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Rainy Day Hats

Submitted by on June 11, 2011 – 6:39 pm 5 Comments

One of the most frequently asked questions we get in Spring is, ÔÇ£What type of hat is good to wear in the rain?ÔÇØ

Hats Plus employees Ken and Shawn show off some of their favorite water resistant hats, The Dakota & The Tino, on a drizzly day in Chicago.

It is an excellent question with no easy answer. Most of our fur felt hats and some of our caps are rain resistant. However, that doesnÔÇÖt mean you want to wear them in the rain.

The only hat we have that advertises itself as ÔÇ£water impermeableÔÇØ is a cap by Stefeno called the Liam. It is a handsome cap with a waterproof pedigree.

The remainder of the hats fit on a sliding scale. As I said in the earlier post ÔÇ£Hats, Heat & Snow,ÔÇØ water and heat are your hatÔÇÖs worst common enemies. Those two elements easily warp, shrink, stain or disfigure hats in short order. Getting back to that scale, you never want to get a straw hat wet. On the other hand, most Tilley hats come with washing instructions.

Dressier felt hats are all going to be water resistant. With many of them, the real damage might come to the finish. For example: A Biltmore Eleganza Pork Pie with a soleil finish might keep your head dry in a downpour for a few minutes, but it can only withstand a drop or two of rain before the silken finish of the fur felt is in danger of being ruined.

The right hat for singin' in the rain.

Nathaniel goes all out by "Singing in the Rain" while wearing a Borsalino Crushable.

Fortunately, many of our very affordable Lite Felt hats are treated to be more water repellent. These are rugged wool fur felt hats that often are crushable, too. They hold up better in the rain than most hats but need some special TLC, which I will discuss in a minute.

The famed Italian hatter Borsalino has a beautiful and light-weight hat named the Crushable that is advertised as part of their ÔÇ£Rain Proof Line.ÔÇØ We would not necessarily call it waterproof, but with proper handling, it does hold up in the rain very well.

Even brand name hats by Stetson, Dobbs, Biltmore and others can withstand a little moisture, but you really donÔÇÖt want to get them too wet. If you want to wear a hat out in the rain, be sure to use a plastic rain cover on your hat and/or carry an umbrella.

If your felt hat does get rained on, here are some simple tips to prevent or reduce the amount of damage. As you head indoors, shake off all the excess water from your hat. If it is a fedora with a snap brim, gently turn the brim up. Then find a flat cool, dry place to set your hat. Turn down the leather sweatband and rest the hat on that. If your hat does not have a leather sweatband, rest the hat upside down on its crown. Let the hat dry slowly and naturally. Do not put it in direct sunlight or on an oven top, as the heat can shrink or otherwise alter the shape of your hat.

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  • Charles says:

    Nice information. I’m needing to wear hats now…sun worries…so the info on rain, heat, drying a hat… was helpful.

  • W. F. Kinsey says:

    I am looking for a cap that is waterproof or water resistant that I can wear to church,theater, symphony etc. that I can fit or stuff into the sleeve of my coat. Not a hat, I have those but sometimes there is no coat rack and not place to put a hat. I have a cameo hunting hat but I don’t want to wear that when I dress up. Any suggestions?

    • Nathaniel Cerf says:

      Howdy. Thanks for the question. The nice part about any cap is that it isn’t nearly as rigid as the fur felt hats. Most of them can be rolled up and put in a pocket, as long as you don’t bend the bill. The Stefano Liam is the only cap we carry that advertises itself as water proof. If you like a more fedora-like style, the Guerra New Pocket is a fedora that is designed to be folded up and put in a coat pocket or sleave. We wouldn’t wear it in a down pour, at least without an umbrella, but a little drizzle would probably be okay for a short while.

  • Lance Bryant says:

    Thank you for the helpful information and the great website! What can one do once the hat does shrink a little. I think it’s gotten wet throught the years. I have a (still) beautiful felt Stetson and have been wearing it in the colder seasons for about nine years. It no longer fits well, too tight. Is there a way to stretch it? It has a leather band inside.

    • Nathaniel Cerf says:

      Hi Lance,

      Yep. Most hats have a tendency to shrink a bit over time. Hats Plus does sell hat stretchers. Essentially what you do is turn up the brim, insert the stretcher in the hat so it fits snugly on the leather band and then apply a little steam from a tea kettle and tighten the stretcher by expanding it a little at a time, while making sure to keep steaming the band evenly. Then you’ll probably want to let it set for some time with the stretcher still in the hat as the steam dries and the hat adopts its new shape. You don’t want to over do the steam or the stretching. If it works, your hat might fit a little more comfortably for a while, as it is apt to ultimately shrink again. If it doesn’t work, at least you get to treat yourself to a new hat!

      Take care, and thanks for writing in.


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