New Hats and Rain

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Brent Hutto, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto One of the Regulars

    South Carolina, USA
    Is there a rule that says when you get a new hat, you'll wake up the next morning and see rain pouring down?

    I am now a two-hat man, having yesterday added a dressy navy blue Christy's Marlborough to my cheap but cheerful dark brown wool-felter. How many people would have worn the new fur felt one anyway when they saw it raining lightly with heavier rain all afternoon in the forecast?

    Am I just being silly? Surely the new hat will get sprinkled at some point during its life, why not break it in correct right away?

    For that matter, just how "sprinkled" does a fur felt hat have to get to leave lasting damage?

    Oh well, the wool felt one is warmer anyway.
  2. warbird

    warbird One Too Many

    Northern Virginia
    A quality fur felt hat is far superior to wool in the rain. Remember that is why people wore them so many years ago, especially cowboys, to keep the rain and snow and sun off.

    In fact most of my hats have been drenched. My Akubra Fed has been soaked by rain and monsoon and snow.

    Rain does in fact make them softer. My fed is now unbelievably soft.
  3. If I am concerned about the weather then I bought the wrong hat! Yes, I typically throw on an Akubra Campdraft when it is raining out, just like today. Those things seem to love the rain & get better from it. But if I leave the house with a custom or vintage hat on & the weather turns wet, I don't give it a second thought. Only thing that concerns me is the wind & blowing the hat off my head into traffic!
  4. SamReu

    SamReu One of the Regulars

    Red Clay USA
    Rain on the lid

    I concur with Warbird. I have a couple of fur felts, and the rain has made them softer, more pliant. In fact, when my Akubra Stylemaster arrived earlier this year, I waited for a decent downpour, popped it atop my head, and wore it to work.
    That was the first of several drenchings, and now that hat is as soft as a ... well, you supply the image.
  5. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto One of the Regulars

    South Carolina, USA
    Man, I shouldn't have let me wife talk me into switching hats this morning.

    I've got an umbrella and don't expect to spend the day walking in any real downpours. It's more of those wintry steady soaking 40F drizzles alternating with some heavier showers. Would have been the perfect day to break in that new Snap-brim Trilby (it's from England, don't you know).

    Shoot, for that matter this would pass for a fine summer's morning in London!
  6. Ephraim Tutt

    Ephraim Tutt One Too Many

    Sydney Australia
    Yep those Akubras love the rain (as does any decent fur felt lid). I've mentioned elsewhere that the Aussie bushies, when they bought their new Akubras would traditionally dunk it in the first creek they came to, then wear it till it dried - perfect fit.
    Basically, a hat's job was (and is) to keep the weather off your head, be it blazing sun or drenching rain. If your lid can't handle the heat (or rain), get a real hat.
  7. Mike in Seattle

    Mike in Seattle My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Renton (Seattle), WA
    With a brand new hat, I probably wouldn't wear it out into a downpour for at least a FEW days! If it gets drenched, it's going to take a day or two to dry out properly and those are a few days you'll be itching to wear it.

    Personally, I've got a couple Akubras, and since I've had them for a few years, rain doesn't phase me when I put them on. (I'm in Seattle...if I had to stop and think everytime it drizzles about whether or not to do something, I'd get nothing done! ;) )
  8. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto One of the Regulars

    South Carolina, USA
    While I was home for lunch I swapped to the new Christy's hat. Getting between car and various offices, stores and restaurants the rest of the day it did get a little wet several times (although I was using an umbrella during the real heavy rain). The water just kind of beaded up on the the felt and evaporated as soon as I'd been indoors for a few minutes.

    It never did really get wet but from now on I'll have no worries about it in the rain. Thanks, guys. Never had a decent looking hat in my life so my experience with these things is non-existent.

    P.S. Good point Mike. I would have been a little down if I'd gone out to dinner tonight and not been able to wear the spiffy new lid.
  9. ScionPI2005

    ScionPI2005 Call Me a Cab

    Bremerton, Washington
    It does seem to be Murphy's Law that it starts raining just when you want to wear a new hat. Most often these days, if I know I have a good quality hat, I'll wear it in the rain. I guess I mainly learned this from Art Fawcett with my VS custom. He always tells folks his hats are made to be worn, as so I do.
    Jhoff_1979 likes this.
  10. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo A-List Customer

    Southern USA

    Welcome to the wide world of finer fur felt hats. Hang out here, and you'll soon have so many hats that you'll be out of closet space. DO NOT impinge on your wife's closet space. DO store them in the garage--that's what they're built for (and cars if there's space remaining)--as it's spacious and a good place to hide them from wifey.

    To your question: The rule for wearing a new hat in the rain is DO IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. A hard, drenching rain is preferable, but any type of precipitation is better than none, for rain is the best thing to soften the felt and make it conform to your head for a custom fit.

    You're new to this game, so allow me to make an analogy: A new fur felt hat is like a new pair of Levi's back in the good old days of denim--they were stiff to begin with but got better and better with every washing and wearing. Same goes for fur felt hats and rain and wearing. Do not machine wash or bleach. Hey, an analogy only goes so far, you know?

    So, rain will not only not hurt your hat, it actually helps. Once you get your gumption up to leave the brella at home and take an intentionally long walk in a driving rain with nothing but the hat and a raincoat, you will discover that water will soak into but never actually penetrate good fur felt, so your head stays dry.

    Therefore, DO NOT even think about putting a water repellant like Scotchguard or "protectant" on fur felt, since the felt is already water resistant and inhererently durable, and these chemical treatments will change the "hand" of the felt for the worse and render it much less breathable.

