I love my Tilley Hat! It, along with my bushy beard, have become my trademark.
After spending over thirty years working on the Space Shuttle program, my job ended when the shuttles were retired. After all those years working in a high tech field, I wanted to reinvent myself, starting a second career doing something that I enjoyed and spending as much time in nature as I could.
While hiking around Lake Okeechobee in South Florida I met Sandy. A fellow hiker, she also wore a Tilley. Our friendship grew and we began hiking together, wearing our Tilley Hats while working on hiking guidebook research and while backpacking five hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail. During our months of hiking on the AT, we met other fellow Tilley wearers. It would start with “nice Tilley ” and lead to a conversation between like-minded souls.
My first Tilley was purchased at a Seven Seas Cruising gathering years ago. A Tilley was almost part of the uniform of the day. Mine was one of the heavy canvas models that was nearly indestructible. But then the day came.
I was sailing my 37′ Cutter north when the engine refused to start. It was the first time I had ever single-handed this vessel, and the first time I was completely under sail.
Being in the Intracoastal made this adventure even more of a challenge. It’s not open water in this part of Florida. Narrow channels and numerous bridges require shorter tacks and more skills handling the sailboat than I had ever needed to summon up before. Finally, after a long day of sailing, I arrived safely back to my slip in Titusville, Florida. It was a great feeling of accomplishment, with only one BIG regret.
I had LOST my Tilley Hat! It had blown off my head during one of the maneuvers. Even with my name inside, it never found its way back to me. To this day, I still regret not coming about and returning for it. I would today!
In my new career as an outdoor writer, I am armed with my second Tilley. Not able to find the heavy canvas one I preferred, I opted for one of the lighter weight models, vented along the top. I have hiked thousand of miles with it and worn it almost every day I’m outdoors. As expected, it’s serving me well.
However, I have one ongoing problem with it: persistent mildew inside above the sweat band. I wash it regularly, but I am unable to remove the staining or the sour smell. Per the instructions for washing a Tilly, I have never used bleach or a bleach substitute on the hat.
So, I purchased another “dress” Tilley Hat for those special occasions when I don’t want my hat to enter the room before I do. I contacted the company, and it seems that “bad smell” is not one of the reasons they’ll replace a hat. So if you have a clue as how to remove the stains and the smell, please share.