How to fit your Tilley hat (sorta)

My wife bought me a Tilley hat last year while we were at REI.  I read the sizing instructions that come on a small pamphlet inside of the hat many times before choosing the size. My wife said several times that it seemed big. I kept saying that based on the sizing instructions it was correct. After a few weeks I started to get comments and realize that I might be wearing the wrong size. It turns out my dad has been wearing a Tilley hat for over 25 years and was kind of an expert on how to fit these hats, but I’ll get back to this later. In my opinion the sizing instructions describe a very different fit then what the sizing chart specifies. Here are the sizing instructions:

The Tilley Hat fits more comfortably than other hats. It’s designed to be worn low on your head and slightly loose. It should be held on by gravity, not by painful pressure on your forehead! For the proper fit, you should be able to easily insert two fingers, flat, between the middle of your forehead and the front of the Hat. The Hat should be loose enough that you can rotate it to the left and right, and lift it up and down, without friction on your forehead. When it’s windy, use the cord! I think you’ll be pleased with the way it fits and feels – especially on hot, muggy days.

To me these instructions describe much different fit then what the chart specifies. Shown below:


Sizing instructions vs the sizing chart

The sizing instructions says it should, 1. Be held on by gravity, not painful pressure. 2. That you should be able to easily insert two fingers between the middle of your forehead and the front of the Hat. It also says, 3.The Hat should be loose enough that you can rotate it to the left and right, and lift it up and down, without friction on your forehead. Based on these instructions I picked at hat that sat low on my head, I could easily put two fingers between the hat and my forehead (without pulling the hat forward to create space), and one that I could rotate left and right. Basically a bucket type of fit.

When I started to suspect that I purchased the wrong size I called Tilley to ask about the fit. The woman told me to measure my head, then gave me my hat size. When I told her the size I purchased and she laughed, and said something to the effect it was several sizes too big. My head measured 22″, and I had purchased the 7 3/8″ It sat low as described, and matched all of the other characteristics of the sizing instructions. The hat actually became uncomfortable because it would either curl my ears over or they would go under the brim. Neither was comfortable.

Back to my dad. I went to Florida to visit my parents recently and one of the first things they said to me was my hat was too big. My dad let me wear his hat the entire time I was there, it was 7 1/8″, he said it was a much better fit and that my actual fit should be just a bit smaller. He was so right! I won’t mention that he may be the best Tilley hat salesman on the east coast. I noticed several people in his housing area with Tilley hats and he later told me it was because of him.

The way my proper hat size fits is not at all like the sizing instructions. It’s snug!, It’s not strangling my head, but I would call it snug. I have not tested this but, I think if I hung upside down it would not fall off. I can fit two fingers between the front of the hat and my forehead but, I have to pull the hat forward by the brim with a bit of force to create the space. I can rotate the hat left and right on my head but there is friction. Done fast enough I’m sure I could create a fire. The nice thing about wearing the proper size is that it no longer fell over my ears (which caused irritation). And, I could comfortably wear the hat with sunglasses and it did not interfere with the arms of sunglasses.

Below are the images of the hat on Tilley’s website:


In all of the above photos the hat sits above the top of ears which does not coincide with  the sizing instructions. There is one photo below that show a fit more in line with the sizing instructions. In the above photos the hat sits down to about the middle of the forehead.


This photo above seems more like the bucket style fit that the sizing instructions describe. We cannot see her ears, but I suspect it’s over or touching them. The hat sits down to the bottom of her forehead.

I believe there is a great great disparity between what the sizing instructions describe and what the sizing chart specifies. Which happens to be the LTM6.

I know somewhere deep within the Tilley headquarters sits one of my dads old hats on display demonstrating the durably, quality and longevity of this hat and the company behind it.

