A while back I ran across a very cool product while travelling up to the cabin. We had stopped for some fuel and a bite to eat and while in line at the restaurant I noticed an older gentleman wearing a hat that caught my attention. After some minor discussion with my wife she approached the older fellow and complimented him on his head apparel. He was very proud of it and quick to tell her what it was. She rejoined me in the line and notified me it was a Stormy Kromer hat. The name seemed to ring a bell with me and later than evening I Googled it at the cabin. I was soon to learn this intriguing cap was more than just a hat but a piece of Americana boasting a 110 year tradition. Similarly to all things great it had an intriguing story and history with recent Michigan ties. It is no wonder it has become somewhat of a Michigan Icon. Stormy Kromer products are 100% American made with manufacturing roots in the Upper Peninsula`s Ironwood Michigan.
As the story goes one George “Stormy” Kromer invented the hat out of necessity. Mr Kromer, known as “Stormy” to his friends mainly due in part to his short fuse and quick temper, played semi pro baseball for some 30 or so teams throughout the mid west in the early 1900`s. He had a promising career ahead of him until he met the love of his life and future bride Ida. Before Ida’s father would allow her hand in marriage he insisted that her husband have an honest and secure income. Stormy’s love for Ida eventually lead to him accepting a position with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad as an Engineer. This new career meant long cold trips across the plains and as part of his Engineer function George frequently found himself sticking his head out of the Locomotive window in search of a decent view.
Occasionally this effort resulted in losing his cap to the wind and as the story goes a legend was born. George’s wife Ida was an excellent seamstress and George informed her of his need to have a hat that would keep his head warm and stay on his head while performing his job. George presented her with an old baseball cap for reference and asked her if she could make it stay affixed. Ida set out to create what is now known as the Stormy Kromer Blizzard cap. The six panel design with pull down ear warming band stayed put when worn and proved to be a great success . Soon George’s peers were requesting Ida’s creation and when demand exceeded supply a small company was born. The year was 1903.
Fast forward to 2001…One Bob Jacquart of Jacquart Fabric products in Ironwood, Michigan had gotten wind that the Kromer Cap Company of Milwaukee was going to discontinue production of it’s legendary Blizzard Cap. Bob started deliberations with the Milwaukee company and after a month or so brought the Stormy Kromer name home to Ironwood Michigan where they are still hand stitched true to the original design to this very day. Not a lot has changed with the Stormy Kromer Cap aside from fabric choices and a multitude of colours but the Kromer family of products has grown all the while holding true to the hand stitched made in the USA quality promise. You can read the full story here at www.stormykromer.com
The more I learned of the History behind the hat the more the story intrigued me and I soon set out to purchase my own. One Friday night, on a trip up to the cabin, I stopped in at Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare Michigan. While picking up some fishing related items I thought I would check out their apparel section and see if they happened to have any of the Stormy Kromer line. I was pleased to see a fairly large selection of products with a handsome selection of hat colours and sizes. While trying them on a nice Jays’ attendant came over and a conversation broke out about these caps and their overwhelming popularity. She went on to tell me how the entire display sells out every year and luckily for me was just recently restocked. She was also quick to tell me that she had 4 Kromer caps of her own and was certain that I would love my first.
She assisted me with the fit and color selection and I left the store a proud new Kromer owner. The custom fit feature is nice and once the hat settles in and self-adjusts it fits like a glove. The wool outer and cotton liner construction keeps your head warm in the most extreme of temperatures while still allowing it to breathe. Also, Ida’s ingenious ear flap design conveniently covers those quirky extremities most prone to the cold. The ear flap easily drops down to cover the ears when needed and effortlessly pulls back up and out of the way when indoors or away from the elements. Aside from a classic look wool inherently has the wonderful characteristic of retaining warmth while wet and can absorb as much as 30% of it’s own weight in moisture before any adverse effects can be noted.
More than not wools evaporation characteristics mitigate any adverse effects caused by the water. So far I have fished my Kromer in driving snow, heavy wet snow and light misty rain and can boast that it truly kept my knoggin warm, my head dry, and my ears protected. The stylish lines and rich history accompanied by the strong Michigan roots and 100% handmade in the USA stature have me longing for more quality Kromer products. I already own two hats and plan on a third. It`s hard to beat the comfort and function of wool. I fish at the worst times of the year and in the worst of conditions and can proudly say that form truly meets function with this hat. If you want something truly unique and well versed in Americana you owe it to yourself to get a Kromer. Each hat is guaranteed for life and when purchased you register your garment online with its own unique serial number. If anything should ever happen to your Kromer they send you another. You can see the full line of products and read the history behind the name at www.stormykromer.com