Book Review, “The Cowboy Hat Book”, by Rich Brand

Cowboy Hat Book

Cowboy Hat Book

You can find most everything you want to know about cowboy hats online, but it’s nice to kick back with a book in your hands. This book should be left out on your coffee table or on the bookshelf where it is easy to get to.

“The Cowboy Hat Book” covers the history, construction, materials, and styles for Cowboy Hats and is well illustrated with a couple of hundred pictures. Photo’s of real cowboys and the drug store type are included.

When you finish this book you will know what style hat is for you, how to determine the size, how to clean it and how to properly handle a Cowboy Hat.

I own this book. Get a copy for your ranch.

Stetson Cowboy Hat

Creation of the original felt cowboy hat was initially attributed to John Stetson. The unique conditions on the trail made a hat constructed from water-resistant fur felt very useful. However, unless you are a genuine cowboy riding fence, there is not much need in purchasing a water-resistant beaver or muskrat fur felt hat. And even for a cowboy a $700.00 100X hat used to work in, might be a little excessive. (100x is 100% beaver fur)
A 10x hat that is 50% beaver fur, might be a better choice.

John B. Stetson amused his pals by demonstrating to them how he could make material out of fur without having to weave. Stetson created a hat using a big brim to shade the wearer from sun and rain. Stetson made the decision to wear the hat during the hunting excursion, and it performed so well that he persisted wearing it on his trips throughout the West. In 1865, he begun to produce the first of his fantastic hats in volume. The original Stetson hat sold for 5 dollars.

Stetson is now owned by Hatco a hat company consolidator. They also own Resistol Cowboy Hats.

Cowboy Hat Style

Cowboy hat style is a personal decision.  A lot of factors are involved including function such as keeping the sun and rain out of your face or off your neck. 

For most of us however it’s not the function, it’s what the hat says.  The major differences are the brim size and shape and the crown crease.  In Texas, for me, it’s the cowboy individualism and independence.


•             Cattleman.  Most people would consider this the classic style cowboy hat.  George W. Bush wears this style.

•             Open Road.  Real cattlemen.  If you go down to the sale barn you will see the older gentlemen, buying cows, wearing LBJ (Open Road) style hats.

•             Open.  The first Stetson was “The Boss of the Plains”.  Very traditional.  The crown of an open cowboy hat can be 5″- 6″ tall and the brim 4.5″ – 5″ wide

•             Gus.  Also traditional is a Stetson with a “Carlsbad” crease.  Known today as the Gus Crease.

•             Cattleman.  Fort Worth .  The old “Fort Worth” crease seen on a cowboy hat normally has a 3.5″ brim and a “cow kick” in the front and a “cow kick” in the back.


•             Bull rider, RCA or Canadian Crease

•             Tycoon… Another pinch front style.

•             Cutter.  Modified Cattleman with more room.  Cutter Horse riders.  1970’s


•             Team Roper

•             Montana

•             Salem

•             Ridge Top

How to Measure the Correct Size Felt or Straw Cowboy Hat

Hats come in sizes with 1/8-inch increments.  The common sizes are between 6 3/4 to 7 3/8.  The problem is if you go to a dozen hat websites for a definition of sizes you will get different results.  One site tells us a size 71⁄2 is 23 3⁄4 inches. Another thinks it’s 23 5⁄8 inches. Others say it is 23 1⁄2 inches.

The only safe way to get the right size is to measure your head.

  •  If you have a hat and you like the way it fits, put it on.
  • Measure your head with a cloth measuring tape from the sewing department at your local department store.  Measure in the same place your favorite hat fits on your head.  You are measuring where the hat band fits.
  • If you don’t have a hat that fits well, measure around your head, two finger widths above your eyebrow and one finger width above your ear.
  • One manufacturer uses this chart for hat size, but we recommend you order by head measurement.
    • 21 – 21 ¼ …..         6 ¾
    • 21 3/8 – 21 5/8 ….. 6 7/8
    • 21 ¾ – 22  ….          7
    • 22 1/8 – 22 3/8 ….  7 1/8
    • 22 ½ – 22 ¾ …..      7 ¼
    • 22 7/8 – 23 1/8 ….  7 3/8
    • 23 ¼ – 23 ½ ….       7 ½
    • 23 5/8 – 23 7/8 ….  7 5/8
    • 24 – 24 ¼ ….          7 ¾
    • 24 3/8 – 24 5/8 ….  7 7/8
    • 24 ¾ – 25 ….           8

In addition to hat size, heads come in different shapes.  To accommodate different shapes cowboy hats usually come in 3 different fits.

  • Regular oval
  • Long oval
  • Round oval

Stetson makes mostly regular oval and round oval
Resistol makes long oval and round oval
Larry Mahan hats are made wider at the temple.

Brims come in various sizes 3 ½ inch, 4 inch, 5 inch and larger.

Crowns can be shaped in cattleman, 3 finger pinch, brick, etc.

Hat fit is your preference.  A tight fitting hat stays on better but might take some getting accustomed to.