Gear Test: Tilley Endurables Hat

May 22, 2006
Filed under Camping Gear, Misc. Camping Gear, Outdoor Apparel

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How do you test a hat? By wearing it, folding it, rolling it up and stuffing it into a pack pocket, stepping on it, tossing it in water, washing it, and then wearing it some more. And that’s exactly what we did with the Tilley LTM AirFlo Hat. Tilley Endurables has a reputation for making an indestructible hat, and we were determined to assess that claim.

The Tilley LTM AirFlow is made from Nylantium, a lightweight, sturdy and mildew-proof type of nylon. The hat features a polyester mesh vent band along the upper edge of the crown, a twin-looped wind cord (chin strap), a broad and flat brim that stays stiff and outstretched, and a Hydrofil anti-sweat band. The grommets are British brass; the hat is made in Canada. And the hat harbored a secret: Inside the crown was a hidden stash pocket (small, zipper-style plastic pouch included) for valuables such as a passport, credit card, ID or cash.

Tilley’s suggested method of wearing the hat is just a hair loose and pulled down low on the head. The rear loop of the wind cord is supposed to be tucked just under the curve of the head where it meets the back of your neck, with the front loop drawn underneath the chin. Adjustments are best made to the back loop where the two simple knots are located. Of course, if the wind is not blowing hard or you’re not moving fast, the hat can be worn without the wind cord, as it easily and comfortably tucks up into the crown.

The hat can be machine washed in cold or warm water when it gets really dirty or sweat-stained, or it can be washed by hand using a scrub brush and a little soap. Do not use bleach, though, as this can permanently stain the hat. After washing, and while it’s still damp, the hat should be smoothed and reshaped by hand and allowed to air-dry. Once dry, simply put it over your knee and gently stretch it back into shape. We washed it once and it sprung right back into shape (with the appropriate amount of massaging).

We were rained on twice during our test period, but on most weekends the sun beat down hard. Thankfully, the Tilley admirably protected us from both. A pinch of rain water did enter through the polyester mesh vent, but it wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits; and more importantly, the venting allowed heat and moisture to escape, keeping the head cool. Its wide brim offered excellent sun protection, and the Tilley has been certified to block 98 percent of UVA/UVB radiation and has a UPF 50+ rating.

After two months of severe-duty use every weekend, our LTM Airflow looked and felt almost new. It now occupies a permanent spot on our hat rack. MSRP: $69. Tilley Endurables: 800/363-8737; tilley.com.

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