Felt or Straw?

felt or straw cowboy hat

Wear the cowboy hat that makes you feel most comfortable.

“In a cowboy hat, you become a cowboy – walking a little taller and striding with confidence as others acknowledge the Western aura about you,” writes Jim Arndt in How to be a Cowboy.

There are straw cowboy hats and felt cowboy hats and everything in between. But, when do you wear what?

Here’s your answer – kind of.

Traditionally, switching hats has the same rules as wearing white – wear straw cowboy hats Memorial Day through Labor Day and felt cowboy hats Labor Day through Memorial Day. Straw is a more practical choice for summer, it’s more lightweight and breathes more. Felt cowboy hats are more for winter and ‘going out’. Ranchers will wear felt throughout the year. This is in response to the changed climate throughout the day and year that they encounter. Steamboat Rodeo fans will notice that most, if not all, rodeo cowboys are wearing straw hats in the summer to keep cool, but when the PBR comes to town later in the season, you see a bit of both. They tend to adhere closely to the Memorial Day/Labor Day rule. However, they will change into felt hats when they put on their clean, creased jeans for the after party.

It really comes down to what you like and feel most comfortable wearing.

Justin, our resident hat guy adds, “I wear my straw hat 10 times more than felt even with shorts and tennis shoes, it doesn’t matter.”

Whatever hat you’re looking for, you can find it here – and Justin will be happy to help, “Straw hats are stiff and lacquered straw. We also carry palm leaf hats, which are not as stiff. Right now we have mostly felt hats, but pretty soon they will be mostly straw. We have other hats that you can get away with wearing anytime. Not just cowboy hats – but hats for golf and other activities.” In Steamboat, you can catch at least one person rocking a cowboy hat during any given event or activity. 

Basically, try them on, figure out what you like and wear what you prefer. And know that if you’re wearing a cowboy hat, you’re doing it right.

felt or straw cowboy hat

Justin, replacing felt cowboy hats with straw straw cowboy hats.

What’s your preference?

4 thoughts on “Felt or Straw?

  1. LNWeaver

    I didn’t know cowboy hat materials had fashion rules. I’ll keep your dates for wearing felt hats in mind. Did you know felting is a unique process from sewing; maybe the quality of felt impacts when you should wear it.

  2. Ronald Wexler

    I live here in Georgia and Always wore a cowboy hat at work and out and about. I used the changing of the seasons to determine which one I Iwore. But either one works.

  3. Aaron

    Nice write up! Personally, I like felt year ’round. I live in Arkansas, where it can get very hot and humid in summer. Even with this weather, I still feel that I sweat less with a light colored felt hat. The last couple of summers I have worn an Atwood palm hat. I liked it a lot, but it made for a sweaty head. I went back to wearing felt all lthe time. Looks good – feels good. I’ll agree with y’all that if you’re wearing a cowboy hat, you’re doing it right.

  4. JW

    Sorry but a cowboy hat with shorts and sneakers is and always has been wrong. Just because Kenny Chesney does it doesn’t make it right. That’s why they make ball caps.

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