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Cowboy Hats: Cheap, Expensive, Straw or Felt, How to Choose?

Last updated: July 31, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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I’ve worn the same cowboy hat style and brand for years, so replacing one is easy for me, but if you’re shopping for your first cowboy hat or looking to switch styles, choosing the perfect one is challenging. Do I need felt? Or will straw work better? Can I go with a cheap option? These are just of few considerations.

Straw cowboy hats are typically worn in warm weather because they allow heat to escape. People wear felt for more formal occasions or when it’s cooler. Cheap cowboy hats are suitable for many, but they usually don’t look as good or last as long as expensive hats.

For many people, choosing a cowboy hat turns out to be more challenging than they expected. With so many styles and materials available to choose from in today’s market- how do you know what will work best for your needs?

Picture of the Bozeman straw cowboy hat made by American Hat Makers.
Cowboy hats, why they’re shaped the way they are.

Cowboy hats are a favorite accessory for many people, but why do we wear them in the first place? It turns out that cowboys and ranchers need to protect their eyes from sun glare while riding horseback. Cowboys also needed protection from dust and dirt kicked up by cattle.

The brim of the cowboy hat is folded up to shield the wearer’s forehead and neck from the sun and rain. When trail riding or working outside all day, this is where western-style hats come in handy.

But cowboy hats aren’t just for working cowboys; they’re an American tradition that can be worn as part of your everyday wardrobe or for special occasions such as rodeos and country music concerts.

Cowboy hats come in different styles, such as straw or felt, and you don’t have to be a cowboy to wear one. They’re perfect for any person looking to add some Western flair to their look.

You can wear cowboy hats with jeans, boots, button-down shirts, vests, chaps, and pretty much anything goes. But, if you want to look dapper while horse-riding, then put on a cowboy hat.

Here is a helpful YouTube video that offers advice on choosing a cowboy hat.

YouTube video

Factors to consider when selecting a cowboy hat

There are many factors you have to consider when buying a cowboy hat. The main ones are:

  • How comfortable it feels
  • How firmly it fits
  • Material (rigid or soft, straw or felt)
  • How much protection from the sun it provides
  • Cost
  • Last but not least… How stylish it makes you look!

Also, it is essential to understand and accordingly choose a cowboy hat depending on the occasion, event, or time of the year. The following sections discuss different styles and materials in cowboy hats and why you need them.

Picture of a straw cowboy hat on a chair.
My inexpensive straw cowboy hat.

Straw cowboy hats – why buy them?

They say you can’t pull off the ultimate summer look without a straw cowboy hat that fits your style. If you want to look (and feel) cool while also giving off a hot and sophisticated vibe, straw hats are a fantastic choice.

Straw cowboy hats are lightweight and breathable. They are the ideal choice for summer riding and do not absorb too much heat from the sun. 

If you’re looking for a hat to wear when riding your horse in the heat or you are a working cowboy or rancher, straw hats are the best choice for you. 

Not only will they provide you protection from heat, but they are also effective in shielding you from dust and wind. Straw cowboy hats are generally cheaper than felt hats and require much lower maintenance than leather or wool hats. Naturally, their cost varies from one brand to another.

When buying a straw cowboy hat, check the No. of Xs on it. This denotes the tightness of the weave and how narrow the reed is—the higher the number of Xs, the more durable the hat is. So, a 20X hat will be stronger than a 4X hat.

When is the right time to wear a felt cowboy hat?

A straw hat is great for hot climates because it will breathe and let your head stay cool. However, wearing a felt cowboy hat may be more appropriate if you are in colder weather.

Compared to straw, felt cowboy hats are a lot more durable and feel a little heavier on the head. While straw hats are more appropriate and comfortable for summer, felt cowboy hats are more suited for winter wear.

Generally speaking, you can wear felt hats from Labor Day to Memorial Day and wear straw hats from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

You can wear felt cowboy hats in a formal setting; it’s not unusual to see cowboys wear dark felt cowboy hats and dress cowboy boots with suits or slacks to evening weddings, business meetings, or dinners.

straw cowboy hat boots

Cheap cowboy hats vs. expensive ones.

