As Kim and I clamored along the back trail at Ingapirca, heading towards the face carved in the mountain, it became very obvious to me that I had made a dreadful error in judgment. The back trail is optional, and is treacherous and unstable at best. The rambling path and elevated steps at 10,000 feet, were placing me in a very precarious position, especially when the wind picked up. I wore my straw Panama hat and did not want to lose it to a sudden gust. This presented a significant opportunity to injure myself or fall down the steps of the muddy trail. I was traversing this trail in a delicate manner.
I literally only had one free hand, if I chose not to let the wind abscond with my hat. At that moment I made a decision to investigate additional chapeaus and look into a more suitable headgear for rough terrains. I needed a rugged headpiece with resistance to high winds. In other words, it needed a wind-cord to prevent it from blowing off of my head and it was essential that the hat would provide sufficient protection for the sun, a UPF of 50+. I have experienced skin cancer in my family and do not want heavy sun exposure.
In my opinion, after exhaustive research, I determined there was only one option that fit the bill so to speak. I had to secure a Tilley hat. Tilley Endurables was founded in 1980 by Alex Tilley and began manufacturing adventure clothing in 1984 on a whim. Mr. Tilley was a sailor on lake Ontario and decided he needed a more durable hat to withstand the torrential downpours and high winds that were typical of the lake. He also wanted a very rugged material and desired that if by chance the wind somehow blew it off his head it would float. The result was the Tilley Hat and one that is considered the Rolls Royce of the industry.
As I was attending the TBEX event in Toronto, I thought this would provide an excellent opportunity to visit one of their block and mortar locations and purchase a hat to wear in extreme and rugged conditions. In addition, TBEX offers a session of Speed Dating, where bloggers sit with potential partners and get to know each other in a brief interlude. As Tilley was on the list of participants, I extended an invite to meet with them.
Fortunately Tilley accepted and we discussed my niche, brand and Tilley requirements. As I am walking the Camino Frances next spring, I asked advice on which hat was appropriate. Tilley’s Marketing manager suggested the LTM6 Airflo Nylamtium, stating it was a cooler headgear to wear. We agreed on the basics and I have begun a relationship with Tilley that I sincerely value. In addition to the LTM6 I received a T4MO Organic Cotton Airflo hat from Tilley and will be testing both on my upcoming trip to Ecuador in August, to determine which I favor for the Camino walk. Who knows it may be both!
I received my hats this past week and you know me. I couldn’t wait to get out and test them. I was all over Austin this weekend, hiking and in various environments beginning my testing. I have sincere and positive testimonials from friends and co-horts in the industry in regards to the Tilley durability and the ease that maintenance presents. I can’t wait to get to Ecuador and give the hats a real test with several excursions I have planned. Stay tuned!