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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Tilley Outback Hat TWC5 > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

TILLEY TWC5 OUTBACK HAT
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - April 19, 2010
FIELD REPORT - June 12, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - September 06, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy@backpackgeartest.com
AGE: 59
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


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: 4.5 oz (128 g)
Brim Measurements: Front: 2 5/8" (6.7 cm), Back: 2 3/4" (7 cm), Sides: 2 1/8" (5.4 cm)
Color (Available & Tested): British Tan
Sizes Available: 6 7/8 to 8+
Size Tested: 7

Other details:

* Made in Canada
* Made from 100% cotton with waxed finish and British Brass Hardware
* The Guarantee: For life, mine or its, not to wear out or fall apart.
* Insured Against Loss: For two years after purchase, Tilley will replace the hat at half the catalogue price.
Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat
Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Even if I had not drooled over the Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat at the Outdoor Retail Show in January, I would have been well acquainted with the Hat after a few minutes on the Tilley website. Wow! Are those Tilley people thorough! After only a few minutes browsing on the website, I knew just what to expect when the Hat finally did arrive on my doorstep.

The Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat (hereafter referred to as "the Hat" or "Tilley") is a pleasing shade of medium brown accented by four brass grommets on either side of the Hat. The fabric is a semi-rigid cotton canvas that holds its shape and can be quickly molded back into its proper shape after crushing it with no noticeable detriment.

The short, but moldable brim can be turned up, cowboy-style, on the sides as well as down. Four rows of circular stitching lend additional structure to the brim. A separate one inch (2.5 cm) headband connects the brim to the two-piece hat body.

Inside the Hat, the headband is lined with a light fleece. Two of the side grommets are positioned in the headband and are used for the Hat's ties. Looking for all the world like a long brown shoe-lace, the tie is a closed-loop system which works with slipknots to adjust for size. (See picture below) More on that later!
Inside the Tilley Hat
An upside down view of the Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat
Inside TWC5 Hat
There's a secret hidden here!

Tilley makes good use of the crown of the Hat's lining. There is product PR information, fabric composition, washing instructions, guarantee instructions and more. Thoughtfully, there is even a blank "label" where I will be able to fill out my name and contact information. Underneath all of this useful info is an approximately 3 x 3 inch (8 x 8 cm) "secret" pocket big enough for some cash, a key or other small items.

As a bit of fun, inside the secret pocket is a small re-closeable plastic bag with what Tilley calls "Brag Tags". Small stories from Tilley owners are printed on one side with 8 instances of Tilley contact information on the back. The idea being, when asked about the Hat, I can just tear off one of the portions and give the curious contact information for Tilley. For my trouble, the Brag Tag informs "A WARM HUG" or "A DRINK" should follow!

There are also two (on either side of the hat) hook and loop style loops at the inside crown of the Hat for the purpose of holding glasses steady after threading the frames through the upper grommets.

The quality of the Hat appears to be stellar with sturdy and neat construction.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Unlike any other hat I've ever owned, the Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat comes complete with an Owner's Manual - a 4 page Owner's Manual! Just about everything is covered from "Which is the Front" to how the guarantee and insurance policy works. Most of the really important information, such as washing instructions is also repeated on the label inside the Hat's crown. The instructions are clear and often stated with humor.

Should I ever misplace my Owner's Manual; the Tilley website provides copious amounts of illustrations, text and video to guide me through whatever I may need.

As for the washing instructions, briefly put they are as follows: Wash frequently by machine or hand in cool water. Do not use bleach. When rinsed, smooth and reshape the Hat by hand and air dry. After every few washes, a quick spin in the dryer (low setting) should be used to restore the water repellent finish. Sounds easy enough to me!

TRYING IT OUT

I've already worn the Hat 5 or 6 times on my daily brisk walks down our hilly, dirt, country road.

Thanks to the Hat Sizing Chart on the Tilley's website, my size 7 Hat fits my 22-inch (56 cm) (measured just above the eyebrows) head snugly but comfortably. The Hat sits low on my forehead similarly to the way I wear a cowboy hit. I can just barely insert my two fingers under the band. Speaking of the band, it feels very soft against my skin and secure in its placement on my forehead.

In addition to the snug fit, the Tilley TWC5 comes with a wind cord to aid in keeping the Hat on my head. I, in complete ignorance, untied the two simple knots to check out how the wind cord worked. To my dismay, the resultant tie was way too short to comfortably make a bow under my chin. A quick check with the Owner's Manual and I found the wind cord was SUPPOSED to have those knots in them! The knots are designed to "slide" so the wind cord can be adjusted to fit. Well, gee!

Fortunately, the Tilley website has complete instructions on how to re-tie the knots and on the Tilley Facebook page there is even a video for directionally-challenged people like me. I was able to put the pieces back together.

During testing, our notorious Colorado winds will no doubt have me doing a lot of experimenting with the wind cord worn front, back, in combo and tucked-up in the brim.

