I plan to determine to what degree this hat is water repellant. I am also curious whether it really does float, although I will probably perform this test in a swimming pool as I am not inclined to lose this hat in a lake or river.

I like the fact that the Tilley Outback hat is certified to block 98 percent of harmful UVA/UVB radiation and delivers an ultraviolet factor (UPF) of 50+. For me, this is a key feature of this hat along with its ability to provide rain protection. Since I am not a hood wearer, I am quite interested to see how well this hat protects my head during rain showers. Another great feature of this hat is the anti-sweat band which should help wick away perspiration this summer. Hopefully the hat's cotton construction also allows it to breathe on hot summer days. Finally, the Tilley Outback has an internal pocket with Velcro closure in its crown. The pocket measures 4" x 5" (10 cm x 13 cm).

IMAGE 2

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat came with a four page Owner's Manual which described Tilley's insurance policy along with their lifetime guarantee. It also contained information regarding the fit of the hat, adjustment of the wind cord, and washing instructions. In addition to the Owner's Manual there were two hang tags attached to the hat. The first tag described the UV rating of the hat while the second tag listed the key features of the hat which include:

* Guaranteed for life not to wear out
* Insured against loss
* Made of washable waxed cotton that repels rain
* Ties on in the wind
* Floats
* Secret Pocket

The guarantee and care instructions are also printed on a tag which is sewn to the inside of the hat. The tag reads as follows: "Insured against loss, guaranteed for life (replaced free if it ever wears out). It floats, ties on, repels rain, blocks UV rays, won't shrink, and comes with a four-page owner's manual. Handcrafted with Canadian persnicketiness. Made of 100% waxed cotton and British brass hardware. Machine wash or hand-wash (cool water). Wash frequently to ensure sweat will not permanently discolor fabric. Reshape, air-dry, re-stretch over knee. Machine-dry low every few washes to restore water repellency."

TRYING IT OUT

IMAGE 3 The Outback hat is very comfortable to wear although it fits slightly tighter than described in the Owner's Manual. The manual says I should be able to easily insert two fingers flat, between the middle of my forehead and the front of the hat. I can squeeze one finger into this area. Before ordering the hat, I followed Tilley's directions implicitly regarding measuring my head. I even called the factory for assistance when I ended up between sizes. I don't expect fit to be a problem unless the hat shrinks, which I am not anticipating as Tilley describes it as unshrinkable.

I've worn the Outback outside a few times in windy conditions and it has stayed firmly in place. While watching my son's baseball game, the hat stayed firmly in place, despite 20+ mph (32 km/h) winds and it did a great job keeping the sun out of my eyes and off my neck.

SUMMARY

I really like this hat. It is well made with obvious attention to detail. I am looking forward to wearing it out on the trail and giving it a thorough workout.

This concludes my Initial Report on the Tilley TWC5 Outback hat. Please check back in two months for my field report. Many thanks to Tilley Endurables and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this hat.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the past two months I wore the Tilley Outback on two multi-day backpacking trips and two day hikes. I also wore this hat around town and to my kids' soccer games on weekends. The weather during this time was unpredictable; I encountered everything from calm, sunny skies to driving rain and tornado warnings. Daytime temperatures during this test period ranged from 62 F (16 C) to 86 F (30 C). On my trips I hiked on established trails and gravel roads as well as through dense forests with no trail markers.

1. Hoosier National Forest, Bloomington, Indiana: My first trip during this test period was a two day backpacking trip of approximately 12 miles (24 km). The weather was warm and sunny with highs in the mid 70's F (18 C) and nighttime lows in the upper 50's F (14 C). The terrain was heavily forested and quite rugged. I spent the majority of this backpacking trip off-trail.

2. Camp Frontier, Pioneer, Ohio: Camp Frontier is an 1,100 acre Boy Scout camp in Northwest Ohio. The land we camped on was slightly hilly with several lakes and lots of heavily forested areas. This was our Troop's first time to an out-of-council summer camp and fortunately I was able to join them for three days. While there I wore the hat continuously except while sleeping and taking showers. Temperatures ranged from 65 F (18 C) to 86 F (30 C) and the camp elevation was approximately 960 ft (292 m). There was a decent breeze most days which provided some relieve for the high humidity. The skies were cloudy when I arrived but eventually cleared.

