The first cowboy hat ever was a visionary design produced by Stetson and known as the “Boss of the Plains.”
It was a felted wool hat with a high, round crown and a wide brim. It was warm in the winter and cool in the summer, keeping the wearer’s face and eyes in the shade. It also was fully waterproof, meaning that it could keep the wearer dry as well, even in inclement conditions. This trait also made it possible for users to water their horses using the hat as an improvised vessel.
The design was so popular that for many years, the term “Stetson hat” became synonymous with “cowboy hat.” One need only read a few excerpts from Steinbeck to see how far the influence of Stetson was.
Today, though Stetson is still a producer of premier western hats and workwear, there are many other players in the industry – and they’ve all kept to the same basic design of a high crown and a wide brim.
Some modern western hats are made with straw instead of felt. If you’re looking for “men’s cowboy hats near me,” here’s what you need to know about the difference between traditional felted fur or wool hats (like the originals) and modern straw reimaginings.
Felt Cowboy Hats
Classic cowboy hats are all made of high-quality, premium felted fur or wool. Some high-end cowboy hats are even made from felted beaver fur, which is warm, durable, and comfortable.
Wool and fur are used for a variety of reasons. One of them is because they are waterproof, as mentioned above. They can be used to keep the weather dry, even in rain and snow. The watertight construction of felted fur hats means they can also be used as a fan for stoking the flames of a fire.
Felted fur and wool hats are also excellent thermoregulators. They’re warm in the cool desert night as well as in the winter. At the same time, felted fur hats can keep a wearer cool in the heat of the day by shading his or her eyes from the sun and glare.
Straw Cowboy Hats
Straw cowboy hats are not as traditional as felted fur or wool hats, but they have their utility all the same. Straw hats are lighter and more breathable than felted hats, so they’re more comfortable in extremely hot locations.
Straw hats are light and breathable, which is a benefit in very hot, dry locations. They’re not waterproof like felt, but they can be more comfortable in the high heat of the summer!
Where Can I Find Men’s Cowboy Hats Near Me?
Looking for cowboy and cowgirl hats? Let’s save you a few seconds of searching – before you type in “men’s cowboy hats near me,” just take a quick look at Jackson’s Western at JacksonsWestern.com.
They carry Michigan’s largest collection of western wear for both men and women, with brands like Charlie 1 Horse, Stetson, Ariat, Resistol, and Bailey well-represented.
If you’re in their area, visit their showroom (Wayland, Michigan) for the full experience. Otherwise, do your shopping on their website and save on your favorite brands and models – felt, straw, leather, or otherwise!