Disappointed by how fake my “Real Deal Brazil” hat is

I have known about the hats from Real Deal Brazil for some time and I finally pulled the trigger and ordered on Friday.  Well it came today and I was less than impressed.

Simply due to the nature of the hats what yours looks like is a crap shoot.  You don’t know what color it will be, if it will have writing on it, if it will be ripped or if it will be patched.

In my mind I was hoping for a relatively dark hat that was writing and patch free. Because of this hope, the reality of seeing a hat as heavily patched as mine was a let down.  On closer examination it became clear that many of the patches seemed to be above undamaged areas of fabric.  It also seemed that the patches all appeared to be segments from similarly sized ovals and poorly stitched with large, regularly spaced stitches…  Not how you would repair a tarp.

I decided to take a knife to the hat and see what was under the patches and to my surprise they were scraps from the insert into the hat that tells the story of “Real Deal Brazil” where the stamp didn’t transfer clearly.

After my surgery, the hat now has 2 patches.  One that is reinforcing an actual weak point and another on the top that I can’t see under.

I plan on waterproofing the hat and wearing it frequently, but I am a disappointed by its facade.  The concept it great and there is no reason to attempt to embellish it with fake, unneeded “repairs.”  This trickery makes me question the authenticity of any of the story.

Anyway, here is my new hat with its removed patches.


  1. leupy says

    Not surprised about the quality, google Duluth Trading, they have a similar hat made very well, I have one and wear it often. I will be wearing it Saturday and Sunday on a fishing trip.

  2. says

    I got the following e-mail during dinner tonight and I got permission to share it…

    I greatly appreciate that you took the time to review our hat, even if I obviously would love to have seen a different outcome! That said, there are a couple things in the review I’d be really remiss if I didn’t address.

    The story behind the hats is exactly as it appears in the hats, and on our website and any number of others, and is not embellished. You’ll also find in several prominent places on our site that we explain the making of these hats more fully, including how patches are handled:

    “Fraying of the heavy fabric is common, and likewise holes and stains, with patches of tarp scraps heavily stitched on as needed, though also frequently just for looks. …”

    Our hat crafters in Brazil don’t waste scraps; that’s part of their process. Holes are covered with patches, but many patches are NOT utilitarian, but entirely decorative; excess material is often sewn onto hats as patches because the person making the hat just wanted to do that. We’re not only very up front about that fact, as you see, but we’ve always regarded that as among the real selling points for our hats. No two hats (or RDB bags, for that matter) are ever alike, and the placement of patches, both for repair of tarp flaws and simply as the Brazilian handcrafter is so inspired, is part of that uniqueness.

    You should also know that this is a style of hat that’s common throughout central Brazil; that includes the way patches are handled. The big differences with our own hats that we have made there — by some of the very same craftspeople who also make recycled-truck-tarp hats for local Brazilian street markets – concerns the addition of the screen-printed story, and our logo, as well as improvements to essential stitching and some quality-control changes with certain types of recycled tarp. We requested early on of our hat-crafters that much of the essential stitching be reinforced, especially around the hat crown, since the original Brazilian style sometimes tears at the crown. We’ve also required tighter control on the tarps used for our own hats, since not all tarp colors are popular with our customers here. Those details are really the only thing that can legitimately be labeled “fake” about these hats, quite honestly.

    As to the other stitching with the patches themselves: The jaggedness, changing thread types and sometimes wild oversewing is ENTIRELY traditional to this style of hat. In other words, if you were to buy a recycled-truck-tarp hat in a Brazilian market, the secondary stitching would be exactly the same, with the occasional dangling threads and the whole nine yards. That, and the patches and other flaws and decorative quirks, are an essential part of these hats’ identity, love it or hate it.

    You personally weren’t happy with the excess patches, but understand, we have people who routinely ask us not only for fewer patches, but also for MORE patches! In fact, the latter requests easily outweigh the former. You’ll see many reviews of our customer service that single out the fact we really do try to work with people who are passionate for certain hat attributes. We cannot always accommodate those requests as fully as we’d like, or at times, at all, simply because some shipments from Brazil are heavier on, in this case, patches, simply depending on the excess fabric the hat crafters had at that time.

    We don’t advertise taking special requests; we can’t, for the reasons I just mentioned, but if people e-mail us with their particular interests prior to placing an order, we do our best, as I said. For a lot of folks, being surprised by particular hat traits is actually something they really get a kick out of; we have any number of repeat customers who are developing collections of our hats, because they enjoy the differences in what they get from order to order. You can easily find several postings on BushcraftUSA right now from folks who are doing just that, including at least one photo gallery from one guy who has, I want to say, something like five of our hats, each very obviously different from the next.

