Is there really a big difference between Beaver and Fur used in low end hats? Akubra?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by DUKE NUKEM, Feb 3, 2011.


    DUKE NUKEM One of the Regulars

    OR, WA and NV
    Is there really a big difference between a Custom $370.00 Beaver hat and this hat pictured below. It say its fur. What would the advantages of having a high end hat if I'm to where it outdoors? I having a hard time justifying the $370.00 for a beaver hat that I'll be wearing hunting in Africa.

    I have a Outback Rabbit Fur hat made in 1983. I have beat the crap out of it. I had refurbished recently just to for the heck of it. It looks like new but it was still functional.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011
  2. monbla256

    monbla256 Call Me a Cab

    DFW Metroplex, Texas
    Your Akubra will OUTLAST you even if you wore it daily 24/7 in Africa. It's probably one of if not the BEST production hats made today. And except for just one or two models, ALL of their hats are made from Rabbit Fur. I've worn an AKUBRA for over 30 years in every type of weather and will ALWAYS wear an AKUBRA. ( I have 5 of them now :) )

    Onward thru the ICE :)
    Jhoff_1979 likes this.
  3. facade

    facade A-List Customer

    Conklin, NY
    All depends on what you want the hat for. If you want a great looking hat that you want to last, then beaver is where its at. If you want an outdoor hat to beat to death, I'd go with something cheaper.

    Beaver fur is the gold standard for measuring a hat’s quality, the higher the percentage of beaver in a hat the better the hat quality. Beaver fur, felts tighter, which results in a dense, light weight, thin hat which holds its shape in the rain longer than a lesser quality hat. The more densely felted the hat is the better it resist rain penetrating into the felt. Even a 100% beaver fur hat will eventually loose its shape if left out in a pouring rain long enough. The goal is to construct a hat which will resist loosing shape in pouring rain long enough to get the hat wearer out of the rain, yet light enough that the wearer will scarily notice the weight, tough enough to withstand every day wear and abuse. Felted beaver fur has proven to meet this challenge the best. There is not an abundance of beaver fur which makes it a more expensive product for producing a hat body.

    Wool is also used to make hat felt. However wool felt is a very porous felt and does not shed water well. Wool is a very affordable material which results in inexpensive hat making material which work well when not exposed to rain. Wool felt looses it shape easier than beaver or rabbit.

    Rabbit fur can also be felted fairly tight and is more commonly available than beaver fur. Using rabbit fur for a hat body makes the hat more affordable and is soft to the touch. Rabbit fur does not felt as tightly (dense) as beaver fur, which makes thicker to obtain the needed stiffness for it to maintain its shape, it is also more susceptible to rain distortion than beaver but more resistant than wool. To construct an affordable hat body with good weather resistance properties felters experimented with combining beaver and rabbit fur to produce various blends of beaver-rabbit fur hat body. The blend combines the softness of rabbit but the stiffness of beaver. The beaver rabbit blend is thinner than the rabbit but thicker than the beaver. Eventually, hats were given an “X” rating to insinuate the quality of the hat. The difficulty in using the “X” quality to determine a hat’s quality is, there is no industry standard for an “X” value. The “X” can be what ever the manufacturer or the merchant choose to assign to the hat’s “X” value. The “X” rating was started by the merchant and later used by some fur manufacturers. The “X” rating was invented by the hat merchant to assist customers in determining hat qualities and to increase sales. Credible merchants would rate their poor hats without an “X” and up to as many “Xs” the merchant felt appropriate for the better quality hats or would best assist sales. It is believed in the beginning each “X” represented 10% beaver fur. A 10-X hat once represented 100% beaver fur was used to construct the hat body. However today some merchants have changed the scale again by listing their hats as 100-X or 1,000-X. The “X” rating only has value when it is known what the value of “X” represents for the amount of beaver fur used. Each manufacturer and merchant is free to label their hats with what ever “X” value they choose.
  4. danofarlington

    danofarlington My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Arlington, Virginia
    That is a good explanation. I have seen this in the beaver versus rabbit fur hats that I own. The beaver hats are thinner and harder, but look crisper, than rabbit fur. The latter is more luxurious and in vintage hats where they really laid it on thick (maybe modern Akubra does also, I don't know, don't own one) they are very soft. Both make nice hats, and both can be very expensive. Beaver looks crisper though. One analogy might be "calf skin shoes" versus "shell cordovan" (the shiny horsehide shoes) which are more expensive.
  5. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

    Isle of Langerhan, NY
    In reference to facade's excellent post, the best thing to do when shopping for a hat with X's on it is to be able to ascertain what the beaver/fur blend is percentage-wise, all other things being equal (which theyre usually not). The current all-over-the-place X system is ridiculous.
  6. warbird

    warbird One Too Many

    Northern Virginia
    I would agree with the above posts, with the caveat that most of it pertains to dress weight hats. Western weight beaver hats are about as thick as western weight rabbit or beaver blend hats.

    Personally, if it was me I would either stick to western weight beaver or rabbit Akubras for safaris and long exposure to the weather. I had for many years a Snowy River which was put through terrible conditions and came through with flying colors every time. They are made for similar conditions as much of the lower continent of Africa. My Fed has likewise survived desserts, jungles, arctic conditions and is little the worse for wear.

    I find my Akubras to be slightly cooler than my beaver western weight hats. Dress weight hats are meant to survive rain showers until you get inside. I have found they will saturate and give in faster than their counterparts when put through the serious all day weather beatings. You will find many Akubras in Africa. The territory is a fine hat for such a place. It isn't as heavy as a full western weight hat, but is heavier than say the campdraft. It also has vent holes, which slightly make it cooler. Only slightly. I personally prefer the slightly narrower brim of the snowy river. But that is personal taste.

    On a side note I picked up another Snowy River on the bay this week, that a fellow had siting around not wearing. Got it for a good deal. I think my Fed made my last trip to the dark continent. Who knows what I will take next time. I am assuming you will be going to southern or southeastern Africa? Where you are and the time of year can make a big difference in the absolute best choices. For instance in South Africa or southwestern Africa I would likely stick to as wide a brim as possible, if hunting for plains game. IF hunting for dangerous game such as cape buff, in Zimbabwe or Mozambique,you will be in dense brush and semi-jungle conditions and would likely want a narrower brim to easily make your way through it all. Either way it will be hot. Time of year will determine the likelihood of rain.

    And don't forget your feet. Hat is very important. So are your boots. Unless you are headed for mountainous conditions I recommend Russell Moccasin PH Safari II boots and some gaiters. They worked well for me.

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