Trapper hats were designed as hunting headwear for those stalwart souls who tamed the American frontier. Winters were harsh in many parts of the frontier, and keeping one’s head warm was critical to surviving to see another spring. Originally made of leather or fur and lined with fur, at the time they were seen more as a necessity than a fashion statement. Now, however, the trapper hat is popular with fashion-conscious individuals from teens to septuagenarians. And while not worn for hunting as much anymore, the hat is still very popular for skiing and other cold-weather outdoor sports. To make a good selection when shopping for a trapper hat, consider three important factors—exterior material, interior material and color.
Trapper hats are made with a wide variety of exterior materials, and all have their positive and negative attributes. Of course, the original trapper hat exteriors were made of fur and leather, and both materials are still available today, along with faux fur. Wool is another popular exterior material, as is cotton plaid (the plaid trapper hat is nearly synonymous with Elmer Fudd of the old Bugs Bunny cartoons). In cold, wet weather, a synthetic exterior made of polyester or other material that keeps water out is usually the best bet. Matching the exterior material to the weather conditions at hand will nearly always help you make the best selection.
The original trapper hats—actually worn by trappers and hunters—had real fur interiors, and for a very good reason. At the time, fur was the warmest and most available insulating material on the American frontier. Hats with fur interiors are still available and popular, but interiors of manmade materials are equally if not more popular. Trapper hat interior materials range from wool to cotton to faux fur to synthetic. All have ups and downs related to comfort and warmth. Some trapper hats even feature polyester blend materials on the interior for wicking sweat away from the head to keep you warmer in very cold weather.
Color, while largely a personal matter, is an important consideration. Bright, primary colors are typically considered more casual and favored for leisure activities like skiing and snowboarding. Red plaid is a perennial favorite worn both casually and for outdoor work. Earth tones are very popular colors for trapper hats, with browns, greens and grays available. The ubiquitous black trapper hat is seen as stylish and classy, and can be worn well with a full-length coat in cold-weather situations where more formal attire is needed. For hunters, trapper hats also come in camouflage and hunter orange.