Best Hat for Paddling

I’ve pretty much narrowed my hat search down to Tilley. Was wondering if anyone had strong opinions regarding one or more of their models and/or features? Widest brim vs. medium width? Airflo (vented) vs. ‘lighterweight’ vs. ‘regular’ 10oz cotton?

I generally paddle flat water in back bays.



I’ve only had the regular cotton

– Last Updated: Jan-24-07 6:02 AM EST –

I wore the first one out and bought a new one (actually I need to send the first one back for a free replacement). I liked the regular cotton so much I never even considered one of the other models.

It seems with the regular cotton that they only really take a good shape after they have been washed a couple of times. I also iron them around the brim after washing. My first cotton one was a lot stiffer in the wind than the second one seems to be. But, I've only washed the second one once so it may not have taken form quite yet.

Maybe some wearers of the other types will chime in. My only experience is with the full brimmed (T-6 I think) in regular cotton. I liked it enough that I didn't even consider one of the other models when mine needed replacing. But, that is not to say that others don't feel the same way about their models too.

Tilly always gets good copy around here

– Last Updated: Jan-24-07 6:34 AM EST –

And it very probably is the best "Every Day" all around hat for all types of weather, BUT! and here's the's not the best foul weather hat. For cold, snow, and rain the Seattle Sombrero gets the nod. More people, many more people have the Seattle Sombrero or some other Outdoor Research facsimile of that hat than any other hat I've seen anywhere. Most people that I see on the water do not wear a hat at all times. But if you are the person who wears a hat all day every day then I have to say the Tilly is the comfort hat of the world.

Links to both a good review of the Tilly and the Sombrero

Myself I do not wear a hat all the time but I have no less than 3 Seattle Sombrero's in different colors and also different eras (they have changed a little over the years, one is more than 15 years old and still like new)
For my Sunday go to meeting hat I use a Barmah Ausie bush hat in soft full grain leather that is extreemly comfortable and my favorite hat. But it's not a good hat for temps above 65/70.

I'm thinking about their Canvas Cooler for summer, I've tried one on and it is super nice!

One can never have too many nice hats
Just as it is with shoes! :wink:

Paddling in all sorts of weather and water conditions is all the excuse we need to collect a fasionable bevy of hats! :slight_smile:

I’ve been known to paddle while sporting a Gore-Tex Seattle Sombrero, a very wide brim Hurley straw hat, a few colorful and variously fasioned Alpaca wool Peruvian Chullos, and even a peculiarly fashioned NRS Mystery Storm Hood! :slight_smile:

Hmmm…haven’t gotten into the Tilley thing as yet, but I have had my eye on a Kokatat Sunwester.

As I said…one can never have too many nice hats! :slight_smile:


The Tilley Airflow is a good hat for
temperate / hot weather.Mine is nylon and never loses its shape in spite of being mashed most of the time.

LT-5 is Great
I have the LT-5 in cotton and it’s a great hat, indestructable for the last 6 years. It’s been canoeing, camping, and on safari, it gets very rough treatment, and it is always ready for more. and it FLOATS.

Kavu Chilba!
It looks a little weird but it works.

Keeps the sun and rain off, excellent ventilation. Most young folks I run into say “cool hat”. Most folks my age just look.

A fan of Tilleys
I have two" one in cotton, which gets the most use, and last summer I bought a hemp hat. The hemp model seems a bit cooler, and has a larger brim. A bit floppier than the cotton model though.

I have trouble fitting my 7-3/4 head, and I like the tilley sizing. A word of caution though - fit it a bit large, as the instructions say. Much cooler that way.


I have a Tilley
but the best hat for paddling is one that you don’t worry about losing!

My hats
Sahara sombrero for summer time. And Seattle sombrero for wet weather.

Kokatat Sunwester Hat
I’ve had one of these for the last 4 years or so. Keeps the sun off your face and neck, and the dark underside helps with glare from the water.

The only drawback on the one I have is the brim stiffness – it flaps in high winds. I’ve seen the newer version and the brim is stiffer.


Full brim hats in wind
is a problem I believe for most hats. I tried a OR Sombrero (non WP) and it was pretty flacid. My old Sequel was pretty stiff, but the brim could be blown up in gusts. My Tilley in cotton is reasonably stiff, but same problem. Interestingly, when it is wet (or I wet it for cooling) the brim stiffens up noticeably. The hemp hat is a couple degrees softer, and best suited for lazy sunny days with light breezes.

Watch that UV!


I have a Hills fishing hat
that was made in New Zealand. It’s of the boonie style with a floppy brim all around it and a pocket in the top with floatation foam in it. It has a strap to keep it on in the wind. I’m much too modest and unassuming to wear a Tilley!

I have a T5
regular weight in the natural color without the green underbrim. My current one is about 5 years old and has been washed quite a few times. It still looks new when its clean and fits great even though I treat it terribly. Most of the time its usually in my van smashed under something, but pops right back when I need it. I did not see much advantage to the LT and I don’t know if they wear as well or last as long. I will replace this one with the same model if and when it wears out.

Another Tilley thread? There’re lots of fine hats for a lot less money. I usually use a full brim hat, waxed cotton with a terry hatband inside that’s very comfortable, sheds water, floats long enough to recover it and doesn’t look too dorky (wife and daughters would disagree).

Cost: less than $20. So it blows away, or gets trashed. So what?

Try a hat without a pedigree first. Tilleys are an overpriced, overrated accoutrement.

My favorote hat. Wear it backwards, wear
…it forwards, just wear it.

I own two.