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IT CAME IN THE MAIL

Sunday, October 3, 2004; Page P02

WHAT: Hemp hat with built-in UV protection.

AIMED AT: Boaters, beach bums, safari-goers and other active travelers looking for extra protection from the sun.

HOW MUCH: $69.

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BUT DOES IT WORK? $69 for a sun hat?! Well, the Tilley Hemp Hat does have a few extras. It has a UPF rating of 50+ (the maximum), it's floatable (we dunked it), and there's a nifty secret compartment in the crown where you can stash a credit card or some emergency cash. The hemp fabric is billed as being extra strong and durable (and no, you can't smoke it).

We tested the hat -- or as the Tilley folks like to call it, The Hat -- on a hot, sunny afternoon during a boat ride on the Chesapeake. At the end of the trip, however, and despite our copious preemptive applications of sunscreen, our face was -- no other word for it -- sunburned. Flamingly so. What did impress us, though, was how well the hat stayed on in the wind, even when we leaned way out over the bow doing our Kate Winslet impersonation. The "wind cord," a string that you can loop under your chin, behind your head or both, may look dorky, but it kept the brim virtually cemented to our noggin. Next time, we'll just supplement it with a hemp face mask.

-- K.C. Summers

Tilley hats are available at Hudson Trail Outfitters, REI, Casual Adventure and other outdoors stores, or through the company, 800-363-8737, www.tilley.com.


© 2004 The Washington Post Company


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