John Merwin and Kirk Deeter both wrote about headgear that protects you most effectively from skin cancer recently. Deeter prefers an Amish-style straw hat, while Merwin likes a classic boonie-style hat. I’m actually a big fan of full-brim hats, though I never wear one simply because numerous folks–my wife included–have told me I look utterly ridiculous in them. I know it’s about protection, not style, but I also know there are two schools of people: those that look good in a dirty cowboy hat or old Stetson and those that make you stare and think, dude, are you serious? Perhaps I’m part of the latter group, but I might shirk looks for safety after discovering the hat below.


These hats are Brazilian imports produced by The Real Deal. They’re made from old canvas tarps off South American cargo trucks that were bound for the trash heap. Since this material has already been beaten to death, the company slogan is “don’t take care of this hat; it will take care of you.” Testing methods included dog tug-o-wars, repeated crushing under truck tires, baseball bat assaults and shotgun peppering (note: pellet holes look cool but hat is not actually bullet proof). Anyway, according to Real Deal, this is one tough piece of melon-wear. They cost $40.

I’ve only had mine a few days and wore it on the water once. It’s light, comfy and somehow looks better with a smear of worm dirt on the brim. It might take some more confidence-building to make me a full-time full-brimmer, but I must say I would sooner wear this hat made well by a small company with a unique idea than just stroll into Wally World and buy a Gilligan hat or something. Plus, these hats get brownie points because Woody Harrelson wore one in the film “Zombieland.”

Mr. Merwin also once wrote that cowboy hats are like hemorrhoids “because sooner or later, every a**hole gets one.” Though not a cowboy hat per se, it’s close depending on how you bend the brim. What do you think? Cool hat and cool idea, or should I stick to ball caps and lots of sunblock? – JC