How to Choose a Straw Cowboy Hat

When it comes to wearing straw cowboy hats, there's etiquette... then there's cowboy etiquette.

Straw cowboy hats are for the warmer months (our selection is online here). That seems like a simple concept but the array of styles and materials that you can get in a straw hat can put even the most veteran hat wearer on their heels… so we broke down the options for you below.


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Bangora & other "Work" Cowboy Hats

Bangora hats are made on a machine... and because they are made on a machine they are normally less expensive than hand-woven hats. These are a good option for a working cowboy hat. But Bangora isn't the only choice.

Want to browse or catalog of bangora cowboy hats?

Bangora, some sisal types, and 5X straw hats (find them here) stand up to the elements when you’re at work. And they keep you cool during the summer months.

One drawback? Most of these hats are lacquered to help them keep their shape. So remember: be careful if you try to clean them. You could actually mess up the lacquer and forfeit the shape of your hat!

Straw Cowboy Hats and Higher X-factors

The X designation for cowboy hats originated from counting the amount of beaver/felt in a hat. The marketing world picked this up for straw, and it's now an indicator of a straw cowboy hat’s quality. The range is extensive, from the 300X Shangtung Panama "straws," to the 5X hats listed above.

A good rule of thumb when shopping? If you want a higher quality straw cowboy hat that won't become misshapen when it gets wet, you’ll want something at or above 15X. Or you can hop up to palm leaf hats, which are often marked for quality with the X designation.

Straw cowboy hats are available to order today w/ free shipping on orders over $50.

Both of these options keep you looking cool during the hot summer months. So get the hat with the X-factor you desire and consider grabbing a second hat, with a 15X-plus designation to dress up during your time away from work.

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Palm Leaf Cowboy Hats

Palm leaf hats are usually more expensive than bangora hats, but that's because most are hand-woven from a material that lasts much longer than traditional straw or Bangora. In addition, you pay for a hat that can be easily cleaned when it’s time to dress up.

Our selection of palm leaf cowboy hats in online here.

Another cool fact about palm leaf? You can shape them yourself with water. To do so, just dunk them in the horse tank, dry to the brim, and bend to your liking.

These palm leaf hats are made of higher grade of hand-woven materials (and are not usually lacquered). That allows you to go from the field to the house, scrub up your palm leaf, and take it out on the town the same day.

Making The Big Decision

What's your favorite style out of these cowboy hats? Some people choose "all of those styles" and some are very dedicated to one material, but one thing is sure—there are cowboy hat rules that never change.

Do you know what they are?

Straw Cowboy Hats: The Cardinal Rules

After you pick your hat, you’ll need a couple etiquette lessons before you head out for work or play. If you’re a longtime hat wearer you probably know these. If not, get ready for a favor.

  1. Don’t touch another person’s cowboy hat.
  2. Even if you wear bangora, set your hat down on the crown, not on the brim. Setting it on the brim will mess up your shaping.
  3. Don’t throw your hat, or anyone else’s, onto a bed. It’s unwritten, but if you do this, it means your luck’s a little sour and you’ll have trouble staying on your horse that day.
  4. When you walk inside, take off your hat, please.
  5. Read this article and learn your history.

Need help choosing the right hat? Use the form below and we will work to get back to you within 24-hours. Check out our online selection of straw hats here.

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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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