How do fur coats compare to cloth and fake fur for warmth?

How do fur coats compare to cloth and fake fur for warmth?

I guess the critial number would be like an R-index of insulation value per some unit. What units they might use I don’t know. Square foot? Weight of material?

Im having trouble finding a cite for it, but a couple years back I saw a (I think) discovery channel program where they were talking about a test the Canadian military was running on the various insulative properties of different materials.

If I remember right the clear winner was caribou for max. warmth compared to all others, including man made.

Carabou coat? Those are like elks. Wouldn’t that be as thick as horsehide? More leather than fur.

Be advised–wool is the only natural fibre that stays warm when wet.

I believe that beaver does as well. And if I had my choice on a cold winter night I 'd rather cozy up to a nice wet beaver than to soggy lamb. But that’s just me. :smiley:

First Hal Briston joke made risks the wrath of the mods…

[sub]just kidding - go ahead, make all the jokes you want, but when that starts, this goes to MPSIMS[/sub]

I think you’ll find that some furs have hairs that repel moisture so well that they work as well as or better than wool. I’m sure I’ve read of some – perhaps caribou – where some of the hairs are hollow, trapping air that realistically won’t be displaced by moisture.


From here: “The caribou has a very warm very soft fur that is hollow, insulated, and sheds water and snow.”

From here: “Caribou fur has hollow strands to help insulate them from the cold and keep them boyant while swimming across rivers.”

And as for the mighty beaver, the secert of its wet warmth is desribed here:

Unfortunitly, when you shave a beaver of its outer course hair, it loses this property. But it does become quite smooth. :cool: I will attempt to do further research on shaved beavers this weekend. :smiley:

How about a cite showing that-
A)The fur stays warm when wet, and
B)The fur retains these properties when removed from the caribou?

After all, if the caribou secretes a chemical that renders the fur waterproof, & ceases to do so when it dies, then the fur will not retainthese prpoerties when used as clothing.
But wool’s insulation properties are retained. That’s why peajackets & fo’castle coats are made of wool.

Umm, at the risk of getting off-topic, does this only apply to sheep wool, or also to that from goats, yak and so on? Or do these even count as wools? It would appear that Musk-Ox is used as a source of wool superior to sheep, according to this, but I’m not sure if they are being sloppy in their terminology.

In response to the OP, I believe fur can quite easily outperform fabric and synthetics, but it varies enormously depending on the type of pelt and whether the pelt has a winter or summer coat on it. Summer rabbit fur is much less warm than winter sheepskin, for instance.
For pure warmth my money would be on an arctic or mountain pelt with a winter coat. Something like Yak or Musk-Ox, or perhaps polar bear.
It wouldn’t surprise me if even furs were outperformed by a genuine eiderdown jacket though. That stuff is amazing.

Some real Inuit clothing

I really have to wonder about the long term durability of hollow haired fur used in clothing. If the hairs are hollow they might become quite fragile or brittle over time.

If you don’t mind a suggestion: Moving a thread with a serious question hurts the serious people. If you don’t want a joke, you have an erase key. That’s what they do with jokes on tech help sites. Just a suggestion.
As to all the eskimo and carabou data: Who cares? That’s NOT the question here today.
The question is NOT what’s the warmest fur, no matter how obscure.

The TRUE questio is really simple: Some people, like slaphead, simply say, outright “I believe fur can quite easily outperform fabric and synthetics”.
And I ask: “Are there any numbers to back that up? Or is it just an excuse to buy fur coats?”

There’s this: “Of course caribou skin was the only source of clothing that we could get when I was young. The textiles that were available to us were not good for winter wear.”

And this: “Possum fur is 7 percent warmer than wool.”

And (yikes!) this: “Dog fur is as nice as angora, and warmer than wool.”

And this: “Why do you think those Russian women wear those big fur hats when it’s 20 below zero? Because fur is incredibly warm, that’s why.”

And this: “The fur coat is warmer than any other coat I’ve ever owned–and believe me, I’ve owned many types of heavy winter coats.”

Google on “warmer than” fur wool and “fur is the warmest” for an interesting collection of sites. Fashion- and fur-related sites tout fur, but so do quite a few apparently unbiased sources. The sites that tout synthetics all seem to have an overt or covert animal-rights agenda.

What you didn’t get was that Rico himself was making a joke. :wink:

But yeah, you would think that some members would be coming up with data on high tech fabrics. Myself, I’m just a lover of Beaver and don’t care if anyone else likes it or not. That just means more Beaver for me! ;j

Down (goose down in particular IIRC) is often mentioned as the best warmth / weight ratio, at least when it is dry.

Actually the best may be a vacuum bottle, but mobility may suffer.


Well Thinsulate, the big 3M mega product, seems to promote that it is basicaly more durable and washable than wool, but not better. Cite:

Not better, but more durable. Any other man-made takers?

I’d still pick Beaver over it myself :smiley: , but perhaps I’m just a short term thinker.

In the" Sorry I don’t have a site" catagory

Two notes
Wolverine fur is used for parka trim because it does not allow ice crystals to form on the fur.

The American Indians used rabbit fur as a winter blanket.
They used it leather side out.

Well, I have a mink. And I’m very cold-blooded, in the sense that I put on my sweater when the temp drops below 75F. I will put on this mink when the temp drops below 0F, or if it’s 10F and windy, and I will be just toasty warm. Otherwise I will not wear it–it’s too hot!

From 50 to 20 degrees (F) I wear my leather coat, of course with more layers on the colder it gets. Somewhere around 20 I will put the zip-in down lining into my leather coat and that takes me down to zero F (except if I’m wearing some party thing and then, having not a lot of insulation, I need the fur). Below zero it has to be the fur. Although I need long gloves, because either my mother’s arms were shorter than mine, or else the style is supposed to be 3/4 sleeves.

As to the wearability. My father bought this coat for my mother in the '30s, long before I was born, when they lived in Chicago. At the time I was born they were living in southern California so I’m not really claiming the coat got a lot of wear, and when we moved to colder places, which we did, my mother still did not wear it very often. I spent 20 years living in Denver and nagging her that I needed a fur coat way more than she did, but I didn’t get it until she died in 2000.

I’ll say this, in California she kept it in some cold-storage fur place (why they would even need such a place in southern Calif. is beyond me) but once we moved it hung in the closet, behind the vacuum cleaner and the golf clubs, and not only did I used to get in there and nuzzle up to it as a kid, but so did my cat, in fact the cat would drag it off its hanger and sleep on it. For all that it’s in pretty good shape, a little wear on the sleeves, and I’ve had to sew parts of the lining in virtually every time I’ve worn it (which has been about four times). But what the heck, it’s 70 years old! Take that, Thinsulate!