    On that subject, you say your wool felt hat is warmer. I respectfully submit that you have mistaken a sensation of confinement and perspiration for warmth. Precisely because it's breathable, fur felt is both warmer in cool weather and cooler in warm weather than wool felt.

    Finally, when you make the move to open-crown hats--those you put the dent/bash in yourself--you will discover that putting preliminary creases in the hat when dry, then wearing it in the rain and fashioning it into what you like right afterwards, is a simple and effective way to bash the hat before drying and wearing it again.

    Another related rule: Always let a wet hat dry naturally and never dry it in direct sunlight, with a hair dryer, over a heater, or with a flame thrower. With the exception of the latter, those will not damage the felt but will likely shrink the sweatband and make the hat too small. Just use your hands to reshape the hat, and hang it on a blunt knob touching only the sweatband, so that the hat hangs freely without the brim touching the wall or anything.
  11. daizawaguy

    daizawaguy Call Me a Cab

    Great posts for a new comer....welcome, and these always make great reads...
  12. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    If we're talking soft fur felt hats like fedoras or homburgs...

    Fur felt is not water resistant or water repellant. It's like a Sponge. You'll see that by how heavy it gets from the water it soaks up, all new and old hats do this, it's the nature of felt. Wear your hat in real rain and it will drink up all the water it can hold.

    Wet hats stay in the shape they dry, so if you mess with the bash while wet, or lump it up with your fingers , the lumps will be harder to get out when dry.

    Modern felts tend to shrink in the rain and lower end felts tend to droop more than higher end felts.
    The higher the beaver content, the better it will take frequent rain wearing.

    These are the facts of the fur felt hat.

    I wear my felt hats in the rain religiously, but I know they are not rain hats. If you want a rain hat you should go for a Drizabone (waxed cotton) or a yellow rubber rain hat.
    scottyrocks likes this.
  13. Mulceber

    Mulceber Practically Family

    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    I agree with basically everything Deckard said. Him and I don't see eye to eye on everything (I'm more in line with Fedora with regard to felt), but imo, everything he's said here is completely true.

    To that end, Brent, I would scotchguard that hat as soon as possible. Getting the hat wet does help, but only with hats that are already water resistant, such as vintage felt, beaver felt or some extremely high-quality rabbit felt. From what I've heard from reviews, Christy's hats don't use such high quality felt. They make nice hats, but they'll taper pretty quickly in a heavy rain. At least if they aren't given some heavy water treatment. -M
  14. Bird Lives

    Bird Lives A-List Customer

    Issaquah, WA
    Hey Guys....I'm going to order my first Fur-felt Fedora tomorrow morning...Its for my birthday, which is the B-day between Middle-age and no longer middle late than never....

    I'm ordering a Christys light grey Wincanton trilby....I'm exactly 60 cm on my tailors tape I'm going to order a size 61 cm and Sarah is going to send some felt size reducers... as I've heard Christys run a little tight and I've heard they shrink a lttle if rained on....

    I quess I want to hear if you guys with experiance think I'm doing the right thing.....and this thread about new hats and rain says don't sprey fur felts with scotch guard and to sprey Christys.....So which is it....??
    As this will be my one and only fur felt for a while...I would like to wear it every day...Thats why I'm getting Grey...So it will match all my suits and coats...

    So I'm asking you hat savvy rain or not to rain..for my Christys Wincanton??
  15. No rain is my vote.
    My only experience with Christy's is extreme disappointment in their Foldaway.
    The only commercial hats I'd vote for rain would be Akubras. They love the wet....
    Jhoff_1979 likes this.
  16. Bird Lives

    Bird Lives A-List Customer

    Issaquah, WA
    Does it finally come down to, wool hats and a can of scotch guard are the way to go when its raining...?

    I called Whiteley Hats about that nice looking 100% fur-felt pork pie they have and the guy said it was very popular but if I was also going to wear it in the rain to get their wool pork pie and sprey as their fur felt doesn't handle rain at all and scotch guard doesn't work well on fur....

    Now I'm told the new Stetsons have powder that doesn't react well with rain....The Jaxons, Stefanos, and Scala 100% fur felts are only more expensive than wool but don't hold up any better in bad

    I'm starting to think the "Fur felt is better than wool" is really....a VS fedora, Pennman....or Akubra is better than

    Right now I'm living in Istanbul and it doesn't rain often so thats cool...But I was entertaining the idea of coming back to the States....New England actually.....Guess its time for a nice and save for a VS.....
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  17. tealseal

    tealseal A-List Customer

    Tucson, AZ
    In my experience, even with a product applied, a wool hat in the rain will still turn into a shrunken, tapered, mess. Fur felt is the way to go, but you have to go quality. Akubra's are inexpensive rabbit felt hats that can take a deluge without flinching.
    Beaver fur is the best for the rain, but beaver hats can get up there in price.
  18. Kirk H.

    Kirk H. One Too Many

    Charlotte NC
    That has been my experience too.
  19. fenris

    fenris One of the Regulars

    It has been quite awhile since I wore any of my hats. Now, the only time I wear a hat is when it's raining. I use my hats now as rain hats. I don't like umbrellas.

    Just a few days ago it was raining hard and I needed to get my groceries from the car to the house. I wore my Peters Bros hat and a jacket just for that task. Kept me dry the whole time.
  20. seabass

    seabass Call Me a Cab

    nor cal
    Important, if you have a hat that is a light color & it's slighty dirty well you might have a mess if caught in some heavy rain.
    So always Brush em regularly New or Old hat.
    Beavers live in rivers & streams...& Sheep Live on land.
    either way a good fur-felt will be Singing in the Rain..........................:cool:
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012

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