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Stetson vs. Resistol

Discussion in 'Hats' started by bbshriver, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. bbshriver

    bbshriver One of the Regulars

    I'm curious in general, but specifically in modern hats... and I believe Resistol only makes western/cowboy hats these days so we can limit discussion to those if appropriate.

    What I'm curious about is whether there is a difference or brand distinction between Stetson and Resistol now that they are both the same company, and made in the same factory. They seem to sell for comparable prices. Is it just a different nametag, or is one considered to be superior? Or are they different but equal (say Stetson is "nicer" but resistol is more durable?).

    This was an ongoing debate between a friend of mine and myself. I'd never even heard of Resistol until fairly recently, and always knew of Stetson as "the" hat. My friend believed Stetson was nothing more than an expensive name, and thought of Resistol as the best. I was looking into it and that's when I found they were both the same company made in the same place.

    I think he has a 6X Resistol and I have a 5X Stetson, his 6X feels nicer, but being a higher grade, and much higher cost (I paid about $60 for mine he paid over $100 for his) it should.
  2. I have a couple of dozen western hats that are 20 years old and newer in a mix of Resistol, Stetson, and Bailey. All are 20X or better. When I have done apples to apples comparison there is little difference. The older Stetsons made in St Joseph MO may have had an advantage in felt finish (exception would be the resistol 20X "Black Gold", more on this...) and used a finer feeling leather for sweatband but the sweatband stitching was coarse and would irritate my forehead. In other words, the Stetson's felt better to handle but Resistol's were more comfortable to wear all day long, day in day out. Both Stetson and Resistol are not colorfast in black or dark brown if rained on.
    All of the Stetson and Resistol hats I have looked at in the last two years were indistinguishable from each other exclusive of liners and trim. The Stetson's have the Resistol sweatband style now.
    Resistol came out with a 20x about 25 years ago. This hat had a much better finish and fitted a felt band with a tooled buckle set and it was pounced to have the silkiest feel. This is their Black Gold hat. I have a few of these and they compare in quality, regardless of the beaver content, very well with 100% beaver hats.

    If you go back to the 70's and earlier the game is quite different as with fedoras and other men's dress hats. The single digit "X" hats are tough, durable, and have a great feel to the felt. Newer hats in the single digits seem to all have some wool in their felt or at least some very coarse hairs of some origin. The newer hats do not stand up to being soaked (you know the usual stop at a watering hole, take off hat, fill with water and let horse drink out of it activity...).
  3. bbshriver

    bbshriver One of the Regulars

    Thanks for your reply, sounds like in recent years they are the same hat, different brand. I'm sure the differentiation (and apples to oranges effect) gets greater the farther back you go.

    I was just surprised to see that the 2 biggest western hatmakers were under the same roof (and have been for quite a while). Seems like there is quite a feud over nothing.

    I have not noticed my dark brown Stetson having color fastness issues in precipitation, but mostly have worn it when it's snowing. Mostly rains here in the summer-ish so I wear my "vinylcote" Resistol straw hat.

    I have 2 baileys, and neither match the Stetsons or Resistols that I've handled. One was my first "good" cowboy hat my grandpa got me when I was something less than 10 years old (he wanted to buy me a Stetson, but the salesperson convinced him the Bailey was a better value)

    Now I have my grandpa's old Stetson, fits perfect. Not sure what vintage it is (want to look into it now) but know it's at least 20+ years old since he had it for as long as I can remember. My new brown Stetson, Resistol straw, and bailey straw (Bailey felt as well, but it's too small these days... waiting either for my nephew to get big enough or me to have a son someday, not sure which).

    The X rankings are funny. Really only seem to have any value within a given brand... I have an 8X "Monte Carlo" that feels like it's made out of sandpaper, and a 5 X Stetson that's really nice.. And then there's the X's on straw hats which makes no sense at all...

