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A comfortable and tough hat for sun protection

Twenty-eight years ago I discovered Tilley Hats in the town of Whitehorse during a walk south-north through the Yukon Territory in Canada. The sun was much fiercer than I had expected this far north and I hadn’t brought a sunhat. I was looking for one in Whitehorse when I came across a display of broad-brimmed hats that looked good. I bought one, liked it very much, and have worn a Tilley Hat on every long-distance walk since. Back then it was just called the Tilley Hat as there was only one model. Now there’s a wide range and that original design is called the T3 Cotton Duck. I’ve stayed with it over the years but having recently tried the new T5 MO Organic AIRFLO hat I’m finally being tempted away.

As the name suggests the Organic AIRFLO is made from organic cotton. The design is much the same as the T3 with a high crown, medium width brim, front and back neck cords to keep it on in the wind, wicking sweatband, and inner stash pocket with foam insert in the crown. The AIRFLO doesn’t have snap-up sides, which I don’t miss as I never used them, and instead of the two ventilation eyelets each side of the crown there’s a band of ¾” mesh running all the way round it. This mesh gives the hat its AIRFLO name.

In the Large size the AIRFLO weighs 105grams, which is 60 grams lighter than the T3. I guess one reason for this is removing the eight metal grommets that make up the T3’s side snaps and ventilation eyelets. The crown fabric feels a bit thinner too.

In use I can’t tell the difference between the two hats. Both are very comfortable. Whether the mesh band makes any real difference I can’t tell. I’ve used the T3 in extremely high temperatures in the desert SW USA and not felt it was too hot so I doubt it’s very significant.

The two hats cost the same, both have lifetime guarantees and both are made in Canada. The lower weight and the organic cotton do make the AIRFLO appealing. It’s the one I’d choose now.

£70