Tilley Airflo Hat Review

Tilley-Endurables-AirFlo-LTM6-Hat-Review

Tilley Airflo Hats have an iconic status in hiking and backpacking circles. Handmade in Canada, these durable hats have a wide brim to shield you from sun and rain, they come with a special wind strap developed by sailors to keep it on in windy weather, and even have a secret inner pocket, good for stashing a spare car or house key. You can scrunch up an Airflo hat, wash it frequently to get the sweat out, and it will come back for more. Tilley hats even float!

Specs at a Glance

  • Model: LTM6 Airflo
  • Weight: 3.1 oz (actual)
  • Brim Size: Front & back 3 ½”; Sides 2 ½”
  • Material: Nylon with strong polyester mesh
  • Waterproof: No, but tightly woven and water-resistant
  • Ultraviolet Proof Rating (UPF) 50+
  • Sizing: 6 7/8 to 8 in 1/8 increments
  • Guarantee: Lifetime

I got turned onto brimmed hiking hats the moment I stepped off trail and started exploring wilderness areas on foot. Having a 360-degree brim prevents tall vegetation from slapping you in the face and keeps an insect head net off your neck, so you sweat less and maintain a safe distance from black flies and mosquitos. They’re also great for fishing, paddling, hanging out at the beach, or snoozing in the back yard.

Tilley makes a few different AirFlo style hats. My Tilley is an LTM6 Airflo Hat, which has a slightly wider brim and a mesh crown than the LT5 Airflo which is about 0.5 oz lighter weight and quite popular with hikers.

Extra wide brim provides added sun protection while the crown mesh increases air circulation
The extra-wide brim provides added sun protection while the crown mesh increases air circulation

There are a couple of standout features in this hat that I appreciate. The first is the fit. I have a small head and Tilley offers the hat in a wide range of sizes. This hat is also not too floppy and not to firm, in a way that I find comfortable. The brim is wide enough to shield me from rain but soft enough to fold under the hood of my rain jacket in the back. The inner sweatband is lock stitched to the hat rim, so it won’t slide down my forehead independent of the hat, which is soft, absorbent, and easily washed without shrinkage or loss of hat shape.

While I haven’t felt the need to use the secret stash pocket in the hat’s crown, I really like the wind cord. This is a combination chin strap and size adjuster, that reduces the hat size so it snugs over the back of your head (like a state trooper hat) and fits more tightly. The size adjuster is just a self-tensioning fisherman’s knot tied into the chin strap, so you can adjust its length. Chin straps are necessary when you hike in the mountains and I use mine all the time, although I keep it fairly loose.

There’s only one thing missing from the Tilley AirFlo Hats and that’s a factory InsectShield Permethrin Treatment. But I can ship it off to InsectShield myself or soak it in Permethrin at home.

Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat
Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat

The Tilley Hat Guarantee

Tilley has a unique guarantee that’s worth knowing about. They’ll repair or replace an LTM6 AirFlo hat due to normal wear and tear, or as the result of poor workmanship or faulty materials. You just have to register it with them shortly after purchasing it. They don’t guarantee all of their hats for life, but this is one of the ones covered (check the inside of the hats to see if it is).

Tilley Hats also come with a two-year, all perils, 50% deductible insurance policy. If your Hat has been irretrievably lost, stolen or destroyed within 2 years of the date of purchase, Tilley will replace it at 50% of current catalog price, plus shipping and taxes. Pretty awesome.

Isn’t it time you got yourself a Tilley hat? Highly Recommended.

Disclosure: The author purchased this hat.

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24 comments

  1. I have had the older version of the Outback for many years and have to agree that Tilley makes a great hat. Mine has been through all sorts of weather both hiking and canoeing and despite being washed so many times, it still is in great shape. As you pointed out the wind cord (dual function) stands out and the fact that it keeps a bug net a good distance from your face and head is a plus. I should look into sending this away to Insect Shield for treatment, as I have done this with many of my outdoor clothes and have been happy with the results. Until now I have just sprayed the hat with some permethrin and it lasts a few outings, but would assume washes off. If something were to happen to this hat, I would not hesitate to replace it.