    Sounds like you have some nice hats!
  4. I have 3 western Resistols, 1 Stetson & quite a few vintage Stetson Open Roads. Nowadays, Resistol & Stetson are like what Pontiac & Chevrolet used to be with a Camaro & a Firebird, basically the same thing with few styling touches & badges different. From what I remember, Stetson went mainstream while Resistol was a small, regional player that the "locals" were very loyal to. Hatco swallowed up so many & consolidated to knock all the individuality out of them but keep the marque for those faithful to the name. The older Resistols seem to fit my LO head shape better, Stetsons were always too round. Also seemed the Resistol liners & sweatbands were better. I never have cared for Bailey westerns; they seemed to costumy or something.
  5. Baileys are all over the place quality -wise. I have a natural and a black in 100x and they are indestructable, colorfast, and comfortable. If Im going to be riding and there is a chance of rain, I'll grab one of the Baileys. They look exactly as before after a THOROUGH soaking only cleaner. No brim droop and no crease relaxation. Better than the Stetson or Resistol equivalents. I agree that their newer lower X hats miss the mark somehow.
  6. My riding lid now is an Akubra I bought of a fellow Lounger, a Kiandra. My former one was an old Resistol that does look a lot worse for wear. It has been thru the ringer, in a few creeks & under a few hooves. It is Silver Belly so no color fast issues. I only have a black hat for show ring when my wife tells me what chaps, saddle blanket & shirt go with horse I'm showing. Black has always been too hot for me.
  7. I've got a Resistol 20X in black that I wanted to reblock. When I removed the satin and sweatband, and soaked the hat it bled so bad I changed the water 3 times then gave up. I just blocked and dried it. I'll just have to remember not to wear it in the rain. By the way, the brim went from 4" to 3 1/2".:( :(
  8. HATCO

    HATCO Vendor

    There are differences between the hats. Different Blocks are used as well as profiles. Resistols are longer while Stetsons are rounder. Colors are different. A Silver Belly in Resistol is different from a Silver Belly in Stetson. There is sometimes material crossover (certain type of leather sweatband..etc) but all in all the designers keep their designs and their vendors/sources to themselves. If Stetson were working on a new felt or straw body, Resistol wouldn't get it and vice versa. The designers of the respective brands have a friendly rivalry...
    Personally I think this is the best way otherwise if they were all the same it really does become slapping a brand on a hat, and that is not what we do.
  9. HATCO

    HATCO Vendor

    It sounds like it felted.

  10. CRH

    CRH Call Me a Cab

    Industrial secret #1!

    Who do I talk to to get a list of these curves 'as hyperbolic functions listed in order from pointiest to straightest'?
  11. I hate to ask a dump question, but what exactly is happening when this occurs.[huh]
  12. Felting occurs when fur fibers bond to one through agitation. They do this because the individual hairs are covered in microscopic scales sort of like what you'd see in an artichoke or a pine cone. As the fur fibers are worked against each other, the scales interlock bonding the fibers together into a solid mat. As the fibers bond more tightly together, the mat shrinks and becomes more dense. In this case, what most likely happened was, the fibers in the hat weren't as tightly felted as they could have been when the hat was originally made and when the hat was soaked and agitated (a primary felt-making technique) to clean it, the material started the felting process again and tightened up. The hat is probably denser and tighter now, but it is also smaller.
    M Hatman likes this.
  13. Hatrack, nice concise answer. I thought maybe that was it but I didn't realize a hat body would go out needing that much more work. Thanks.:)
  14. HATCO

    HATCO Vendor

    You're correct about the felting. In regards to the statement that it wasn't tightly felted please remember that during the wet block and the steam block the hat body is stretched out quite a bit pulling the interlocking furs apart. Soaking the hat made those fibers interlock closer together again.

  15. DapperDuck

    DapperDuck Familiar Face


    Thanks for the great info everyone.

    Here are a couple of videos from a TV program called "How it's Made." Even though they aren't very detailed, they show most the steps involved (including felting) in making a hat from fur to hat. And in this case, Stetsons.

    Skip to 3:50 in the first video.

  16. bbshriver

    bbshriver One of the Regulars

    HATCO, thanks for your input on the differences between the brands.

    One question as far as HATCO corporate, is either brand considered "more premium" or are they basically equal?

    I have both, but my Resistol is straw, and my felts are Steston. My friend bought a 6X resistol which was nicer than my 5X stetson, but that's to be expected (he also paid 2x what I did).

    Just curious.
  17. HATCO

    HATCO Vendor

    they are equal,

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