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  1. #1

    Fedora Brands Compared and Reviewed

    As sort of a supplement to the 'hat newbie' thread, I thought it might be useful to post several hats together in one string for easy access.
    These are my personal opinions and experiences with these hats.
    Please pardon my dusty floor -

    Here are, from left to right, a Christys' Adventurer, and Akubra Federation IV, and an Adventurebilt Standard ( US made) .

    The Christys' Adventurer in sable -
    In the picture above, that poor Christys' hat has already been around the block a few times. I went for a generic Raiders' look by following the old Pagey tutorial that can be found on just about every Indy related site on the net. Here are a couple of pics taken when this hat was newer. Apologies for the quality.

    As you can see, the Christys' Adventurer will take on a pretty decent Raiders' look. It comes open crowned and takes on the shape you put to it with minimal effort and without water or steam which, as you will see, I recommend not using, anyway. The stock specifications of the brim are a bit wide for what are commonly accepted as the screen accurate dimensions. However, that means it can be either cut down to those SA dimensions or, if you have a wider face, left as is to be more complimentary. Also on the pro side, the Christys' hat is very reasonably priced (a little less than the Federation IV Standard ). Of the hats pictured, the body of the Christys' is the softest and most what you would imagine the Raiders' hat feeling like.
    The cons are considerable, though. Out of the box, the most immediately observable thing is the ribbon treatment. The stitches holding the ribbon on are intrusive, and the bow, while nicely off set, is very bland. The guts are not top of the line, to say the least:


    The liner is glued in and the sweatband is heavy cow. Plastic on the top of the liner means less breathability, and if you choose to remove it, you must be careful not to rip away too much felt along with the glue.
    The hat held up well under relatively hot conditions, but did not keep its fuller block shape after the lightest rain, as exemplified by this picture:

    Contrary to what you may have read or heard, this hat WILL survive a reblock. I had mine professionally reblocked twice, stretched it over various household objects myself, ironed it, added stiffener, and generally abused it. As John Penman described, the body has too much 'air' in it. The best analogy I can come up with is: It's like an immature whiskey or wine. Another observable drawback to this detracting quality is the sizing. Should you choose to buy this hat, I strongly recommend going a size up from your usual size, as within a week or two, it will settle down a half to a full size.

    After reblock -


    See next post...
    Nothin' more foolish than a man chasin' his hat.

  2. #2

    Re: Brands Compared and Reviewed

    Continued from OP -

    The next hat in the line is the Akubra Federation IV. This hat arrives open crown and I shaped it to a Crystal Skull look the best I could. It took the shape with little effort, and I set it in with a little steam. This is the standard Akubra felt, and the first thing you'll notice when comparing it to most other hats is the coarseness of the body. It also comes out somewhat more stiff than most other hats, as can be seen here, where I am holding the hat from the edge of the brim and supporting from the sweatband inside.


    This hat, and all Akubras, are solid, tough off the rack hats. They'll stand up to the elements far better than a modern Stetson, Resistol, Christys'... likely anything not custom made. The ribbon is nice with no sheen and discreet stitching and the sweatband is particularly nice for a mass produced hat. Frankly, the only detraction I can cite is that coarseness I mentioned a moment ago. Up close it really doesn't have the 'fine' look of other hats, and especially the other Indy offerings. But it is TOUGH.
    The initial stiffness can also be worked out through 'kneading' the brim and crown, leaving a fairly supple body without losing your bash, which is easily trained in.

    The Akubra is probably the best off the rack hat you can get for the money.
    Nothin' more foolish than a man chasin' his hat.

  3. #3

    Re: Brands Compared and Reviewed

    The last hat pictured in the OP is an Adventurebilt made by Steve Delk from an early Raiders' block. This iteration is in pure beaver.
    There's not a lot that I can say about the AB that hasn't already been said, either here or on other sites.


    The beaver body is extremely soft to the touch and has a 'silkier' feel, as compared to rabbit. Besides the material itself, this can be attributed to Mr Delk's attention to applying the finish to his hats. The interior is more akin to a vintage hat than anything you'll find off the rack. The liner is sewn in and the stitching on the sweatband is neat and strong.
    It goes without saying, though, if you're going for screen accuracy, the Adventurebilt KotCS is THE hat -

    - as it is the only truly SA hat available ( the hat above was shaped by Mr Delk according to original specifications ).


    The very nature of the beaver body makes this an excellent hat for any adventure. Unfortunately, that's also the detraction. A beaver body is simply never going to provide a hyper-screen accurate representation, as far as a Raiders' style goes.


