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Nutria Vs Beaver for Western hat

El Argentino

New in Town
Messages
4
Hi, I'm currently in the talks with a member on here about creating a fully western rugged hat. My only question is whether or not to go with 100% beaver, offered by the millinery warehouse in 210g western weight, or 100% coypu (nutria) offered by sunrise hat supplies in 220g western weight.
 

johnnycanuck

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,916
Location
Alberta
That’s a great question. As both are water animals so the felt should be very water resistant with both I know a good quality beaver should last you a lifetime but I have heard nothing about the lifespan nutria hat. I know hat company's started offering them as an option that seemed to fit between rabbit and beaver. I would like to know the answer as well. I will Haveto start watching this thread.
Thanks for the question
Johnny
 
Messages
16,305
Location
Central California
Hi, I'm currently in the talks with a member on here about creating a fully western rugged hat. My only question is whether or not to go with 100% beaver, offered by the millinery warehouse in 210g western weight, or 100% coypu (nutria) offered by sunrise hat supplies in 220g western weight.


It’s not just the type of fur, it’s also how it’s felted and prepared. Do you want a firm finish? Do you want a softer more vintage-like hat? The western nutria felts that Sunrise is providing are hit and miss as to the amount of stiffeners in them. You don’t know if you’re going to get a soft hat body or a very firm hat body when you place an order. The Millinery Warehouse beaver felts are a new offering and I don’t know what to expect from those felts. The common 100% beaver western felt offered by Winchester is very firm/stiff stuff. It seems that most of the current western hat wearing market prefer hard felt full of stiffeners. This is not like the western felt from 70+ years ago that many of us here prefer. I like both the firm and the soft/moldable felts: you have a possibility of getting the moldable felt from Sunrise nutria, but the Millinery Warehouse felt is a mystery. I think the felting process will have more to do with how your hat turns out and how durable it is than the difference between beaver and nutria. Neither of the felts your looking at have been around long enough for anyone to do more than speculate of how durable they will be. I can say that my absolute favorite western weight felt hats have been made with Sunrise’s nutria.

If you are just interested in the furs’ longevity, both beaver and nutria western hats have been made for over 100 years and both have hats that are still going strong after that time. If it’s prepared and felted properly and if it’s cared for after it’s made, both fur types should last indefinitely…at least a couple lifetimes.
 

ILB Frank

One of the Regulars
Messages
137
Would the nutria cost less than beaver? Is the hat for 'show' or 'go?' I really considered going with nutria but these two factors (combined) led me to go with beaver. The nutria felt was the same cost as the beaver and in what little information I could find out in the wild web suggested that beaver felt was slightly more hardy than nutria. I am not a ranch hand or farm boy but I can sweat in an ice storm and I'll be wearing this hat for everything short of hiking in the woods (boonie hat) and working in tight spaces (bucket hat).

However, if I should get another hat, I will likely give nutria a go.
 
Messages
16,305
Location
Central California
I don’t think there is a definitive answer to your question. They both make great hats. My concern is with Millinery Warehouse. Not all felt is the same even if it’s made of the same type of fur. It might be fine, but it’s an unknown. I’m looking forward to reading your review of the hat.
 
Messages
16,305
Location
Central California
I can’t imagine beaver being anymore durable than my firm felt nutria westerns. It’s a great felt…I just bought three more of them for custom hats. Nothing wrong with beaver, but I’m loving my experiences with Sunrise’s nutria.
 

ILB Frank

One of the Regulars
Messages
137
I can’t imagine beaver being anymore durable than my firm felt nutria westerns. It’s a great felt…I just bought three more of them for custom hats. Nothing wrong with beaver, but I’m loving my experiences with Sunrise’s nutria.

I don't remember where I read about beaver being more durable (it wasn't on FL) but it slanted my decision. I'm committed to the beaver for this hat (I don't regret that). Since then you have posted up some pretty good intel on Sunrise felts. So the OP should really consider that... and probably just pull the trigger on the nutria.

As I said before... next hat...
 

El Argentino

New in Town
Messages
4
I got this from another forum, someone posted an email from their felter.

"We use Nutria fur on a regular basis to mix with Beaver fur and do a quality we call CN (CastorNutria) on a 50/50 % blend.

Nutria fur is the almost similar to Beaver, but Beaver is still much better. Price of Nutria fur is a little bit over half the price of Beaver.

Nutria is a very dark brown fur, darker than beaver, and so it is not suitable for medium density colours.

We tried muskrat several times but the quality/price is not favourable. Fur is not as good as rabbit and is by far more expansive so it’s not a good option.

I believe the above information helps your search.

Excuse me for this fast mail but I’m in a hurry!"
 