    That said, we would have been happy to have worked with you in getting another hat that was more to your tastes, assuming the stock at that time allowed for it. We still would, though I gather you’ve gotten yours to where you’re more satisfied with it. We stand by these hats, simple as that.

    Bad review or not, and whether I feel it’s completely fair or not, I’d still be pleased to get you in a hat more to your personal tastes, if you’d like to send me an address and your hat size. It’s clear you want darker, no writing and no patches. Depending on the size, that may or may not be doable, as mentioned, but I’ll be happy to give it a shot.

    Lemme know …

    “I only feel angry when I see waste –
    when I see people throwing away things we could use.”
    – Mother Teresa

    “What fun is it being cool if you can’t wear a sombrero?”
    – Calvin & Hobbes
    Frank Rabey
    Public Relations Guy
    The Real Deal Brazil

    I thought this was a pretty stand-up response!

    He didn’t agree with my comment’s, he didn’t think I was being fair, but he was very courteous, customer focused and offered to make things right. You really can’t ask for much more.

    Having never been to Brazil and my only experience with Brazilian Tarp Hats being this one, I’ll have to take his word that it is common practice. Obviously I am not a fan of extraneous anything, so I’m not a fan of extra patches… but then again I wrote the only harsh review I have ever seen for this product so I just might be in the minority.

    Will I ever buy another one?

    Maybe for a gift. In the spirit of this hat I expect to piece this one back together for a really long time.

    Am I going to take him up on his offer to send me another one?

    No. I actually like the hat after it’s surgery and I expect it to darken considerably once I waterproof it.

    Would I recommend you buy one?

    Sure. The construction of the hat is fine. If you like patches your good to go; if you don’t, you know you can remove them.

    At the very least Frank Rabey has proven to be a stand-up guy, the company is based in the US and is employing people in a country worse off than our own. That has to count for something!

  3. David says

    I own two hats from real deal and I love them. The first one I’ve had for 6 years and it still looks as good as it did the day I got it. It’s suppose to look rough

  4. says

    If you know what your buying, then your review is shite. Like your opinion, we all have an asshole, and RDB delivers 100% of what they promise. I own all 4 styles, as well as wallets and bags. I have one I have had for 4 years and it still kicks ass. maybe you should stick to walmart hats. I have never had one fall apart, nor give me any issues. maybe you should stop cutting stuff up you just bought with a knife . I can assure you, If you were unhappy with your hat, you could have called them they would have sent you a different one ON THE SPOT. If you want a choice of colors, find a store that carry’s them. In addition, they pay an ACTUAL fair wage to the Brazilian workers that craft these, and OFTEN have shipments hijacked by highway bandits in Brazil They even sent me one of these stomped with boot prints from one of those incidents and I LOVE IT. as far as print, ONCE you buy a few, call them, tell them you have made several purchases, they WILL try to hand pick you a print hat, they did it for me.

    • Bird says

      Oh stop, Chris Clean up your language and no name calling. It’s just an opinion about a hat. It’s “what you’re” buying. Your review/reply actually hurt this product not “balloon…” Real Deal tote bag is really nice

  5. says

    I have 2 of these hats the first did in fact have a patch were I didn’t like it it had no sign of needing one there so I removed it and dyed it, second one I left along it only had a couple so I shaped it up and just wear it I’m quite satisfied.

    • Jake Hoskins says

      I’ve lived in Ilheus, Ba. Brazil for 6 years.. I found some tarp hats in the Markets but not the real deal. i’m still amazed how the people here can make something from nothing. I like the tarp hats I’ve seen as plan on getting one when I find it in my size.

  6. scottw says

    I love my hat, bag, hat, bag. I’ve given them as gifts too. I would like to know more about the US part of the company. I can’t find anything about management. What’s the whole story?

  7. says

    I got one a few years ago and after 15 min i ordered 3 more so I know I’d have one forever best hat iv ever has bar none only reason I’m writing this im soaking one of mine in coffee for a few days to have one dark one for funerals or weddings

  8. Jimmy Moses says

    I bought one of the of these hats about 2 years ago. Mine has 11 patches on it. Never thought much about them till reading these reviews. But on my hat the patches are all covering a hole or small tear. I think they all give the hat a well used look. I have decorated mine with verious hat pins. I am a Viet Nam vet and all the pins mean something special. I reacently read about the new version that has an open mesh around the top. I am going back to the shop where I bought this hat and see if they have one today. I live in Arizona and as much as I enjoy wearing my hat , it dose get a little warm in the summer months. I get asked all the time where got my hat and I gladly give them the web site an the address to the shop where I bought mine. Thanks for reading.

  9. Andree says

    I love my hat. Got it as a gift from a friend on st Bart. By the way they sell for $89 euros there. I would love the purse but it’s not available by itself. It is only a combo with the hat, which I already have. Love the idea of recycling and putting people to work.

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