Profiles and Styles: 15 Types of Cowboy Hats

types of cowboy hats

Rain or shine, a proper cowboy always has his trusty hat with him. Functioning as an essential cover that keeps the head dry and protects the face from the sun, hats have also become fashion statements and are no longer worn by ranchers and cowboys only.

Naturally, the popularity of cowboy culture has dwindled over the years. But in some parts of the US, certain types of cowboy hats have withstood the test of time and are still sought after by those who enjoy the ranching lifestyle.

How Many Types of Cowboy Hats Are There?

Technically speaking, there are only two basic types of cowboy hats based on the material: felt and straw. Over the years, other fabrics have become a popular choice as well, most notably leather and cloth.

The two main features that help categorize different hat styles are the creases and the brim. As there are endless variations of both, there’s no telling how many cowboy hat styles there are in the world. These 15, however, seem to be the most popular, with some of them even becoming sub-styles of their own.

1. Cattleman

Cattleman

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As one of the oldest and certainly one of the most traditional styles, the Cattleman is the classic cowboy hat that enjoys huge popularity even today. It has three creases, a bigger one that goes through the middle and two smaller ones on the sides.

The brim has a curve to it but tapers flat in the back. The overall shape is a bit narrow, with the crown height measuring around four to five inches.

Though it’s unlikely you’d use it to protect yourself from the rain today, the Cattleman’s larger brim did come in handy for that. Since the crown is taller than usual, cowboys could easily pull their hats further down in high winds or rain.

The origin of the Cattleman cowboy hat goes way back to the 19th century when ranch owners started wearing it. Today, it is a safe choice for any cowboy and is even the Gentleman’s choice at more formal events, such as weddings.

2. Gus

Gus

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Gus is similar to the Cattleman and the Montana cowboy hats, but it has a more outback look. It also has a single larger crease in the center and two smaller ones on either side.

However, the crown slopes toward the front more than the Cattleman’s, and the brim is more curved. Such a brim is presumably better for throwing a rope around, so Gus is likely quite popular among bull riders.

3. Montana

Montana

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The brim of the Montana cowboy hat resembles the one seen on the Cattleman, though it may feature a rolled pencil edge too. But the crown itself is very different.

For one, the side creases on this hat are a bit softer and smaller than in Cattleman hats. In contrast, the center crease is pinched to the front and more pronounced, giving the hat a sloped appearance.

4. Brick

Brick

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The Brick cowboy hat may look like the Cattleman at a glance, but it features only a rectangular dimple on the crown. That dimple resembles a brick, which is likely where the style got its name.

Brick cowboy hats have a rounded brim that bends upwards on the sides only. In contrast, the back and the front of the hat are flat or bend inwards ever so slightly.

Much like some other hats on this list, Brick cowboy hats should also work great in high winds or rain. As the style isn’t so simplistic, this type of hat can be a fantastic companion to formal events too.

5. Biggs

Biggs

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If you like the idea of having a brick-shaped crown on your hat, a Biggs cowboy hat may be an even better option than the Brick. These hats also feature a narrow brick shape on the crown, but the creases are almost pinched to a line on either side.

The brim is different from the one you may find on Cattleman or Brick hats. It has a distinctive sharpness to it as the brim itself is more square-shaped in the front.

The back, however, is definitely flatter, and the sides don’t pull up too much, unlike Brick hats, whose sides are more curled.

6. Telescope/Gambler

Gambler

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The Telescope or the Gambler crease hat style can trace its origin back to Charros, which were Mexican cowboys.

Unlike the Cattleman or the Montana, this hat doesn’t have many creases as its crown is completely round. There is, however, a circular indentation on the crown that somewhat resembles a telescope lens.

The functionality of this hat is its main selling point. Since it has a wide, mostly flat brim, it can effectively protect you against the sun. Better yet, the crown isn’t too tall, so there’s less risk of hot air accumulating underneath it.

If you were ever curious about the hat Walter White wears in Breaking Bad, know that it’s porkpie, a variation of the Gambler. Gone With the Wind fans may also recognize the Gambler as the preferred hat of Rhett Butler.

7. Pinch Front

Pinch Front

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As expected, the Pinch Front style features two pinched creases at the front while the back of the hat is flatter. Seen from above, the crown of this hat resembles a teardrop or a diamond.

At a glance, the Pinch Front hat can resemble fedoras and outback-style hats, but its brim is a bit wider, which makes it seem more traditional.

