Campus ‘Indy’ reveals the shady world of a dedicated hat lover after a decade under the brim
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You’ve seen him around campus. He’s tall. He has long hair. He rides a motorbike. He wears hoodies.
And a hat. The hat is the main thing. In fact, I could have just mentioned the hat.
That’s right – I’m talking about Eivind Sommerhaug, the sophomore often referred to as “Indiana Jones.”
Although most are aware of “The Hat,” many would be surprised to know that it’s part of a decade-old tradition.
“I saw the (Indiana Jones) movies when I was young, and I was like, ‘This is amazing,’” Sommerhaug said. “So I asked my mom for a cheap, normal-looking Indiana Jones hat.
“That was in second grade. And I’ve just been wearing it every day since then.”
I know what you must be thinking – literally every day? And the answer is, as Sommerhaug will tell you, yes – literally every day.
“I don’t wear it inside my house,” he said. “If I wear it too much, all the sweat and such (on my head) gets stuck, and it’s not good.
“But anywhere outside or on campus, I wear it.”
How has Sommerhaug kept his hat in such good condition for so long? Well, he hasn’t been wearing the same hat the entire time – he purchases a new hat every year.
For his most recent hat, Sommerhaug wanted something a little more authentic. So instead of buying a generic Indiana Jones hat, he tracked down a company that was closer to the real Indy-hat-making process: the Penman Hat Company.
The company is run by John Penman, who apprenticed under Steve Delk and Marc Kitter of the Adventurebilt Hat Company – the one that made Indy’s hats for the movies.
“When I saw who the hats were made by, I was like, “This is perfect!” Sommerhaug said.
Penman’s authentic hats aren’t cheap – Sommerhaug’s last one cost him about $300. But he said that the high-quality material and craftsmanship justify the price.
“He hand-crafts everything,” Sommerhaug said. “You have to input the size of your head and everything. It’s all designed around you. You choose the style, the material, the size, everything.
“My last hat was rabbit fur.”
Unsurprisingly, Sommerhaug has received his share of comments on the striking hat.
“Not at this school, but a lot of people that I see out and about do compliment it,” Sommerhaug said. “That’s always cool. They don’t usually say anything Indiana-Jones-related; they’ll just say, ‘That’s a nice hat,’ or something like that.”
Although he isn’t wearing the hat to provoke and observe reactions, Sommerhaug said that he’s noticed patterns over his 10 years under the brim.
“A lot of African-American people have commented on my hat,” he said. “It’s just what I’ve noticed. (People of) any other ethnicity just pass by, but whenever there’s an African-American person, they’re usually the ones who compliment (my hat).”
Unfortunately, right now, Sommerhaug walks campus in his elusive hatless form.
“My sister actually lost my last hat,” he said, “so that’s why I haven’t been wearing it.”
The disaster occurred while Sommerhaug and his sister, eighth grader Elise, were riding home from school on their motorbike.
“It just flew off. We looked back for it, but we weren’t able to find it,” he said.
Consequently, these past several months have been the first time since second grade that Sommerhaug hasn’t worn his famous hat to school.
“It’s not uncomfortable, but I’d prefer wearing it,” he said. “I used to think it was there when it wasn’t in the beginning, but not so much anymore.”
Luckily, a new hat is already in the works. He ordered it from the company back in November and expects it to arrive in May.
“I can tell (the Penman hatter) is really busy because the hats take so long,” Sommerhaug said.
Although he liked the rabbit fur, this time Sommerhaug wanted something more water-resistant, so he paid an extra $100 to upgrade to beaver fur.
Sommerhaug admitted that he’s never met anyone else with a clothing quirk like his.
“It’s just something I picked up,” he said.
—By Marigot Fackenthal