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Iconic Outdoorsman Hats on a Budget

Jerome Andries

I’ve always been an outdoorsman hat guy. From ball caps to fedoras to backpacking and hiking lids that resemble cowboy hats; there’s a million and one uses for them. If you’re an outdoor nut like me – you know how important headwear can be while trekking through the wilderness or even your own backyard.

Looking through old photos of outdoorsmen from real life to famous movies, you will see they wore an iconic hat 9 times out of 10. Obviously, they were more for function than looks, but they became their own style that outdoorsmen today may be missing out on.

Related: The 9 Best Safari Hats for Summer

indiana jones hat

I wear brimmed hats when I throw knives, chop wood with an axe and while sitting around a nice campfire smoking a good stogie. I also use hats to get into character when writing and rehearsing acting roles. 

I wore a 1940’s style fedora for months as I rehearsed my role as Mortimer from Arsenic and Old Lace.

best wool fedora

When I realized the power wearing hats could have, I began wearing one every time I sat down to write. I’m currently working on a post-apocalyptic adventure while wearing a Lite Felt Cabela’s crushable hat that looks like a cross between Indiana Jones and a cowboy hat. I figure the lead character, James, would probably wear something similar. The act of putting the hat on gets me in the right state of mind to write this particular character, much like Sylvester Stallone in Over the Top – when he flipped his cap backwards, it was time to go to work!

Other than creating a fashion statement, hats have a long history of functionality in the wilderness or even on a short hiking or backpacking trip. A quick search for hiking hats and backpacking hats will give you a ton of options. 

The type we’re talking about today aren’t just for hiking the trail, but are the workhorses of the hat world. They are usually brimmed hats made from wool that you can crush and stuff in your backpack. They may not be the lightest of materials, but that’s not exactly what you’re looking for in an outdoor hat anyway. 

These are the types of hats you’re going to wear on your next adventure. They are the perfect combination of rugged outdoors, functionality and style.

Chief Hopper Hat by Worth and Worth

Outdoorsman hats keep the sun out of your eyes

I live in the Southern U.S. and it gets hot and muggy and stays that way for a long time. I wear a wide-brim hat that’s lightweight and crushable just in case. I prefer felt material – sure it gets hot on occasion, but the sweat seems to keep your head cool under the hat.  

Hats serve as a form of UV protectant

If you spend a lot of hours in the open sun, you need coverage. I have a full head of hair, but I still wear hats when the sun is beating down overhead. A wide brim hat can cool your face down a few degrees and provide shade.

Outdoorsman hats keep snow and rain off of your face

OK, we don’t get snow here often, but the few times we were lucky enough, you better believe I pulled out the old felt outdoorsman hat! Perfect opportunity to break it in. I thought it was the coolest thing to run my gloves over the rim of the hat and knock off handfuls of snow!

These things absorb water and can keep you head and shoulders dry.

A well made hat will keep you warm

You need to invest in a quality hat if you live in an area that gets cold. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time outdoors or hiking. You lose most of your body heat through the top of your head and a quality outdoor hat can help you retain some of it. The one I’m currently wearing does that perfectly!

Stylish and rugged

Style may not be on your mind when choosing outdoor gear or supplies, but why not choose a style that you love! I personally wear my headwear all over town. Sure, I may look like a cross between Crocodile Dundee and a cowboy, but who cares? I like the look and it’s always a conversation starter when you come across another man wearing a hat.

Rugged outdoorsman hats were made famous by such characters as Crocodile Dundee, Indiana Jones, Hopper from Stranger Things (my favorite hat) and droves of Australian outdoorsmen on TV. When you mention one of these character’s names, the first thing you remember is the hat.

crocodile dundee hat for cheap

You have plenty of choices of material when choosing a rugged outdoorsman hat. Felt, cloth, straw and leather are a few of the more popular materials. Take your local climate into consideration when choosing.

Like I said before, I reside in a hot and muggy climate, but I still choose felt for the majority of my hats. It’s packable, tough and easy to clean. You may want to go with leather though, depending on your budget.

Here at ApocalypseGuys.com, we test out various outdoor gear and give you our unbiased opinion. Below you will find our top picks for rugged outdoorsman hats. Keep in mind there may be better options for you based on your needs, location and budget; these are just our favorites out of the many options for sale.

Here are 11 of the Best Outdoorsman Hats we Found:

Whew…what a name! Perfect combination of rugged looks coupled with functionality – the Wind River is 100% wool, packable, water repellent, fold away earflaps for cold weather and has a handsome leather hatband for extra points. This outdoorsman hat is stylish enough to wear around town, yet rugged enough for the campsite. The fact that it’s water repellant is a big plus! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten caught out in the rain and gotten soaked before I could make it back to the truck. It also comes with a chinstrap. Never used it before, but it’s there if you need it. One thing that can be said about these felt, crushable hats is they retain their shape even if you abuse them. That’s handy for those of us that are rough on our outdoor and survival gear! The Wind River makes a great felt hunting hat that will last for years.

Chief Hopper hat by worth and worth

The Holy Grail of hats! I wanted this outdoorsman hat since I first saw it on Stranger Things! I was watching it with my family and I noticed the hat the moment I laid eyes on Chief Hopper played by David Harbour. Made from 100% Beaver Felt, this weather refined hat is tough! 3.5 inch tear drop crown and a 2 ¾ brim with a hand dyed invisible band; if you can get one of these, you’ll be the envy of… well, just about anywhere damn where you go!

Only downside to this marvelous hat is it costs $675! Worth every penny, but may not be in everyone’s budget. Maybe it shouldn’t be on a list of frugal options, but I thought you may want to at least check it out.

Have you caught up with Stranger Things season 3? 

STETSON GAMBLER – SEAGRASS OUTDOORSMAN HAT

A great hat for humid temperatures – this light weight and well-designed straw hat will keep you protected from the harshest UV rays. Wear it hiking, backpacking, golfing or combing the beach. This sea grass straw hat has a wide brim with a rugged look. Straw hats protect your dome from harmful sun rays and look cool while doing it! Wide brimmed straw hats won’t overheat your body like a brimmed felt hat will and may be a better choice for hot, southern climates.

STETSON BLACK HAWK WOOL FELT WESTERN HAT

Fans of outdoorsman hats with a western look will enjoy this one! This is a great looking hat that slightly resembles John Marston’s hat from the game Red Dead Redemption. Many people buy this hat just because of the resemblance. Crushable and made from wool felt; this outdoorsman hat can serve you in both hot and cool climates. It has an adjustable hat band that can be removed if you don’t like it. The edges are more straight as opposed to rolled up. Personally, I like this hat as an everyday hat for kicking around town. Wool outdoor hats can be worn year round and can dress up any outfit.

Pair this with a survival necklace and you are good to go!

Crushable outdoorsman cowboy hat with leather hatband made from black and chestnut leather with 4” pinch front crown and 3 1/4” brim. Great for blocking sun and other elements you’re likely to encounter on the range or backpacking through the Appalachian Trail. This Stetson hiking hat is perfect for the great outdoors, but also looks great in a formal setting. May be a little warm during the summer heat, but you’ll adapt. This Stetson makes a great hiking cowboy hat. This high-quality wool outdoor hat is not only functional and rugged, but also stylish and can be worn to social events. 

No list of iconic hats would be complete without an Indiana Jones look-a-like! Okay, so it’s not the same hat from the movie, nor is it the same quality, but it’s a cheap alternative for those who want something that looks similar. This particular outdoorsman hat is similar to others of the same type; 100% wool felt, crushable and water repellant. This is not a true fedora, it’s more of an outback style outdoorsman hat.

Waterproof and breathable from 100% cotton, this outdoorsman hat has a nice profile. Protecting you from sun, rain and snow while styling! The brim is stiff and larger than most outdoorsman hats I’ve worn, but the wire in the brim enables you to shape it how you want. It comes with a chin strap to keep the wind from taking it. These things come waterproofed, but you can add another light coat of oilskin dressing to go a step further. This outdoorsman hat is great for hunting and backpacking and makes you want to strap on your boot knife and find an adventure.

Another great felt brimmed hat by Outback Trading! These are different from the usual wool felt hats I normally recommend, but they are great for different climates. These are made from cotton and have UPF protection, a 4” crown and a 2 and ¾” brim. Perfect for hiking, backpacking, hunting or just lounging around the camp smoking cigars.

100% wool, 3” brim, sophisticated style, crushable/packable – this is the felt brimmed hat you’re looking for! Did we mention it’s water-repellent? This crushable outdoorsman hat works well in cool and warm weather. A favorite among outdoorsmen; quality at a low price. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of the feather, but it does add a little something extra. One thing I will mention is if you opt for the olive green color, be ready for some discrepancies on tone. The manufacturer makes at least two different shades of olive, so you could get either one. Great trail hat! It does have a curved brim, so make sure that’s the style you’re wanting. If you’re looking for a great cowboy hat for hiking, this is a great outdoorsman hat to start with. 

