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  • The campaign hat

    Does anyone know the secret to campaign hat sizing?

    I was recently given a campaign hat (official) as a gift, but it was too large despite being the correct size according to scoutstuff size charts and also being my usual hat size. I exchanged for the next size smaller and it's snug fore and aft and large laterally. If I sweat and the hat stretches any it'll be on my ears.

    I would assume correct wear is about 1" above the brow and brim level to the ground. Is it just my odd-shaped head?

  • #2
    You have an oval head in a round hat. In order to get it to fit, the brim will never lay flat. You need a professional hat man to get it to work.

    If you look at old pictures of scouts you will see the brim dips down in front and back, it's because of the problem you describe and if worn long enough will look just like that.



    • #3
      They used to make the campaign hats in different ovals to fit different head but that's gone by the wayside.

      I have a few good hats, my campaign hat, a couple Stetson, a nice Panama.

      Steam is the secret to getting a hat to fit properly, either that or wear it for a long time in hot weather.

      Shellac is used on Stetsons to make them stiff, steam will soften it. Put a big pot of water on the stove to boil. Walk away and it will be boiling, stay in the kitchen and it never will. Next, hold your hat rightside up over the steam, to catch the steam in the hat. The felt will soften and then, while it is still hot, put it on and wear it for a while until it it thoroughly cooled. Repeat as needed.

      Now that the crown fits, you might find that the brim is no loger flat. Mine looks like a WW I campaign hat, pulled down in front and back. I like that. If you want your brim flat, buy or make a hat press.


      • #4
        I just read an article where it was called a "lemon squeezer", owing to it's dimpled, pointed crown.


        • #5
          Yep, that's one of the names for it. BP called it a cowboy hat. The army apparently adopted the dimpled top during the Spanish American war because the creased crown hat tended to hold water in a rain storm. Some call it a "Montana peak hat," that name came about after WW I. The Marines call it a "field hat." The Stetson of the Mounties as well as the British Scout hats differ from the American ones by having their dimples squarely at the front and sides


          • #6
            Your local "Cowboy" shop hat fitter can probably take care of your problem with sizing and adjusting the crown.

            I can't believe you wouldn't have one of these types of outfitters nearby in Tennessee. Should be pretty easy to find.

            I like to wear mine with a little forward rake as opposed to level, the Boy says it looks way to geeky on me when I wear it level. I also use the chin strap behind my head, Drill instructor style.

            If you want to keep the Brim flat, either make or buy a brim press, I used leftover cardboard and Duct tape and made one for free. Plywood, bolts and Wingnuts make a more industrial version, used in conjunction with some steam you can flatten a pretty messed up brim if you like them flat.


            • #7
              The key to understanding this is knowing that you don't break in the hat, you break in your head.

              I can also tell you that campaign hats should be worn higher on your head than most of us who wear ball caps are accustomed to. It should sit fairly high and level on you head.


              • #8
                In addition to the hat press, also get a vinyl hat cover. My first smokey got soaked before I could get a cover. I received it at my Brownsea 22 graduation and it started raining while we were packing up to leave. I use it when I am camping and there is a good chance of rain, still use the cover, but if anything happens, not to worried about the hat. It's changed colors, is warped, and has been heavily used and looks it.

                Now my newer smokey is in very good shape as I've kept in a press and also carry a a hat cover just in case. Looks like it did on the day it was issued to me for working JLT staff in 1994.

                (This message has been edited by eagle92)


                • #9
                  What one often wonders is the purpose of the hat. I have a campaign hat, non-BSA, that's in pretty good shape. I don't wear it very often, but I make no attempt to maintain the brim to brand new. What I normally wear is an expedition hat. 15+ years old, faded, Philmont branded, been in every rainstorm I have been in, crushed in a pack, lanyard replaced many times, doesn't hold its shape, and yet I get far more "compliments" on the hat than anything else. Sometimes one's personality comes through in the hat one wears. My church youth group kids don't "recognize" me without my hat and unless I have it on, they are constantly asking me if I want to join the church. With the hat on, they're my best buddy. Go figure.

                  Yeah, the campaign hat is pricy, but not as pricy as some of the hats I have bought and yet my campaign hat has no personality. Once I get the brim the way I want it, then I should be ok. :^)

                  Ever wonder about the guys in the ratty uniforms but the perfect campaign hats? Or worse yet, when the rain comes, they grab up the rain covers that look like the plastic pants babies used to wear over their diapers, or the shower cap my girlfriend uses. There's gotta be something wrong with that picture.

                  A hat should look a little like it's been around a few hundred campfire and down a few rainy roads before it is actually worn in public.

                  If one has an oval head and the hat is round, then let the brim adjust to your head. Let the hat tell you who it is. "The key to understanding this is knowing that you don't break in the hat, you break in your head." No, the key is to let the hat be the hat and let it surprise you with who it is.



                  • #10
                    Thanks for the input everyone.

                    In poking around the web, I discovered that Stratton offers campaign hats in the usual sizes, but also in several configurations - round, wide oval, elongated oval, etc. Stratton hats seem to be better built than the BSA Stetson.

                    If I can ever get the correct base size I'm going to keep my official hat drill sergeant flat, chin strap behind the head. When I dress up in uniform, I tend to go for the spit-and-polish. (I don't expect that out of anyone else; just myself.)

                    I've also thought about buying a $35 knockoff and allowing it to weather and develop character. I just don't know if I can stand this trial and error sizing. Shipping ain't cheap.


                    • #11
                      where did you find the sources for new campaign hats. I am looking for one like the Corp of Engineers wear. Sort of a yellow straw color and textured like a straw hat. I have a BSA one and where it everywhere. but I want to keep it nice and have a outdoors one.


                      • #12
                        Some random sources (and I have no affiliation with any of these companies and don't know if they're even reputable except for Stratton):




                        The cowboy hat store has some with turned down brims if you're interedted in seeing how that looks.


                        • #13
                          thanks just what I was looking for


                          • #14
                            A good hat should be bought from a supplier that offers regular, long oval, wide oval, etc. To find out what you are, visit a reputable uniform company that supplies your local police department. Some people just naturally fall in between stock sizes. I found that a little newspaper rolled up behind the sweatband will make for a custom fit. It takes a little trial and error to get it right.


                            • #15
                              Try "henry the hatter" in Detroit. I think the web site is They offer a hat stretcher that works both round and oval. If you are ever in Motown you have to stop by this place. I took my vintge campaign hat in and had it cleaned and re-sized while I waited all for a mear $3.00. Best service anywhere!!