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Fieldmaster #23 Review

Discussion in 'Hats' started by fatwoul, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. fatwoul

    fatwoul Practically Family

    I've been promising this review for a while, but now I have a few minutes I will post something. It is based on the email I sent to Ken after I received the hat, together with his responses to my comments, and some photos of the hat.

    I waited a while for Fieldmaster #23, more so than I - or Ken - expected. We all know the wait on these hats is currently a little longer than he would like, but it not without good reason, and I'm sure Ken knows we're all behind him during the difficulties. Just keep this in mind if you are considering one for a specific event, and give Ken plenty of notice.

    When the hat arrived, it was well-packed, and some random person had written "GIFT" on the box to avoid it being picked up by HM Customs. I know Ken wouldn't do anything so legally questionable himself, so I attribute this to hobos. Anyway, it meant I avoided not only a customs charge, but also Parcel Farce's own "clearing fee". So that put me in a good mood from the start.

    When I opened the box, this is the hat I found inside (as you can see, I requested mine open crown):



    I'll quickly go over the only - and very slight - cons, before getting onto the pros.

    On first inspection, the crown had a couple of small “dings” in it, front-left and rear-back. You can make out one of them above the front of the bow in the first picture, but you really do have to know they are there to notice them, and I doubt they will ever affect the overall integrity of the felt. They have since brushed out with a damp sponge. The front one is hidden in the creased, and the rear one isn’t particularly visible. It might be a small storage or manufacture issue, but Ken is already on the case with it, telling me that he will make sure the rest of the batch are OK.

    Most of the hats I have see have their liner label underneath the sweat-cap plastic, to protect the label. With the Camptown, the label is adhered on top of the plastic. People seem to like to take their Camptowns through the rough, and I suspect that after prolonged wear the name I wondered if the company may have worn off. Obviously this is less important to us as wearers than it is to Ken himself, since people need to know the name of his hats in order to track them down. Ken supplies replacement labels on request, and includes a spare blue or red label with each hat. He has also assured me that the labels are printed with a quality that should withstand extended wear, and since I have been wearing the hat for two weeks now, I agree with him that the print is tougher than I expected.

    If you look at the first picture again, you may also notice the tacking stitches holding the bow in place are a little big. Personally, I don’t have a problem with them, because of the intended purpose of the hat (which I’ll go into in a second), but they might look a little utilitarian to some people, and they are more noticeable than most bow stitches. For those of you who may be bothered by it, they're easy to change anyway, as most of us replace ribbons at some point. Since wearing the hat, I have come to think of these stitches as part of the hat's character, and something I actually like.

    Now the plus points of both this hat and my whole Camptown experience so far:

    Ken a terrifically friendly and approachable guy to deal with, and makes his customers feel as if their business is actually wanted, which is not the case with a few others I have read about lately. If I had a problem I would have no hesitation in contacting Ken about it, and I have no doubt he would do all he could to rectify it.

    The felt quality of the materials is very good indeed. The satin lining is nice, the felt feels very sturdy and the ribbon is a good, complimentary colour. The felt is also a really nice colour, a great reddish brown in daylight. I have experienced no dye-running issues with this hat at all, and do not hesitate to wear it in the rain. It is a solid hat that I think will endure hard use. As to the effectiveness of the vented sweatband, I can’t say yet because its too cold for me to be sweating, but it is very comfortable, and has adopted my head shape much faster than my other hats (although that might be partly due to my own increasing experience).


    Despite Ken doing a dimensional trim to the brim, I felt the brim was still too large for my face, so I trimmed it down further. Since the brim is positively vast to begin with, there is plenty of lee-way for a screw-up like me to goof this up and still make it right. Its a little crooked, as is the crease I put in, but so is my face, so it looks balanced.


    As you can see, this hat has a meaty crown, more than capable of the sort of straight-sided, un-tapered wonderfulness that has some of us near pooping ourselves with glee.

    Shaping the Fieldmaster took a little more "assertion" than a fedora-wearer may be accustomed to. I tend to avoid steam in favour of a misting bottle, but the Fieldmaster demanded steam. As a result, the stiffer felt has kept its shape much better. The felt is more comparable in thickness and stiffness to my "Resistwoul" western conversion. It is unsurprising, then, that two of Ken's biggest fans so far have been Daniel Jones and Dostacos, who are probably more familiar with the thicker felt. I have quickly become used to this felt, too. I, too, am a fan of this hat.