54 thoughts on “How to fit your Tilley hat (sorta)

    1. Great article. I just bought a T3 Wanderer, size 7-5/8. The store said to try it and come back to exchange if too large. My head measures 23-1/2”. The 7-1/2 hat also fit, so I was not sure which to buy. The 7-5/8 hat does not fall off if I tip my head, can rotate left and right, etc. But, it feels loose when compared to my old baseball cap. Not sure if the 7-1/2 would be better and no idea how to decide. Any thoughts from an expert? Thanks, Dave

      1. I think Tilly’s sizing is the best way to fit these hats. The fit should be snug, it shouldn’t be able to move around when you move your head around. If it’s too loose you can’t tighten it up. Thanks for the comment.

  1. Thank you!! This was so helpful. My head is 22″, too. I have 2 Tilley hats here – the 7 1/8 and 7 1/4 and I had no idea which to keep – the 7 1/4 was loose- no friction, but I wondered if it was too loose – when I bent over, it fell off my head, and when I turned my head quickly from side to side, it would slip (it didn’t cover my ears, though). The 7 1/8 fit more snugly – I had to pull it forward to get 2 fingers there, and it did cause some friction sideways (but still moved, only when I tugged it, though – not when I shook my head). So I was at a loss which to keep! Anyway, so I’m going with the 7 1/8″! Thanks again so much.

      1. So, did you end up buying the size 7 matching the 22 inch length or went up a size to 7 1/8? Just curious what your final choice was. Thanks for the info

  2. Thanks for posting this!! I’m in the market to buy a hat as well came across Tilley brand at a local store. They did not have of sizing selections and it truly does feel comfortable to wear it loose…I can now purchase online more confidently.

  3. Last year decided to go for my first Tilly Hat , a T3 . My head 22″ and Don’t suit hats but wanted something for kayaking.Tried all sizes and settled on 7 and 3/8 . It’s quite snug but best fit of all sizes.Then the “Paddlers Hat ” came out and sizing is different (bigger) and sits lower on head tilted slightly back went for size down 71/4.
    So different models may have different sizing .

    1. Hi Mark,
      I am interested in Tilley T3 Wanderer hat and i measured my had 57,5cm. According to the size chart it is 7 and 1/4. My only option is online store and cant try it, it would be helpful if you could gave me some suggestions.

    2. Hello Mark,
      Can you help with Tilley T3 Wanderer hat if there is a way 🙂 . Since my only option is to buy a hat from online store i am not sure about size. I have read some reviews that this hat goes small. I have measured my had 57,5cm and that is 7 and 1/4 according to the size chart. I would like to hear some thoughts from you and other if someone own this hat.
      Thanks in advance.

      1. I also just bought a Wander T3. Based on the measurements, my size should be between 7 & 7 1/8. So I ordered the 7 1/8. When it arrived I experienced the same issue – I cannot put fingers between the band and my forehead without pulling on the brim and it most definitely is not loose. I actually have 2 more hats coming from other sources – Both Airflo. One with the snap brim and the other not. One in a 7 (ordered when I thought a 7 should be OK because I actually prefer to have my hat have some contact on the head, not loose) and the other a 7 1/4, based on the fairly snug fit of the 7 1/8. We will see what the differences are in fit. But I do think the Wanderer fits smaller, based on what I have been seeing from other wearers.

        1. If you can’t fit two finger thats probably good. You should have to pull hard on the brim to make the space for two fingers. Your best bet is to go by the measurements. These hats should fit snug.

        2. The saga continues. Right now I am comparing a Wanderer and a LTM3 Airflow in size 7 1/4. The Wanderer is definitely larger and sits lower on my head. Conclusion: Tilley sizing is inconsistent even though the same chart is shown for every style, and Tilley fit instructions are inconsistent as well.

        3. I have been wearing an original canvas Tilley since sometime in the 90’s, I believe the T3 is nearly identical. If it’s a canvas hat that is too tight, put it over your knee and stretch. It is’s a bit loose, wash it and don’t stretch as they recommend, it will shrink and become smaller. BTW the lifetime guarantee just got me my third hat for a $20 handling charge, great hats and a true bargain if you start owning one while “young!”

      2. My hubby’s head measured 22.75 and so we purchased the wanderer also in a 71/4 and he couldn’t even get it on his head.

