Tilley Hats: A Friend for a Lifetime

Alex Tilley, the founder of Tilley Hats, became frustrated when he couldn’t find a good sailing hat. He decided to oversee the making of some proper hats for himself and other Toronto sailors. He wanted the hat to float, stay on, not to shrink, last indefinitely, and look good. He didn’t realize that such a thing was considered impossible.

With advice from a milliner and materials from a sailmaker, he asked a local hat maker to create them. Alex hadn’t planned to sell the hats, so he took his time getting them right and didn’t worry about how much they’d cost. Tilley Hats are now known as the best made and most practical hats of their type in the world.

040715-tilley-hat-1.jpgDon’t get the impression that the Tilley hat is only for sailors, though. It is equally at home in the desert, in the mountains, in the garden, on the golf course, by a trout stream, or strolling down a city street in the rain. Tilley hats have even been issued to Canadian troops when they are deployed on peace-keeping missions around the world!

Serious sun protection starts with your head. Tilley Hats are tested and certified to provide a UPF of 50+, the maximum protection rating.  That means that they are certified to block 98% of harmful UVA/UVB radiation. The Tilley AIRFLO incorporates mesh into the crown, allowing for coolness and comfort. They’re water repellent, and the brim channels water away from your head and neck for improved foul weather protection. The layer of closed-cell foam in the crown provides the Tilley’s positive buoyancy and even protects your head from bumps.

The adjustable tuckaway Wind Cord stays hidden in the crown of your hat in calm weather. If it’s breezy, place the part with the sliding knots behind your head. If it’s windy, or you’re sailing, use the chin part of the Cord too.  The wind cord is like a seat belt; useless unless it is worn; if used, it will prevent a wind gust from snatching the hat right off your head.

040715-tilley-hat-3.jpgTilley Hats have a secret pocket in the crown to safely and securely store important stuff like licenses, room keys, lip balm or emergency cash. There have been many stories over the years of some more eclectic items being kept there as well …fishing lures and once, an engagement ring.  MP3 players are even finding their way into this convenient spot as well.

Tilley Hats are nearly indestructible, although a dedicated family dog could prove otherwise. They’re made by hand with the help of small, powerful sewing machines needed to sew through the tough materials. All threads are lock-stitched. They’re guaranteed for life; free replacement if your Tilley ever wears out, falls apart, shrinks or mildews.

040715-tilley-hat-2.jpgTilleys fit more comfortably than other hats and are designed to be worn low on your head and slightly loose. Gravity, not painful pressure on your forehead, holds the hat on. For proper fit, you should be able to easily insert two fingers, flat, between the middle of your forehead and the front of your Hat. It should be loose enough to rotate it to the left and right, and lift it up and down, without friction on your forehead.

The anti-sweat band wicks perspiration away from your forehead. Compared to the rest of the body, our head radiates a great deal of heat… perhaps to keep the brain from overheating?  Keep your Tilley in good condition by washing it by hand or washing machine. You’ll be pleased with the way it fits and feels, and will have a friend for a lifetime!

Stop by Mast General Store to get fitted for your very own Tilley Hat or head over to to have one delivered.


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