The friendly folks at Tilley Endurables wrote to ask if I’d like to try one of their hats. I’d never heard of a Tilley before, but it turns out they’re like the Cadillac of hats…
Wait a sec, that’s not fair…Cadillacs are gas-hogs, unreliable, and generally behind the times. I guess I mean, Tilley hats are like a loaded Toyota Camry, the one you didn’t realize was pretty badass, totally reliable, and a way saner choice than a Caddy or Lincoln Town Car. That make sense?
Anyway–a bit of research and reading revealed that Tilley makes incredibly durable, well-made hats, as well as clothing. Die-hard fans post all over the web, boasting of 20-year relationships with their Tilley hats, the supreme comfort, you name it. So I bit: I surfed their site and got a “Tec-Wool” ball cap, a turbo-charged, cutting-edge lid with a slightly “plainer” look to it than some of Tilley’s other models. Belying the mellow appearance, though, were some pretty cool innovations.
First, Tilley uses Schoeller C-Change membrane in the top of the hat–regular readers know I have an infatuation with Swiss-made Schoeller fabrics. They’re absolutely great, but so costly these days most manufacturers choose cheaper (usually inferior!) alternatives. The waterproof/breathable C-Change stuff claims to breathe better the higher one’s body temperature rises, and vice versa. The result is a warmer feel to any jacket, pant, hat made with it.
I wore my Tec-Wool all winter, including a few days ski touring, just to test it out. The hat uses 75 percent wool, 19-percent polyester, and six percent polyurethane fabric (I think this is the C-Change). There’s also a thin layer of quilted insulation in the crown.Apologies on the lighting, but Dominic and Luca took over the camera from Momma, resulting in less-than-ideal photography…but a funny adventure with the little dudes.
After 20-plus days skiing, hanging, and traveling (in rainy Seattle) I gotta say, this Tilley hat rocks. Comfy as can be, warm, and completely functional. It’s as warm as a beanie, if not more so. I wear some sort of visor/sun hat/ball cap 90 percent of the time I’m out (testimony to Colorado’s great weather and my battle against sunburn!), so I appreciate having a brim to shade my eyes. The Tec-Wool also has fold-away ear flaps (think Elmer Fudd hunting cap, without the dopey look), which were totally cool when ski touring and walking around Seattle on a blustery winter day.This is one of Dominic and Luca’s unsupervised pics. The Tilley Tec-Wool didn’t quite make it into the frame.
Until I sat down to write this post, I didn’t realize the hat also has an adjustable band built-in. Two things: one, great idea and nice feature, but two, it shows how well they pull it off because I never noticed and never found it bulky or uncomfortable. There’s also a “secret” pocket in the hat, which was so secret it took me about three minutes of tugging on seams and turning the thing inside out to find it. Not sure what I’d put up there, but who knows, maybe it’ll come in handy?
The Tec-Wool is a surprisingly functional and comfortable hat. I won’t get much use of it in summer, but come fall, I’ll pull it back out of storage and wear it again–it’s a great piece!
Master of None has many gear reviews, including one on the OR “Trailbreaker” Pant (the best pant period as he says)