    You can see the inherent stiffness in the picture above. This is not meant to imply that the hat is in any way uncomfortable. On the contrary, the Adventurebilt is a very comfortable hat, and further, after a while, it conforms the way a good, high end pair of shoes does.
    As with any piece of quality craftsmanship, the beauty is in the details. The ribbon and bow and the work invested in the assembly of those things are remarkable. A make or break for any good hat, and a real separator for what makes a good Indy hat or a great Indy hat, the ribbon treatment on the Adventurebilt is a thing of beauty.
    Nothin' more foolish than a man chasin' his hat.

  4. #4

    Re: Brands Compared and Reviewed

    Another hat not seen around too much anymore, but one I think deserves a spot on any Indy site and comprehensive comparison/review is the Adventurer by Akubra as offered through David Morgan.

    This hat is also offered in Akubra's standard wild hare felt and is very tough. The block shape isn't as full as the Federation IV, but some would argue that that makes for a more accurate Raiders style.
    Aside from getting a good general Indy hat out of the David Morgan Akubra Adventurer, and it's indisputable ruggedness, there's little about this hat that could be called screen accurate. The ribbon is far too light, and the only similarity the body's color shares with the screen hat might be that it falls into the 'brown' family of colors.


    Like the Christys' hat of the same name, the Adventurer ships open crown and has a brim larger than typically accepted screen accurate specifications. The sizing of the Morgan offering is a little more true than the Federation IV by Akubra, so I would recommend ordering in your hat size. Again, a very rugged, real world hat that gives off a solid Indy vibe and is reasonable priced. So much so, in fact, that beyond standing on it's own merits, the Adventurer makes a good hat for experimenting, be it trimming the brim, trying your first reblock, or just taking a hat to task out in the elements. This hat can take it.
    Nothin' more foolish than a man chasin' his hat.

  5. #5

    Re: Brands Compared and Reviewed

    Please feel free to add to this thread with your own experiences or other brands. I could do Penman Hats based on what I do have, but I don't have an Indy hat by him. Also, I have plenty more pictures if anyone would like to see any details I missed.
    Nothin' more foolish than a man chasin' his hat.

  6. #6
    Sultan of Shovels Knight of the Round Table Indiana Bugs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    My Indy hats

    I currently own two Fed IVs, a Fed III, and an Adventurebilt Henry.

    I’ve had my brown IV the longest. I bought it new in Spring ’09 shortly after I joined Fedora Lounge and COW.

    Prior to discovering these forums, I have owned a number of fedoras. Most of them were wool. A couple were fur. But most of them were attempts at finding the all-elusive-in-one-hat characteristics that make an Indiana Jones hat an Indiana Jones hat.

    So I bought an Akubra Federation IV. The Akubra Federation line of fedoras are available only from Hats Direct (hatsdirect.com). When I got it, it was open-crowned. I bought it true to size but it was big on me. Fed IVs come in two quality levels: Imperial and Heritage. I did a bunch of reading about this hat in both grades. At the time, a Heritage was about a third more expensive than an Imperial so I bought an Imperial, as the differences didn’t seem great enough to me to buy the more expensive hat. Also, you can send a hat back to Hats Direct (hatsdirect.com) as long as it is undamaged, and that includes unbashed, or not creased. If I really didn’t like the hat, I would send it back and get the more expensive Heritage version.

    So I took it out of the box and looked at it. Very impressive to my eye although it was stiff. I put it on my head. Too big, but only on the sides. That figures because I am a long oval head shape and Akubras, as are most factory hats, is regular oval.

    After examining it for a while, I decided that I would keep it. So I took the plunge. I wet it down and put a bash into it. When I put it back on my head it fit better.

    Over time, the hat has been bent, rained on, snowed on, adjusted, readjusted, smooshed, mutchered, and rebocked. It looks and fits better now than it ever has.

    I got my tawny fawn Fed IV, only available in Imperial, and my Fed III, which I believe is a Heritage, about the same time, about a year later. I got both of them used. The fawn IV was in new condition, and the brown III was very well used, although in serviceable shape.

    I didn't include the tawny fawn Fed IV in the photo.

    There are some aspects of these hats I can compare and some I can’t. Both of my IVs were bought new and like-new while the III was pretty beat when I got it. From the way the ribbon was tacked down, it looked like someone was trying very hard to make thi shat look as much like a Raiders Streets of Cairo hat as possible.

    I am assuming the III is a heritage because of the relative softness of the felt as compared to my imperial IVs but the hat is so beat up I'm not 100% positive what it is. Also, the III was at least partially rebuilt because nether the sweat band or liner has any identifying markings on it, as my IVs do, and the aforementioned ribbon's stitches had been relocated from the bottom of the ribbon to near the middle. Heritage Fed are supposed to have better sweat bands than Imperial Feds. The sweat in my III is of better quality than those in my Imperial IVs, but I don’t know if it’s because the III is a Heritage with the better sweat, or the III has a replacement sweat that just happens to be better than the Imperials’, regardless of whether the III is a Heritage or Imperial. If I had to take an intelligent guess, though, about my III, based on the felt, I’d say it’s a Heritage.

