Tuesday, May 8, 2007
One of the most crucial pieces of outdoor gear is the one you use to protect your critical skull/brain area. Simply put, you need a damn good hat. When its hot in the summer and the sun is beating down I use a wide brimmed Tilley. This hat was invented by a Canadian sailor and provides shade as well as cooling, and is lashed to your head front and back so its almost impossible for it to blow off. My favorite hat for all other times of the year, much to some peoples discomfort, is my Filson duck hunter.
In literature, many characters have been villified for their choice of headgear. Lippy, the bartender/pianer' player in "Lonesome Dove", had his ratty bowler described as looking like it 'was et by a heifer'. Ignatius Reilley, anti hero of "Confederacy of Dunces" is described as having 'A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head'. My Filson has been described as ratty, doofus-like, disturbing, filthy, and ridiculous. It is however, the most versatile piece of headgear ever invented. It is tough oiled canvas duck cloth on the outside and virgin wool (insert your own sheep joke here) on the inside. Its cool in the spring and fall and toasty in the winter. You can have the flaps up and wear it like a baseball cap, partial flaps for that 38F water of a spring paddle on Gitchee Gumee, or fully down and closed for Thanksgiving morning in your deer stand. And rest assured, it ain't comin' off! Wool, unlike many of the new fleece-like petroleum based fabrics, stays warm when wet. It also becomes more insulating when you wash it while fleece loses its insulating properties. Not that I've ever washed my beloved Filson however. This might explain some of the comments. After surfing one too many times at the mouth of the Brule last April I found myself inverted with my Filson clad head grinding into the alluvial sand of the Brule. I wore that soaking wet hat for the rest of the afternoon and I was toasty warm, albeit a bit damp. This involutary bath also prompted me to buy a drysuit but thats a different post. Lets just say I had to wait a bit to urinate because I'd lost the tweezers in my Swiss Army knife.
My recommendation is that whether your paddling, fishing, grouse hunting, telemark skiing, bow hunting, or just working in the woods, this is the perfect hat!