What is an Akubra Hat?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Akubra is the Australian Aboriginal word for head covering, or some simply translate the word as hat. The Akubra hat refers specifically to hats made by the well-known Australian company, Akubra, which has been manufacturing numerous styles of hats since 1874. The current name for the company was chosen a few years later, though, in 1912.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Many would call the Akubra hat the product of both art and technology. English immigrant to Australia, Benjamin Dunkerly, manufactured the first hats. As with many of the styles made by the company now, the hats were made were made of rabbit fur felt, which has the top hairs removed. This procedure had always been done by hand, but Dunkerly developed a machine that would strip the upper layers of fur from rabbit pelts, greatly increasing production speed. The “hairless” rabbit felt that resulted was very desirable to consumers.

Dunkerly soon had help when fellow English immigrant Stephen Keir joined him in 1902. The two families were linked when Dunkerly’s daughter married Keir. In fact today, the Akubra Company is still owned and operated by the Keir Family.

Though Akubra makes numerous styles of hats, some with the traditional rabbit felt, and others in materials like straw, people may especially associate the Akubra hat with a certain style. This style is called the slouch hat, which has a wide brim. The brim can be folded up and attached to the crown of the hat on either side of the forehead, which makes it easy to carry a rifle. In WWI and WWII, slouch hats were worn because they provided excellent protection from the elements, and offered the ability to carry a rifle with ease.

Slouch hats are still very popular, but you won’t be short on choices if you’re looking for an Akubra hat today. Others feature shorter brims, different crown shapes, and anything from classic to modern hat styles. Hats are made for both men and women, and because of these hats' durability and protective qualities, people who raise stock in Australia frequently wear them. Of course, wearing an Akubra hat is also a point of pride with many Australians, since especially slouch hat styles are associated with Australian culture.

You’ll find many styles of the Akubra hat in plenty of fine quality hat stores, and on a number of Internet sites. Prices range from slightly below to well over $100 US Dollars (USD). If you’re ordering from the US, you may want to save some on shipping by ordering from a US or Canadian store, rather than from retailers in Australia.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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