  4. Head measures 23”, purchased a 7 3/8 size. Fits snug but not uncomfortable. Can put 2 fingers under the forehead by pulling hat slightly forward. Spins with little friction. I think it’s the right size but curious if it stretches a bit after wearing. Not sure if I should get the next size up.

  5. I just read the first post and then really enjoyed reading your dad’s response. Mark’s response made my day. There is a lot of love in that small reply. In regard to head sizes, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I just ordered a Tilley in an 8+. I wish that I had a smaller head, but we are what we are. Hoping that it fits.

  6. Nice write up. I followed the guide and got a 7 3/8. To tight. 7 1/2. Feels/fits much better. Can push two fingers from the side, and if I lightly pull the brim, I can push two fingers from the front…only a bit of friction. I can nod, move side to side with with only some friction. Do I go larger? Stretch? Or maybe my head is a bit more oval then others-lol? Whatcha thinking? How loose… or as you wrote, some friction is okay? Thanks!

    1. Hi Tom, No, you wouldn’t want to go larger, it sounds like it’s too big on you from your descriptions. If anything, the hats shrink when you wash them. The hat shouldn’t be loose, if you move your head and the hat moves it’s too loose. There should be a good bit of friction and you should have to pull hard to squeeze two fingers between the brim. The smaller one may feel tight, but that’s quite possibly how the hat is supposed to fit. I’d take the measurement and go by their chart if you want the right fit. You can also call Tilly they will talk to you about sizing.

  7. A helpful discussion. I also have had some confusion on fitting Tilley hats. According to Tilley’s sizing instructions I should wear a size 7.5. I have three different style hats and they all fit differently. Two are size 7.5 and fit differently…one is a little to snug for my taste, but the next size up, 7.625, was too loose. The other 7.5 is a comfortable fit. The third hat is a 7.625, which I bought in a Tilley store in Victoria, BC with sales-staff help for the fitting. This hat fits almost the same as one of the 7.5s. Some thoughts on the difficulty in sizing: the manufacture quality control for consistent sizing is not perfect every time; and the instructions for measuring head circumference does not mention just how snugly the tape should be…a snug measurement vs a loose measurement can be difference of at least a quarter of an inch

  8. Interesting discussion, while I am sitting here with my new TH5 hemp hat. I measured just under 57mm, so a 7 1/8. I happened to try a few hats (different model) on at Cabelas before I ordered (or measured) and noticed that a 7 1/4 was the most comfortable. So that is what I ordered.
    It is not loose, I cannot stick fingers in between the band and head, etc etc.
    I’m actually wondering if I shouldn’t have gone up to a 7 3/8 but that would make no sense according to the size chart.
    The hat feels a bit rounder than my head is, and that perhaps creates some pressure points. Something that may improve over time, right?

    1. I think the best way to fit is to measure and choose a size based on their chart. The 7 3/8 would probably end up being too big. Yes, they form to your head over time and fit quite snug.

    2. Exactly! My head shape is not round like the shape of the hat and that has a big impact on what will fit vs the measurement. Plus, for some people a snug fit can cause discomfort or even a headache. A snug fit is certaintly hotter. The best is to try one in a store, even if it’s not the same model it’s already an approximation of what you need.
      I have an LTM3 and and LTM5, both I think are two sizes larger than my measurement. The LTM5 feels just a tad snugger for the same size, maybe because it’s newer and I haven’t tugged on it as much to re-stretch it after each wash. That tiny difference is enough to cause pressure on the corners of my forehead and since I have the other option, it’s the old LTM3 that’s getting all the use. I should probably wet my LTM5 and tug on it to age it LOL

  9. Thanks for this write up. I was also confused about the size chart and the seemingly contradictory explanation about how the hat should fit. I ordered what I thought was my size based on the size chart and it is a little snug. Not constricting or painful but definitely not in line with the two finger and twist tests explains by Tilley. I was concerned that I had the wrong size and immediately consulted Google, landing me here. I’m more confident that I have the correct size after reading about your experience. Thank you. And for reference, I measure right at 22” and I ordered a size 7.

