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Cowboy Crowns: In Search of True West

cowboy-crownsI’ve come to realize something about cowboys and lineage… this is a touchy crowd. From what does “first brand in Montana” REALLY mean, to this next—contentious topic: Cowboy Crowns.

The base camp of Cowboy aficionados, Western elitists and part-time historicists has got to be the cowboy hat style itself. The cowboy hat is the quintessential symbol of the working cattleman or vaquero still to this day.

I dare someone to make a claim as to the most authentic cowboy hat style… in fact if you go to North 40’s Facebook (right here) you can post your Cowboy hat picture directly to our page and stake your claim.

I would like to see the social media carnage that ensues. That’s a challenge.


First some definitions. Cowboy hat: normally a brimmed hat with a medium to high crown that serves as a functional addition to the wardrobe of someone constantly working with cattle, horses or other livestock. These jobs usually keep the individual exposed to sun, rain and all manner of elements, and the cowboy hat emerged as a tool to keep cowboys working.

If your hat does its job and you work in a traditional ranch or agriculture job, congratulations, you’ve got an authentic cowboy hat. That’s the simple part.


Now the fun part. Let’s define what I mean by cowboy hat styles: I am talking about a combination of factors: brim width and roll, crown shape, material and even the amount of WEAR exhibited by the hat—all of these are integral parts of what makes a cowboy hat authentic.

What follows is the briefest overview and look into the world of cowboy hat styles: the crown.

the-gamblerCrown Stylings

Straw hats are for the summer months, felt for the colder months, and remember—pay attention to the crown in this article, the brim and material are an entirely separate animal.

The Cattleman Crown: This cowboy crown was once a status symbol. Originally worn by cattle man as a way to designate ownership of cattle/ranches, this style has become the basic style of most cowboy hats today.

The Gus, or South Slope Crown: When people traveled less, crown creases developed so that they became endemic to their counties or locales, much like a dialect or language derivation. The Montana crease or Montana slope, was created on a Montana ranch and recast as “The Gus” by Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove.

The Gambler or Telescopic Peak: This hat crown also finds a historical base in the late 80’s and came to us from the charros up from Mexico. It is a lower crown that covers the head, but lacks the additional space above which would normally trap hot air. This is my favorite style paired with a flat buckaroo brim.

The true straw hat season begins after Easter, and the felt season begins again after Labor Day.

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Cutter Streeby has sired two young squires, Ranimyr Heston and Wager Cash. Writing about North 40 Outfitters' employees and customers... who always seem to be doing something remarkable... is his inspiration to try new things. Like fly fishing, like gardening, like wood working, like fencing w/ trellises, like...

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2 thoughts on “Cowboy Crowns: In Search of True West”

  • Paul Azevedo

    Do you have an Atwood witha 5 inch brim.
    I owned on years ago.
    Would like another.

    • Benjamin Colliver
      Benjamin Colliver August 4, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Hello Paul,

      I see that you are looking to replace an old Atwood hat. Over the years I have had to retire and replace many hats, some of them I still wear even though they are well worn as my wife would say. So from one hat-guy to another, I would like to help you out with this.

      When it comes to Atwood hats they do make a number of hats and some of their styles are available with a 5" brim, in fact the Maverick and the Nevada are a couple that come to mind. If you happen to know the style of hat you are looking for I would be happy to look into it for you.

      Feel free to shoot us our Customer Service at North 40 an email and we can get that special order information over to you.


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