3. Westfield, Indiana: The temperature during this day hike went from 78 F (25 C) down to 64 F (17C) when storms and heavy rain rolled through the park in mid afternoon. The trails were well maintained with minimal elevation changes.

4. Oldenburg, Indiana: The weather during this trip was partly sunny with temperatures in the mid 70's (23 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 1 The Tilley Outback hat performed flawlessly during my two months of field testing. So far it has passed my tests for comfort, ventilation, sun protection and overall durability with flying colors.

Comfort and Fit: Despite many days on the trail, the Tilley Outback has managed to retain its original shape and fit. The outer fabric still feels smooth to the touch with no fraying or pilling and the inner sweatband has remained soft and smooth against my forehead. Although the Tilley Outback is noticeably heavier than my ball caps, it fits great on my head and is very comfortable to wear even for long durations. The deep crown and tailored fit has allowed the hat to remain securely in place. While climbing up steep embankments and over fallen trees on my trip to Hoosier National Park, the hat stayed firmly on my head. Although I have subjected it to windy conditions on multiple occasions, it has stayed firmly in place without the need for the wind cord. I have also been impressed with how well the brim retains its shape during heavy wind gusts without flexing or bending. According to my wife, it even adds a bit of good looks when I am hanging out at our kid's soccer games. PS. I think she just said that so I would stop asking her how it looked. One final note regarding the fit of Tilley Outback is that the back brim does not interfere with either my internal or external frame backpacks. I contribute this to Tilley's well thought out design and attention to detail.

Ventilation: Hiking with the Tilley Outback at Camp Frontier in Northern Ohio provided a good opportunity to test the venting and breathing capabilities of this hat. It was quite humid during this outing with daytime temperatures in the mid 80's (28 C). I'm pleased to report that the hat breathed well during this trip and my head never became wet with perspiration. The air circulated through the large grommets providing welcome ventilation and the Hydrofil sweatband did a great job of wicking away moisture so that it did not drip down my face. Despite the hot, humid conditions, the sweatband stayed mostly dry and quite comfortable against my forehead.

IMAGE 2 Sun Protection: With reports of skin damage on the rise, it is comforting to know that the Tilley Outback provides UPF 50 protection against the sun's UV rays. In this regard, the Tilley Outback did an excellent job of providing shade for my face and ears when hiking or camping in sun exposed areas. It has also been very easy for me to shape the brim as needed so that it curves down in the front and back. In this position the brim does a very good job of protecting my neck from the sun's rays when combined with a collared shirt. When not wearing a collared shirt, I found that on a few occasions the lower part of my neck got red by the end of the day. This happened to me while hiking in Oldenburg, Indiana and I contributed it to the fact that the sun was getting under the brim as it moved lower in the sky. As a side note, the Tilley hat did a good job protecting me from ticks and other pesky insects while backpacking off-trail through heavy forests.

Durability and Weather Resistance: Regarding durability, the Tilley Outback has performed remarkably well so far. I have not noticed any fading, stains or sweat discoloration on the hat from my field use. This has been an ongoing grievance of mine in reference to most of my other hats as they tend to break down after a few years of use. Despite being worn continuously, accidentally sat on, and stuffed in my backpack, the shape of the Tilley Outback is almost the same as when it first arrived, with the addition of a few creases.

While day hiking in Central Indiana, I was caught in a major downpour and had the opportunity to test the Tilley Outback in pouring rain. It held up fairly well. Although the hat is not waterproof, it is water resistant and did a really good job of keeping the vast majority of rain off me. As mentioned by Tilley, the hat got really stiff once wet, which was a good thing because it kept the brim from collapsing under the weight of all the water. Once the weather cleared, the hat dried out in a few hours and was as good as new. Because my Tilley hasn't gotten very dirty during testing, I have not yet washed it. Nor have I tested its ability to float in water. With some additional testing time, I'll be able to comment on those items in my long term report.

SUMMARY

I love this hat. It fits well, and is comfortable to wear on the trail and around town. It is definitely on my short list of items to take on backpacking trips throughout the year.