    Initially, when I sent my comments to Ken, I put the hat’s quality as about comparable to my Federation Deluxe, which has been my daily hat since I got it. Since then, my opinion of my Fieldmaster has increased further. I would say that it is a more solid, sturdy hat than my Fed Dlx, and has become my "go-to" hat. My Fed Dlx feels floppy and insubstantial in comparison now, and the crown seems somehow limp and unsupported next to this hat.

    In summary, this is a substantial hat, not without its little quirks and eccentricities, all of which are well worth getting used to. This hat has character and personality, and will probably survive the zombie onslaught I wish would happen far better than I would myself.

    I would certainly consider doing business with Ken again in the future, but I fear he may be doing himself out of business – this hat is so solidly put together, I doubt people will ever need a direct replacement.

    I hope that sounds like a fair and balanced review. I'll try to post some more photos of the hat soon.
  2. My Label is also fine but I would prefer the label under the clear covering for any hat in its price range. Not a big deal but it would appear much nicer underneath.:)
    I definitely agree with the toughness of the hat! As Robin knows I have used mine for tough duty and it has held up no problem. The brim did feel massive for me too but after I cut it down it was alot better. And ken states he leaves the brim large for personalizing.
    Zombies huh!

    <a href="http://plugin.smileycentral.com/http%253A%252F%252Fwww.smileycentral.com%252F%253Fpartner%253DZSzeb008%255FZNxmk572YYUS%2526i%253D36%252F36%255F1%255F17%2526feat%253Dprof/page.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_1_17.gif" alt="SmileyCentral.com" border="0"><img border="0" src="http://plugin.smileycentral.com/http%253A%252F%252Fimgfarm%252Ecom%252Fimages%252Fnocache%252Ftr%252Ffw%252Fsmiley%252Fsocial%252Egif%253Fi%253D36%252F36_1_17/image.gif"></a>

    Somehow I can picture you enjoying that!:rolleyes: :eusa_doh:

    <a href="http://plugin.smileycentral.com/http%253A%252F%252Fwww.smileycentral.com%252F%253Fpartner%253DZSzeb008%255FZNxmk572YYUS%2526i%253D36%252F36%255F6%255F12%2526feat%253Dprof/page.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_6_12.gif" alt="SmileyCentral.com" border="0"><img border="0" src="http://plugin.smileycentral.com/http%253A%252F%252Fimgfarm%252Ecom%252Fimages%252Fnocache%252Ftr%252Ffw%252Fsmiley%252Fsocial%252Egif%253Fi%253D36%252F36_6_12/image.gif"></a>
  3. Thanks Fats! Looks like a great hat!

    :eusa_clap :eusa_clap Looks fantastic on you!! I say well done!:eusa_clap :eusa_clap
  4. deanglen

    deanglen My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Very nice review, f'twoul!

  5. apipeguy

    apipeguy One of the Regulars

    fats! nice review. I think the hat looks good on you. I really like the orange-ish brown look to it. I say, wear it with confidence!
  6. ideaguy

    ideaguy Practically Family

    just plain ol' TERRIFIC JOB!!:eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap

    that hat's a killer! like the color, cut, attitude; the whole hat speaks, not
    just a part. With many "great hats", it's the crown that makes it; or the
    cut and curl of the brim, or the ribbon treatment. Nah. Nah. Nah...you done
    got the whole thing singing the same tune, and on key.

    Congratulations on a job very well done. I have a Bailey 20X that I'd love to
    convert, wish we were closer together...or if you have an idea of how to do
    it without my head around (not detachable as commonly thought.another urban myth.) let it fly.

    thanks for a treat of a job of converting those pesky hats into something civilized. m
  7. carter

    carter I'll Lock Up

    Great review of your latest, Fats. Looks like a keeper to me. :eusa_clap
  8. Simon82

    Simon82 One of the Regulars

    Thanks so much for the thorough review, fatwoul! It looks great! Love the reddish-brown color, and the ventilated sweatband sounds like it would be more comfortable than the standard sweat.
  9. thunderw21

    thunderw21 My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Great looking hat, I like how straight the sides are.

