We’re losing too many traditions in our country as time passes on. Men rarely carry hankerchiefs anymore, canes are no longer in style, and you don’t see guys wearing hats as a matter of course–especially the younger generations. I said Hats, not caps. But, Tilley Endurables is doing what they can to reverse that trend, and they’ve made a believer out of me!
While I had heard of the Tilley name, it wasn’t until one of our writers, Joe, got one that I had a chance to get a first-hand look at one. I was favorably impressed by Joe’s hat, so I made sure to get with the Tilley rep at the 2009 OR show in Salt Lake City back in July. As I wandered through their booth, I got a preview of their new products coming out this year and after doing a bit of conjoling, I had one of their new products sent to me for review. That new product is an addition to their hat line, and it’s called the Montana. The Montana is more of a fall and winter hat. I actually received the Montana in September, but I didn’t really have a chance to wear it too much to fully appreciate it until the weather got cooler in November and December. We like to get our reviews done a little quicker most of the time, but I had to wait for the cold weather to really get to know the Montana.
Made of 100% wool felt, the Montana is extremely comfortable and does a nice job insulating your melon. And, in my case, melon is the right word. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all hat, so I had do some ‘cipherin’ to figure out my head size. I followed the instructions on Tilley’s site and when I got the Montana, it was a perfect fit. Part of the comfort of the Montana comes from the Hydrofil liner that helps wick moisture away, and that’s a definite plus for me since I tend to sweat a bit when I’m outside playing around–even in the cooler weather. Additionally, the exterior of the Montana is treated for snow and rain repellancy and it sports a nice leather band to finish the package off with a classy touch.
Also, if the weather gets really chilly, the Montana has ear warmers that are tucked away during normal wear. Not only do these help keep the bite of your ears, but helps give a little extra grip on your head if the wind is kicking up. One thing that I did not try out was Tilley’s claim of packability. In essence, you can supposedly pack the hat flat in your suitcase and reshape it by hand when you take it back out and are ready to wear it. That may be, but doing that to a hat this nice was just something I couldn’t bring myself to do.
Now that we’ve had a chance to wear it around a bit, I’d like to comment on a couple of other things you might not know about Tilley Endurables products. The Montana comes with a lifetime warranty against wearing out or fall apart. Also, Tilley will help take the sting out if you lose the hat during your first two years of ownership. If you do lose the hat, Tilley will sell you another item for 50% off the catalog price. No, it doesn’t cover the entire cost, but come on! It’s free and there aren’t too many companies that have this kind of policy that I know about.
Unlike most of the gear we review, even some apparel, there’s not much I could do so far as “testing” goes for the Montana. The main thing was just wearing it around a lot to gauge its comfort for extended periods and to see how it holds up in rain in snow. I can say from my own observations that you can check all those boxes off on the positive side. The Montana stayed in place during windy conditions and helped me shed off the wet weather with no problems at all. On top of the fit and performance, the Montana is actually a great looking hat to wear out on the town if you’re too tired to hit the woods. Honestly, I think I can see more people wearing the Montana in the urban setting versus the wilderness–it’s that nice of a hat. But, as far as I’m concerned, it belongs in the outdoors as much as some of the other gear I take on the trail. It’s one of those items that not only does its job, it also helps put you in the right frame of mind as well. Just take it off the shelf, slip it on, smile, and know that you’re ready for that next great adventure!