Tale of My Long Lost Tilley

Bobbie Hasslebring with Tilley Airflow Travel Hat on Horse

It’s heartbreaking to lose an old and trusted friend. I learned that when I lost my favorite Tilley Endurables travel hat.

Anyone who reads knows that we’re big fans of that Canadian icon Tilley Endurables. They make hats so tough they come with a lifetime never-wear-out guarantee.

When I traveled to the Yukon in the dead of winter, I took along the Tilley Tec-Wool hat (TTW2 $105) and the Tec-Wool Cap (TTWC $79), both constructed of a lightweight, high-tech wool fiber that actually adjusts to the temperature of your head, keeping you not-too-cold, not-too-hot, but just right. Both come with nifty built-in ear and forehead warmer flaps that you can use when the temperature really drops. These amazing feather-weight hats kept me warm while I watched the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race at temperatures of -4 C and below.

Tilley Tec Wool hat Yukon

This Tilley-Tec Wool hat kept me warm in the coldest Yukon weather.

When I traveled to Mexico’s Riviera Maya, I needed something to keep the sun from frying my pale skin so I took along Tilley’s Organic Cotton with 3D Mesh (T7M0 $82) and their lightweight Plaid Hat (T5CN $79). The Organic Cotton comes with an extra wide brim that kept the tropical sun off my face. The Plaid Hat, so lightweight I hardly knew I was wearing it, proved to be not only a good sun deterrent, but a wonderful rain hat when I got caught in a torrential tropical rain storm.

Bobbie Hasslebring with Tilley Plaid Hat

This lightweight Tilley Plaid hat proved not only a good sun hat, but an excellent rain hat for tropical downpours.

I sent RFT Contributor and world traveler Lana Mulder out to test Tilley’s Summer Hemp (TH9 $84) and she was wowed by the hat’s sun protection. “The Tilley Summer Hemp’s fabric provides a full 50+ spf protection from the sun,” Lana told us. “Also, it sits lower on the head than most hats and the brim is longer in the back so you get plenty of sun protection for your neck. I also really liked the secret pocket where I can stash my valuables.”

Serious Tilley Love

I love all these Tilley hats, but not as much as my personal go-to travel hat, the Tilley Airflow (LTM5 $79). For many years, my old Tilley Airflow followed me around the world. I’d crunch it up and toss it in the top of my suitcase and, like all Tilley’s, it always popped back good as new. Its water-resistant nylon fabric became soft and pliable over the years and still gave me the super 50+ spf I’ve come to expect from Tilley hats.

My Tilley Airflow has protected me from the sun sitting atop elephants in the sweaty jungles of Thailand, riding horseback in the heat of Central Mexico, and on safari in Botswana and Namibia. The lightweight Airflow and I have ridden ATVs and ziplined through the verdant forests of Kentucky, hiked the Canadian Rockies, and danced to pounding zydeco music in Louisiana. Even in hot climates, my Tilley Airflow’s medium brim, ¾ inch poly mesh, and the anti-sweat forehead band kept me cool and dry. When I kayaked the Sunshine Coast off British Columbia, sailed the windy bay waters in Zihuatanejo, or dug for archeology treasures in Peru at Macchu Picchu, I never worried my Airflow would fall off because of their ingenious fore n aft wind cord system. Even if it did, the Airflow, like other Tilley’s, floats.

Tilley organic cotton hat Mexico

Mexico’s intense sun couldn’t beat this Tilley Organic cotton’s wide brim.

Then, suddenly, it was all over.

Tilley's Tec Wool Cap

Tilley’s Tec Wool Cap has proven itself particularly good for winter activities like snow shoeing, dog sledding, or, in this case, ice fishing.

RFT Editor Anne Weaver and I had traveled to South Dakota’s astonishing Badlands on assignment for MotorHome magazine. The Badlands encompass miles and miles of craggy cliffs and canyons. We’d been touring the Badlands for some miles, leaping out at every turn out to view the ever-changing lunar landscape and snap photos.

The wind was whipping up when I jumped out of the motorhome and headed for a high cliff. While I had my wind cord on, I hadn’t tightened it down. I turned away from the canyon for a moment and a sudden, violent gust of wind swept under the brim of my Airflow, jerking it off my head and sending it sailing 100 feet into the canyon.

Tilley Airflow hat Black Canyon Colorado

My faithful Tilley Airflow kept the sun at bay in Colorado’s magnificent Black Canyon.

I stood watching my old friend float down and down until it disappeared into the shadows of the cliffside. Frantic, I looked everywhere for a way down thinking maybe I could retrieve my bosom pal. But there was no way without risking life and limb. My Tilley was gone.

I stood on the edge of the canyon and mourned. How could I replace this sturdy, reliable hat that I’d carried with me through so many adventures? It was more than a hat; it was the repository of terrific travel memories.

Of course, I couldn’t and I grieved.

During the rest of the trip, Anne lent me her Airflow. It wasn’t the same. Her’s was newer and not as soft. It didn’t fit me “just so” like my old one.

Once I returned home, I tried not to think my Tilley Airflow sitting at the bottom of some God-forsaken canyon in the Badlands of South Dakota. I avoided thinking about my Tilley at all. Then a call came inviting me to British Columbia. I panicked. How could I go without my Tilley?

So I got a new Tilley Airflow. The new one is made with Nylamtium, a new nylon material that’s soft as linen and tough as nails. The new hat has the same nylon mesh on the brim to keep me cool and, of course, comes with all the qualities of my old one – it’s guaranteed not to wear out, it floats, it provides super sun protection, it’s water resistant, has the wind cord, and that sneaky little stash pocket.

I learned it’s heartbreaking to lose an old friend. But while old friends should be treasured, new ones are wonderful too.

And I’m looking forward to seeing how many miles my new friend and I can rack up together. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

Lana Mulder

Lana Mulder is a woman of many talents — artist, seamstress, fabulous cook, computer wizard, and world traveler. When she’s not traveling to far-flung places like Africa, Morocco, and Europe, Lana operates a photo memory business, Dragonfly Photo Memory and Organization Services where she helps people organize and preserve their family photographs and other memorabilia. She can be reached at

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