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New midrange cowboy hat quality difference

NewCowboy

New in Town
Messages
2
I'm a urban Texas guy but wear a cowboy hat almost every day. I tried them as an experiment for the first time about 5 years ago, purchasing inexpensive hats, one wool felt by Justin, one palm leaf (store brand, but almost certainly actually a Sunbody), each in the $50-$60 range. I'm about ready to up my game on the felt, I think, to a fur felt.

Here's my question: I'm not enough of a hat fancier or a real cowboy to want to spend upwards of $500 for a really top-quality hat, so I'm probably going to look in the $200-$450 range, what's generally marked as - and I know this doesn't really indicate much - 6X-20X. (What I think of as the above-tourist, below top quality range.)

If one goes with a name manufacturer, Resistol, American Hat Company, and Stetson being the main ones in my mind, is there really that much difference in quality between the lower end of my target range and the higher end or, when shopping, should I just consider all of them about alike?
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,244
Location
vancouver, canada
I'm a urban Texas guy but wear a cowboy hat almost every day. I tried them as an experiment for the first time about 5 years ago, purchasing inexpensive hats, one wool felt by Justin, one palm leaf (store brand, but almost certainly actually a Sunbody), each in the $50-$60 range. I'm about ready to up my game on the felt, I think, to a fur felt.

Here's my question: I'm not enough of a hat fancier or a real cowboy to want to spend upwards of $500 for a really top-quality hat, so I'm probably going to look in the $200-$450 range, what's generally marked as - and I know this doesn't really indicate much - 6X-20X. (What I think of as the above-tourist, below top quality range.)

If one goes with a name manufacturer, Resistol, American Hat Company, and Stetson being the main ones in my mind, is there really that much difference in quality between the lower end of my target range and the higher end or, when shopping, should I just consider all of them about alike?

Why not go custom? For the money you are willing to spend you can get a 100% American beaver felt custom made in your desired style and colour. There are some great custom hatters that make both fedora and western styles. Two of my favourites are Northwest Hats in Eugene and Phoenix Hats out of Knoxville. The custom hat market especially in the western styles is all over the map in terms of price. They all pretty much use Winchester felts but you can pay from $350 to $750 for the same damn hat. It just depends on what the maker is willing to charge and his market willing to pay.
Northwest made me recently a 50/50 Beaver/Rabbit crossover/country gentlemen style hat and the workmanship is brilliant. It cost me $350 and will last two lifetimes.
 

johnnycanuck

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,840
Location
Alberta
Custom is a great option. I have not looked at custom for a few years but I would recommend finding a company that uses a conformed. A tool that lets them build a hat to your actual head shape and size. Yes some company have mail out conformers so you don’t have to go to the shop for that service.

If you are going for a factory produced hat keep in mind most American brands have been bought out by Hatco. So Stetson, Resistol is in fact the same company. For a mid level hat I would go for minimum of 6X. Years ago that was identified as 100% rabbit felt (so no wool).
Another option is Akubra. An Australian brand that has a few “American style” cowboy hats. Have a look at the Arena or Rough Rider. I have not owned these models but I have owned Akubras for 19 years and will attest to their quality. I think they are slightly cheaper than Stetson or Resistol 6X as well. hope that helps some.
Johnny
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,244
Location
vancouver, canada
Custom is a great option. I have not looked at custom for a few years but I would recommend finding a company that uses a conformed. A tool that lets them build a hat to your actual head shape and size. Yes some company have mail out conformers so you don’t have to go to the shop for that service.

If you are going for a factory produced hat keep in mind most American brands have been bought out by Hatco. So Stetson, Resistol is in fact the same company. For a mid level hat I would go for minimum of 6X. Years ago that was identified as 100% rabbit felt (so no wool).
Another option is Akubra. An Australian brand that has a few “American style” cowboy hats. Have a look at the Arena or Rough Rider. I have not owned these models but I have owned Akubras for 19 years and will attest to their quality. I think they are slightly cheaper than Stetson or Resistol 6X as well. hope that helps some.
Johnny
Depending on your head shape a conformer may not be needed. I am fortunate to have slight long oval and have customs from hatters that have taken my head shape in the shop, one by mail and others just giving them my head circumference. I can say that there is no discernable difference in how the hats fit me. And one custom hatter that only received my head measure has made me the two hats that fit the best. But I can see if your head is outside the norm a conformer would be helpful.
 
