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Tilley Tec-Wool Hat: Lightweight Warmth

Woman in snow wearing black Tilley Tec-Wool hat

Health authorities tell us that we lose as much as 80% of our heat out of our heads. So it’s understandable why I wanted a warm hat when I traveled in February to the Yukon Territory where temperatures routines drop to -20° F. or lower. I found it in Tilley Endurables Tec-Wool Hat.

Tilley Endurables, Canada’s venerable hat and travel clothing company, is known worldwide for quality products, especially hats. The company started more than 30 years ago when avid sailor Alex Tilley made himself a sailing hat to go with a beloved old sailboat he’d restored. Word got out that his hats were terrific and Tilley Endurables was born.

Woman standing near trees in winter weather

During the extreme cold at the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race, I wore a heavyweight earband along with Tilley’s fold down earband and it kept me snug.

When I thought about a hat to take to the Yukon, Tilley came to mind. I was familiar with the company’s classic summer hats, broad brimmed, with mesh for ventilation, a strap that keeps it on no matter what, and a lifetime guarantee. Because of the extreme temperatures I was facing, I opted for Tilley’s Tec-Wool Hat (TTW2 $99). It features a medium brim and tuckaway ear warmers, and is constructed of 75% wool, 19% polyester and 6% polyurethane, with a bonded C_Change™ membrane, a high-tech fabric adjusts to your body temperature to keep you just right.

The Tilley Tec-Wool arrived and the first thing I noticed was how incredibly lightweight it was. It made me worry. How could such a thin, featherweight keep me warm in the Yukon? I needn’t have worried.

I went to Whitehorse to write about and photograph the Yukon Quest, one of the toughest sled dog races in the world. When we arrived in the park alongside the frozen Yukon River, the temperature was a chilly chilly -15°. Although the Tec-Wool had its own earflaps, I opted for a thick ear band and pulled the Tilley over it and went to work. Three hours later, my fingers were numb and I could barely feel my toes, but my head was perfectly comfortable – not too cold or too hot.

Later, when the race began, we faced into the sun and the Tilley’s medium-sized brim kept the sun out of my face. The only problem I had was when my on-camera flash tried to pop up, my brim would get in the way. To solve it, I simply pushed the hat slightly back on my forehead.

Back view of Tilley's Tec-Wool Tuckaway Earband

The Tec-Wool’s tuckaway earband means your ears will stay warm no matter what.

It took the Quest competitors nearly two hours for all of them to line up and begin the race. In that time, a stiff wind had come up. I pulled the Tilley’s tuckaway earflaps over my ear band and was surprised at how far down my neck it came and warm it kept me.

During my 10 days in the Yukon, my Tec-Wool and I became inseparable. I wore it everywhere – indoors, outdoors, hiking, sledding, snowmobiling, walking to dinner. And plenty of people noticed it and commented, “Nice hat.” “Hey I like your hat. Where’d you get it?” “Terrific hat. What kind is it?”

One night I joined a friend and her husband at their home for a dinner party and, of course, wore my Tilley Tec-Wool. At the end of the evening, I was putting on my Tilley and my friend asked about it. I told her about how lightweight the fabric was, about the tuckaway earflaps, and how the hat kept me at a perfect temperature no matter where I was. I handed her the hat and she tried it on. It looked great.

Naturally, then everyone wanted to try on my Tilley. To my amazement, all six people in the room – men, women, young, and old – looked great in this hat. After I returned home, my friend emailed me and insisted I give her the contact information. She was buying Tec-Wools for both she and her husband.

There is one sad note to this story. The Tilley Tec-Wool Hat is so attractive that it didn’t make it home with me. On the day I was to leave, I’d piled my coat and hat on my suitcase in the lobby of my hotel and left to do an errand. When I returned, my Tilley Tec-Wool Hat was gone. Someone couldn’t resist it — and I couldn’t blame them. (Tilley does offer to replace any lost, stolen, or destroyed hat in the first two years for 50% of the retail price plus shipping with proof of purchase.) Somewhere in Whitehorse, Yukon, someone is  snug and looking stylish in my size 7 1/4 Brown Heather Tilley Tec-Wool Hat.

Smiling woman in Tilley's Tec Wool

The Tec-Wool’s styling makes it look good on just about anyone.

The Tec-Wool cap is perfect hat for winter chores. The extra long bill keeps the sun, rain, and snow out of your face. Like the Tec-Wool Hat, it also features the tuckaway earband.

The Tilley Tec-Wool also comes in a cap (TTWC $74). There’s a standard cap with an extra long bill, which is perfect for winter chores like bringing in wood. It also comes in an Ivy Cap, more of a driving style cap, that’s a bit more stylish. Both feature the same amazingly lightweight fabric, the packability Tilley hats are known for, and tuckaway earflaps for when the temperature drops.

Real bottomline: Tilley Endurables, long celebrated for their celebrated and practically indestructible summer hats, now offer a winter hat that combines the warmth of wool with the smarts of a high tech fabric that adjusts to keep you not-too-cold, not-too-hot, but just right. Because the hat adjusts to the temperature of the wearer, this is a hat that can work in spring, fall, or winter. The Tec-Wool Winter Hat is a practical, stylish hat that’s sure to please any traveler. www.tilley.com — Real Tested by Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor



Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at realfoodtraveler.com.