Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Tilley Hat Review: The Best Hat for Men in 2022

Tilley
Image used with permission by copyright holder

I got my first Tilley hat in the summer of 1999 before a three-week trek that traced a few hundred kilometers of the Camino de Santiago across much of northern Spain. It was also my last Tilley hat, because I was wearing the exact same Tilley Cotton Duck hat every time I went hiking, camping, or kayaking with my family in the summer of 2020 that just passed. 21 years on, the hat is in superlative condition and I don’t see myself ever needing another.

And mind you, this thing has seen plenty of action in its two-decade-plus lifespan. Another month-long trek in Spain the next year and then an entire summer in Europe the year after that. Multiple treks up 14ers out west. A trip through South American jungles and mountains. Plentiful overboard drops from canoes and kayaks. And countless times stuffed into a hiking pack or suitcase or crushed on a shelf. And it just won’t quit. Which is why everyone else in the family now has a Tilley too. (OK, except for our daughter, whose head needs to grow a bit more yet.)

What makes these hats — particularly the T5 Cotton Duck Hat ($80) — so excellent? Here’s the Tilley secret: The brand uses excellent materials and meticulous construction. Not actually a secret.

Material

The T5 Cotton Duck Hat on which we’re focusing is made using a rugged cotton rated for use on sailing ships. It is then meticulously stitched using multiple passes of durable thread and then fitted with wind cords, dependable brass grommets, and crown foam.

Don’t worry, I gotcha: Crown foam is literally a piece of foam that fits into the top of the cap and will keep it afloat if it blows overboard — these hats were originally designed for use on the water, by the way. But it’s unlikely a properly secured Tilley will blow overboard, as you can secure the hat to your head with both a short cord at the base of your skull and a longer cord cinched under your chin. I’ve knocked mine off with a paddle several times, but have never had it blow off when the cords were in place.

(Oh and before I forget, that crown foam is tucked away into a semi-secret pocket perfect for a credit card, key, or photo of loved ones waiting for your eventual return from adventure.)

No fewer than 23 pairs of hands are involved in the construction of these iconic caps, which are created in a series of 41 distinct steps. Tilley hats have been around since 1980 and are still handmade today using essentially the exact same process as they were four decades back, because of the whole “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” thing.

Fit and Style

These days, Tilley makes a lot of stylish hats. They have beanies, ball caps, fedoras (if you can pull it off, go for it), and more. Frankly speaking, however, the company’s workhorse T5 hats aren’t super stylish. But that’s missing the point. Instead, think of it like this: For a hat that can keep the sun out of your eyes, keep your head dry in a rain storm and cooler in the summer heat, that won’t blow of in a gale and will float if you knock it off your head with a paddle or fishing rod, these hats look just fine. They’re performance gear that nonetheless has character and charm.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s important that you get a Tilley that fits you just right, because this is a commitment hat. Measuring your head is a must, and then take that measurement to their size guide. Once you have worn your hat for a while, it may feel a bit stretched. So here’s what you do: dunk that thing in cold water, stretch it out over your knee, and let it dry a spell.

Value

At $80, a T5 Cotton Duck hat is well worth the spend. Adjusting for inflation, that means I have spent roughly 1.1 cents per day on this hat in the 21-plus years that I’ve had it so far. That’s a penny (and tenth of a penny) I’m happy to have spent.

From blazing sun to downpours to falling flakes, my Tilley has kept me drier, more comfortable, and better able to see since 1999 and it’s still going strong. I advise you to snap one up (oh yeah, the sides of the T5 snap up and make you look like an awesome Aussie) now and start your own multi-decade hat relationship as well.

Need one more bit of convincing? You can literally register your hat and secure a lifetime guarantee. As in the company will repair or replace your hat (barring your wanton abuse of it, of course) eighty years from now if an eyelet comes loose or the brim tears. So yeah, you can trust this hat.

Editors' Recommendations

Steven John
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
The best Rolex watches for men: These incredible watches are iconic for a reason
Grab one of these luxury Rolex watches to upgrade your wrist game
Arm with Rolex Submariner on it

When you're ready to invest in a luxury watch, there's one brand that stands above the rest when you start shopping: Rolex. As one of the most recognizable brands in the watch game, the Rolex family has dozens of options for you to choose from. As with any brand, there are some that are better than others, which is why we've put together a list of the best Rolex watches for men to invest in to improve your watch game.

Read more
Derby, fedora, and more: The complete guide to men’s hat styles
Top off any great outfit with the a hat worthy of your style
Fola from Southern Gents

Hats have gone in and out of style over and over throughout history, from cowboy hats to fedoras; we have always loved something sitting on top of our heads. Of course, like most aspects of men's clothing, there are dozens of options for men's hats, no matter what his style is. Some work best when topping off a wonderfully stylish ensemble, and others are simply used for blocking the sun. In any case, there is always a reason to put on a hat for any occasion, but which one is right for you in your situation?

Here we’ve put together a guide to some of today’s more common silhouettes. You'll find anything from sun hats to sombreros, captain’s hats to flight caps, and berets to balaclavas -- there are so many variations and evolutions of the best men's hat styles that we couldn’t fit them all.

Read more
Upgrade your shades with the best round sunglasses for men
Look like an icon with round sunglasses
Man in round sunglasses sitting in car

Summer isn't the only time of the year you need a new pair of killer shades to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays and also to make a statement about your impeccable style. Of course, there are all kinds of things to keep in mind when buying a new pair of men's sunglasses, from the right shape for your face to the color of lenses that fit your aesthetic.

If you are lucky, the right shape for your face is the round one because then you can emulate the styles of Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx, and others who make the shape look fresh and unique. There are all kinds of options, but these are our favorite round sunglasses for men.

Read more