  10. Thanks for this article. The sizing for Tilley hats seems so chaotic. I tried several olive LTM6 hats at REI before determining that size 7 1/4 fit perfectly. REI don’t carry this in the color I wanted so I ordered the 7 1/4 via Amazon. When it arrived it was too tight and hurt to wear. Same exact hat, same size, different color. I have given up on Tilley.

  11. I just received my new Tilley hat and it fits snugly. I wish I had a 7.5 to compare with the 73/8 I purchased. When I watched the video I thought I’d have to return it for the 7.5, but reading the commentary I think I’ll wear it around the house before I take off the tags. I love the look & style.

    1. Yes, it’s not so easy to fit, but the chart is the best way to get the right fit. Glad you like the look and style!

  12. There was a comment that got deleted when I moved this blog to a new server. It was about using a hat stretcher to stretch out the hat because holding it over the knee didn’t work. I don’t have personal experience with that, but I would imagine that would work if used very carefully.

  13. I received the Tilley LTM6 Airflow, size 7 1/8. Fits snug. Head measures 22 3/4. If I exchange it for 7 1/4, I’m afraid it might be too loose. Do they shrink after washing?

    1. I recommend using the sizing chart, if the 7 and 1/8 corresponds that’s good. I thought it was good when you said it fit snug. They really do fit snug. Yes, they shrink, but that’s okay, when the hat is still damp after washing, my dad puts the hat over his knee and pulls it to stretch it back to the original size.

    2. If your head meaured 22-3/4, the Tilley’s size chart says your size should be 7-1/4.

      (22.75″ head size).

      7-1/8 is for a head size 22-3/8 (that is 22″ plus 3 of the smallest “ticks” on the cloth measuring tape. My head is 22-2/8, so one less “tick” on the meauring tape, so 7-1/8 hat fits me just right.)

      If your head measured a true 22-3/4″ then it’s right on the tilleys chart, that is 7-1/4 hat size. Hope this helps.

    3. I’m 22 3/4 also. That’s a 7 1/4. Not a surprise the 7 1/8 feels snug. You ordered the wrong size.

  14. To the admin: This is, hands down, the BEST post I have ever read anywhere, on how a Tilley should fit. Go exactly by your tape measurement size. The hat is not to be worn like a bucket hat as you say, and you SHOULD be able to hang upside down and not have it fall off. Otherwise, when you lean over to tie your shoe, your hat will fall off w/out the ties. That is not how a hat should fit, but people don’t know this.
    I have been wearing the TMO6 and TMO5 and LTM6 and LTM5s for a while now. (both the nylon and the organic cotton ones). My head measures 22-2/8″ (just one “tick” smaller than the 22-3/8″). I got the size 7-1/8 and that is correct. Years later, just for fun, I had an expert who has sold tilleys for 35 years check that for me when I was visiting someone in a town that had a good hat fitter. YUP! I could not have gone up a size to 7-1/4 as the hat would be not fitted right.

    When it arrives in mail, the hats have been compressed. You take it out and put on your head for a while, and that goes away. Or, you can stretch it out a little on your knee. They are preshrunk, they will not shrink again.

    Tilleys know what they’re doing so use the size chart and measure your head correctly.
    That’s all you need to do.

    The reason why people get the larger size and some sellers will talk you into that, is that they ASSUME something will shrink, because most hat makers aren’t as good at what they do. And in the case of tilleys, 15 years down the line after 200 washings, maybe something might change a tad…….that hasn’t happened to me yet. I’m gonna guess the instructions were so that people would not be sending in their hats 15 years later asking for a new one, so the text instructions sort of covering for that…..that’s the only reason I can think of why they would suggest that it be bigger than it should be.

    1. The reason why some people get the larger size is because they are not comfortable with the level of pressure on the head with the “correct” size. Depending on the shape of the head, the round shape of the hat may cause pressure points.

  15. Great post. Thanks.

    I just spoke to Tilley customer service. They said to measure yourself as you would for an ordinary hat fitting and then add 1/8″ to provide the extra roominess.

