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Why Are Cowboy Hats So Expensive?

By Taylor James


Updated on

Cowboy hats are a classic American accessory. If you live in the south or dressed up as a cowboy for Halloween, you’ve likely done some research on the best hats and their prices. Costs vary between brands; some are relatively inexpensive, while others climbed into the triple-digit (even four-digit!) range.

For example, Stetson is perhaps the most renowned Western wear brand, specializing in high-quality cowboy hats. In this article, we’ll be referring to Stetson as they represent the cream of the crop regarding cowboy hats. Stetson is known for staying ahead of the herd in terms of cowboy hat design and quality. They’re also extremely pricey – their most expensive hat is over $1,600.

Such exorbitant pricetags beg the question: why are some cowboy hats so expensive? Continue reading to learn more about characteristics that determine the price of a cowboy hat.

1. Quality

Undoubtedly the primary indicator of a hat’s cost is the quality it boasts. So, then how exactly do you determine the quality?

One popular method concerns the X’s printed on the hat’s inside liner. The X’s stand for the amount of beaver fur in the hat. Simply put, more X’s signify higher quality.  However, there is no industry standard for labeling the quality of a cowboy hat. Therefore, one brand’s definition of quality may be different from another, causing a discrepancy in the X’s method.

According to Stetson, any one of their hats that has over a 4X is made with fur, while anything below is made of wool felt. It seems as though other brands are trying to maintain the same system; however, some manufacturers remain shameless in their manipulation. So be sure to do your research!

2. How It Feels

Another way to determine a hat’s quality is to simply touch it. While that may sound strange, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of your own senses.

For example, cheaper, wool-blended hats have a coarse texture. On the opposite end, fur-blended hats are soft to the touch and, you guessed it, are more costly – usually sitting nicely in the three-digit range. Hats made of pure fur provide superior durability and comfort, justifying their steeper price.

Should you buy a cheap or expensive cowboy hat?

Now that you’ve established the characteristics of a high-quality hat, you may be wondering which path to take: affordable or expensive? Though there are different schools of thought, there is no one right answer.

Ask yourself why you’re buying a cowboy hat. If it’s for a one-time occasion, you may want to opt for lower-end options. However, if you need it for long-term reasons, such as working a job that requires outdoor labor, you should invest in a durable hat that can withstand numerous weather conditions and provide protection against the sun.

Check out the relatively expensive Stetson 6X Open Road Cowboy Hat (Amazon)

Final Thoughts

So, now you can properly ascertain their quality simply by looking and touching them. If you’re on the fence about whether to splurge or save, remember to consider your reasons for purchasing one and determine whether it will be a worthwhile investment.

About Taylor James

As Philip Treacy once said, “How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.” And on that note, I hope you enjoy your hats and find the site useful. Learn more about Hat Realm's Editorial Process.