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Building a better boonie; custom boonie hatmakers?

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Gear' started by BRL, May 2, 2011.

  1. BRL


    Apr 27, 2011
    So I've been lucky enough to be under the care and guidance of an amazing piece of hardware for over a decade: my $12 Dorfman Pacific plain-ol' boonie. From the dead of AZ summer to rushing off Colorado peaks in the face of an oncoming winter storm, this great hat was always reliable.

    However, it's starting to disintegrate. In addition, as I've crawled through ruins and over mountains and through trees and tunnels and deserts and substations and etc etc I've found myself thinking, "Y'know, this hat really needs an <x>" and "I would use the hell out of a <y>" and etc.

    So now I've got a list of features I wish I could have bolted onto my next big bucket to give it some broader utility. The problem is that no one makes a hat with these features. Dorfman Pacific actually has one that comes close, but it's not a boonie and I'm sorry but that's a requirement. I'm not looking for a hat for the golf course.

    So I did some Googling for hatmaker discussions on these forums and could only find this thread about custom cowboy hatmakers. I've got some emails out there but most of these folks are immediately disqualified because they work in felt only. I'm guessing it's not going to go anywhere.

    So I'm wondering if, in the 2 1/2 years since that thread, has anyone heard of a custom hatmaker that might be able to put some stitches to canvas? Thanks in advance.
  2. Shotgun


    Feb 3, 2006
    No idea but I'm subscribing out of the need for a good boonie.
  3. BRL


    Apr 27, 2011

    I'll sew the damn thing myself if I have to.
  4. Les Snyder

    Les Snyder

    Jul 6, 2010
    BRL... can you list your requirements... those of us with multiple skin cancer removals may have seen something on the local market... I wear a Dorfman Pacific Supplex open weave for 3 gun..
  5. BRL


    Apr 27, 2011

    * must be a floppy boonie (because I've lost track of how many times I've stuffed some clean socks inside then rolled it up into a pillow). It needs to be crushable and still look nicely ugly, versus most hats that get crushed and then just look weird
    * must be very absorbent, as I'm typically in Arizona heat and sweat a huge amount. Most of the REI and OR hats won't work because they're nylon and don't soak up much. Canvas it is, preferable soft (This is my current one and the material is really nice)
    * 4" or maybe 4 1/2" poseable brim. Mine have all had no bigger than 3 1/2" brims (the NRS I linked above has 3" sides and 3 1/2" f&b), which is not enough. The canvas boonies I've had typically had brims that were poseable enough despite not having anything special inside the brim edge.
    * Neck cape that can be rolled up and hidden along the inside back of the brim
    * A storage spot inside and under the crown top for $ and a CC
    * A small pouch on the back of the crown for storing a thin skullcap (like the smartwool ones) for when it gets cold
    * mesh ventilation ports that can be covered or uncovered with hook and loop flaps depending on hot or cold conditions
    * necklace through grommets so you can pull the ends up, out, and down and then be fastened under the chin. This folds the sides down over your ears for wind protection.

    So that's it. This Dorfman Pacific Discovery gets kind of close... the closest I've seen. But it ain't good enough :)
  6. BRL


    Apr 27, 2011
    Squishware, thanks for the suggestion. Waiting to see if I get a reply from that hatmaker.
  7. freedoom


    Jan 31, 2010
    I'd love an oilskin boonie hat if anyone knows of one.
  8. mmmaded


    Jan 2, 2011
    Hi, did you consider Tilley hats? I saw some in the shops and was quite impressed. I'm too cheap to by one, so ended up with an OR.
  9. BRL


    Apr 27, 2011
    Yep, I looked into them. The general consensus is that Tilleys are well-made and are really good hats. The problem is that no Tilley matches all my requirements listed above, and if I can't get a hat that has all of that stuff then I'll just get another plain DF boonie. I also don't like the way Tilleys look, to be honest.
  10. cb4life_30


    Sep 18, 2006
    I am very happy with my Eddie Bauer bucket hat. It is waxed cotton, so it's brim is pretty poseable since it is waxed. The sides have snaps that you can fold up but I wear mine down. The brim is about 3" al the way around, which gives me adequate coverage. I just happened upon it in a store a few months and so far it has served me well.
  11. Machaira


    Mar 27, 2004
    There is a woman on ebay who makes custom boonies.

  12. BRL


    Apr 27, 2011
    Thanks! Any details that might help narrow down the search? Kind of a needle in a haystack :)
  13. Win Heger

    Win Heger Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 29, 2000
  14. BRL


    Apr 27, 2011
    :thumbup: thanks! Waiting for reply.
  15. H2H907


    Dec 30, 2007
    Both Tilley and Filson make oilskin hats, I've got a Tilley Outback. Used to have a Filson packer, but I like the Tilley better.


    That is a lot of stuff to ask of a hat, I think going down the custom path is gonna be your best bet.

    You say you don't like the way the Tilleys look, but have you looked at all of them? I don't care for the original floppy sailor/sun hat myself, but I like my Outback a lot. Don't think it would suit your needs being made of oil skin though. I also don't like or need a hat to be particularly absorbent, but then I'm not a desert rat. Up here an absorbent hat would really suck in the rain. They've got lighter versions, a couple of which have the sun cape attached and stowable. They've all got an inside crown pocket, nothing for a stowable skull cap though. But then I've got lots of pockets on my pants, jacket and pack for that :-/

    Have you looked at any of the Aukubra Aussie hats? Simple hat with none of the whistles and bells you specify, but they've been worn in hot climates forever.
  16. BRL


    Apr 27, 2011
    Thanks for suggesting the Aukubra hats. I'm sure they're great and undoubtedly better made than what I've been using. The thing is, I wasn't kidding about it being important that I can smash up the hat and use it as a pillow! I've lost track of how many times I've done that... most recent time was a week ago yesterday. Shaped felt hats simply will not work with the way my outdoor activities go.

    I have looked through the Tilleys. Again, I'm sure they're everything people say they are.

    These production hats just don't match the feature list that I've developed after a very large number of hours out of the house. If I can't find a hat that matches all those extra features, then the NRS boonie I linked above (and happen to be using on the field work I'm doing right now) is perfectly adequate.

    I hate to think about it, but I'm starting to really feel like I'm going to have to do it myself. The first step will probably be to test out a few of the things on a pre-made boonie; sort of a Frankenboonie. We'll see.
  17. H2H907


    Dec 30, 2007
    Well if you end up building your own Frankenhat, be sure to let us know. I'm always on the lookout for cool stuff.

    ...Have you considered contacting Tilley and giving them your specs? That's how their original hat came about (dissatisfaction with market offerings), and they've come up with at least some of their models as a result of customer requests. Most of their models are crushable/stowable, and I'm sure it would be no problem to make one of a light, absorbent material and enlarge the crown pocket to accommodate your beanie. Just a thought.

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