    The evolution from III to IV resulted in a smaller hat. My III is noticeably more massive on me than my IVs, or my Henry, for that matter. The III has more crown and brim.

    The III has had its share of abuse under my ownership, as well. It has been rained and snowed on a number of times and soaked in an all-day rain. It always retains its shape and has never shrunk. I wear it all through the heat of the summer.

    The only time I reblocked this hat was because the felt in the front pinch had gotten so thin that a hole was forming. So I stripped it down, reblocked it, and sewed everything back together with the old front as the new back and vice versa. I replaced the original ribbon which was looking a bit long in the tooth (I put the stitches at the bottom of the ribbon where they belong). The hat now has a lighter brown ribbon but screen accuracy is not necessarily my thing, which is screen reminiscence. My hats have to look good on me, accurate or not. It now has a 30 degree turn and is my every day hat.

    My Henry is very different from the Akubras. Just by looking at it you can tell that this is a better finished hat. The look and feel of the felt, ribbon, bow work, sweat and even the liner are a cut above the Akubras.

    I bought the hat second hand from someone here on F&G. It was, and still is, in virtually new condition because I don’t wear it often. First, although it’s labeled a 59, as are my other hats, it is so big on me that even with paper towel folded up and stuffed under the sweat, it is still too big. The hat already bulges out a bit already so I’m not putting any more padding under the sweat. The hat is also stiffer than I what I would’ve thought a Henry would be. Now, I did say I bought this hat used, so I don’t know what, if anything, was done to it by its first owner regarding the stiffness. At any rate, more because of the size than the stiffness, I don’t wear it much. If it fit me better, I’m sure the felt would loosen up over time. It is a pleasure to look at, though.
    'There is a fine line between art and fondling.'
    - JHP

  7. #7
    World Traveler fenris's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Re: Brands Compared and Reviewed

    Aaaahhhh... the hat. The very reason I joined so many Indy forums.

    Here are my hats which I all got 2nd hand from Texan Scott (of COW):

    A Christy's Adventurer, Akubra Fed IV Deluxe, and Peters Brothers

    Christy's Adventurer
    This was my first real hat. I found it very floppy but the sweatband was a little too thick and hard. I kept treating the sweatband with Nivea cream to soften it up. After a few months, the hat tapered a bit and I tried to revive it with a semi reblock (only removed the liner but kept everything else on the hat). After a year, though, the hat had shrunk and sweatband had bunched up making it uncomfortable to wear. I tried another reblock hoping to salvage the hat, but not keep it an Indy hat anymore. It's now stored in a hat box and haven't seen it for so long ever since.

    First pic is of the Christy's a couple of months after I got it. 2nd and 3rd is how my Christy's looked (well, it's stored without the ribbon as I was thinking of changing the color) before getting stored away.

    Akubra Federation IV Deluxe
    As soon as I handled this hat, I fell in love! The sweatband was so soft and supple and the hat fit perfectly. The felt was already soft and floppy when I got it as it was 2nd hand. I believe a brand new one is kinda stiff.

    I believe it came with a slight Raiders turn, but since I'm a round oval, it has very little effect... I eventually removed the turn and re-centered the bash. This has been my go to hat for a year; wore it in a couple of downpours and it still came out perfect. The weather here and my sweat hasn't been kind to the liner though, it's now turned yellowish.

    1st pic is how I first got it, 2nd and 3rd are the latest shots I took of it (about a year ago, I think).

    Peters Brothers
    The PB was fairly stiff and looked like it was never worn (never got to ask TS if he even wore it). It had a more redder tint to it than the first 2 hats and I think came in a very generic bash. Not sure what kind of PB hat this is as it didn't come with a liner... It did have a circular cloth PB label glued to the underside of the crown. The sweatband is nice and soft too, much like the Fed IV's. Also, the ribbon was a little too light and purplish which I remedied with a permanent marker (i know, shocking!). I've only worn it a couple of times and it hasn't really seen that much interaction with the elements. It does look pretty sturdy, though.

    The first pic is of the time I first got it. The 2nd pic is how it looks now.

    I seldom wear my hats now, but I might have to wear them this rainy season as I really find that it does keep you dry in a downpour.

  8. #8
    Sultan of Shovels Knight of the Round Table Indiana Bugs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    Re: Brands Compared and Reviewed

    I forgot to add to my above post that my Feds all conformed to my head with some warm weather wear. Regular oval hats became long oval hats. All three of them feel like they were custom made for me. Two of them, because I reblocked them, sort of were custom made for me.
    'There is a fine line between art and fondling.'
    - JHP




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