Akubra Hat Buying Guide
There’s few things I love more than my Akubra. My wife, the kiddies, and my dear old Mum of course, but I reckon my first Akubra would be a close second to all of them.
I have a few now in a few different styles and colors, but my very first was given to me by my Dad as a 21st present. It’s a Snowy River, instantly recognizable as the Aussie icon it is and over the years it has become as much a part of me as my toes or my nose. It’s a true blue ripper-rita beauty, and no hint of a lie, and it’s got a lot of life left in it even though it’s many decades old now. It’s bearing up better than me, that much I can tell you!
No bloody wonder though. If you have a moment to spare, take a gander at how much hands-on time it takes to get an Akubra from a bag of rabbit pelts to the finished masterpiece. This video is a real eye opener. They take a bag of bunny fluff and reduce, batter, shrink and steam it down to its final shape. Really is worth the time to see how it’s done because you get a real feel for the durability of these hard-wearing work dogs of hats. You’ll never worry about wearing it in the rain again.
From bushmen to bush poets, drovers to ringers to stockmen to squatters, all over Australia, the Akubra has been the hat of choice for Australians since the mid-1800s. It’s true blue Aussie owned and Aussie made up in Kempsey, NSW, using the same processes and sometimes the same machines they’ve used for eighty, ninety years now. For more on the history of Akubra Hats, have a read of this piece I wrote ‘Akubra Craftsmanship’.
Here at Everything Australian, I like to divide our Akubras into four main catgeories:
There are the country types which are the shapes and styles most people think of when they think of Akubra. If you’re imagining the hat from the The Man From Snowy River, or the drovers who took centre stage at the Sydney Olympics, then you’re probably thinking of the Snowy River, the Cattleman, the Coober Pedy, or maybe even the Riverina hat which are all in the country range. They’re all perfect for working in the sun and flooding rains, with a medium sized brim and a standard crown height. Many of these styles aren’t lined and have ventilation eyelets so you can wear them comfortably in the hottest of weather.
Then there’s what I think of as the Western styles, which give more than a nod to our Yankee cowboy cousins. They’re a little taller with a little more brash and panache than the Aussie country styles, but they’re no less hardwearing. They generally have wider brims and most of them are fully lined inside. The popular hats in this range include the Arena, the Bronco, the Golden Spur and the most popular western style, the Rough Rider hat.
Then there’s the swanky Fedora range. A lot of the youngies have rediscovered the joys of having a bloody nice hat, and they really go for these styles. Most of these little babies are fully lined and have a softer felt that’s buttery soft straight out of the box, unlike the Country or Western ranges which have a more durable finish. Just between you me and the dunny, I’d love the Stylemaster hat for myself but the wifey reckons an old cocky like me should stick to what I know. Fair enough too and maybe it’s the third mid-life crisis talking but I’ve been wearing one around the warehouse for a while now and I think it really suits me! Other popular hats in this range include the Banjo Paterson, the Leisure Time, the Bogart and the Campdraft hat.
If you’re a real hothead then there’s the Summer range. These aren’t made from rabbit felt. They’re made with light breathable materials like straw but with the same dedication to the toughness that Akubra is renowned for. Akubra has chosen a variety of shapes across their main three style ranges and put them in the lighter material for their customers. So you can get all the styles from the working types like the Balmoral, to the more international styling of the Byron hat, to the fashionable man-about-town stylish numbers like the very nifty Casablanca and the schmick-looking Punter which is perfect for a day at the races.
Most Akubra hats come pre-shaped with a creased crown. If you want to shape your own hat like they used to in the old days, you can get yourself a Campdraft and steam it up and shape it with your own hands. According to the Managing Director of Akubra Stephen Keir IV, this was how Akubra used to sell all their hats before the outbreak of the second world war. The art of shaping your own hat was lost along with a lot of our young men, but it’s really not that hard. There are plenty of YouTube videos to help you, and you can’t really stuff it up. If you don’t quite get it how you want it, all it takes is softening the shellac with a bit of steam and molding it up again.
The general rule of thumb with sizing, if you’re between two sizes, pick the larger one. It’s always best to buy a hat that is a little too big, rather than too small. As well as moulding to your head, your Akubra hat will shrink over time. A little bigger is easier to fix, as you can always pack the inside of the crown to make the hat feel smaller, or use a Hat Insert. If your hat does shrink and becomes too tight, you can purchase a hat stretcher. Never leave your Hat in the Sun or in the car on a hot day, as this will cause the leather band inside the hat to drastically shrink. More about Akubra hat sizing here.
Things To Note
There are all sorts of folklore about how to break in an Akubra. Some of my best customers get it out of the box, throw it on the ground and jump up and down on it straight away. And isn’t it a tribute to Akubra’s fantastic workmanship that you can do this no worries? There really is nothing tougher than an Akubra. And it’s true that there’s nothing more lovely than the buttery feeling of worn-in felt, but I’m a bit old-fashioned as to how I like to achieve that – I’m more your “wear it til it’s a part of you” mode, but of course, when you’ve been around as long as I have, you don’t mind taking your time with these things.
If you want to get the best out of them, rest your hat on its crown (upside down) or on a hat stand/hook. Resting the hat on its brim will cause the brim to distort. It won’t give you much trouble though, they’re as reliable as the wet season and just about as Aussie as they come. Go on with you, get one on your lemon spread, you won’t regret it.
At Everything Australian we’ve been selling Akubra Hats for 25+ years, so we know a thing or two. If you’ve got any questions about size, colours or just need advice on picking a style, reach out to our helpful team here. And if you want variety, we're proudly one of Akubra’s largest stockists, so chances are we have what you’re looking for. See the full range here.
For more on choosing the right Akubra: