Have you noticed there can be a big disparity in price when it comes to cowboy hats? Hats at the local county fairs and concerts can be pretty inexpensive but then you visit a retailer and see the starting price on some are $200 you may begin to wonder why the big difference in price. The reason: Quality.
Felt hats typically come in two types of material, wool and fur. Wool hats use sheep wool to create an inexpensive felt hat starting around $45 (that is at least where we begin). Better quality wool will increase the price of the hat, thus why you may find some at the $120 price point or higher. To show that hats are of better quality companies will use an “X” system to grade their hats. For example, Stetson and Resistol will consider anything at or below 4X to be part of their wool collection. However there are other companies out there that may use a higher number of X’s to grade their hats.
Stetson and Resistol, two companies we are very familiar with, label anything at a 5X and higher as a fur felt. Fur felt cowboy hats feature a combination of rabbit, hare, and beaver fur. They have even begun to use some mink and chinchilla furs in their top tier hats (100X, 1000X). With fur felts you will notice the difference in quality when you being to handle these hats. The difference in feel between a 6X hat and a 20X hat is quite substantial as the brim and crown of that hat will be smoother and softer. Unfortunately none of the companies will tell you the exact proportions of fur in their hats, regardless of the number of X’s, as that would give away their distinct advantages in making their specific hats.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes into making a cowboy hat then check out the video below from Stetson’s YouTube page.