  2. They had a permethrin-treated version. Looks like it’s been discontinued.

    See Tilley Insect Shield Hat at REI – REI.com https://www.rei.com/b/tilley

    I bought it and had to get it shipped from the US as a result of the permethrin treatment, even though I am in Canada where the hat is made :)

  3. Walter Underwood

    I also have an LTM6. I love the fit because I have a big head (7 3/4).

    The brim is interesting, more flexible than stiff, but keeps its shape. It is soft enough that it stays on my head if I bonk the back of the brim against my pack. It does flap a bit in a high wind, but mostly is just right.

    Years ago, I listened to a Backpacking Light panel discussion about winter gear. Every person on the panel had a Tilley hat.

  4. I know it’s called “AirFlo” so can I assume… How good is the ventilation, does it stay relatively cool?

    • Yeah, it’s fine. About the same as every other wide brimmed hat I’ve worn with mesh in the crown. But much better built. The difference is obvious.

    • Tilley sells the LTM8 AirFlo which has almost the entire crown (except the top head crown) in “mesh.” In other words, almost everything from the brim to the top of the hat is “mesh” for maximum air circulation. One can go to tilley.com to see their selections and to examine visually the LTM8 AirFlo.

  5. I’ve used an Airflo for about 4 years and I never hike without it (except at night, I haven’t found a good way to use a headlamp with it). It goes in the permethrin tub with my clothes once a year, and I’ve never noticed any bugs on it or crawling around inside.

    • Mike, I wear a headlamp with my LTM6, so I am puzzle by your statment. One can shape their Tilley where the front and back brims dip, which my do. I then take my headlamp and slide it atop the Crown of the hat. Works fine.

  6. Phillip,
    One undocumented feature that comes in handy in the Sierra Nevada. When you have a stream crossing during warmish weather, you can drop your hat carefully into a small pool, top side down and the mesh allows water to enter the inside of the hat. Assuming you have not allowed your hat to float downstream, you remove the hat once an inch or so of water has filled the inside and after stepping away from the stream, place the hat on top of your hat. Instant refreshing mini-shower.

  7. I bought this same hat when on sale at REI 2-3 years ago and wore it every day while on the Camino de Santiago a couple years ago where I experienced a variety of conditions – rain, sun, and wind. It’s now my favorite hat for all hiking.

  8. I have fourteen different styles of Tilley hats that I have purchased over the years and still wear them all. My original Tilley is the Tilley LTM6 broad-brim Airflo “Olive” colored hat. I have worn it from Alaska Denali to the Louisiana Atchafalaya Swamp. I have traveled the world with many of my Tilley hats.

    The winter Tilley hats are 100 percent wool with built-in ear flaps and frontal forehead flaps. These winter hats have followed me to ice barren areas and were on my head in the dead-of-winter while crossing the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn, Estonia to Helsinki in a winter storm. The freezing wind made the sweat in my beard a cake of ice once I entered inside, and after warming up started melting liquids onto my shirt. Yet, my Tilley wool winter hats kept my head as warm in the winter as the summer ones kept my head as cool as possible in the oven-baked Joshua Tree National Park summer. One can take the hat during the summer, dunk it into an ice cold mountainous stream and then put it on your head to keep hiking. How refreshing!

    Do not let accumulated body sweat build-up over time on your Tilley hat. After you complete each trip, one should throw the hat into the washing machine on “gentle” cycle. My love for my Tilley hats, though, compels me to use mild-detergent soap and with an old toothbrush I brush the soap in all over the outside of the fabric and all over the inside of the fabric. I then rinse the soap off and hang the hat to dry outside in the air. It dries quickly, too. Afterwards, it looks just like new.

    I do use the inside “secret” pocket, especially when traveling in under-developed and developing nations. I usually will insert a bill inside that pocket for emergencies.

    The original LTM6 broad brim Airflo “Olive” colored hat is beginning to show some wear after a decade of intense use. The color is a little faded now, and the fabric threads are coming loose in some areas. The hat still looks very good. So, I will send it back to the Tilley factory in another year or two and ask respectfully if they will refresh the hat for me by resewing the area. Of course, I will gladly include my credit card number for them to charge me for the restoration cost, although something tells me that Tilley is such a reputable company that they very well may not even charge for a restoration of the threading.

    These hats are in the “superlative” category. Yes, they do cost a little more, but no one can question that the additional cost is not worth it. The hats are worth every penny!

    One last, but important comment. The hats are extremely “stylish.” They are so cool-looking. They are not western hats, but more of a sophisticated international adventurer travelers’ hats such as a war correspondent on assignment throughout the world, or some outback wilderness adventurer. The hats look stylish no matter if you are wearing them in the backcountry or if you are wearing them in an urban area. Heads will turn to see who is wearing that hat. I truly mean it when people see you wearing a Tilley they see you as dressed in a very tastefully, understated sophisticated way when wearing a Tilley.

    Please consider the above the highest recommendation I can give to a hat.

    I do hope you decide to become a Tilley owner.

    Jerry W Doyle
    Alexandria, Louisiana, USA

    • I appreciate your post. Could you help on the winter Tilley hat you describe? I have been to the Tilley website and can not find that item available. It sounds as if it is one I would want to get. I now use the M. Hardware ones that Phil uses but your winter hat sounds very interesting. Please let me know where it is available. Thank you. Jerry

  9. I love me my Tilly hat. I’ve also got the LTM6. Ditto others’ comments on the overall quality. I tend to use it for more casual outdoor activities rather than hiking. For most northeast mountain hiking, one is in the trees more often than not, so sun protection doesn’t seem so compelling. Extended ridge hiking might be an exception.

    If i’m going to be a long time in full sun (i work outside), i prefer a hat with an even wider brim. For a long time, i used a “lifeguard”-style wicker hat which has a consistent 4.25-inch-wide brim. These are comfortable, but not particularly durable.

    Just picked up a Sunday Afternoons Lotus hat, which has a 4.25-inch brim on the sides and front extending to 5 inches in the back. This wide of a brim tends to bang around on my packs, so i use this for non-hiking activities. Compared to the Tilley, the crown material is a lighter weight, and the brim is maybe a bit stiffer and thicker.

    Cant’ have too many hats!

  10. I’ve had 2 Tilley hats, both airflow with widest brim. My first was the synthetic version like was described in this article. Wore it for nearly 10 years and then a couple years ago left it behind in Hawaii as I boarded the plane and simply dropped it on the floor. By the time I missed it, we were in the air. The crew tried, but I never saw it again. Hope it found a good home.

    My current one is the all cotton version. I feel this breathes better, is just as water resistant and I wear it just about any time I’m outside and it isn’t too cold to need a real thermal hat. Even being cotton, it dries just about as fast as the old one. Yes, in a heavy rain, it does absorb water and I’ve wrung it out a couple times. I do like that you can put a hood up over it and have the brim hold the hood away from your face and ears. I’ve stopped packing the Seattle Sombrero as a result. I still prefer that hat when it is going to just rain hard, but for typical outings, I like just needing one hat.

    Make sure you get a darker color under the brim. Makes a big difference when it is bright out. I prefer a light color hat as it does not get as warm in the sun. Even with frequent use, it really never looks dirty. The headband shows ‘dirt’ far sooner. Washing has never been an issue. Just toss in the wash with like colors. Hang in the sun and its dry in an hour. On cloudy days, it takes a bit longer. While my cotton version is still young, it has not shown any signs of wear or abuse.

    I have used the ‘secret pocket’. I kept a stash of cash in there. So, when the kids pilfered my wallet and found nothing, I still had some cash available. (^_^)

    I typically keep the straps tucked into the crown pocket. I find the hat stays on just fine most of the time. When I feel the hat starting to lift, I simply pull out the straps, set the rear one snug and then keep the front one loose just under my chin. The hat can move, but won’t blow off.

    The narrow mesh band cools nicely. I’ve never felt the need for a full mesh crown. I agree with the head net use with the hat – perfect.

    The fit of these hats is perfect. They recommend that you select a size slightly lager than your true hat size. I simply picked the one that fit best in the store. The cotton one does stretch a little and when it feels ‘loose’, I just wash it and that tightens it back up again. Never had any issues with the synthetic one. I do not feel that this is an issue as by the time the hat is ‘loose’, it probably needs a wash anyway. (^_^)

    I wish I had a do-it-all cold weather hat that worked as well as the Tilley. It is really that good. If Indiana Jones were doing his thing today, he’d be doing it with a Tilley on his head.

