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The Amazing Tilley Hat: Or, How Alex Tilley Saved My Scalp

April 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 223

Tilley Hats are more than just a hat; they identify you as part of a world-wide family of quality-minded, adventure-loving, good-ol' down-to-Earth folks who won't hesitate to strike up a conversation with anyone they meet who happens to be wearing a Tilley. Their unyielding durability won Tilley Hats a place of honor among warriors as the official hat issued to Canadian troops operating abroad. And sailors worldwide will tell tales of how their Tilley saved their lives. Though most of those stories are probably exaggerated, you just don't tell stories about a hat you aren't completely in love with. If you don't know what a Tilley Hat is, I suggest you Google it before reading this story.

I owned the same Tilley Hat (a Tilley T-3) for almost 15-years as a professional kayak outfitter and guide. I never paddled without it - figuring even Sharks and Alligators had more respect for such a hat than to risk wetting it, or the clearly superior human who was wise enough to purchase it. I love observing wildlife; and I always believed it was only fair to give the creatures we study something beautiful to observe as well. I recently lost my Tilley Hat, and although I could have simply called Tilley and taken advantage of the insurance policy that comes with each one, I chose instead to purchase a new one at a local retail store. When I got to the store and found they were on sale, I bought eight of them - two for me and the rest to give to some of my kayak guides. As I write this, I'm looking at three of them I've yet to issue to their lucky new owners. The only bummer was that the store only had T-4's - no T-3's - but, all-in-all, a Tilley is a Tilley.

Now that you have some background on my hat, I'll tell you yet another of a growing list of reasons I'll never again be outdoors without one. My wife and I were searching for lost kayakers until well after dark a few days ago, after we found them and returned them safely to their vehicles at the boat ramp where their adventure began, we still had to deliver several kayaks to a family visiting the Crooked River State Park just North of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Georgia. As I mentioned, it was well past dark and the State Park is not well lit. Our kayak trailer is painted flat black and is invisible at night without the brightly colored kayaks resting on the steel arms which protrude several feet out on each side. After delivering the kayaks, I indeed had empty, invisible trailer arms - square, steel bars with flat tabs sticking out to aid in securing the kayaks to the arms.

If you've ever walked into something in the dark you weren't expecting to walk into, you'll relate to this next part. As I was approaching the trailer to leave, I noticed a strap I had dropped and bent to pick it up without really breaking stride. As it turns out, I didn't have to; the trailer arm broke my stride for me as it struck me squarely in the head - on my forehead just below the hairline. In fact, through the stars I was seeing, I was well aware that the steel bar was the only thing that kept me from hitting the ground after the impact left me stunned and off-balance! As the stars cleared and my senses returned, I felt the intense, sharp pain you'd expect after being smashed in the head with the edge of a steel bar. I could, in fact, feel the shape and size of the indention made by the bar just by the quality and character of the pain. It felt like I had punctured my skull with a one-inch wide piece of steel. It burned and I was sure it was bleeding, but I gathered myself, got in the kayak van and drove to an area with better lighting to take a look at the damage.

As I removed my hat, there looked to be an incision exactly the size and shape of the bar. It appeared to have been torn by direct blunt impact and it looked like there was blood in the torn fabric. My first thought was, "Holy Cow! I've never seen a Tilley tear before! That was some lick!" Giving the hat a brush, however, revealed that it was black automotive paint that had been deeply impressed into the fabric by the impact. Looking in the rearview mirror, I noticed my forehead had an identical dent - yes, a dent - from the impact. The dent in my head looked much worse the next day but was by no means the kind of injury you would expect from such a violent impact with the bitter end of a steel bar. There is no doubt in my mind that, without the Tilley, I would have had a depressed skull fracture and probably avulsed at least a couple inches of my scalp - and there definitely would have been lots of blood.

The heavy, cotton-duck fabric of the Tilley hat, combined with the foam in the crown and thickness and style of the brim protected my head from a pretty nasty injury. Actually, the blow and resulting mark on my head were quite nasty, but could have been considerably worse. The only after-effects of my encounter with the trailer were a couple days with a sore head, this story and a reaffirmed appreciation for the best hat I've ever worn - and I have indeed worn many, many hats. Whether you are an adventurer, an explorer, a sailor, kayaker, traveler or wanderer - or someone who appreciates quality or just loves a good hat - you owe it to yourself to find a Tilley. It just might save your scalp, too.

Pete Koerner has been a Professional Kayak Instructor and Guide for over 16-years, as well as being a 26-year Fire-Rescue-EMS veteran who has served and instructed on Dive Teams and Water Rescue Teams in major metropolitan fire departments. Pete, along with his wife, Jennifer (also a professional kayak instructor and Fire-Rescue-EMS veteran), owns and operates Up The Creek Xpeditions in St. Marys, Georgia.

Up The Creek Xpeditions has provided Corporate Team-Building and luxury resort kayaking services to clients such as The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island Plantation and Cabin Bluff since 1997 with a Perfect Safety and Customer Service Record. Up The Creek Xpeditions provides the very best in professional kayak guiding and instruction and, because of our Public Safety background, has the highest safety standards in the industry.

Visit: to find out more.Or, you can email us at:

Also, feel free to contact us by phone at (912)882-0911. Videos of some of our trips can also be seen on our You Tube channel: UpTheCreekX.

Source: EzineArticles
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