Gear review – Tilley Hiker’s hat

Recommended Price: £85
Weight: 108g

Canadian brand Tilley are famed for their hats – whether you think that’s famously well-made and durable or famously expensive. For many years I baulked at the price being so much higher than alternatives, but I was bought one as a present around a decade ago – and have been a convert ever since.

There are three factors which really lift Tilleys above sunhats I’d worn previously. One is that renowned construction. These are robust hats, covered by a lifetime guarantee. That’s not your usual guarantee covering faults in manufacture, but a guarantee that covers normal wear and tear. For a £6 shipping charge, Tilley will replace your hat if it wears out. That said, I’ve had my original one (a T3) for a decade and I can’t see it happening any time soon.

The other two great features are simple. First, they are available in a wide range of sizes, so you can get one that’s an absolute perfect fit for your head. This means a hat that can be worn in complete comfort, neither too tight and constricting, nor too loose, so it stays on securely. Finally, there is the simple strap system, for use in more windy conditions. Previous hats I’d worn had a reasonably functional (if uncomfy) chinstrap, but Tilleys have a cord with two loops, one that goes under your chin whilst the second fits round the bulge at the back of your head. I’ve found this both much more comfortable and more secure than any other system of keeping a hat on in the wind.

This newer model under review is made of organic cotton, and offers a sun protection factor of UPF50+. My old hat was round, but the Hiker’s hat has a slightly elongated shape – the brim is longer at the front and back – which means more shade where you need it on your face and the back of your neck. There’s a robust section of mesh just under the top of the hat to aid venting; my old hat didn’t have this but to be honest I’ve not found it makes a great deal of difference and am very happy with either hat in hot conditions. The T3 had brass studs for lifting the sides of the hat, but I never used these.

The other new feature is the insert that fits under the top of the hat (on the inside). This is a pad made of polymer and cellulose that soaks up water – the idea is that in the hottest conditions, you can soak it (and the rest of the hat) in water so that the hat cools your head. Of course, you can do this with any hat, but the pad means it takes longer to dry and so extends the cooling effect.

If your budget stretches to it, or you want to treat yourself, this is the best hiking sunhat I’ve tried.

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