Thanks to Tilley Endurables and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this hat.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the Long Term Test period, I continued to wear the Tilley Outback whenever I was outside, whether backpacking, doing yard work or watching my kids play soccer. Daytime temperatures during this test period averaged 86 F (30 C) with highs ranging from the mid 90's F (34 C) to over 100 F (38 C). Consequently, most of my backpacking was done during early morning hours or late evening. I pretty much spent my days in shady wooded areas.

1. Brown County, Indiana: My first trip during this test period was a two day backpacking trip of approximately 10 miles (16 km). Although temperatures were in the mid 80's F (28 C), the humidity was relatively low which made things pleasant. Nighttime lows were in the 70's F (22 C). The terrain was quite hilly and heavily forested.

2. Roaming Shores, Ohio: This was a four day hiking and fishing trip to Northeastern Ohio. The terrain was moderately hilly and there was lots of forested area. I wore the Tilley Outback continuously during this trip except when I was sleeping or swimming in the lake. Temperatures ranged from the mid 90's F (34 C) during the day to 75 F (24 C) at night. Our camp elevation was approximately 870 ft (265 m). Skies were sunny for most of the week and there was a slight breeze most days which provided some relief from the high humidity.

3. Oldenburg, Indiana: The weather during this two day trip was sunny and humid with temperatures in the mid 90's F (34 C). The terrain was hilly with a mixture of open fields and wooded areas.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Long Term Test period provided me with plenty of opportunities to continue evaluating the Tilley Outback. After completing another two months on the trail, I am happy to report that it performed admirably. It continues to be very comfortable to wear for extended periods. It also continues to provide excellent protection from the sun and rain. And finally, in regards to something that I was most concerned about at the start of this test, the Tilley Outback has shown no signs of wear or tear after four and one-half months of torture. It has creditably become my favorite hat.

IMAGE 1 Putting the past two months into perspective, my three main goals at the start of this test period were to 1) continue accessing the durability of this hat 2) test the wind straps in order to determine their effectiveness and 3) take advantage of the hot and humid weather to analyze the breathability and stain resistance of the Outback. With these goals in mind, there I was, five minutes before leaving for Roaming Shores, OH, feeling dejected that I couldn't bring myself to stuff my Tilley hat into the bottom of my backpack for the seven hour car ride. Apparently my attachment to this hat was stronger than I realized. My mind raced at the possibility I might not complete my goals and would have nothing to write about. Fast forward ten minutes and there I was, still in my garage, having forgotten about my goals and now simply pissed off that the Tilley Outback was making me late for my trip. Knowing traffic would be bad through Columbus I threw the Outback onto the back seat of my car figuring I would complete this particular test at a later date. The hat landed unsuspectingly in between two large piles of gear that I was hauling up to the campsite for my kids, for when they arrived later in the week. To this day I maintain it was an accident, although my wife would beg to differ, saying that my devotion to gear testing won out; needless to say when I arrived at my destination the Tilley Outback was completely smashed under the piles of gear in my back seat. Thankfully it has recovered quite well.

I had a good opportunity to test the wind straps while skimming the lake in a small fishing boat. I used both straps with one behind my head and the other under my chin. The hat stayed on with no problems and although the brim blew down a bit, it did not obstruct my vision. The wind straps were quick to put on and did not bother me or feel uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, they were very soft and, once adjusted, I eventually forgot I was using them.

Over the course of 9 days of trail testing during this test period and many 'around town' trips, the Tilley Outback provided excellent shade from the sun while allowing for plenty of cooling air circulation so my head did not roast. The hat remained comfortable to wear even when temperatures approached 90 F (32 C). I was particularly impressed with the ability of the sweatband to keep my eyes dry during most parts of my hikes. Despite plenty of use, the hat still looks fantastic, with no stains or discoloration due to sweat.

SUMMARY

I love this hat. It is well made and extremely durable. It fits well and is comfortable to wear while backpacking. I really like the protection it gives me on sunny days. It will definitely be on my short list of items to take on any hike or outing in spring, summer or fall.

This concludes my Long Term Report. Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Tilley Endurables for allowing me to test this great hat.

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

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