Mar 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm #1288102
What are your thoughts on wearing felt hats for backpacking? I usually hike in a baseball cap, but aside from keeping a little sun out of my eyes, it really doesn't do much for protection. I kind of like the looks of some felt hats, and they can look good outdoors or in more dressy settings.
From the little that I've read, quality felt has a fairly decent comfortable temperature range, and is not half bad at rain protection. Here is a link to an Australian company that has some great looking felt hats…
Anyone here backpack with a felt hat? I'd be interested to hear pros and cons.Mar 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm #1861690
The one con I can think of is that they are rather warm and could make you sweaty if you are hiking.Mar 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm #1861696
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
They are heavy, and a good one is expensive.
–B.G.–Mar 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm #1861702
@jdw01776Locale: Southeast Texas
When I started backpacking (1976) wool felt crusher hats were all the rage. They were hot, soaked up water, and took a long time to dry. Based on my experience with those, I'll take a nice, light, nylon baseball style cap anyday — works much better under a hood…Mar 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm #1861705
Thanks for the feedback. Kat and Bob, you make valid points. They are expensive (for the good ones), heavier, and would likely be hot.
John, I agree about baseball caps underneath hoods, they really work well. During rain that is usually my preferred headgear, baseball cap and hood. In the sun and cold, however, the baseball cap is pretty lacking.Mar 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm #1861711
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
My baseball cap has a Gore-tex-like fabric, so it is pretty good in wet weather. For cold weather, I tuck a folded bandana inside it for better insulation. For sun, I unfold the bandana and let it hang down from the cap over my ears and neck.
–B.G.–Mar 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm #1861735
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
I've worn one a few times. Not great in hot weather and I always felt it was kinda in the way. I took two to summer camp and let kids wear them. They liked the look of them so I'd let them pass them around.
I also like baseball camps because I can wear them under a hood.Mar 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm #1861742
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Backin the summer when Richard Nixon was abdicating his throne I was canoeing the wilds of Quebec's Kippawa Game preserve. I had a felt crusher" (roll-up) hat that I'd treated with maybe 10 coats of Sno Seal spread on my hands and rubbed in the hat's exterior, using a hair drier between each application.
It worked. In day-long rains I never got a wet head. I recommend it for cool-wet climates like Canada or the US Pacific Northwest.
But don't take more than a roll-up crusher style felt hat due to the weight.Mar 30, 2012 at 11:12 pm #1861772
Funny, I just bought an Akubra Cattleman. I'm not sure it's the best choice for ultralight trail use, but for everday use in the rainy Pacific Northwest, it's just about perfect – way better than any hood or baseball cap.
Something I learned in my research is that pretty much all of the Akubras imported into the US (exclusively by David Morgan) are lined, even if their Australian counterparts are not. As I wanted an unlined hat, I ordered mine from Everything Australian (everythingaustralian.com.au). They were great folks to work with and I actually paid a bit less than what David Morgan was asking.
Another thing worth mentioning is to avoid wool and stick with good-quality fur felt. Wool won't stand up to weather very well – it shrinks and loses shape quite easily.Mar 31, 2012 at 12:09 am #1861776
"The one con I can think of is that they are rather warm and could make you sweaty if you are hiking."
Well Akubras are pretty standard in the hottest parts of Australia, so draw your own conclusions ….Mar 31, 2012 at 12:20 am #1861778
"Funny, I just bought an Akubra Cattleman. I'm not sure it's the best choice for ultralight trail use, but for everday use in the rainy Pacific Northwest, it's just about perfect – way better than any hood or baseball cap."
Interesting you should say that Jonathan, I tried on a few Akubras at a store in San Jose today and the one that I liked the most was the Cattleman. That is one fine looking hat. I decided I prefer the curl down in the front and back of the brim, but not up on the sides. On some reviews I read it said that the Cattleman was unlined, but the one I saw today was lined. Now that you explained the lined vs unlined depending on Aussie or US, it makes sense.
If I do get one (not necessarily for backpacking), I'm deciding between the Cattleman and the Slouch (in Australia they call it the "Military" I think). I'd bash it similar to the Cattleman, not pinned up on one side like in the photos.Mar 31, 2012 at 6:10 am #1861798
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
Paul Petzoldt's recommended piece of equipment in the early days of his dealings with Outward Bound and NOLS.
Classic footage of Paul Petzoldt talking about the early days of NOLS. If you have never experienced NOLS you may gain some insight to NOLS in the video below AND hats.Mar 31, 2012 at 8:39 am #1861825
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I've been looking for a deal on a felt crusher hat. They have been worn by my family members for generations on fishing and hunting trips. Treating them with Scotchguard or similar spays helps with water repellency.
The other Pacific NW classic outdoorman's rain hat is the Filson Tin Hat, made of oiled cotton. They have several other variations on the theme. You will wear out before the hat does. I left mine on bus :(
And of course, there is the Tilley.Mar 31, 2012 at 8:54 am #1861834
The M1911 campaign style hat (also known as a Montana Peak hat) is another outdoor classic worth considering. You've surely seen them atop park rangers, state police officers, Smokey the Bear, and Marine Corps drill instructors. They're typically available in felt or straw; the latter would be a good option for warmer climates.