I was initially concerned the relatively short brim might be a bit deficient in shading my already compromised eyes. I always wear sunglasses outside and almost always a hat, as well. Pleasantly, I found wearing the Hat as low as it is advised, has sufficiently kept Old Sol from being a problem.

So far, the Hat is comfy and functional, so I can't wait to get out on the trails this coming weekend!

SUMMARY

The label in the Hat says it is "Handcrafted with Canadian Persnicketiness". Since, according to the Free Online Dictionary, "persnickety" means "Overparticular about trivial details; fastidious", I would have to say the label is accurate! For as far as I can ascertain, there isn't a wrinkle, a dropped or crooked stitch, a missed feature or an irritant to be found. The design of the Hat is well thought out and executed and I'm very excited to be able to test it!

This concludes my Initial Report on the Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat. The following report is my Field Report which was added in June after two months of testing in various locations and conditions.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Weather conditions in my neck of the Colorado woods have been really crazy this spring; with temperatures from below freezing up to the mid - 80s F (30 C).

We've even had a couple of freaky May snowfalls and more spring rain than I've become accustomed to seeing over the past couple of years. And I can't forget to mention the wind! Gusts up to 50 mph (81 kph) have been quite common.

Add to its near constant use in Colorado, my recent trips to New Jersey and Florida with humidity and temps (in Florida) up to 95 F (35 C) and I can attest the Tilley Hat has had a wide variety of weather conditions.

Most of the testing of the Hat took place in Colorado where the terrain was high desert with lots of valleys and hills-to-mountains. Elevation, at minimum, was over 5000 ft (1500 m) and at maximum, around 11,000 ft (3400 m).

My husband and I spend a lot of our time hiking behind our property on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land where there are no trails. The ground can be anything from powdery dust - fire danger conditions continue to be high despite the rain - to hard granite. We have to do a lot of scrambling up and around boulders on ridges, too.
Mother's Day Hike to Fremont Peak
Mother's Day Hike to Fremont Peak
Vegetation is typical high desert, lots of cactus, juniper and pinon pine. This year the wildflowers are gorgeous and plentiful! Very Nice!

We also have been exploring trails in and around Fremont County, scouting out interesting and not-too-hard ones in anticipation of visiting grandkids. We spent Mother's Day weekend backpacking with our newly-turned-9-year-old granddaughter on trails in the Royal Gorge Recreation Area and watched with pride as she hiked to the top of Fremont Peak ( 7096 ft/2163 m).

In all, over the past two months, I would say I've worn the Tilley Hat easily over 100 hours, over two overnights, 5 day hikes and casual wear around town.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Thanks to the ultra-soft headband, I've been very comfortable wearing this Hat even in the highest temperatures I have encountered so far during this test. As snug as the Hat fits around my forehead, there haven't been any irritating sensations as I have experienced with some other hats I wear as low on my forehead as this one. The headband does a very good job of wicking sweat off my forehead and spreading it upward towards the crown of the Hat.

Keeping my eyes shaded is probably the biggest reason I wear hats. Year round we have lots of very bright sunshine here in Colorado where I spend most of my backpacking, snowshoeing, and hiking hours. So, year round I wear hats, very often, cowboy-style hats. In relationship to a cowboy-style hat, the Tilley sports a shorter brim. Surprisingly to me, the brim has done a very adequate job of keeping the sun out of my eyes with less weight than a more oversized brim.

On the other side of the weather picture, while I have not had to hike in any sustained downpours, I have encountered several short light to medium rain squalls and thanks to the waxed cotton construction of the Hat, water just beads up and rolls off, keeping my noggin dry underneath. So far, in the rain is the only place I would have preferred a wider brim so as to better keep the water from rolling off the brim onto my back.

Despite the fact it has been a very windy spring, I've been able to wear the Tilley Outback TWC5 Hat quite bit without having to use the wind cord. As long as I can duck my head down when a gust comes along, the Hat stays put very securely. However, most of the time when I am hiking along, I am gawking at the scenery and my head is up and swiveling. Then the wind cord is a very welcome feature of the Hat and I have mostly used both the back and front sections to fasten the Hat to my head.

As of yet, I have not really used the "secret" pocket. In the first place, since there is so much advertising about the "secret" pocket, I don't think it's much of a secret and I don't generally carry anything small enough and valuable enough to put in it. I'll have to come up with something to try out the pocket in the next couple of months, just to say I did though.

I never packed the Hat in my backpack these past months as it was always on my head, but I did give the crush-ability factor of the Hat a good test during several plane trips to New Jersey, Florida, and Michigan. Each trip, the Hat was crunched into the smallest possible space in my overhead carry-on for upward of 20 hours. Each time when I pulled the poor thing from my bag upon arrival at my destination, the Hat, after a good sharp shake, took a very few minutes to spring back into shape and look presentable enough for me to wear. Nice!
Dirt wasn't the biggest factor in my decision to wash the Hat after only a few weeks, but sweat was. Tilley advises frequent washing of the Hat to prevent staining from sweat. After a trek through Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida - don't laugh, I think I worked harder there with 4 grandkids under the age of ten than any trail in the Rockies! - and with the way I soaked the Hat, I knew I needed to wash the Hat.

