I see so many different kinds of hats on the trail, reminds me of the song Easter Bonnet. And with so many Yuppie brands and big bucks to be made, most outdoor gear fitters have an extensive inventory of models available. A hat can be critical for survival or comfort given a “Perfect Storm” of conditions to threaten the hiker’s well being in the wilderness. I almost always take a hat, but most of the time it is inside or strapped to the outside of my pack.
For decades I used inexpensive Army surplus Boonie Hats. These meet all the requirements I look for in a hat. Nowadays I take either a Tilley LTM6 Airflo hat or a REI eVent baseball cap. The Tilley is my go to hat for most trips. I can’t remember when I bought the Tilley, I have owned it for a long time. I bought the REI cap in 2009.
A hat should be lightweight, provide protection from the sun, ventilate well, withstand the perils of hard use when backpacking to include being stuffed in a pack, and stay on your head in wind. Some folks look for good water resistance or even waterproof, but I have hooded rain gear for heavy rain.
The Tilley stays on my head in hurricane type wind, due to the double strap setup; on strap under my chin and one on the back of my head. When there is no wind I stuff the straps into the crown of the hat.
But most of the time it is strapped to my pack. I prefer to hike without a hat most of the time.
REI Cap on Left, Tilley on Right
The Tilley is extremely breathable, floats, water resistant, and has a little pocket under the crown to store emergency items.
The REI cap is made from eVent, which is water proof and breathable. Well, it breaths poorly and your head gets soaked. But it is great in rainy, cool weather under a piece of hooded rain wear and helps keep eyeglasses dry. Both hats fit my needs perfectly depending upon the trip, and after many years and washings are good as new. I am not in the market of a “new and improved” hat. Some information from the respective company websites below.
TILLEY LTM6 Airflo
- Guaranteed for life not to wear out
- Insured against loss
- Excellent sun protection, rated UPF 50+
- Dark underbrim for glare protection
- Repels rain, floats
- Ties on in the wind
- Machine washable, won’t shrink
- 4-page Owner’s Manual
- Secret pocket
- Broad brim with ¾” ventilation mesh
- Fabric made from 100% supplex nylon Tilley Nylamtium®. Mesh made from 100% polyester.
- The fabrics of all Tilley Hats have been certified to block 98 percent of harmful UVA/UVB radiation and deliver an ultraviolet factor (UPF) of 50+, the maximum rating given.
- You still need SPF 30 sunscreen and sunglasses with UV filters! Children especially need the UV filters in their sunglasses as non-filtering glasses will increase the size of their pupils, allowing even more of the damaging UV rays to enter. This often causes cataracts and retinal problems later in life and has happened in my (Alex Tilley’s) own family.
- Yes, Dorothy, there can be truth in advertising. For instance, although our Hats block 98% of UV rays, some rays COULD enter through ¾” mesh.
- We hand-sew each Hat using very strong thread; all seams are lock-stitched so they won’t unravel. The brass is from Britain and is the best there is. All Hats are made with such care and dedication that one is as good as another. Your Tilley will be equal to that presented to a president or princess. (“Hi, Duke! How long have you had your Tilley?” could be an effective opener.)
Wash it frequently or non-removable sweat stains will mar it and possibly rot it. Machine wash on delicate cycle separately or hand wash in cool water. Do not use bleach as it remains inside the Hat, slowly rotting it. Smooth and reshape the Hat by hand and set it out to air dry. When the Hat is dry, simply re-stretch it, as an American sailor showed us, by putting your knee in the crown, and pulling firmly on the opposite side.
HERE’S WHY TILLEY HATS ARE ACKNOWLEDGED ‘THE BEST IN THE WORLD.’
- APPEARANCE AND COMFORT: To protect you from the sun and rain, Tilleys fit lower than other hats. This also tends to give one a rather dashing appearance! For your comfort, they’re held on by gravity, not painful pressure on your forehead. On a hot muggy day, you’ll especially appreciate this!
- 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: 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. 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 current catalogue price.
- EXCELLENT SUN PROTECTION: The fabric of all Tilley Hats have been certified to block 98 percent of harmful UVA/UVB radiation and deliver an ultraviolet factor (UPF) of 50+, the maximum rating given. Yes, Dorothy, there can be truth in advertising. For instance, although our Hats block 98% of UV rays, some rays COULD enter through ¾” mesh.
- GLARE PROTECTION: Many Hats have a dark underbrim to reduce glare from water, sand and pavement.
- REPELS RAIN: Not perfectly but usually quite adequately. The brim channels water away for improved foul-weather protection.
- FLOATS: A layer of closed-cell foam in the crown, and sometimes in the brim, provides the Tilley’s positive buoyancy. This is a boon to boaters and fishermen/women/people. Good grief! People have told us that this foam layer has helped save their lives. Double your money back if it doesn’t save yours. Apply personally….
- TIES ON: The Tilley comes with a tuckaway, adjustable, fore ‘n’ aft Wind Cord. When it’s calm, the Wind Cord stays hidden in the crown. When there’s a breeze, place the part with the sliding knots behind your head. When it’s windy or you’re sailing, use the chin part too. See the Owner’s Manual, which accompanies each Hat, for amplification or visit our Facebook page to watch the Tilley Hat Wind Cord tutorial.
- WON’T SHRINK: After washing, smooth and reshape the Hat by hand and set it out to air dry. When the Hat is dry, simply re-stretch it, as an American sailor showed us, by putting your knee in the crown, and pulling firmly on the opposite side.
- 4-PAGE OWNER’S MANUAL: You’ll find it a good read. It’s also available in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. Please specify if it should be other than in English.
- HYDROFIL® ANTI-SWEAT BAND: Soft and comfortable, it picks up sweat from your forehead and wicks it away to your temple area where it evaporates.
- SECRET POCKET: Inside the crown is a good-sized pocket sealed with Velcro®. In it, carry your I.D., hotel key, $10 bill (in your case, a $20), plus 50¢ for an emergency phone call.
- BRAG TAGS: There are 8 of these in the Secret Pocket. You’ll have fun with them; they can even get you into trouble, if you wish.
- UMPTEEN SIZES: Most hat makers make 4 or 5 sizes; we make 13, and even individual Hats beyond that size range when necessary. As a matter of principle, no one shall be deprived of the pleasure and privileges of Tilley Hat ownership simply because of an uncommon head size.
- BUT WHAT MAY BE MOST WONDERFUL OF ALL? Those who wear Tilleys usually have innate good taste, creative minds and uncommon intelligence. Everybody knows that! And the Hats serve to identify such people to each other – immediately. Because of these exceptional yet shared traits, virtually always, especially in foreign countries, Tilley wearers greet each other. Friendships have been formed because of the Hat, and that can be the nicest thing of all.
REI Rangeclimber Cap
- eVent fabric has a unique membrane that allows sweat vapor to escape to the outside of the fabric in 1 easy step
- No matter how hard you work, overheating is highly unlikely due to this Direct Venting™ technology
- Polyester sweatband wicks moisture off your brow
- 2.75 in. brim keeps rain and sun out of your eyes
- Strap in back lets you fine-tune the fit of the REI Rangeclimber cap; 1 size fits most
Not sure if this is exactly my model, since I bought it several years ago. My headband is made from CoolMax material. However the REI picture is identical to my hat.