Review: Stetson Safari Hat

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I’m a fly fishing guide in Northwest Arkansas. I spend probably 100 days a year on the water. In the summer, I get major farmers tan around my neck and a sunglass tan around my eyes. Then I ran into the Stetson Safari Hat.

The Safari Hat is one of the most comfortable fishing hats I’ve worn yet (although it’s not made specifically for fishing). It breathes well for those hot days on the water and while it’s not my personal preference of style, it does the job better than other hats I own. That said, if you like the whole safari look, (and want a hat for warm summer days), read on.

Durability
I’ll preface this by saying that I’m rough on my hats, and get a new one every couple of months at least. First receiving the Stetson, I was surprised at how durable the hat felt. I’m used to wearing baseball caps on the water, and mostly they are pretty flimsy, but holding the Stetson you can tell that it’s built to last. During guide trips I hooked flies on the brim for storage and it spent plenty of time getting tossed around the back of a truck and it still looks brand new.

Aesthetics
Like I mentioned before, I wear baseball caps. A lot. Like every day. I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetics of Safari and Cowboy Hats that Stetson is famous for, mostly because I have a narrower face, so a big wide brim on a hat looks pretty dumb on me. However, some people look great in these hats, and for a safari hat it’s pretty slick. While I may not be a fan of the style, it’s a good one for many other fisherman.

Functionality
Now the part where the Stetson shines. After about 15 minutes on the water I forgot that I was wearing it. Part of this is due to how lightweight it is, and part of it is the soft padded band on the inside of the hat. The biggest problem that I have with some of my baseball caps is the pressure they put on my sunglasses. The Stetson however rides high enough on your head to not touch your sunglasses, keeping you comfortable all day. All of this is great, but my favorite thing about this hat is it’s breathability. I can’t stand summer because I get hot and sweaty easily. It’s the tail end of spring here in the Ozarks, so I didn’t get to test the hat in real Arkansas heat, but I tested it in high 80’s which is enough to make me pretty miserable, and this hat kept me cool all day. In terms of functionality this is the best hat I’ve ever worn.

Value
For $50 the Stetson seems like a steal to me, especially if you’re into the aesthetics. This hat will easily last years of abuse and still perform. I’ve got a felt cowboy hat, which is the more classic style that many fly fisherman choose to wear, and it cost me about twice as much and doesn’t perform as well. The durability and functionality easily justify the price point, and if you already wear cowboy hats or safari hats, this one is a no brainer.

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Yoon Kim

Yoon is a freelance journalist who writes for SNEWS, The Outdoor Retailer Daily, Retailing Today, Gear Junkie, and many more. He writes mostly on outdoor topics including business, gear, event coverage and interviews with outdoor athletes. Yoon is an Insanely Big Mountain.

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