Tilley Airflo Review

by Brian Mullin on July 29, 2010

I spend a lot of time outdoors, mountain biking, working in the yard, outdoor concerts, backyard parties, etc. To keep the sun damage to a minimum, and just plain keep the hot sun from frying my noggin, I like to wear hats. I especially like having a hat, while sitting around after a bike ride, when it is really nice to get a break from the sun. Baseball caps are cheap, have decent fashion sense and are usually handy, but they don’t quite give enough coverage. I have a cap that has a drop down neck protector, but it still makes you bake a bit more than a full brim hat. Enter the Tilley Endurables Airflo hat.

Tilley Airflo
I have an old cotton duck Tilley’s hat, that is around 20 years old, and it is still going strong. I prefer a bit lighter, and more comfortable material myself, and the Tilley Airflo really fits the bill. The Airflo is made from Nylamtium®, a strong water-and-mildew resistant form of nylon, which has been impregnated with Insect Shield® Repellent. It has a small band of mesh material up by the crown, and a soft and comfortable sweatband. It incorporates a tuck away neck protector, fore and aft neck cords, and a secret pocket in the crown. Some other benefits are, that the hat floats, it repels rain (not a full on rain hat), is UPF 50+ plus certified, and is insured for loss and comes with a life time guarantee.

Recently, I had a very small Actinic Keratoses skin lesion removed on my neck, and the biopsy results diagnosed it as Squamous Cell Carcinoma skin cancer. While squamous cell carcinomas and other skin cancers are almost always curable when detected and treated early, it is best to prevent them in the first place. Good sun safety habits are paramount, and include not getting a burn, using sunscreen, wearing a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses, covering up with clothing and having regular professional skin exams.

I found the Tilley Airflo incredibly comfortable. The sweatband is quite soft, and the entire hat is very conformable. That flexibility allows the hat to fit your head, without any pinching spots, and feels like it sort of floats wrapped around your forehead. The hat sits a bit lower on your temple than most hats, which aids in comfort, keeps it on, and adds additional sun protection. The outside of the brim has a flexible wire to keep the brim’s shape. The sweatband can get wet after heavy perspiration, but it did not seem to squeeze out and drip into your eyes or sunglasses, so it does wick away to your temple area to evaporate. During hot weather the mesh air vents, which follow the entire circumference below the crown of the hat, allow a decent amount of air flow, and dissipate built up heat. Whenever the hat gets dirty or the sweatband gets a bit nasty, just toss it in the washer and then hang dry, and it’s as good as new.

The Airflo Nylamtium® material offers UPF 50+ protection. The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (or “UPF”) rating system measures the UV protection provided by fabric. UPF of 50 means only 1/50th of the UV radiation (UVA/UVB) falling on the surface of the material passes through it. The Airflo comes with a very nice neck protector that tucks up inside rear of the brim. You can use the neck protector loosely draped for comfort, or Velcro it closed under your chin for maximum protection. The neck protector works wonders to keep the sun from beating down on your neck and shoulders, and really helps drop the heat quotient. Where the neck protector tucks away, the inner brim ring material is fraying slightly, but fortunately it hasn’t gotten any worse.

The hat has two neck cords (aka the wind cord), for use as fore and aft, to hold the hat on during inclement weather or windy conditions. I tended to stick the two straps up under my chin, and it has kept the hat on my head in 60+ mph gusts. It also has a secret stash spot in the crown, where you can stick some money, your name and address, etc. There is closed-cell foam in the crown to help the hat float, which I never did get to test!

The hat has Insect Shield® repellent guard, which uses Permethrin, a man-made version of a natural insect repellent found in certain chrysanthemum plants. It certainly helps keep the bugs away from your face, neck and shoulders. It is supposed to last up to 70 washings?

Bottom Line
The Tilley Airflo (tested the LTM6IS Tilley Airflo Hat with tuckaway neck protector and Insect Shield) is an excellent hat. It’s supremely comfortable, repels mild rain, stays put in the wind, and most importantly it offers great sun protection due to the wide brim, neck protector and UPF 50+ material. The Airflo is light, washable, and easy to convert from a normal brim hat to one with a neck protector with two optional modes. I have abused the hat over the past year, doing yard work, trail maintenance, camping trips, and it has been incredibly durable, with only a slight fraying by the neck protector tuck away. Tilley’s hats come with a lifetime guarantee against wear, and my old Tilley hat is going on 20 years strong.

I sure sign of a good sun hat is that the Melanoma International Foundation has endorsed the Tilley Endurables Hats And Clothing.

MSRP: $89

The LTM6IS Tilley Airflo® Hat with tuckaway neck protector and Insect Shield®
Features and Benefits:
* Tuckaway neck protector shields from sun or rain and tucks discreetly away in the back brim pocket
* Repels insects
* Guarantee for life
* Insured against accidental loss (initial 2 years)
* Excellent sun protection
* Repels rain
* Ties on in the wind
* Machine washable (won’t shrink)

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