To the hat lovers and collectors out there: you might not…
My husband’s family members have been generational ranchers in the panhandle of Texas since 1906 and were farmers throughout the U.S. and Germany for centuries before that. Hats are essential to them because they provide two important services for people who work outside: warmth and shade.
Where he’s from, the days range from the upper 90s in the summer down to the teens in the winter, but no matter the weather, they were expected to work outside. Those cows needed water whether it was evaporating too quickly or frozen solid and needing to be broken up.
If you ask him about why he chooses certain hats over others, he has some very distinct, experience-based opinions to share.
In the wintertime, his hat of choice is his black, beaver felt cowboy hat. Felt hats made from beaver or rabbit fur shed water and other precipitation and are warmer and more durable than wool felt. Rabbit or beaver felt hold their shape better, but they are also more expensive than wool felt hats.
Wool felt cowboy hats, while lower in quality, are less expensive than animal felt and available in more colors, though they can lose their shape over time – especially in wet conditions.
Both wool and rabbit or beaver felt hats come in a variety of shapes and styles. Depending on which hat shop you go to, you may even be able to customize the crease in your hat’s crown.
Baseball caps aren’t something that you’d probably think to wear when it’s freezing cold outside, but if you love the style regardless of the weather, there’s hope for you! Some hat companies make baseball caps that are lined with fleece fabric to help insulate your head against the elements. If you can’t find a fleece-lined ball cap, look for a wool hat without any vents. That’s going to keep your head warm and help shed any snow or sleet that may be coming down.
Trapper-style hats usually have fleece or fur on the inside of the hat and some kind of plaid flannel on the outside. Many trapper-style hats have connected earmuffs that can provide additional warmth and protection from the elements.
Spring and Fall
Spring and fall can be a challenge for hat-wearers because the weather can change without warning. These hats will protect you from the sun while providing warmth on those blustery days. Baseball caps are my husband’s hat of choice during the spring and fall months because of their versatility and durability.
Ball caps are a great choice for both spring and fall. Because it can be wet and blustery during spring and fall, look for non-vented or wool ball caps that use the flex fit closure system. The elastic will help keep the hat on your head, and the wool will protect you from those spring showers.
During the spring and fall, fedoras are an excellent choice because they’re relatively lightweight but can still be very warm. If your spring and fall tend to be on the cooler side, look for a wool fedora, but during the warmer parts of spring and fall, fabric fedoras might be the way to go. Fabric fedoras are also fun as you move into summertime because they come in a lot of bright colors and styles. Contrarily, they also come in many muted colors and styles to help you usher in the cooler weather of fall.
Summertime is the season where hats can really make their presence known. Pretty much any style that gives you some relief from the blazing sun is a welcome sight, indeed. For my husband, depending on the occasion, his hat of choice for the summer months is a toss-up between a straw cowboy hat and a trucker hat.
Straw or palm leaves are the perfect material for a summer hat. They are cool, relatively easy to clean, and hold their shape well. You should be more conscious about rainy weather when wearing a straw hat, however. It’s not the end of the world if your straw hat gets wet, but you have to follow some steps to keep it in good condition. If your hat gets wet, make sure to dry it off with a clean cloth and let it dry completely before putting it away; otherwise, you’ll most likely pull out a moldy, rotten mess the next time you want to wear it.
There are a lot of different styles to choose from, including the cowboy hat, the Panama, wide-brimmed floppy hats, and straw boaters.
You really can’t go wrong with donning a ball cap in the summertime. Traditional five or six-panel ball caps come in a variety of styles to meet your needs. There are flat brim and curved, pristine and distressed, Velcro and snapback closures, and structured and unstructured.
If you work in a particularly hot environment, you might want to wear a trucker hat instead of a traditional ball cap. The trucker hat uses mesh instead of fabric for the back panels, which allows your head to cool off much more quickly. Additionally, the foam that reinforces the front panel is absorbent, keeping sweat out of your eyes.
How to Choose
If you’re not sure which type of hat to wear, your best bet is just to go ahead and try one out. If you feel too cold, try swapping your hat out for one that’s made of wool or is unvented. On the other hand, if you’re too hot, look for a hat that’s made of light material with plenty of ventilation holes. There isn’t really a wrong answer – just find something that’s comfortable for you.