Unfortunately, when it comes to felt versions, modern day models are almost invariably made of wool. What Price Glory (onlinemilitaria.com) makes a 10x nutria version, but the price is steep. They also make a very nice repro M1889 campaign hat that is equally pricey.
Used versions of these hats in good condition don't sell for a whole lot less either, but it's a testament to their quality that there are so many of them still out there.Mar 31, 2012 at 9:06 am #1861835
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
If you are going to go there, the letter carrier's sun helmet works for sun and rain too. Totally the best ventilated rain hat out there.Mar 31, 2012 at 9:29 am #1861841
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
I like a crusher under my parka hood in cold rain. Keeps the hood out of my face and adds
a bit of warmth. Baseball caps don't hold the hood back as well.
When doing woods work and SAR in wet conditions, hard hats work really well, not ultralight, but you can fit warm hats underneath and have very good sight and better
hearing than a hood.
My grandparents liked pith helmets for summers in Montana, pork pies of cloth for fall,
and felt dress hats for winter.Mar 31, 2012 at 10:19 am #1861858
@rick778Locale: NorCal - South Bay - Campbell
"Interesting you should say that Jonathan, I tried on a few Akubras at a store in San Jose today and the one that I liked the most was the Cattleman"
Doug, what store in San Jose?Mar 31, 2012 at 11:23 am #1861873
If you want protection from the sun, nothing beats a boonie, with full all around rim, preferably dark colored on the underside. They are best in cotton, about the only apparel item I prefer in that fabric, since they can be effectively wetted down. Baseball caps are bad, unless you prefer that the sun convert your ears to bacon..Mar 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm #1861904
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
Nice to see you on here.
Baseball caps are bad, unless you prefer that the sun convert your ears to bacon..
I remember a certain hail storm right after I had gotten a short hair cut when I was wearing a baseball hat… OUCH on the ears.
I like the wide-brimmed, style, and I like cotton. The Tilley for me was too heavy, and I sweated too much. I got tired of sweat in my eyes. I've got a lighter, softer cotton hat now, at it seems to breath well enough that I don't have sweat rolling constantly down my forehead. The brim is floppy enough that it actually works under a hood.Mar 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm #1862011
Rick, the store is on Stevens Creek, called "Australian products". Their website is Aussieproducts.com. It was a little hole in the wall store with trinkets and all things aussie related. Their entire hat collection consisted of about 5 or 6 Akubras hanging on a wall, and even those models they only had in one or two colors. But it was enough for me to check out sizing and see some in person. The staff were also very friendly. If you go there to seriously look though, call first to confirm which colors, models and sizes they have, as they have a very small selection.
"The M1911 campaign style hat (also known as a Montana Peak hat) is another outdoor classic worth considering. You've surely seen them atop park rangers, state police officers, Smokey the Bear, and Marine Corps drill instructors. They're typically available in felt or straw; the latter would be a good option for warmer climates."
Jonathan, I actually have a high quality felt Stratton campaign hat as part of my "Class A" uniform. It is a very solid and well built hat, but I'm honestly not a fan of the style. For one thing, the way we wear them is with a very noticeable forward cant. To size the hat to fit properly for this cant it will be a bit too small to wear in the traditional flat manner (too small by about a size or two). Also, with a forward cant, after a few hours it really digs into your forhead.
As you can see, it does do a pretty good job of blocking the sun, even at an angle. But the Stratton campaign hat is much too heavy for hiking…much heavier than the Akubras I tried on yesterday.Mar 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm #1862013
""The one con I can think of is that they are rather warm and could make you sweaty if you are hiking."
Well Akubras are pretty standard in the hottest parts of Australia, so draw your own conclusions …."
In my experience it's quite different if you hike and exert yourself. Normal daily out and about is a different story.Mar 31, 2012 at 7:15 pm #1862033
That definitely makes sense Kat. I suppose that just like any clothing item, you'd have to make sure the hat was used in the right temperature range to be comfortable, with exertion factored in.
I'm sure if felt hats were the ideal hat for backpacking, everyone would be wearing one. My initial question was mainly to see if they are completely impractical, or if anyone actually does prefer to wear them while backpacking or hiking. And if so, what their take was on it. I like the style, and I immagine I'll pick up a felt hat whether for backpacking, around town, or taking the kids to the zoo. It would certainly be easy enough to wear one on a day hike to at least test the merits or feasability.Apr 1, 2012 at 11:24 am #1862191
Yeah, those Stratton hats have a cardboard-like stiffness to them. The older M1911 and BSA hats I've seen have had much more pliable brims.Apr 1, 2012 at 6:59 pm #1862359
"In my experience it's quite different if you hike and exert yourself. Normal daily out and about is a different story."
That's what I meant – Akubras (and other similar brands) are work hats – my grandfather who ran cattle stations had one permanently on his head, and he had a tan line across his forehead from it.Apr 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm #1862363
Oh, I guess that's why here we all backpack in Wranglers and Stetsons….
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