You’ve all seen them, but probably never knew where they came from, the famous Tilley explorer’s wide-brim hat.
There are many imitators in this market, but you owe it to yourself to check out the original Tilley. I got my hands on the Orbit model after the summer Outdoor Retailers show in Salt Lake City. Very different than most hats, this is intended to fit a little looser. Held on by gravity instead of friction, that’s a welcome attribute on hot weather days.
Try one on
Make sure you get the right fit as this thing is going to last a lifetime (it even comes with a lifetime guarantee.) Every hat is hand sewn with marine-grade thread and lock stitched to prevent unravelling. They even give you a two-year insurance policy against loss.
The TO55 Orbit has what Tilley refers to as their intermediate brim, meaning some models have wider and some narrower. I find this to be a perfectly large enough brim to keep rain away from my neck and eyes. If it’s really raining, wear it under the rain hood of your jacket. It’ll keep those dogs and cats from hitting your nose.
Another great thing is the way this fits while driving a car. I first assumed I’d need to take it off while driving, for fear it would keep hitting my headrest. In actuality, the brim is not quite vertical in the back, but it slopes down and is flexible enough that I never notice it.
It also provides UPF of 50+, meaning it’s blocking 98% of the sun’s UV rays. That’s really important for those of us who haven’t been protecting our skin properly in the past.
Comes in two color combinations: Khaki with Olive binding or Natural with a Mocha binding. I opted for the Khaki which seems to go with just about any color jacket I own.
The crown of the hat hides a layer of closed-cell foam which helps the hat float, should it ever blow overboard. It also provides a nice cushion for those of us who have a propensity for smacking our head on overhead objects.
Tie one on
Tilley has their own way of providing an internal cord to make sure the hat doesn’t blow off in high winds. The wind cord has a simple, double knotted cord that can be placed around the back of the head, under the chin, or both. When not in use, it stores neatly in the pocket in the crown of the hat. A simple pull on both knots at the same time will adjust it to perfectly fit your head size.
The crown actually has a velcro’d pocket inside so you can hide a credit card, cash, room or car key. That’s one of the parts I think is the most ingenious.
Check them out, I think you’ll be as sold as I was. Here’s a link to their stores and retail partners.
Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about interesting new travel technology topics, across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at email@example.com with suggestions for future products to be reviewed. If you've ever used one of the products he's reviewed, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here.