Akubra Bushman Review: For the Australian Cowboy

I’ve been wearing hats for quite a few years now.  Some of my inspirations for hat styles have come from movies.  An early example for me and countless others, was the fedora worn by Harrison Ford in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.  Soon after the release of the film, the popularity of the fedora skyrocketed.  

But as much as I love Indiana Jones, my main inspiration has always been from westerns.  I fell in love with Val Kilmer’s wide brim cowboy hat in “Tombstone” and then longed for Russell Crowe’s gambler style hat in “3:10 To Yuma”.  After watching Hugh Jackman in the film “Australia,” I found that Australian company Akubra provided all the hats for that film. Founded in Hobart, Tasmania, Akubra is a household name in Australia and been making hats since 1874 — making them about 9 years older than Stetson. A perfect choice for a film named “Australia”, and a perfect addition to any rugged guy’s wardrobe.

akubra bushman green shirt

Akubra Bushman: The Look

The Bushman is fashioned after a snap brim fedora with a 5 ½” open crown and 3 ¼” bound edge brim.  The brim is nice and firm, allowing you to snap it down to protect your eyes from the sun.  It is made of Akubra’s Imperial Quality Rabbit Fur Felt with a ½” ribbon band around the crown. 

akubra bushman hat

It is fully lined with a reeded roan leather sweatband.  Roan leather, for those unaware, is soft calfskin leather which is used by most high-end hatmakers; the reed is a plastic wire that runs inside the sweatband which helps the hat keep its shape. 

akubra bushman chin strap hook

The Bushman also features chin strap hooks, hidden underneath the leather sweatband.  This allows you to add a chin strap, also known as a stampede string in the US, if you so desire. Some product photos might lead you to believe these chinstrap holes are ventilation holes, or can double as some, but the grommet is covered by the leather sweatband and liner (as opposed to being placed above the sweatband) so it doesn’t offer ventilation. 

[Read more: Our reviews of the Stetson Open Road and Stetson Stratoliner]

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The hat also comes in a brown called “Nullarbor Tan.” The grey in the rest of these photos is called “Moonstone.”

Akubra Bushman Material and Colors

The Bushman is made of western weight fur felt.  Western weight fur felt is an 8 oz fur felt with more shellac mixed into the fur felt to give the hat’s body more rigidity.  This makes the hat stronger, allowing it to stand up against rain and snow in turn making it last longer.  Although the hat is not completely waterproof, it can be worn in the rain with little risk of it losing its shape.

The hat is available in two colors: Moonstone (a mid gray), and a dark beige Nullarbor Tan, named after the great Nullarbor Plain of Western Australia.  

[See our review of another iconic Australian hat: The Akubra Campdraft]

akubra campdraft
The similar Akubra Campdraft, which comes with a narrower brim.

Akubra Bushman vs Campdraft

Akubra also makes another hat similar to the Bushman called the Campdraft.

Both are made of high quality rabbit fur felt, both come with open crowns and both have the same size crown — but the Campdraft has a narrower brim, 2.75″ versus the Bushman’s 3.5″.

So which one do you choose? Well, I think it all depends on your style or the attitude you want to give. If you prefer a more daring and/or outdoorsy look, the Bushman might be the one for you. Its wider brim and ability to add a chin strap, gives it a bolder look. The Campdraft, with its slightly smaller brim and no chin strap hooks, has a more traditional fedora style. The choice is yours.

akubra bushman with boots

Akubra Bushman Price

Similar to the Akubra Campdraft, the Bushman is priced at the very fair price of $165.  This is an amazing price for a hat of this quality.  Most quality fur felt hats can start at $200 plus, so this price point makes it a great introduction to fur felt hats.

Although the Bushman is made in Australia like all Akubra hats, it is made exclusively for US hatmaker David Morgan, which makes it easier and quicker to get in the US than some other Akubra hats.

akubra bushman review

Akubra Bushman Care and Storage

Like most Akubra hats, the Bushman is very low maintenance.  Using a hat brush, brush it counterclockwise to remove any dust that may accumulate on it.  I suggest brushing it at least once a week or more, depending on how often you wear it and the conditions you wear it in.  If it’s caught in the rain, set it down on its crown and let it dry naturally.  Avoid putting it next to any heating device — extra heat can cause it to shrink, especially the leather band.  If it happens to lose its shape, the hat can be easily reshaped.  You can either do this yourself using steam from a tea kettle or clothing steamer or by having it professionally done by an experienced hatter.  When it comes to storage, you can either hang it on a hat hook or, for longer storage, keep it in a proper hat box.  Never store the hat on the brim as this will cause it to lose its shape.

akubra bushman model

Akubra Bushman Pros & Cons

The Bushman is one of my favorite Akubra hats and here’s why:

Pros

  • The open crown allows you to make this hat uniquely yours by allowing you to shape it with your favorite shape.  You can go with a classic fedora crease, a telescope crown or even something more attention grabbing like a Gus (aka Tom Horn) or a Montana Peak.
  • Second is the construction and quality of the fur felt which is top notch.  Made of rabbit fur felt it will hold up better in the rain and holds its shape longer which means you’ll have this hat for years to come, whereas a wool felt tends to absorb water more easily and loses its shape much quicker.
  • Third is the price point.  At $165, it’s a great introductory hat for those wanting a quality fur felt hat without breaking the bank.  This style also works perfectly for those into classic American style clothing.

akubra bushman review

 Cons

  • Although it’s a beautifully, well made hat, I wish there were more color options.  You can get beige and grey, but brown, silverbelly, and black would be great options. 
  • The size of the brim and maybe even the crown may not be for everyone.  It’s not huge, but the 3 ¼” brim gives off more of a western look, which is something most city dwellers may not feel comfortable with. 
  • The stiffness of the felt may seem too hard for some.  If you’re accustomed to softer fedoras, the Bushman may take some getting used to.

All in all, this is another great hat from Akubra.  If you’re ready for a quality standout hat at a great price, then I strongly recommend the Bushman.

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Eric Rodriguez is a New York City-based self-proclaimed “hip”, 50-something living in Williamsburg Brooklyn, who loves to discuss important topics such as self-esteem, confidence, men’s style/fashion, fitness, beard and hair grooming, hats, boots, watches and anything else men think about.

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2 thoughts on “Akubra Bushman Review: For the Australian Cowboy”

  1. I like the look of the Bushman the best, the ribbon band looks great with the green T-shirt you are wearing. It would really be great is you could purchase different color ribbon bands to swap them out.

    Reply

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