Some people think you need to spend a lot on a cowboy hat, while others believe that any old hat will do. What’s the deal? Which one is right?

Here are some tips to help you figure it out: First, if you want to buy an authentic Western hat, make sure it says “Made in the USA” on the tag; this is important because many cowboy hats these days are made in China or Mexico.

Second, consider how much use you’ll get out of your hat when shopping for it. If you’re buying it for a party or as part of a costume and won’t ever wear it again after Halloween, don’t spend more than $10-$20 on one.

You can find cheap cowboy hats at any store, and they will keep your head cool and protected from the sun. But it’s really up to you if we’re talking about quality.

If you want something that looks good with every outfit, feels great on your head all day long, and is guaranteed to last for years without falling apart – I would say go ahead and spend the extra money on a high-quality hat.

Cowboy hats come in a wide range of prices depending on the material, quality, brand, and even the time of the year you buy them. I recently bought a cheap straw cowboy hat in Mexico. The quality is good, and the price was right.

In general, straw hats are cheaper and require less care than felt or fur ones. Most straw hats come in the price range of $25 to 50, but artisan designs may go up by a few hundred dollars. 

Picture of the inside of the Bozeman straw cowboy hat by American hat makers.
Good weave and a nice headband in this high quality straw hat.

When it comes to how good straw hats are, as mentioned before, straw hats are the best choice for cheap summer wear, and they also breathe easily. However, on average, they lack durability and tend to expand if exposed to heat for long periods. To avoid this, I recommend buying a slightly tight-fitting straw hat.

Leather cowboy hats come in a wide price range ($40-$200 and above). Leather is a durable and water-retardant material, but these hats heat up in the summer and aren’t very breathable. Hence they are better for winter wear.

Wool cowboy hats are helpful in areas where temperatures are generally low. These are more affordable than felt hats but are easily damaged by water.

Fur-felt hats are the most common material for cowboy hats nowadays. Fur-felt hats are slightly on the expensive side when it comes to cost but provide comfort. Fur-felt hats are water-resistant and durable. 

They do tend to become warm in summer seasons and have limited breathability; however, they are sturdy and can be used to hold water for horses and fan a bonfire on cozy winter nights. Depending on the material, fur-felt hats have different prices. Buffalo felt is about $150-$200.

Rabbit and beaver fur hats are slightly less expensive ($125-$250) and premium hats made of mink and beaver fur are more expensive ($250-$500 and above)

So, you can get a comfortable and stylish cowboy hat at an affordable price. Very cheap hats could have problems such as design integrity and lack of comfort. Expensive cowboy hats are generally significantly more comfortable and durable but may be overpriced at times. Depending on your requirements and budget, you can definitely find a durable and cool hat at a price range you can afford!

Best Men’s Straw Cowboy Hat

Stetson Alamo cowboy hat

The Stetson Alamo hat is the perfect accessory for any occasion. You can wear it to a rodeo or just around town on your day off. There are plenty of reasons you should buy this cowboy hat, but I’ll start with the most obvious one: It has the classic cowboy style.

Stetson is a trusted maker of cowboy hats, and the Alamo is made of high-quality woven straw that will keep your head nice and cool in hot weather. The wide brim provides good protection from the sun while still giving you an attractive look that is sure to get compliments wherever you go. Trust me; this cowboy hat is worth every penny.

Honorable mention-Stetson straw hat

This bestselling straw hat for men has a distinctive cowboy hat shape, features Raffia straw, and is proudly made in the USA. It is perfect for summer, the beach, or for horse riding.


  • Cloth sweatband with stretchy fabric
  • Crown height of about 4 1/4th inches
  • Has a chin strap and elastic sweatband for a snug fit.
  • Available in 5 sizes.


  • It doesn’t blow off
  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy


  • This is a hat you need to take care of and protect
  • The hat is shipped in a plastic bag, which doesn’t protect it.

Price – Under $100

Best Women’s Straw Cowboy Hat:

Queue Essentials Cowboy Hat

Queue straw hats are made with 100% straw and have an elastic closure for a snug fit.

They are available in various colors and sizes.