Due to its shape, this hat can accentuate more delicate and narrower jawlines, making it ideal for women. The brim also has a dramatic curve to it, almost resembling a taco shell.

8. Open Crown

Crown

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As the name suggests, Open Crown cowboy hats don’t actually have any creases in the crown. Instead, the crown is round and smooth, while the brim is wide and flat.

Open Crown hats also have a pretty famous nickname — ten-gallon hats. Some believe that they got this nickname due to the crown’s height and width, which could easily hold ten gallons. However, this is just a myth. The hats likely got this nickname for their connection to Mexican Vaqueros, who wore hats featuring braided hatbands or galóns.

The Boss of the Plains is a good example of an Open Crown hat. It was designed in 1865 by John Batterson Stetson and had a straight-sided crown, round corners, and a wide, stiff brim.

Historically speaking, all cowboy hats started off as open crown ones. The cowboys themselves then added the creases according to their liking.

9. Australian Slouch Hat

Slouch Hat

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The slouch hat, otherwise known as the Australian bush hat or digger hat, is somewhat of a national symbol of Australia. Usually made from cloth or felt, it’s mainly worn by military personnel.

Unlike most of the other hats on this list, this one features a wide brim with one side pushed up and pinned with a badge. You can often see Australians wearing it in combination with a chin strap.

An unmissable feature of this hat is the puggaree, a type of cloth band. Today, the puggaree has seven pleats on it. Six of them symbolize the six federal states of Australia, while the final seventh one represents the Australian Territories.

10. Bowler

Bowler

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You may not consider the Bowler a real cowboy hat, but it still has certain features that push it into this category. Much like other open crown hats, this one also has a rounded creaseless crown. Its brim, however, isn’t as wide as in some other examples. It’s on the shorter side and may often feature a pencil-roll edge.

The Bowler actually precedes the iconic Stetson hat from 1865, which became popular as the 19th century was coming to a close. William and Thomas Bowler presumably designed it in 1849 for a customer who needed a low-crowned, close-fitting hat that wouldn’t get caught in low-hanging branches.

Before the Bowler, men wore top hats, which any branch could easily knock off while they were riding their horses. How this hat came to the United States is a bit of a mystery. One possible answer is that the Europeans brought it when they were traveling to the colonies.

11. Tom Mix

Mix

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A variation of the Montana hat is the Tom Mix one, which Thomas Edwin Mix, the star of many early Western films, popularized in the 20th century. The main difference between the two hats is in the crease. The Tom Mix hat has a more pronounced pinch on the front. What’s more, the brim has a ½ inch upturn.

As Tom Mix was the original cowboy film superstar, his hat changed the fashion world of the 1920s and 1930s. Many other movie stars and even presidents and prime ministers tried to emulate his look. As a result, he became one of the most influential cowboy hat wearers of all time.

12. Dakota

Dakota

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As another classic worn by many cowboys and cowgirls, the Dakota hat’s crown slightly resembles the Brick one due to its wide rectangular indentation. The brim, however, only has a slight curve to it.

13. Cutter

Cutter

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The Cutter is another version of the Cattleman hat with side bumps that allow for more headroom. This feature makes it more suitable for performing in a cutting arena on a cutting horse. This crease could even be seen on one of the most famous professional horse trainers, Matlock Rose.

14. Campaign Cover

Cover

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As iconic as the organizations that favor it, the Campaign Cover is one of the most recognizable hats today. Its origin can be traced back to the 1840s, and the crease is said to be influenced by the hats Mexican Vaqueros wore.

The main feature of this hat is the symmetrical crown crease, which is pinched at four corners. The crown is also higher than in some other hats, while the brim is usually broad and flat.

Today, this hat is often a part of a uniform. Some of the best examples include the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, United States Park Rangers, New Zealand Army, and Scouts.

The US Army and Marine Corps drill instructors are famous for wearing these hats too. You can also see a dark blue version of this hat on US Airforce military training instructors.

15. Amish

Amish

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Finally, there are Amish hats, which don’t really resemble the classics like Gus or Cattleman but are still worth mentioning due to how popular they are in Amish communities.

Style-wise, the Amish hat seems round, but it is only slightly rounded, making it easy to differentiate it from an Open Crown hat. The brim is also smaller and flatter than what you may find on more traditional cowboy hats.

Straw Amish hats are the most common, and they usually feature a black band. On occasion, though, Amish men wear black felt hats, often for more formal events or church.

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