Tilley Wanderer T3 Hat Review

4th Jul 2018

Tilley Wanderer T3 Hat

Hats to keep you warm or cool, hats to fend off rain, snow, sunshine or wind, hats to suit different situations and hats to simply make you look and feel good. Whatever the context, outdoor enthusiasts certainly call on hats a lot!

I am no different and my gear cupboard is home to a stack of headwear but until recently I have never worn or owned a Tilley hat.  Tilley was certainly a brand I was familiar with and I also knew they had a large and loyal following, so I thought it only right to give one a try.  Tilley sent across one of their Wanderer hats to test and I have been putting it to very good use during the recent sunny weather....

The Brand

I am always drawn to brands with a great back story and often these come from a single person or a few pioneers with a need that led to an idea and onwards to a product.  When Rab Carrington started sewing up sleeping bags in his attic to fund his mountaineering trips he surely couldn’t have known how the brand would become such an established favourite just as Yvon Chouinard hammered out pitons on a small forge and sold them to climbers in the know, but went on to produce two much loved global brands.  It often happens.  

Tilley Hats have also become a huge global brand but their roots were again a man with an idea.  Back in 1980 Tilley founder Alex was looking for a well made and stylish hat to accompany him on his sailboat but could find nothing suitable.  He decided to change that.  The first prototype took 3 months and Alex, while feeling that he had produced the hat he was aiming for, was concerned the hand crafted headwear was way too pricey to sell.  He gave it a try by selling at boat shows and soon realised people would pay for quality.  The rest is history and from that idea a very distinctive and iconic brand has grown.

Alex is Canadian and every Tilley hat, although now seen on heads all over the world, is still handmade in his home country.  Each hat that leaves the factory will have been made in an ordered sequence of 41 steps by 23 people.  Every hat is impeccably made with love and pride and every hat is guaranteed for life.  In a world of growing numbers of disposables and shifting fads it is great to see manufacturers like Tilley still focussed on garments that will be loved and worn for decades. 

The Hat

Tilley sent me a Wanderer T3 to test. This is part of a new collection of modern styled broad brimmed hats designed to be suitable for a range of users and wide variety of uses.  The Wanderer is made of soft feel 100% cotton duck fabric which has been enzyme washed to create a lived in look and feel.  Tilley have also incorporated a Hydrofil sweatband to wick moisture.

Besides the hat materials, there are a number of key features.  On the sides of the Wanderer there are snap press studs to fasten the brim in a variety of positions and a drawcord which can be looped under the chin to secure the hat in strong winds (or easily removed if not needed).  There is also a ‘secret’ pocket under the crown which can be used for holding documents, cash or it will even fit in a passport.  Finally, the hat proudly sports the Tilley logo.  

In Use

The arrival of the Tilley Wanderer coincided happily with both the start of one of the hottest and sunniest early summer spells in recent U.K. history and also a period of very varied activity for me.  It has therefore been used a lot over the last couple of months and activities have included paddleboarding on inland waters and the coast, hillwalking and it also joined me for a quick trip to Spain.  Beside that, it has been a great choice for less energetic activities like gardening and some family coast adventures.  Fair to say that it has been used in a good variety of situations.

The correct fitting of a Tilley is crucial and I had carefully followed the information on the Tilley website and had watched and rewatched a helpful video guide they sent.  They produce the hats in a broad range of sizes and so it is quite easy to get the right size.  Mine arrived and, despite being a little anxious about trying it for size,  it fitted perfectly.  Snug enough to stay comfortably in position and yet loose enough to not feel restrictive.  This means it will stay in place in fairly blustery weather (this was well tested when paddleboarding on the Anglesey coast) but it also stays comfortable in very hot or sunny weather. 

The comfort is aided by the broad wicking Hydrofil headband and the breathable cotton fabric.  The material is actually quite a thick fabric but this doesn’t seem to affect the feel or comfort of the Wanderer in hot weather and helps it keep its shape.  Having said that fabric is thick, I should also say that the feel of the T3 is soft and the brim, while sitting in position with no problem, is floppier than many other hats in the Tilley range.  It is a hat you can scrunch up and pack in the bottom of your rucksack, swim in, thrash through a jungle or wear to a social event - it will take the hard miles and still look the same at the end of the day.  It should suit a lot of users for a lot of situations.

In sunny weather the broad brim is a vital feature which efficiently keeps the sun away from the face, ears and neck.  When you want to clip the sides up out of the way then the side press stud fasteners are great and, depending on your requirements, you can choose to simply clip one side up instead.  

I haven’t had much cause to use the retention cord but it is good to know it is there if needed.  I have certainly tested it and it works exactly as designed.  It can also be used as a neck cord so that users can hang the hat on the upper back which can be really useful if you are in a situation where you only want it on at times.

The ‘secret’ pocket which is in the inner crown is a nice addition but I am surprised Tilley haven’t included a method to fasten it closed.  It can be used to store a document or two, a passport or some cash notes, but you will need to careful the items don’t fall out when taking the Tilley on and off.  

Finally, a word needs to got to the styling.  Tilley have designed the Wanderer to be a well styled product suitable for a younger audience.  The enzyme wash gives the hat a lovely subtle lived in appearance and feel and so, even when new, it will feel like an old and trusted friend.  

Tilley are renowned for the quality of their products and everything about the Wanderer lives up to that reputation.  The workmanship is excellent and the subtle stitching details add an air of this being a top notch item.  I had high expectations of Tilley and the Wanderer lives up to this in every way.  I am now proud to be a Tilley user.

Summary

It is all as described above really.  The Wanderer T3 will cost the buyer around £70 and this makes this an expensive hat, but given the quality of construction and the Tilley lifetime guarantee, it is likely to be the last hat purchase you will need to make.  If you are looking for a stylish high performance general purpose hat then I would whole heartedly recommend the Wanderer.  Full details can be found on the Tilley website here.   

Posted by Paul