  • Front-buckle design
  • Ultra-breathable 100% straw
  • The hatband is made of faux leather
  • It comes with sweat-resistant and durable internal lining
  • Measurements: front rise 4.5 inches, the front brim 14 inches,  crown 5.25 inches, crown dip 5.5 inches, and L x W x (brim)H – 14.5 x 14 x 2.5 inches.


  • Durable and breathable
  • Stylish details


It doesn’t have a strap, so I don’t like it for horse riding, especially on breezy days.

Price – Under $40.

Best boho women’s straw hat- Lanzom Women Wide Brim Straw

With its interesting shape and colorful design, the boho hat is a perfect accessory for any occasion. You can wear this trendy headpiece to add variety to your look during the summer and winter months.

Although these hats aren’t classic Western shapes, they’ve recently caught on with the cowboy community, not so much for riding but for styling. I see this hat style at rodeos and restaurants paired with traditional Western outfits, and it looks superb. Amazon has a wide variety of boho hats to choose from, but I like the Lanzom.

This Lanzom Women Wide Brim Straw Sun Hat is made of 90% paper straw and 10 % polyester. The straw material is soft, comfortable, and breathable to wear.

One size fits most lady women; the hat circumference is 22.5″, the brim is 2.9″, and you can adjust the size of the hat through the rope inside the hat. The hat is foldable and packable: it can be easily carried inside your handbag or beach tote, and it’s convenient to carry

Picture of my felt cowboy hat.
 Best Men’s Felt Cowboy Hat:

I recently got my first cowboy hat from American Hat Makers. It’s the cattleman felt hat pictured above. So far, I’m extremely pleased with its craftsmanship, fit, comfort, and style. After I wear it for a while, I write a review and let you know my thoughts.

Stetson Men’s 4X Buffalo Felt Seneca Western Hat 

Stetson is again our favorite brand when it comes to felt cowboy hats. This one is made with 100% buffalo fur and features the classic pinch front crown.


  • Available in 8 sizes
  • It has a buckle closure
  • Made in the USA with 100% buffalo-felt fur.
  • Leather sweatband
  • Satin lining


  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Value for money


  • Expensive

Best Women’s Felt Cowgirl Hat:

Resistol White Felt Cowgirl Hat

You will be the perfect pageant or rodeo queen with this hat. It is made with durable 4X premium wool felt and features the classic cattleman crown. Resistol is a well-known brand in straw and felt hats.


  • 4-5/8th inch crown
  • 3-pc silver buckle set
  • 4-inch brim
  • Available in 8 different sizes


  • Stylish
  • Well-made


  • Size issues

The Best Cheap Cowboy Hats:

Enimay Western Cowboy & Cowgirl Hat Pinch Front Wide Brim Style

This is a well-made but reasonably-priced cowboy hat. It is so light it’ll feel like you’re not even wearing one. A sturdy yet relaxed fit for any occasion and match with your favorite boots or jeans in style.

The authentic cowboy design is simple enough to wear anywhere- from the town to the back of a horse and anything in between. With five colors available and offered in straw or felt, there’s definitely one that will suit everyone.

Key Takeaways

Cowboy hats can be a style statement, and it’s the perfect way to stay cool and protect your head from sunburn. They are must-have accessories while riding too. You can buy cowboy hats made from various materials, but the two most popular are straw and felt.

There is a wide range in price in quality of cowboy hats, and you usually get what you pay for. Straw hats may be cheaper, but they also tend to lose shape after a while. Felt and leather hats last longer.

We recommend brands like Stetson and Resistol, which make both straw and felt cowboy hats. 

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:


Can you wear a straw cowboy hat in winter?

You can wear a straw cowboy hat in winter in warm areas like Florida and Arizona. It is more suitable for the summer months.

Can straw hats get wet?

High-quality hats can be allowed to get wet. Just shake off the excess water and hang it to dry. You can also wipe it down.

Are cowboy hats in style?

Cowboy hats are always in style and will remain a fashion staple for decades to come!

What are the benefits of wearing a cowboy hat?

Cowboy hats are functional riding gear that helps to protect the cowboy from the sun, wind, rain, and cold. It can also be used to scoop water from a stream for him and his horse.