December 10, 2010

Feel like a Dork in your Sun Hat? Fear no more. ~ Dave Rogers

The problems with “real” sun protection is that you need to do a lot more thinking than just buy and apply…and you need to know that you are probably gonna look like an overly cautious elderly gardener.

Unless you’re into the intrepid safari look you have to swallow the fact that the people who design sun-proof clothing are designing for the not-so fashion conscious. The fabric and hat makers put fashion so far behind function that I’ve personally struggled to wear garments that are core to my belief in protection. Because I resemble a beekeeper.

When it comes to hats in particular you’d think there could be real hope for a cool hat that “totally” blocks the sun. But alas when you head to the shop to buy a 30+ SPF hat you find that only the beachy women’s styles have any…style. Younger men typically wear a baseball hat.

Here’s the deal. Sun hats that offer real protection are ugly. Why? Because the people who design sun-proof clothing and hats are designing for the not-so-fashion conscious. The fabric and hat makers put fashion so far behind function only a beekeeper thinks that shit is cool. I’m bald, I live in Colorado; I spend heaps of time outside; I’m highly aware of what the sun can do to you since my Neighbor died from skin cancer. I’ve wanted a hat that truly protects me from the sun and was at least a bit cool—I gave up on that dream after a few years of wasted effort. My solution has been to own some stylish hats that offer a degree of protection for when I’m trying to not be a total dork and to then have a few sahara/sombrero/safari style options for when the function part of the equation is most critical. When one gets way over on this end of the function spectrum one finds that the pedigree of a certain hat company called Tilley is unparralled. They make very high quality, not hideous hats that look like you bought it for your African adventure. They’re a Canadian company with all do-good feeling all over them and their about page. Just good peeps.

When I was delayed on my way to Patagonia a few years back I stopped in an Army-Navy store and saw my first Tilley—damn that shit is uncool I thought. But it was so bomber and I loved the store sewn in the ceiling of the lid that I bought it. Thank God for that hat. I needed the m0st-bomber-hat ever created for that trip and I got it.  I wore that hat like mad for a few season of sports but got sick of how dam ugly it was and it was really heavy for a hat. A few weeks ago some dirty hippy gave my a new version made of organic cotton and I tried that on when he and went for a bro-stroll. Itr was much lighter than my other Tilley, it had vents and it was somehow a bit better looking.

I’ve sported it the last few weeks and it’s clearly of the same pedigree as the original but the Lite/Organo version. Now I wouldn’t sport this with a blazer and bermudas, or even pretend that it was in any way cool for anyone other than a serious Rick Steeves fan, but it’s the best looking highest quality summer hat I’ve run across and the little canadian peeople who make these make them with pride.

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