In the great Southwest, sunshine is one of our greatest natural resources. Here, hats are not an accessory, they are a necessity.
Over the years, I've collected a couple of dozen hats, but when I go afield or a float these days, I always grab a Tilley.
Backpacking in southern Arizona
My general purpose “go to” hat is the venerable LTM3. It's a lightweight nylon fabric hat with a medium brim and the ventilated crown. The brim also snaps up “Aussie-style”. This hat works anywhere, and for just about any occasion. The width of the brim is a good balance between sun protection and wind resistance. It is so light, I often forget that I am wearing it.
Climbing Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains
For those summer days when the cicadas are singing, and you can't see the horizon for the heat aberration, I pull out the trustee T2. This wide-brimmed hat is made from a breathable cotton duck. The “natural” color is actually an off white that does a good job of reflecting much of the sun's energy. Wearing this hat is like wearing a beach umbrella.
A hot day on the A.B. Young trail north of Sedona
Both of these hats, have a dark olive underbrim (to minimize reflected light), and they are washable. In fact, you can machine wash them on the gentle cycle. Tilley recommends washing them often, because it does prolong the life of the products, and in my opinion, makes them much more pleasant to wear. Sometimes, even the nylon fabric LTM three will shrink some; however, by hooking the hat on your knee, you can tug it back to a perfect fit.
Once I was sailing near the mouth of San Diego Bay. A wind gust came around point Loma, separated me from my LTM3, and overboard went the hat. This was a case of operator error, as the hat had retention cords both for the chin and the back of the head which I failed to employ. We gave up the search after about half an hour and turned back toward the bay. A few minutes later, we spotted it dead ahead, waterlogged but still afloat. It was still floating thanks to the layer of closed cell foam in the top of the crown–a feature immune to operator error.
Sailing out of San Diego Bay. Point Loma in the background
The features, the quality materials and manufacturing, make Tilley a superb line of products. As if that were not enough, the warrantee includes normal wear and tear. If your hat wears out, send it to the Tilley folks and they will replace it free of charge. Dude, that's awesome!
Try a Tilley hat. You will love it, and it may be the last hat you ever buy.