    Bring on those zombies, we can blast 'em in style! :D
  10. fatwoul

    fatwoul Practically Family

    Thanks for your appreciation, everyone. :)

    If its a hat you're not going to wear without converting, and you have nothing to lose, I say go for it. Pick up a Hatshaper in the closest size to your head/hat, reshape the crown, trim the brim, and work from there. Have a look in the Conversion Corral for inspiration and more information about Hatshapers. I think they are mentioned in that thread, at least...

    I've been messing about with my new 50mm/1.4 this evening (lovely but flarey, by the way. Have to learn how to use 1.4 again after all this time slumming it). So here's a picture of the liner and the sweatband for you:

  11. Thank you for the very detailed review Fats. I am glad you like her with "eccentricities" and all.

    On a few of the details, I am going to speak with the shop about the tacking sticthes, since I think they could be smaller too.

    On the liners, I am considering getting a die made to set in the Camptown logo, but the expense involved would compel me to keep the liners all one color for all of the models. I am also looking into getting the bands altered with the company name, but it always wears off (at least in my hats....)

    It is built to balance, style and sturdiness. I am pleased that you seem to think it does that. I am here for questions as always and once my ship settles down a bit, I will get some new refinements and items underway.

  12. fatwoul

    fatwoul Practically Family

    I'm glad you liked the review, Ken. Really, the fact that my Fieldmaster is the hat I go to pick up automatically speaks more than the rest of what I wrote. As I said when I emailed you a similar review back when I received the hat, I am glad you have taken it in the spirit it was intended, which is to do nothing other than praise the strengths of your product, and point out a few very, very minor considerations for future development.

    I cannot overstate the point that you are a great guy to deal with. :)
  13. fatwoul

    fatwoul Practically Family

    Oh, by the way, the colour of a Fieldmaster badge is like in JJ's own avatar. The colour in my last photo is shamefully inaccurate. :eek:
  14. ideaguy

    ideaguy Practically Family

    fatwoul: thanks for the advice-now I need da nerve to do it...
    the brown Camptown you show liner side up-if my math works,
    the "X" factor ends up being 100X (clever,eh?); do all Camptowns
    come in this quality? 100X ought to be awfully soft, dense, and rich.
    If this is the case-where can I get my mitts on one?
    thanks m
  15. fatwoul

    fatwoul Practically Family

    Just take your time with everything. If you want any specific help or specific pointers, PM me and I'll give you my AIM or MSN addresses, if you use such things. Could try and talk you through some of it if you like.

    I stopped even trying to understand the X system within a week of getting on FL! There seems to be so little consistency with it as to render it meaningless. As I understand it, the Fieldmaster is a mixed blend hat, beaver and (I think) rabbit, although Ken should correct me. It makes a nice transition for me, between the rabbit of my Federation, and the beaver of my AB (which will show up next year, hopefully).

    What I can tell you is that the felt is definitely dense, certainly denser than a Federation, and shows no indication that it will shed at all. The surface of the felt is velvety, but the felt itself is not pliable, it is stiff, more like a western. As I was saying earlier, I think that's why the hat appeals to those with a background of cowboy hats. Having said that, I really like the thick felt, particularly since converting western hats. I find it holds a shape much better, and feels more reliable on my head. When I am wearing my Federation, I worry about what weather it might experience. Same with my Whippet, but thats fair enough because that's a vintage hat that needs a little care and respect.

    However, I don't feel I need to mother my Fieldmaster at all. It's a tough hat. A field hat. A master of field hats. A field master. See? :D

    It suits the purpose I bought it for very well indeed.

    I'll try to take some more pictures during my next commercial shoot.
  16. Maybe you should be wearing the Fieldmaster in your avatar instead of that CAP!!:eusa_doh:
    I'm gonna run before Deanglen sees this!:eek: :rolleyes: lol
  17. deanglen

    deanglen My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Saw it. F'twoul has his own mind. 'Freedom of choice!'

  18. HamletJSD

    HamletJSD A-List Customer


    lol lol lol

    Hadn't seen that one before ...
  19. Rooster

    Rooster Practically Family

    So, as usual I'm confused....:eusa_doh: Who made the hat, and where do you get one?
  20. Colby Jack

    Colby Jack Call Me a Cab

    Great hat Robin! You (and Ken:D ) do wonderful work!...Can you post a side byside of your Fed dlx and the Fieldmaster . I'd love to see the difference in browns.:eusa_clap

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