PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman
PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman

The Best Winter Hat

The Stormy Kromer—a Midwest railroad-style cap—is quickly becoming a mountain town staple

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Details Details

Price: $44.99

Sizes: From 7 to 8, fitted

Materials: 23-25 oz. 85% wool/15% nylon
100% cotton flannel lining

Features: Six-panel crown construction
Pulldown earband
Made in the USA with globally sourced materials

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In my world, there are several given truths that are damn near guaranteed to take place: In about a month, the temperature will fall; the leaves will change color and drop to the ground; I'll go fishing during the day and wear my ski boots that night while watching postseason baseball; it's going to snow soon afterward; and I will be wearing a hat—every single day for the next six months.

Hats are pretty much mandatory during the winter, and a lot of us wear them year round. They are also very personal, meaning you don't need me to tell you what to doff on your dome. You probably already know that good hats are hard to find. Once you find one that fits, you wear the hell out of it. It becomes part of you: the sweat stains, the dirt smudges, the rim of fabric around your noggin forming perfectly to your own personal specs. I always get a little sad knowing that a favorite hat is on its way out, mostly because it means I have to start the search for a new one.

If you are like me (live in or travel frequently to the mountains, and prefers a hat with a brim for sun/rain/snow protection), the Stormy Kromer could be this piece. Part ball cap, part railroad hat, part hunter/fishing cap, the Original is a six-panel, hand-stitched dome piece made of a wool, nylon, and cotton. It's warm and very comfortable. Because it’s flexible without losing its shape, I often store it in my backpack while I ski, then wear it at the bar or during the bus ride home.

The Stormy Kromer Original. PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman

Like all Kromers, it is made by hand at a factory in Ironwood, Michigan (though it was originally from Wisconsin). This look has stayed much the same over more than 100 years. The story goes that in 1903, George "Stormy" Kromer—a semi-pro baseball player and railroad worker with a short temper (hence the "Stormy" moniker)—lost his hat in a strong gust of wind on a train. Man, was he pissed. Upon returning home, he asked his wife, Ida, to sew a new hat with a higher crown and adjustable ear band for warmth.

And thus, the Stormy Kromer was born, and it became a known look among railroaders for half a century. After the railroad industry slowed down in the 1950s, the company expanded its product line, which now includes women’s hats and apparel. What has remained is the Original—a good hat for those days when the one guarantee is that it's going to be cold.