What is a cowboy without his iconic wide-brimmed hat? It protects his head and neck from the hot sun and cold rain, is good for encouraging a herd of cattle, and can even serve as a water bucket for his horse.
The most famous style of cowboy hat was created by John B. Stetson in 1865. Stetson designed the hat to suit the needs of cowboys and other westerners. The very first style was the "Boss of the Plains" hat, which was inspired by a journey to Pike's Peak. These hats were kept their natural color, given four-inch crowns and brims, and a plain band. One man said of the hat "It kept the sun out of your eyes and off your neck. It was like an umbrella. It gave you a bucket (the crown) to water your horse and a cup (the brim) to water yourself. It made a hell of a fan, which you need sometimes for a fire but more often to shunt cows this direction or that." The "Boss of the Plains" hat became the model for all future cowboy hat designs – from all companies.
Stetson's "Boss of the Plains" soared in popularity and the John B. Stetson Company became a booming business. Stetson's hats were known for their high quality and durability, and were worn by all. Other companies eventually produced similar hats, but, to this day, Stetson is widely considered one of the best.