Review: Tilley Endurables Waxed Cotton Outback Hat

About ten years ago, while on holiday in Australia, I purchased a Tilley hat. It was their classic T3 cotton duck, which was known simply as “The Tilley Hat” back then. It served me well on multiple trips to the outback and Queensland’s rain forest. When I moved to Australia a few years later, it was a constant companion on beach outings with my dog. Today, it looks weathered, but not worn. There’s a rough spot where it came in contact with something abrasive, but other than that, not a stitch out of place. That was my personal introduction to Tilley hats and their outstanding quality.

Tilley Endurables now encompasses a full line of men’s and women’s clothing, as well as bags, belts, and travel accessories. A quick check of their website indicates there are also 55 different Tilley hats now available, in a variety of fabrics, including rafia, hemp, wool, wool felt, nylon, and three types of cotton – traditional, organic, and waxed. When the kind folks at Tilley offered one of their new Outback hats in waxed cotton for review, I could not resist, as it provides the necessary sun protection for warm weather outdoor activities, as well as increased water resistance for the wet and snowy months.

The TWC3 (Tilley Waxed Cotton) Outback hat adheres to the design of the original, with two vent holes ringed by  grommets on either side of the crown, snaps on both sides of the brim, two straps, and brass hardware that shines like gold when new, but takes on a nice patina over time. The (not-so-secret any more) pocket in the crown contains the same foam that gives the Outback some buoyancy, along with the owner’s manual and zippered plastic bag containing the “Brag Tag” and some amusing light reading. (When I checked my old hat, there was a $20 bill stashed in the crown. Woot!)

Tilley TWC3 Waxed Cotton Outback Hat
Tilley TWC3 Waxed Cotton Outback Hat

How do you test a hat? Well, the Outsider crew headed out to their workshop, where they built a specially-designed rig  for the high tech water repellent testing portion of the review. Ok, maybe not. We just threw them in the sink and set the faucet to spray mode, since it hasn’t really rained much lately. Compared to the original, the waxed cotton certainly did a better job or staying dry, with water beading up and absorbing much more slowly. And since Tilley hats are designed to sit low and loose, the brim offers protection from the sun and rain in roughly equal measures. That is, the sun will stay mostly off your face and ears/neck, while rain will do the same. Having already tested the original under the hot sun of Australia’s outback and rainforests, as well as beautiful beaches, I’m confident that the Waxed Cotton Outback hat will provide excellent protection from the sun. While I’ve never had an issue with it getting too warm, a few reviews have mentioned this. So later this year, we’ll see if it’s really retaining much heat by wearing it out in the snow.  What else can the hat do? Snap the brim up, grab a Toohey’s New, and folks will mistake you for an Aussie. (Without the beer, you’ll simply be recognized for your exceptional taste in hats) Either way, the Outback hat offers a stylish way to protect your head.

Tilley TWC3 With The Original T3
Tilley TWC3 With The Original T3

Enough has already been written elsewhere about Tilley’s lifetime guarantee, their two year insurance against all perils, (including loss!) and their loyal following of owners. If you’re looking to spoil yourself with a new piece of gear, or want to give a lasting gift that’s not only useful, but could end up being handed down a generation or two, check out for their full line of hats for men and women. And while you’re there, check out their clothing and travel gear.

– Brian

A special thanks to Alex Tilley and Tilley Endurables for not only providing the Outback hat for review, but for continuously developing new and useful travel and adventure wear that stands up to the test of time.

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