Summer in Alaska. You can expect breathtaking scenery and wildlife, including pesky mosquitoes. Knowing that RFT Editor Anne Weaver and I were headed to Alaska for a two-week road trip, I wanted to protect myself from mosquitoes (that really love me) without loading up on DEET and other chemicals. When I learned that Tilley Endurables, makers of those indestructible and eminently practical hats and travel clothing, offers an Insect Shield hat, I was intrigued.
Anyone who regularly reads realfoodtraveler.com knows our editors and contributors are major fans of this Canadian company. Their reasonably-priced hats, which are made in Canada and not in a sweat shop in some Third World country, come with a never-wear-out guarantee.
When I traveled to the Yukon in the dead of winter to watch the Quest sled dog race, 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 adjusts to the temperature of your head, keeping you not-too-cool, not-too-hot, but just right. These amazingly lightweight hats kept me warm at temperatures of -4 C and below.
When I traveled to Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Tilley’s Organic Cotton with 3D Mesh (T7M0 $82) and the feather weight Plaid Hat (T5CN $79) kept out the sun and later, the rain when I was caught in a surprise tropical rainstorm. RFT Contributor Lana Mulder was impressed by Tilley’s Summer Hemp’s (TH9 $84) 50+ spf sun protection.
My Favorite Tilley and No Bugs
While I love all these Tilley hats, the Tilley Airflow (LTM5 $79) has been my go-to travel hat. To my delight, Tilley has made the lightweight Airflow with Insect Shield protection (LTM6IS $95). Like other Tilley Airlows, the Airflow with Insect Shield features 3/4″ polyester mesh built into the crown for good ventilation. It’s made of Tilley Nylamtium®, a water-and-mildew resistant form of nylon.
What’s different about the Insect Shield is they’ve impregnated the Airflow hat with pyrethrum, a natural anti-mosquito (and other biting insects) chemical made from chrysanthemum flowers. Unlike harsh chemicals like DEET, pyrethrum is a safe and effective bug deterrent. The hat also features a neck shield that conveniently and unobtrusively tucks into a pocket on the underside of the wide brim.
Does the Tilley Airflow Insect Shield hat really work against mosquitoes? In a word, yes.
Editor Anne Weaver and I had traveled just north of Seward to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. When we stepped out of our RV, we were swamped with dozens of biting mosquitoes. Our host apologized, saying there had been a massive hatch two days earlier and these “moses” were hungry.
I quickly put on my Tilley hat and a little bug spray on my arms and lower body. The bugs were voracious, so I unfurled the neck shield on my hat too. I shared my bug spray with our guide. I noticed that, despite the bug spray, mosquitoes continued to buzz all around his head and face. With our Tilley anti-bug hats, neither Anne Weaver nor were bothered. While the neck shield is intended for sun protection, I found that it acted like an anti-bug shield, protecting my neck from those pesky critters too.
We explored the Wildlife Conservation Center for about 90 minutes and our Tilley hats kept those bugs away. Our host noticed too. When I told him about the Tilley Airflow with Insect Shield, he said, “Wow, I really need to get one of those. The mosquitoes in Alaska are horrible in the summer.”
Later during our Alsaka journey, I wore the Airflow with Insect Shield hiking through mosquito-infested forests and kayaking. This remarkable hat kept me safe from both the sun and the bugs.
I know I won’t be traveling without my Tilley Airflow with Insect Shield, especially when I travel to Alaska–or anywhere else I might be bugged. – by Bobbie Hasselbring, RTF Editor, Photos by Anne Weaver, RFT Editor