Chris Townsend reviews two new warm hats from Tilley.

Tilley has two new warm hats out for this winter: one of them high-tech, one of them a simple beanie.

The Quilted Bucket Hat is the high-tech one. It has a waterproof Schoeller C-Change outer, which is designed to adapt to the temperature and your activity level, the membrane opening up to allow excess heat and moisture to escape when you get hot and closing to keep heat in when it’s cold or activity is low. Inside is Thindown, which is down turned into a fabric so it can be cut into shapes rather than blown loose into baffles. Thindown is said to be twice as warm as loose down and is far more compact. It’s also made from Responsible Down Standard certified down or post-consumer recycled down. Thindown is made in Italy, the Bucket Hat in Canada.

The hat looks like a typical bucket one with a high crown and small brim. Only the quilt lines give away that it is different to other bucket hats. Inside the crown there’s a removable piece of closed cell foam, as in many Tilley hats. This helps keep rain out and warmth in. Hidden inside there are ear flaps that can be folded down to protect the ears and the back of the neck.

How well the C-Change fabric and the Thindown fill work is hard to say. I don’t have a similar hat in conventional fabrics to compare with this hat. What I can say is that the Bucket Hat is surprisingly warm given that it’s quite thin, and it does adapt to changing temperatures. It’s also windproof and keeps out showers. The ear flaps aren’t windproof however and in cold winds your ears can get chilly. The hat doesn’t stay on well when it’s windy either as there’s no neck cord and the brim catches the wind. A neck cord could be added, and I’d certainly do so for mountain use. I don’t think this is really a hat for the hills anyway though as it’s a bit awkward to wear with a jacket hood. I think it’s more suited to lower level walks.

The Trail Torque is a nice knitted beanie that’s quite thick and warm. The waffle pattern knit is quite open so it’s not at all windproof. It is very breathable, and it fits neatly under a hat though. The only feature is an inner microfleece headband. This is soft, comfortable and warm but also a problem as it doesn’t stretch, unlike the rest of the hat, and the hat only comes in one size. The hat needs to fit to be comfortable but it’s a bit too tight on me. This is unfortunate as it’s a good hat and I’d like to wear it more but after an hour or so it’s just too uncomfortable. It fits it’s excellent.

The Trail Toque isn’t unusual in coming in only one size. That’s often the case with beanie hats because they’re usually stretchy. But given the non-stretch headband this hat needs to have a few sizes. Two years ago I reviewed a Tilley beanie that I’ve worn a great deal since. Called the Merino Beanie when I reviewed it but now known as the Merino Toque it would be a good choice if the Trail Toque is too small.