Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tilley Hats: Something Even I Can't Tear Up


Before and After--I've aged more than the Tilley has . . .

Some months ago I bought a new hat for summer--I bought a Tilley Endurables TH4. I bought it on the recommendation of my friend and Brother Master Mason, Terry Tillis (a true "hat guy"). He didn't recommend the hat I finally selected, he just recommended the hat company. I wrote about it at the time here

There was a lot to like about that hat as soon as I took it out of the box. It had a really nice wide brim (and for us guys with big noses, that's always a plus). Another thing I like right out of the box was the angle of the brim in back. It's one of the few brimmed hats I own that I can drive in comfortably--I'm not always knocking it off with the head rest. And while it looked heavy and stiff at first, the hemp fabric was actually very light and extremely comfortable the first time I wore it--and the more I've worn it and washed it, the softer it's gotten. There was no "breaking-in" period like with most hats.

Idiot swimming in the Tilley hat? That me!
 So early on, I knew I was going to like this hat. But there was part of that story I wasn't completely buying--the idea that this hat I'd purchased was virtually indestructible. There was even a story that one had been digested by an elephant (twice!) and had been recovered. I'd have to admit, I took that as a challenge. I was looking forward to sending that hat back to Tilley in a very short number of months for a replacement (they have a lifetime guarantee). So that's what I set out at the beginning of the summer to do--to destroy that hat as quickly as possible.

Me and the Tilley at Festival #3
I've put that poor hat through hell over the last few months. I've fished wearing it. I've done yard work wearing it. It's been on my head when I've gone swimming in the family pond--I even wore it into a swimming pool (there was a little alcohol involved that time). Oh yeah, that reminds me, it's beer proof also--I believe I'm the first one to mention that as a selling point. That hat has even survived a half dozen fall festivals, long walks, windy days, and a brief exposure to a campfire (I should have been wearing the chin strap that breezy afternoon). It's also been harshly washed a number of times. It's been exposed to a lot: dirt, mud, sweat, pond water, wood smoke, ash, grass clippings, worm guts, chicken blood, chlorine, stink bait, gasoline, BBQ sauce. You name it. I even got white spray paint mist all over it, and had to use hot water, dish detergent, and a stiff brush to get it off. I've indeed been unnecessarily cruel to that hat, and I feel bad for what I've done. 

Can you guess, in the end, who finally won that contest? The Tilley hat did.

Despite the horrible treatment I've given it, it looks nearly as good as it did when I took it out of the box--but it's even better now. Every time I've washed it, it gets softer and even more comfortable. It's been years since anyone had to remind me to remove my hat, but this one has gotten so comfortable I forget I'm wearing it. I don't think I've ever owned a hat I enjoy wearing more--whether I'm mowing the yard or going to the grocery store. I don't think I've worn a baseball cap all summer. In the beginning I wore it with the purpose of tearing it apart, but it wasn't long before I was wearing it because it's comfortable, and I love it! What a great hat!

He's not as handsome as me,
but it gives you an idea...
But the Tilley TH4 has one drawback. It is a little casual for wearing to work in an office, and probably isn't the best choice for winter--so guess what I did today? Yeah, I'm sold. I ordered another one. The Tilley winter hat--toasty warm for winter and stylish enough for work. I'm going to try to be kinder to this hat. It's predecessor pretty much proved the Tilley reputation for endurance is well-earned. Sure, they're a little more of an investment than a baseball cap, but it very well might be the last hat you ever have to buy.

So check out the Tilley website--they offer an amazing range of styles and fabrics. It's good to know in a world that can't seem to make a pair of jeans that can survive a year of wear that there still exists at least one thing that is made to last.

~TEC

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