Lightweight and made from 100% wool, you can jam this in your pack and it will retain its shape. Smaller brim than other outdoorsman hats, it also comes with a moisture-wicking headband for warmer climates.

Wool-felt and water repellent. This outdoorsman hat has a UPF rating of 50 which is great for those of us in warm climates that spent a great deal of time in the sun. The Montana hat retains its shape, so you can stuff it in a pack and pull it out later. I don’t recommend this, you should take better care of your hats, but they will retain their shape fairly well. The 3” western-style brim gives this hat a nice look. This cowboy hiking hat is perfect for anyone looking for a rugged hat that doesn’t skimp on style.

Another great entry by Scala! 100% wool and ready to take on the trail or sip coffee at the camp before a big hunt. Water-repellent and crushable. Notice the trend here in weather resistant and packable? It’s a good idea to purchase a hat that can stand the elements instead of one that you have to be careful with.

How to Choose an Outdoor Hat

Take into account the climate you will be in. Freezing cold temperatures will warrant a different hat from a warm, humid climate. Not sure where you will be adventuring – get something in between. There are multiple types of materials and designs that are “breathable.” If you are going to be in cold climates, look into a felt hat that will help retain heat. Remember, most of your body’s temperature is lost through your head.

Hot climates may call for a less robust outdoorsman hat made from lightweight material such as a mesh safari hat or a traditional wide brimmed straw hat. Environmental factors must be taken into account when choosing an outdoorsman hat.

What to Look for in a Crushable Brimmed Felt Hat 

You will want to take a few things into consideration when choosing the perfect hat. There are various styles, materials and brims sizes to pick from. Some have accessories, but these are mainly style additions and don’t serve a function. You will also need to pay attention to the crown and brim of each hat as they may have different measurements depending on the brand of hat.  

What Does it Mean When a Hat is Crushable? 

A crushable hat is one that can take abuse and isn’t fragile like many hats on the market. They’re made to withstand abuse and are just fine being roughed up. They won’t break or tear when the going gets tough and you can easily pack them in your bag or suitcase and they will retain their original shape. Crushable felt hats are great at taking abuse and popping back into shape with ease. They are usually semi-rigid with a stiff brim.  

What is the Difference Between Wool Felt Hat and Fur Felt Hat? 

This question is asked often and the answer is quite simple: it’s a difference in material used. Wool felt is made by rolling and pressing wool to make the fibers stick together. Moisture and heat are used in the process and the end product comes out soft and can be colored. Fur felt is made in a similar way, but from animal pelts such as rabbit and beaver. You can easily spot the quality difference in wool and fur the moment you touch it. Crushable brimmed fur felt hats are highly sought after. Wool felt hats are a great cheap alternative, however and is still a great choice.  

Can You Wear a Wool Felt Hat in the Rain? 

You’re probably going to encounter rain at some point while wearing your crushable brimmed felt hat. Will rain ruin a felt hat? You can get a felt hat wet, but don’t let it stay wet for an extended time. You will undoubtably get caught in a drizzle, but don’t worry – your hat can take it. Just pat the water off and allow your hat to dry properly. Don’t crush it up while wet, but lay it out so it will retain shape. A proper rain hat will absolutely stand up to rain, but most hats are water repellent and not waterproof. There’s a difference. A light shower won’t hurt a felt hat, but heavy rain could cause some trouble if you don’t take care of it. Snap your brim up as soon as you get out of the rain and indoors and hang your hat so the brim isn’t touching anything or bent.  

Are Men’s Wide Brim Felt Hats in Style in 2020? 

Of course! Take a look around next time you’re running errands and take note of the men wearing hats. Most will likely be wearing ball caps, but you will see plenty of men’s felt hat styles. Men’s crushable felt hats are making a comeback because they are where fashion meets function. Not only do they protect your face and neck from harmful UV rays and weather, they also look great! Hats make you more memorable and can help in professional settings because you want business prospects to remember you. A stylish hat and a beard make a great combination.  

What Are the Best Wide Brim Felt Hats for Hiking? 

We get asked this question often. Honestly, it depends on where you plan to hike. If it’s cool outside, you can wear a hiking cowboy hat made from lightweight felt that’s breathable. Felt is a perfect material for hiking because it’s breathable and keeps you cool in the sun. You can wear a crushable cowboy hat, outdoorsman hat, hiking cowboy hat made from lightweight felt or a felt firm-brimmed hat. The choice is yours and you have plenty of styles to pick from.  

We know most of our readers here at ApocalypseGuys.com are the adventurous type and need rugged gear. That’s why we do what we do. We love great gear as much as you and do everything we can to seek out the best gear and tell you about it.

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