Summer Gear: The Nearly Indestructible Tilley Endurables

I love hats. You might have picked up on that in the past. I’ve been collecting and wearing hats for years. I’ve got baseball caps, fedoras, boonies, Panamas, straw hats, bucket hats, fishing hats—I’ve even got a waxed canvas outback hat I only wear when it rains. I’ve never met a hat I don’t like.
But I’m very hard on hats, especially the summer ones. They’re either comfortable and useless for protection against the sun or they provide good protection and are hot and miserable to wear. But thanks to a tip from a friend of mine (and Brother Freemason), Terry Tillis, I think I may have found the last summer hat I’ll ever need. Terry is another hat enthusiast like me, and I’m glad I took his advice and ordered a Tilley Hat.

I got one of the Tilley Endurables (the TH4 hemp hat). This is one ruggedly built, remarkably well-designed hat. It’s obvious that a lot of thought as been put into the design, and Tilley remarked that they’ve continued to improve the hats they make year after year.

Mine is made of hemp fabric that is purportedly nearly indestructible. In fact, one of the stories told about a Tilley hat claims a zookeeper lost his hat when an elephant ate it. He got it back a few days later, washed it, and put it back to use. Apparently, his hat became one of the elephant’s favorite snacks—it happened twice more. Tilley wanted it for his hat museum, but the zookeeper refused to give it up. Just for the record, if an elephant eats my hat, I’m not waiting around to get it back.

I may have actually run across a hat that can survive even me—and if not, it comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee even if you run it through an elephant a few times. 

I’ve been putting this hat through its paces since I got it. It looked heavy at first, but the material is actually very light. It fits low on my head, and it’s very comfortable, even when I’m sweating (that’s when a lot of hats fail the comfort test). It’s got four large brass grommets that let it plenty of airflow. Two of those grommets can be used to store your sunglasses on your hat and there’s a piece of Velcro inside to secure them (someday, a scuba diver will find all my sunglasses at the bottom of Creason Pond). It also provides maximum protection against the sun earning the maximum rating—UPF 50+. There’s even a wind cord to keep in on your head on breezy fall afternoons, and just in case you’re a careless fisherman like me, and forget little things like wind cords, it also floats.

But I think my favorite feature is the full brim on the TH4 model. When you’ve got a big nose like me, the more brim on your hat, the less likely you’re going to get too much sun on your beak. Another thing about that brim that’s unique is it lays down at an angle in the back which shields your neck, and makes it perfect for driving too—you won’t keep knocking it off with the headrest. That drives me nuts so most of my brimmed hats wind up riding in the passenger seat.

There’s a good-sized pocket inside the hat too—Tilley suggested it might be useful for keeping a room key, or a credit card, or some cash when you’re out exploring on a vacation maybe. I wasn’t very impressed with that feature, but as I was working in the yard tonight, and I leaned over and my iPod fell out of my shirt pocket, pulled my ear buds out and crashed on the ground, I suddenly thought of a use for that pocket after all. My iPod fits nicely in there, and it keeps the cord out of the way while I’m working. I may have found my perfect hat.

After just a couple days, I can tell already it’s going to be my favorite hat for daily wear. I’m pretty sure, if things work out, there will be another Tilley Hat in my closet before the snow flies again—they’ve got some very nice winter hats too.


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