Maybe not the most politically trendy thing to wear...

12:45 p.m. on November 25, 2013 (EST)
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Besides the odd rabbit lined bomber hat you never see anyone wearing fur in the back country.

Does anyone, maybe in extreme cold areas, wear fur in the back country?  I can't imagine anything warmer or more durable, heavy maybe but I'm curious.

1:41 p.m. on November 25, 2013 (EST)
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no fur. just down, fleece and goretex.

12:20 p.m. on November 26, 2013 (EST)
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The only fur garment I have worn in extreme conditions, is a fur hat with ear flaps and fur bill I traded a Mongolian athlete for at the Goodwill Games. It could be fisher or marten. It is way too warm for almost all conditions here in the NW.

1:02 p.m. on November 26, 2013 (EST)
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For many years I had an army surplus "Wildcat Parka" made of a synthetic fur but with a genuine coyote tail fur lining around the hood. It came into our family during my earliest skiing days when those parkas were very much the rage. The hem in front was all chewed up from having lift tickets stapled to it -- yes, it was THAT long ago. In my early telemarking days it was part of a granola-cruncher costume that also included wool knickers, red knee socks, an English wool cap, and a plaid scarf wrapped around the head to keep the ears warm. One snow day I was skiing the powder under a lift, using straight cross-country skis and low-cut shoes (that was all I had) and took a full-body roll. As I got up and dusted myself off I heard a voice from above: "Are you all roit, vicah?"

I never used it in the backcountry, and eventually the zipper died and the coyote tail rotted away. I also seem to recall skiing in a full-length raccoon coat from time to time.

2:09 p.m. on November 26, 2013 (EST)
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a friend gave me a fur hat when she returned from a trip to Russia a long time ago.  typical bomber hat with big flaps.  it was very warm and quite heavy.  I never wore it except when i was with her - made me look like a yeti.  i lost it somewhere along the way.

i could see making a palatable alternative, outer windproof shell backed with the curly reverse fleece Patagonia uses in its inside/out retro fleece jacket.  but fur wouldn't be my choice.   

9:49 a.m. on November 28, 2013 (EST)
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A long, thick, fur coat, like the raccoon and beaver coats used for motoring ca. 1915, makes sense if you live in a city like Winnipeg. Instead of layering, you have all your body - neck to toe - covered in one piece -- easy to slip on and off. However, outside the city it makes no sense as such a coat is heavy, doesn't vent well, and impedes free movement.

I've worn a shearling vest under a jacket and it was excellent for wicking moisture away while maintaining warmth. I don't know who sells these now.

3:26 a.m. on November 29, 2013 (EST)
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Canadians wear fur ruffs, often wolf or coyote on winter parkas. I have one of the rabbit fur Russian style hats I got more out of curiosity than any real need. Haven't tested it in really cold weather but from what I read, they work well. Mine was cheap so it's not that well made; I've seen others made from other kinds of fur online. For most uses, I think fleece works as well or better like a fleece beanie or balaclava. Really cold weather, the fur hat may be the ticket.

12:47 a.m. on November 30, 2013 (EST)
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Though I don't endorse wearing fur, especially for urban environments, there are huge differences in fur types. This includes where and when the animal was taken, and how the fur was treated. Some fur, such as caribou, is quite unique and has not been duplicated synthetically. Essentially waterproof, each hair is hollow, and the pocket within helps the fur to not become waterlogged. Some of nature's best products(eider down) have not been bettered synthetically.

10:07 a.m. on November 30, 2013 (EST)
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I think wearing furs in bitter cold cities makes sense. We have plenty of fur bearers that are harvested and their furs are not used. Coyote, beaver, and raccoon are nuisance harvests. Each of these has (potentially) good fur. The smaller invasives such as nutria, feral cat, and feral dog sometimes would have useful fur, but ofttimes it would not provide much insulation. 

The list of furs that we harvest every year is quite impressive. Just check the listing available here - http://www.glacierwear.com/furs-pelts-leather.html?gclid=CPaCu-jjjLsCFfPm7AodQTEA_w

12:01 p.m. on November 30, 2013 (EST)
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The picture to the left is of me in a home made caribou hide parka with arctic fox trim around the hood. I made it myself a long time ago. Only the guard hairs have hollow chambers which add to the warmth. Unfortunately, the hair of the caribou is also very brittle and breaks easily under moderate use in the field. Traditionally, people who depended on caribou for their clothing would have to replace it every couple of years as it also sheds horribly. It is fairly warm, but does not breathe at all by modern standards. Obviously, I no longer have it; I returned it to the land outside Wales, Alaska.