Or you could go used. I sold a couple modern Resistols recently (10X and 20X) on eBay for $80 and $115 that sold new for $300 and $450 and they were in great shape. I paid $20 and $30 for them at another auction.

If you watch for brands from custom Western hat makers you can often get a better bargain as they don’t often have the name recognition of Stetson, Resistol or American Hat Co. I’ve been able to find several hats from Rand, O’Farrell, Texas Hatters, D Bar J, Greeley, etc. (hats upwards of $1000 new) for well under $100 (and as low as $5).

I just takes some effort to find them.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,244
Location
vancouver, canada
Or you could go used. I sold a couple modern Resistols recently (10X and 20X) on eBay for $80 and $115 that sold new for $300 and $450 and they were in great shape. I paid $20 and $30 for them at another auction.

If you watch for brands from custom Western hat makers you can often get a better bargain as they don’t often have the name recognition of Stetson, Resistol or American Hat Co. I’ve been able to find several hats from Rand, O’Farrell, Texas Hatters, D Bar J, Greeley, etc. (hats upwards of $1000 new) for well under $100 (and as low as $5).

I just takes some effort to find them.
Yes, didn't DeadlyHandsome score a Greeley a few weeks back for pennies on the dollar?
 
Messages
15,269
Location
Central California
You really do get a better hat for less when you go custom. For some reason, it’s common to find custom western hat makers charging eye watering prices, but if you shop around you can get some great deals. I too can recommend Northwest and Phoenix: great hats at bargain prices.

If you make it to the Dallas-Forth Worth Area, you could stop by the Stetson factory outlet and maybe find a hat you like for half price. I’ve tried modern Stetson western hats and they just aren’t to my liking, but maybe you’ll find something you like.

You can PM Rick at The Phoenix Hat Company here on The Lounge @humanshoes
 

1961MJS

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,343
Location
Norman Oklahoma
Hi

Mike Moore in Covington Tennessee called Buckaroo Hats does really well, and his prices for all bunny fur start below $300. Note that brim binding, and larger brims cost a more.

https://www.facebook.com/Buckaroo-Hatters-Custom-Hats-167951053225315/

I usually do a road trip from Oklahoma to get hats, but Mike may have a conformer. You will need a friend to make that work well.

Later
 

jlee562

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,845
Location
San Francisco, CA
All good recommendations. Western hats a plenty on ebay. Vintage Resistols are an excellent value, 60's era hats in particular.

Custom hats are a good option if you've got a budget up to $450.

To answer the question though, I do feel as if my modern 10x Resistol has a slightly softer hand than the modern 6x Stetsons I've handled. 5x is fairly coarse. 4x is wool or buffalo felt IIRC. Never thought to even look at a higher grade hat because the price to value ratio is all screwed up past a certain point. All the major brands are coasting on brand identity now and custom hats are just a better value.


10x Resistol Cogburn, though they're now making this with Stetson branding.
 
Messages
15,269
Location
Central California
I haven’t handled a recent Resistol. I do agree that you can find 1960s to ‘80s fur felt western hats for very reasonable prices if you are patient and put in the time. The 3X to 5X Beaver hats of that time are 100% fur felt and much better than similar “X” count hats being made today. I’d take a 1960s 3X over a 2020 6X any day. You should be able to find such a hat for a fraction of your budget. At your budget, you could also find an even older incredible hat.

Do you mind telling us what hat size you are?
 

suitedcboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,332
Location
Fort Worth Texas or thereabouts
A Resistol 20X Black Gold is one of their best values. They are fairly consistent for the 35 or so years they have been around. Those are available on Ebay or FB Marketplace in Texas cities most of the time. DO not pay over $300. South Texas Tack has them new on sale right now for $307.
 

johnnycanuck

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,840
Location
Alberta
My best western hat I have is a 6X Stetson I bought second hand. I think it’s from the 80’s or earlier. Soft and not very stiff. But the absolute best western hat I saw was at a garage sale years ago. Blatantly from the70’s (hat band gave that away) self conforming Resistol in a fantastic brown with red and slight green undertones. Unfortunately it was 6 7/8 whilst I am a 7 1/2. I have been keeping an eye on the local buy and sell groups for another one since.
Johnny
 
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