  16. Great write up. I have a T3 Wanderer in size 7 7/8 and have found someone selling the LT5B lightweight one at a size down 7 3/4. It is a really good price but I’m wondering if I will regret it even if it’s a deal. My TTW2 winter hat is 7 3/4 and is nice and snug for the cold weather, but will I like having a summer hat the same size?

  17. Hey so I’m stealing a gentleman’s review from the Tilley website to post here because I think it’s pertinent. Having purchased a Tilley that was my exact measured size that fits too small, I plan on giving this guys’ advice a shot… Also note- his review was for the T5MO.

    “I’ve learned how to fit a Tilley hat, having 10 of them now. So though my size, according to Tilley is 7 1/2, I purchased this hat @ 7 3/4, and it is perfect. Alex Tilley designed his hats to fit loosely. The wind cords stabilize the hat. He didn’t intend for his hats to fit as an ordinary hat does. This allows air, one breezy day, to flow through the sides around your noggin. Also, if a hat is made with Any Spandex go up two sizes from the Tilley calculator. If it is a Cotton/Duck, such as a T3 1 size up is sufficient for the ‘Alex Tilley’ fit. That is if you want what Alex Tilley designed the hat to be. If you prefer a ‘normal’ fitting hat, snug around the head, go for the calculator result.”

  18. This is the most comprehensive Tilley sizing discussion I’ve ever come across!!

    I recently ordered a T3 Wanderer, and went up one size compared to my measurements (and my true size in TH5 and Montana Fedora). The dang thing kept falling off my head, despite the circumference actually feeling properly snug like the other hats! I found that the crown height was just too short for me, and the hat band was sitting too high on my head to actually provide a decent grip. Has anyone else had this experience, or do I have a really big top of the head?

    Definitely sticking with crown heights of 4″ and above in the future! Too bad though, because I really adore the look of the T3 series as well as the T1 Bucket.

    1. That’s an interesting comment.
      I have the LTM3 (the airflow version of the wanderer) that I have to wear oversized for comfort. I always wear it with the rear string on tight, and that holds the hat very well. Unllike the front string, I dont feel the rear string when I have it on , it’s very comfortable. When there is a lot of wind I have the front string hanging loose under my chin and that’s enough to catch the precious hat should it fly off from the front.

  19. Hello, Should the Tilley hat fit based on the way it should as you described after it’s washed without Re-stretching or before wash? Or doesn’t really matter?

    1. Pre-wash fit. After it’s washed it will shrink a bit, but it can be gently stretched over a knee to get it back to the original size.

  20. Excellent article! It solved my related quandary. 7 1/4 or 7 1/8? I went with the smaller. Thank you!!!!

  21. This is a great thread. Glad I found it!

    Just thought I’d add my experience in hopes of helping out. I measure my head to be 23″. (Fat head, I know). Tilley’s measurement guide suggest a 7 3/8 for my head. I ordered a
    7 1/2 off amazon and it fit very tight. Went to the Tilley site and ordered a 7 5/8 and a
    7 3/4, still too tight. Returned and ordered a 7 7/8 and an 8 and feel that, based on the info in this excellent thread, the 7 7/8 is the right fit. Many thanks for starting this thread!

  22. Unfortunately this thread gives me even less confidence ordering a Tilley hat online. They should offer free returns for size changes if they really want people to order hats online.

  23. Unfortunately this thread gives me even less confidence ordering a Tilley hat online. They should offer free returns for size changes if they really want people to order hats off their website.

  24. Hi,

    My noggin is 59.2 cm in diameter. To make the decision on whether to order a 60cm or 61cm hat, I made a couple of paper crowns…I cut two lengths of paper, both 5cm wide, one 60cm long and the other 61cm long, held together with tape. The 61cm crown was way too big, dropping down to my ears and brow. The 60cm one on the other hand was much better, more Clint Eastwood than Gandalf, with space to breathe.

    The 60cm hat, when it arrived, fitted my napper perfectly.

    Undecided about the size of hat to buy? Make a paper crown. You know you want to…colourizing optional.


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