Stetson Open Road vs Akubra Campdraft

Discussion in 'Hats' started by sage1, Oct 11, 2008.

  1. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

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    for my money, anything after the 60's is just meh. The past decade or so has seen the nice growth of independent hatters raising the bar on quality.

    But even top of the line customs barely scratch the quality of the best vintage hats. To be clear, vintage hats were made in a dizzying array of felt weights and qualities, so caveats abound to the generalizations herein. Not every vintage hat is automatically nicer than the custom work being done today. But, the thing about vintage felts is that they seemed to have been processed more thoroughly leading to a denser felt that is more pliable than modern felts.

    Pre-war hats are the most coveted for good reason. In the US, the use of mercury during the felt production process was in use up until the 40's (I wanna say 41, but don't quote me on that). Beaver felts tighter than rabbit fur, because the individual hairs on beavers have microscopic barbs on them which allow the fibers to grab onto each other like velcro. The use of mercury during the felt making process creates similar microscopic barbs, thus allowing cheaper furs, like rabbit, to achieve higher density. This is one way in which vintage hats are objectively different things than modern hats aside from considerations of style and proportion. One other area is the sweatband. I'm contrast to the 'miraculous' shrinking sweats on Akubras, higher quality vintage hats had 2" high quality leather sweatband.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Still supple after more than a century. No "genuine" or bonded leather here.

    We were also discussing trim the other week in the ask a question thread. Attention to detail was overall much higher. Here's the edge binding on my modern Stetson, its...ok.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Here's a vintage Stetson derby...almost invisible, especially from the top.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Anyways, that's a crash course in vintage vs modern.
     
  2. deadlyhandsome

    deadlyhandsome I'll Lock Up

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    Akubra owns their price point and they make a hard wearing hat that can take years of use. Some of their hats also have a nice shape that I like a lot. I think There is a niche for such hats and Akubra fills that niche very well.

    If you ever touch some of the better felts you’ll be done for. I had some alright hats but then I stumbled upon a Churchill 50 and I had a religious experience. Since then I’ve found old European velours, pre-merger Mallorys, old Stetsons, etc., and my palate has forever been changed. At your size your in the same boat as I am; nice vintage hats are hard to come by.

    Back to your original reservations with used hats: I don’t let anyone outside my immediate family wear my hats. When other want to put them on I firmly tell them no. They are an “intimate” item and not for communal use. I clean and freeze my vintage hats acquisitions before wearing them.


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  3. drmaxtejeda

    drmaxtejeda I'll Lock Up

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    Very wise. I should have done that.

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  4. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Familiar Face

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    Thanks Jared, I appreciate it! Those photos and description really help.
     
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  5. deadlyhandsome

    deadlyhandsome I'll Lock Up

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    Moon’s video on diamond creasing a new production Borsalino shows that some of the new hats have some decent felt; you can’t do that with a new Royal DeLuxe Stetson let alone an Akubra. The current Stetson Excellent felt is another example of nice felt being made in the post mercury era. I’d love to get my hands on a new FEPSA 100% beaver felt to see what they’re all about.

    I don’t think that new felt will ever be as nice as the best felt from 80+ years ago, but I’m hoping we can get closer.


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  6. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 I'll Lock Up

    The guy in the seat next to yours in that boat is me. I really like my Akubras, but the felt and finish on my only custom hat (Cane's Creations, now Alley Kat Hat Co., made by Tim Mahovich) is so much nicer and softer and that hat's only 4-1/2 years old. If what everyone here says about vintage hats is true, and I have no reason to believe it isn't, I'm probably better off not ever being exposed to one. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss. :cool:
     
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  7. drmaxtejeda

    drmaxtejeda I'll Lock Up

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    Excellent explanation!

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  8. drmaxtejeda

    drmaxtejeda I'll Lock Up

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    I would have saved a lot of money, but missed out on a lot of joy and pride.
    P.S. Hey, now that I think about it, buying vintage hats is a lot like marrying my wife!!!

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  9. The Nid Hog

    The Nid Hog New in Town

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    7
    After reading through this thread a couple of dozen times, I finally ordered a Camp Draft for myself. I've worn a lot of caps over the years, but never felt the urge to try anything else. Then, last year, I was visiting my daughter in Boston and she got me to try on some hats at a store in her neighborhood. She had decided that I should get one "like LBJ used to wear." After that, I started noticing people around me wearing Open Road-styled hats, and I thought it might be time to give it a try. If there were any stores around me that had Open Roads in stock, I would probably be wearing one already--the lure of the impulse buy at a brick and mortar. But the discussion here convinced me to try an Akubra first. So I hit send this morning on an order to Everything Australian. Now to wait--hopefully I will have figured out how to do the Cattleman's Crease by the time it gets here.
     
  10. Boomerang

    Boomerang Familiar Face

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    71
    Location:
    Washington State
    I was a bit hesitant about the bashing of my new Camp Draft when it arrived about 10 days ago. I patiently repeated my dry-bash several times per day for almost a week before the felt "took" the crease and held it for about 18 hours without relaxing. Only then did I put some steam to it, and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. I have no idea whether or not that is a "normal" way to proceed, but it worked for me. Good luck!
     
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  11. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 I'll Lock Up

    First, welcome to The Lounge! Second, it sounds like you've been here before so surely you're aware that you are now required to post photos of your new Camp Draft as soon as you've given it it's first crease; preferably on your head. :D
     
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  12. NH, you didn't say what color you ordered. As best as anyone can tell the softness of Akubra felt seems to vary by dye batch, not necessarily color. So all you can really hope for is that your's came from a softer batch. I have 6 CD's & by far the firmest felt of mine is the Moonstone in Heritage grade.

    I have 3 currently creased as a Cattleman. One of the things I really like about the CD vs a modern OR is that with a 6" open crown the CD can be creased with a Cattleman & still end up with 5-1/2" at the front dip, more like an earlier vintage OR.

    Mid-Brown CD
    IMG_0636.JPG

    Taupe Fawn CD
    IMG_0637.JPG
    IMG_3433.jpg

    Glen Gray CD (looking for a 13/16" ribbon)
    IMG_4207.jpg
     
  13. Woodtroll

    Woodtroll Practically Family

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    Location:
    Mtns. of SW Virginia
    Welcome to the Lounge! You made a good choice, as the Campdraft is a fine hat to start with (or even finish with!).
     
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  14. The Nid Hog

    The Nid Hog New in Town

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    I ordered it in Silver Belly. I ordered from Everything Australian, and they only had three colors on offer—Bluegrass Green, Taupe Fawn (with a two-month wait), and Silver Belly.
     
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  15. J Williams

    J Williams A-List Customer

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    450
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    You can't go wrong with Silver Belly for your first hat. My Silver Belly OR was what started me down the path. Welcome to the lounge.
     
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  16. The Nid Hog

    The Nid Hog New in Town

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    IMG_2067.jpg Although I just ordered my Camp Draft earlier this week, it's here already. The felt seems to be a nice combination of soft and firm, and it fits comfortably. I like the color too. I went with a quick dry bash so that I could post a photo. This weekend, I'll try for a Cattleman's Crease and see how that goes.
     
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  17. Obsessed

    Obsessed One of the Regulars

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    New York
    Well look who’s here! Looks great!
     
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  18. The Nid Hog

    The Nid Hog New in Town

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    Fancy meeting you here! Beard + Hat leads to a change in venue.
     
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  19. Obsessed

    Obsessed One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    New York
    Yes, it would be unfortunate if someone got confused and tried to make a shaving brush out of your beard.
     
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