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Tilley Endurables

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Tilley hats, men and womens fashion and accesories.

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      05.04.2008 10:40
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      The Tilley Hat is a great piece of kit

      Tilley Endurables manufacture strong, practical outdoor clothing. We have three Tilley Hats between the two of us, so I will write about those mainly and give the other products a mention.

      The history Tilley Endurables goes back to the invention in 1980 of the Tilley Hat, when Alex Tilley, frustrated with the limitations of the headgear available for purchase, determined to oversee the making of hats that actually worked in the way he wanted for sailing. Alex is a Canadian based in Toronto, and he knew that other sailors might be interested in his ideas. In his view, a hat had to float, to stay on, not to sink, to last virtually for ever, and to look good. He too plenty of expert advice and had the time to get it right.

      The result is that Tilley Hats are a very highly rated form of outdoor clothing. The original Tilley Hat is made of strong cotton duck (this means that the threads are made stronger by twisting two together). There are ventilation holes in the sides. There is a clever arrangement with an integral adjustable bootlace that allows you to secure the hat by means of both a chinstrap and an extension of the lace for the back of your head, preventing the hat from blowing off your head from any side. The hats have broad brims, keeping the sun out of your eyes and off your neck. Inside the crown there are places to stow thin valuables. The hats are certified to have maximum ultra-violet ray protection. There is a sweat band around the inner rim.

      Since the first type of hat, Tilley have branched out a bit. They come with medium (still pretty broad) brims, broad brims, and snap-up brims if you like to give your ears a bit of air. The original hat is a sort of light khaki, but they also come in mocha (brown), natural (off-white) and olive (dark green). Materials used give you a choice between cotton duck, which is pre-shrunk, so when you wash the hat it stays the same size, Tilley's own patent lightweight durable nylon, Nylantium, soft but tough hemp, or lightweight breathable nylon and spandex. New is an insect repellent hat, where the treatment lasts through seventy washes. Tilley don't say whether they would reproof this hat, but I would not be surprised at all if they did. There is also a special winter hat, made from a blend that is mainly wool. This is in the smart dark olive green and has two additional features - a forehead protector, and earflaps, both of which make a real difference when you are out in freezing temperatures.

      I have a winter hat, a recent present, which I have tested on the Shropshire hills in very cold temperatures. It works really well. I also have a T5 cotton duck hat, which is great for both sunny and rainy weather, and my wife has a T3, which has the snap-up brim. They do everything that Alex says they will. Apart from the winter hat, which should be dry-cleaned, they can all be washed, and then you just reshape them over your knee. We really like the hats. The only thing that doesn't work perfectly is the winter hat, which I will adapt to have the bootlace securing system of the other hats. For keeping out the cold it works superbly. The cotton and nylon hats can be rolled up or folded for travel and come to no harm. There is even an attested story about a Tilley hat that got consumed three times by an animal keeper's elephant, but emerged unharmed.

      The hats come with an owner's manual, which is quite amusing to read, and some "Brag Tags", which are ready made chat-up lines in case anybody admires your hat and you want them to admire the wearer. If you lose the hat or it gets irretrievably destroyed Tilley will refund you half of the purchase price in the first two years of ownership. Unbleached Tilley hats are guaranteed for ever against mildew, shrinkage or wearing out. That's confidence! If you order one and it doesn't fit, they'll replace it. If it's the wrong colour or you just don't like it they'll replace or refund.
      Tilley Endurables also make other hats, socks guaranteed not to have any holes for three years, outdoor jackets, trousers and bags, and other useful stuff for the outdoor life. The website is comprehensive and interesting.

      Cost? Tilley Hats come in at an RRP of around £50, so they are definitely not cheap. But once you have one you won't regret it.

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