  11. Kurt in Colorado

    After reading Philip’s review and some of the thousands of Amazon reviews, I decided to get a Tilley LTM6. For over 20 years, I’ve worn Barmah “Crocodile Dundee” leather hats, which I really liked (and they were stylin’) except my head got hot. I always wished I could wear the hat loosely to allow airflow under the brim but then the hat would blow off.

    Here’s the thing nobody has mentioned about Tilley: they’re designed to be worn a size “too large,” using the strap to hold it on. The instructions say you should be able to get two fingers between your head and the hat.

    At first, this feels really strange, like your hat is way too big. But I tested mine on a very hot and windy Colorado weekend, and can declare that A) the straps work and B) the loose fit really does allow “airflo.” While it’s impossible to avoid sweating, the breeze was able to get under the hat thanks to the loose fit and the mesh band.

    For non-windy days, you can just use the “trooper” hat on the back of the head. It holds surprisingly well. Or you can use the chin strap and leave the trooper strap inside to go across your head and hold the crown of the hat higher so it doesn’t touch the top of your head.

    I looked at the LTM8 with the mesh upper, but an Amazon review tipped me to the fact that this mesh upper does not actually allow ANY airflo! It has a fabric backing inside that blocks airflow. I tried to blow through the mesh as hard as I could — I couldn’t feel a thing. Not sure what the thinking is there.

    Finally, one reason Tilley hats cost so much is they make at least 9 sizes, from 7 to 8, in eighth-inch increments. Other brands may look similar but they only make two or three sizes.

    So I’ll keep my Barmah hat for winter use (and when I want the Crocodile Dundee look), but the Tilley seems to be the airflow design I’ve been looking for!

  12. I bought a Tilley hat about 3 years ago, I live in Arizona and play golf almost everyday, I had to wash the Hat every other day because of perspiration. Then it developed little bumps on the side band of the hat, it got worse so I sent it back. Had to pay $10 to ship it, and another $9. 95 to get it back, and $15 for an upgraded hat.

    The replacement hat I’ve had about 3 weeks, and the side band has a large pinkish spots on it. Contacted Tilley and they said that’s the side band was made of organic cotton, and they’ve experienced this on some hats because of perspiration, why was I not made aware of this possible problem? Now they want me to send it back and pay $10 to ship it, and $9. 95 to get a new one.. I’ve already paid the cost of the original hat, Plus $35 and they want me to spend another $20 to replace this one which was defective from the beginning. Thanks but no thanks.

    • I can’t comment about all Tilley hat’s, but I wear mine every day and wash it frequently without any issues. I also buy most of my gear at REI because they have such a good return policy. Never bought from Tilley directly…YMMV.

  13. I’m basically bald. Does anyone know if the mesh parts of these hats let in enough sunlight to burn (or tan with little dots) a bald guy’s head?

  14. I have worn Tilley Hats for quite some time over the years and have been quite proud of them. It was not until recently that I experienced one of the newer Tilley Hats ( Hikers Hat ) that had a very noticeable material problem, it was to my surprise that Tilley made such a big deal of so many excuses why the hat would not be covered under the life time warranty. My hat was registered on line with Tilley as per their instructions within the 90 day timeframe. In speaking to a Tilley representative in Toronto, you would think that I was trying to return something worth thousands of dollars rather than a measly $100 hat. I had purchased my Hat at CAA and got them involved to speak to Tilley, for both CAA and myself, we were both surprised how Tilley fought back when trying to return a hat that we thought would get replaced due to the Material colour change/fading.
    The lesson learned here is, Tilley speaks loud about their products, but will hide their head in the sand, if you have an issue.
    October 2019
    Claude Chaulk
    Guelph, ON

  15. A good use of the “Secret Pocket” is to stow your insect head-net during the bug season. You can deploy in a jiffy when the buggers start to bite…

  16. I also have a Tilley LTM6 Airflow hat. Mine was purchased at REI. My hat developed a permanent crease down the middle of the rim in front and back from folding the hat for transport. It still does the job but looks goofy.

    I asked Tilley about a replacement but was told it’s not possible as the hat was purchased from a third party. Something to keep in mind if you purchase a Tilley hat from a reseller and assume you’re getting the Tilley 100% warranty.

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