I've been after some sort of wide-brimmed hat for outdoor use for a while. After weighing up pro's and cons, I went for a Rogue #109 Oily Original Bush Hat in tan colour. Rogue is a trading name for the South African company, Selke Leathercraft, and they make plenty of other stuff too. If you were at the Wilderness Gathering last week, you'd have seen their really nice display.
After having good service from John Muirden at Unbeaten Tracks when I bought some Rogue Rangers 2 years ago, I went with John again for the hat. It was £41 list price but BCUK full members can also get a discount with Unbeaten Tracks - so don't forget! Excellent service - hat arrived next day. In terms of sizing, I wasn't quite sure what to go for but John just asked me for my head measurement and he selected the approriate hat - it was a perfect fit!
For a picture of the #109, see:
First impressions were good. The leather was of good quality (1.8-2mm), and everything's double stitched for strength. The 'Rogue' logo is tastefully embossed in a slightly darker-brown colour on one side of the the peak, and there are three small ventilation holes at the top on either side. The brim dips steeply at the back (provides more protection for the neck from sun/rain) and it almost flat at the sides and front (good for vision/ventilation). It's not particularly wide compared to some hats but extends far enough to provide the necessary protection.
The centre bit that your head goes in looked quite high at first, but after a few weeks of wear, it's starting to squash down a little and look a bit more lived in.
It does have a fitted 'flyband' but I've no idea what this is actually for - anybody know if it serves a practical purpose?
Anyway, the leather is very supple and with John having chosen a perfect size for me, the hat was exceptionally comfortable straight out of the box. So much so that I forgot I was wearing it the other day and got into bed in it.
So, how does it perform 'in the field', as it were?
In sunny weather, it breathes well, stays comfortable when your head sweats, and absorbs some liquid so it doesn't drip into your eyes. I had the 'opportunity' to test it in the rain in this weekend's dreadful weather and the oiled leather itself is waterproof in the heaviest downpours. A little water came in through the small vent holes when it was absolutely sheeting down but not enough to be annoying.
Probably my only two 'issues' with #109 are that it doesn't fold (although Rogue now make a hat that does fold, like the Bramahs) and it has no chinstrap, so you have to watch it in the wind. However, I knew about both of these facts before I bought it and neither were important enough to put me off; it may be of more concern for other people.
So, overall, very pleased so far. After I've had it a few months, I'll post again to let you know if I still feel that way.
If anyone knows, I would appreciate some advice on what to use to maintain the suppleness and and water -resistance of the leather as I haven't had a leather hat before.
Quality of leather and construction
No chinstrap or cord
Does not 'fold'