I followed the instructions found in the Hat and machine washed it with my other technical clothing in cold water and a tech wash liquid soap. After washing, I smoothed it out and let it air dry in the shade outside on a towel on a table. Within a couple of hours it was dry and ready to wear, looking quite spiffy again.
Dirty Sweatband
Sweat and Dirt Stains

SUMMARY

I really like this Hat! With so many neat features and such outstanding quality and durability, I found it the Hat I would grab - and heck even spend time searching for if need be - on all outdoor treks. I'm sure I will continue to wear this Hat to death but am happy to know should that unhappy situation arise - death of the Hat, not me - Tilley will replace the Hat for me!

This concludes my Field Report on the Tilley TWC5 Outback Hat. After two more months of wear, I updated this report with my Long Term Report below.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Wearing Outback
Wearing the Tilley Outback in Fremont County
Over the past 2 months, the Tilley Outback Hat really got around traveling with me through 3 states - Colorado, Michigan and Utah. I actually spent 8 weeks (including time during the field report) straight away from my home which gave me a good feel for how the Outback behaves in varying climates.

My three weeks in White Lake, Michigan were hot. Not a day below 85 F (29 C) and nights never cooled down much below 78-ish F (26 C). It rained a lot and I barely got in two short hikes a week and only at night because it was so hot. These walks were all in a rural/suburban setting around the lake and river where my Michigan house is located. Very grassy, except when I'd mis-step and land in the water!

Blessedly, in mid-June, I finally got back to Canon City, Colorado where though it is still the hottest summer I can ever remember, it IS a DRY heat and not nearly as unbearable as the humid eastern half of the USA. Two or three nights a week, my husband and I take night hikes through our property to see what we can see, shake off the day's stress and just plain get some exercise after sitting at our computers all day. As soon as the sun dips below the mountains to the west, the temperatures also dip and by 9-10:00 pm, it's around 70-75 F (21-24 C). I didn't hike in the rain and the terrain varies from dry, dust to hard-packed dirt to loose scree to granite. All so beautiful to me!

I took the Outback with me to Utah to wear but the time I was outdoors it was just too darn hot to wear it, so sadly, it stayed neglected and crushed up in my suitcase.

So, in the field, I wore the Outback at least a dozen times or so during the last two months.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Outback continues to be a rugged workhorse in the hat department. It's been crushed and mashed, snagged by pine and juniper vegetation and even stepped on a few times. It still looks great!

I really like the style of the hat both fashion-wise and function-wise. It doesn't have a dorky look that can only be worn on the trail and it works very well at the tasks a hat is supposed to accomplish. The Outback protects my head from the elements - sun and rain - and keeps those same elements out of my eyes.

I found I don't really like the adjustable chin strap. While it is soft and non-irritating, it just is a bother to use and I kept fumbling with it. This is probably more my fault than that of the hat as I'm a klutz about such things. Fortunately, the Outback does a great job of staying on my head even when it is windy. The band is very snug and the shorter brim doesn't seem to the "catch" the wind as much as some of my other brimmed hats. Now that the testing period is over, I will remove the ties and be done with them.

As for the snug hat band, it does a great job of wicking sweat from my forehead and sweat I've done over the last couple of months! It's been so hot and in Michigan it was very, very humid besides. And while the Outback wicks well at the band, it doesn't breathe sufficiently for me in temperatures over 85 F (29 C) or so. When ole Sol was ablazing, I found myself reaching for my more lightweight hats and neglecting the Outback. I had to force myself to wear it a few times just for the sake of testing. It's a great hat, but not for me in the warmest temperatures.

I did find a use for the "secret" pocket that worked well for me - my MP3 player fits in there perfectly! And since it's a short distance from the pocket to my ear, I was able to use my MP3 player without having to worry about snagging the ear bud cord on vegetation all the time. Neat!

I don't own another hat that stands up to abuse as well as the Outback! I can't tell you how many times it's been crushed in a pack - I would always take it on every dayhike even if I didn't think I would be able to wear it due to the heat. It has been snagged on trees on a bunch of occasions and even took a mud "bath" when I knocked it out of the car onto our wet, sticky dirt road. The Outback has survived all that, a couple of machine washings in cold water and tech wash soap and even one machine dry and it looks great! Five Stars!

SUMMARY

To summarize my assessment of the TWC5 Outback Hat, I would have to say, this is one durable hat which excels at keeping the sun out of my eyes and any rain off my head! It has excellent stability in the wind even without using the chin straps. For resiliency and crush-ability, the Outback ranks tops as it can withstand long-term cramming into tight spaces and still regain its shape quickly. However, when the weather is very hot and humid, for me, the Outback is just unfortunately too hot to wear.

I'm thankful to both BackpackGearTest.org and Tilley for the chance to wear this Hat and fully expect to wear it in the future when the weather is cooler.

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

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

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