Skip to main content

Happy Trails with Dawni O’Bryan: Straw Hat Season

By Administrator

March 29, 2024

If you have been around cowboys for very long, you know that the cowboy hat is one of the most important pieces of cowboy garb. They are very concerned with its shape, style, and usefulness. It can even be a signature item that one is recognized by–good or bad. Cowboys will say to each other, “You know that guy that always wears a great looking hat.” Or they might comment, “You know that guy that looks like his hat just came out of the glove box.”

Many straw hats are worn at the local brandings.

For those of you not totally acquainted with cowboy hat protocol or etiquette, here is your quick course. When the weather is cool, chilly, or cold like in November through March, cowboys and cowgirls will don a felt hat, usually black, silver, or brown. Then, as the temperatures start to rise, the straw hats will come out. Long loved by cowboys and cowgirls for their lightweight material and sun protection during hot sunny days, straw cowboy hats have been around since the late 1800s. Today, straw hat technology has come a long way since its beginning. So what differentiates one type of straw hat from the next? There are many types to choose from. Here is a breakdown on the best types of straw hats.

  1. Shantung–it is known for its high quality. It is made from high performance paper. It is smooth and lightweight.
  2. Bangora–very durable. It is made with paper yarn on a machine that weaves the hat together like straw. It is a very tough hat and stands up well for a cowboy that would wear it on the job. It holds its shape and is great for kids.
  3. Palm leaf–it is soft and easy to reshape if it gets wet. Using a steamer, it can be reshaped. It is more of a laid-back western style.
  4. Jute—made with natural jute fiber. It has a very airy feel due to the numerous small holes in the way that it is woven. It is lighter weight than straw. Breathable.
  5. Open weave straw–perfect if you spend all day outside. It has a more casual look due to the thicker texture.

The usefulness of the straw cowboy hat is to block out the sun from the face, ears, and neck. You might call it a necessity for the ranch cowboy that may spend all day on a horse. Then there is the “cool” factor. Whether you are going to a country concert, the county fair, a family picnic, or a wedding, a cowboy hat just looks cool. A person can look to spend anywhere from $50-$150 on a straw hat. A great-shaped cowboy hat makes a person look cool. A poorly-shaped cowboy hat makes one look like a dork. Trust me on this as my son and my husband are always trying to shape my cowboy hat. Wait a minute.

Hats are worn for award presentations, weddings, and prom.


Some results from the college rodeo scene of the Central Rocky Mountain Region are as follows. On March 15-17, the Lamar Community College Antelopes Rodeo Team traveled to Gillette, WY for the first of the spring rodeos. Coming up big for the Lopes were the team ropers Joe Autry (La Veta, CO) and Gavin Wash (Alpine, TX). The duo won the long go round with a time of 6.8 seconds ($369) and third in the short go round with a time of 6.5 seconds ($92.40). The two runs put them first in the average for another $369 and bragging rights of winning the rodeo. The following weekend, March 22-24, the Lopes went to Torrington, WY where Autry and Wash struck again. In the long go round they were 3rd with a time of 6.2 seconds. The short go round saw a third place finish with a time of 8.5 seconds. These two runs had them end up tied for third in the average. In the tie down roping, Autry just missed making the coveted short round by coming in 11th with a time of 10.6 seconds.

If you want to know how serious this hat thing is, take a listen to Chris LeDoux’s song “This Cowboy’s Hat.”

Happy Trails.

Other News