Although, few people in the Arctic would ever consider backpacking as a source of fun, they do tend to wear furs quite a bit, but seldom all out fur clothing; just mitts and hats. I have a beaver hat and my wife has beaver mitts. They are both fairly warm, but again the hat does not breathe well and I normally wear a wool toque, which is I guess, the "fur" of sheep. I also prefer the light weight, compressibility of goose down over fur any day.

Erich, Borglite pile is hollow core, similar to caribou fur, and far cheaper. 

Whether or not fur is actually "warmer" than wool or modern synthetics is moot, but it should be weighed against breathability, weight and compressibility. 

12:34 p.m. on November 30, 2013 (EST)
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North, thanks for reference to Borglite. How is the durability? I had hoped you would chime in, as I thought that you would have the most experience of any of us with fur. I've got a pair of sealskin mitts, but can't say they are very practical. They look nice, though. Wool and down are by far my main choices for cold weather. I always wear a breathable synthetic as a base layer. Unless you are interested in re-enacting, stick to the woven natural or synthetic materials, for breathability, durability, and cost.

6:29 p.m. on December 1, 2013 (EST)
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If I remember correctly, Borglite pile was made from Holofil fibre insulation modified into a pile fabric. It was tan in colour and looked like you were wearing carpeting, but it insulated fantastically, breathed wonderfully, and pilled terribly; in other words it was quite utilitarian. My only experience with Borglite was in a lightweight jacket made by Taiga Works in Canada. As for durability, it seemed to outlast the current bunting, fleece, Polar-what-have-you by a mile. I have always preferred pile to fleece and regret ever losing mine around 20 years ago. Not that it would fit anymore.

As for the fur issue, it may be warm in a Neolithic sort of way and I guess if that is all you have then go ahead and use it. But there is more than just the matter of warmth when it comes to outdoor clothing especially for backpacking.

12:50 p.m. on December 4, 2013 (EST)
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Sometimes wear fur coat when sitting in a groundstand. As active wear it is rather heavy and not very breathable. I do however wear a completely fur hat. It is bomber style but made of fox fur from Kashmir. Bought it in the early 1980s in India. When I went back more recently I could not buy another one anywhere. The sale of wild fur wear has now been banned in India. I have tried to find a completely fur bomber hat here in Canada but with no success at any price. They including the Mad Bomber company don't seem to make them. They are all fur trim but the skull part is inevitably quited with some non fur material which is not nearly as warm as a completely fur bomber hat. If anyone knows where you can buy a completely fur bomber hat please let me know.

11:19 a.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
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Ross, they are not the "bomber"style(which was originally sheepskin with the fleece lining) but many small trading posts in Northern Canada have fur hats. I saw several in Teslin, YT in September and I'll bet they are still there. The price was about $250 as I recall, and they were beaver. The money would go to the Teslin FN. Contact the Nisutlin Trading Post.

http://nisutlintradingpost.ca/pages/store.html

3:07 p.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
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Many thanks Erich. I will check it out. The "bomber" style is what I am looking for. I found it in India and have seen it on TV being worn in Siberia. That style is prevalent in so many countries for a reason. It keeps you warm in the worst weather. Anything that does not fully cover the ears is useless in really cold weather, and the head needs to be fully covered because it is a major source of heat loss. Thanks for the tip. I guess I need to be looking closer to home.

11:11 a.m. on December 6, 2013 (EST)
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Ross, sometimes I refer to these as "musher" hats. Rather than the round top of the WW2 AAF hats, which have a very wide chin strap, the "musher" style that is made in China, Russia, and Far North, like my Mongolian one, have ear flaps and a simple string to tie the flaps down, and bill that can be brought over the forehead and are pill box shape. Mine is much too hot to wear with everything pulled down. I would still check out the trading posts in the North.

1:44 p.m. on December 6, 2013 (EST)
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Check out Winnipeg Outfitters; they have an on line store and will ship to the US.

1:46 a.m. on December 7, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks for the site North1. I see Winnipeg Outfitters has several varieties.

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