Cowboy hats and Cowgirl Hats are traditionally high-crowned, wide brimmed hats associated with the western attire of the North American cowboy. Although today these hats are seen on the heads of western enthusiasts in cities and countrysides throughout the world, it is still associated with ranch workers in the Western and Southern United States, Western Canada, and Northern Mexico. Country western singers and athletes on the North American Rodeo Circuit wear cowboy hats while performing.
Cowboy hats are recognized worldwide as a part of the Wild West. They are associated with famous and infamous characters such as Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and Buffalo Bill. Actors such as Roy Rogers and Clint Eastwood have added to the popularity of this hat.
Why do cowboys wear hats?
The wide brim of the hat keeps the sun’s glare out of the eyes; a handy tool before the invention of sunglasses. It also helped to protect the face and neck from sunburn before sun block existed.
White and light-colored cowboy hats like those made of straw can reflect the sun’s light, deflecting its heat. The high crown of the hat also helps to keep the head cool. Another trick used by cowboys on hot summer days was to dunk their hats in a nearby freshwater stream and wear their newly water-cooled hats to help fend off the heat. The hats also made a good makeshift fan.
In winter the tall crown of the hat provided a pocket of air as insulation to help conserve heat. A dark-colored wool or felt hat helps absorb light and heat to keep the head warm.
The wide brim of the hat acts like an umbrella keeping the rain, sleet and even snow out of the face, keeping you dry. The animal-fur felt hats are the most waterproof, and even straw or wool hats can be waterproof to a certain extent, depending on the tightness of the weave. Most Stetsons are weaved tightly enough to be used to hold water to feed your horse if needs be.