El Argentino

New in Town
Messages
4
It’s not just the type of fur, it’s also how it’s felted and prepared. Do you want a firm finish? Do you want a softer more vintage-like hat? The western nutria felts that Sunrise is providing are hit and miss as to the amount of stiffeners in them. You don’t know if you’re going to get a soft hat body or a very firm hat body when you place an order. The Millinery Warehouse beaver felts are a new offering and I don’t know what to expect from those felts. The common 100% beaver western felt offered by Winchester is very firm/stiff stuff. It seems that most of the current western hat wearing market prefer hard felt full of stiffeners. This is not like the western felt from 70+ years ago that many of us here prefer. I like both the firm and the soft/moldable felts: you have a possibility of getting the moldable felt from Sunrise nutria, but the Millinery Warehouse felt is a mystery. I think the felting process will have more to do with how your hat turns out and how durable it is than the difference between beaver and nutria. Neither of the felts your looking at have been around long enough for anyone to do more than speculate of how durable they will be. I can say that my absolute favorite western weight felt hats have been made with Sunrise’s nutria.

If you are just interested in the furs’ longevity, both beaver and nutria western hats have been made for over 100 years and both have hats that are still going strong after that time. If it’s prepared and felted properly and if it’s cared for after it’s made, both fur types should last indefinitely…at least a couple lifetimes.

I also forgot to mention, I'm looking for a very stiff hard hat. The finish doesn't really matter, I'm not that picky as it's my first real hat.
 

ILB Frank

One of the Regulars
Messages
137
I got this from another forum, someone posted an email from their felter.

"We use Nutria fur on a regular basis to mix with Beaver fur and do a quality we call CN (CastorNutria) on a 50/50 % blend.

Nutria fur is the almost similar to Beaver, but Beaver is still much better. Price of Nutria fur is a little bit over half the price of Beaver.

Nutria is a very dark brown fur, darker than beaver, and so it is not suitable for medium density colours.

We tried muskrat several times but the quality/price is not favourable. Fur is not as good as rabbit and is by far more expansive so it’s not a good option.

I believe the above information helps your search.

Excuse me for this fast mail but I’m in a hurry!"

THIS is the post I read that lead me to go with beaver. After reading more about Sunrise nutria on this forum, I am less convinced of this opinion about beaver vs nutria.

Your other comment about looking for a stiff hat - To each his own - but I don't think stiffer = better. If the hat will hold it's shape then it's "stiff enough."
 

El Argentino

New in Town
Messages
4
The Nutria and Beaver felt from the two companies are the same price. The Beaver is sourced from Ukraine but isn't due to arrive until christmas. I was wondering if beaver is better, and if so, is it better enough to justify 4 months of waiting?
 
Messages
16,305
Location
Central California
I got this from another forum, someone posted an email from their felter.

"We use Nutria fur on a regular basis to mix with Beaver fur and do a quality we call CN (CastorNutria) on a 50/50 % blend.

Nutria fur is the almost similar to Beaver, but Beaver is still much better. Price of Nutria fur is a little bit over half the price of Beaver.

Nutria is a very dark brown fur, darker than beaver, and so it is not suitable for medium density colours.

We tried muskrat several times but the quality/price is not favourable. Fur is not as good as rabbit and is by far more expansive so it’s not a good option.

I believe the above information helps your search.

Excuse me for this fast mail but I’m in a hurry!"


Well, one of the complaints of the Sunrise nutria felts is that they’re more expensive than beaver felt. It’s also absolutely untrue that nutria isn’t suitable for “medium density” colors. I have nutria felts in light tones, dark, bright colors, earth tones, etc. and the colors show great saturation and vibrancy. I don’t know where you got that information, but it hasn’t been my personal experience.

I think that Winchester’s beaver can be made into a thinner and more moldable dress hat/fedora, but I don’t see any advantage to beaver in western weight felts. There my be some advantage, but it’s not apparent. Equally, there may be some advantage to nutria.

Remember that hatters sell and promote felt they have access to and that they have experience with. Felt sources do the same. Very few are providing information about something where they don’t have some skin in the game.

Lastly, I sense that you may be over thinking this. Both furs make excellent felt. Both types of felt have made western hats that have lasted over 100 years and are still going strong! Even if there is a clear winner it’s doubtful that you’ll ever see the difference unless you plan on living 200 years. The biggest unknown to me is Millinery Warehouse beaver felts: just because it’s beaver doesn’t mean it’s as good as other beaver felt. It could be fine, but I don’t know if anyone who has personal experience with it.
 
Last edited:

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,716
Location
vancouver, canada
Well, one of the complaints of the Sunrise nutria felts is that they’re more expensive than beaver felt. It’s also absolutely untrue that nutria isn’t suitable for “medium density” colors. I have nutria felts in light tones, dark, bright colors, earth tones, etc. and the colors show great saturation and vibrancy. I don’t know where you got that information, but it hasn’t been my personal experience.

I think that Winchester’s beaver can be made into a thinner and more moldable dress hat/fedora, but I don’t see any advantage to beaver in western weight felts. There my be some advantage, but it’s not apparent. Equally, there may be some advantage to nutria.

Remember that hatters sell and promote felt they have access to and that they have experience with. Felt sources do the same. Very few are providing information about something where they don’t have some skin in the game.

Lastly, I sense that you may be over thinking this. Both furs make excellent felt. Both types of felt have made western hats that have lasted over 100 years are still going strong! Even if there is a clear winner it’s doubtful that you’ll ever see the difference unless you plan on living 200 years. The biggest unknown to me is Millinery Warehouse beaver felts: just because it’s beaver doesn’t mean it’s as good as other beaver felt. It could be fine, but I don’t know if anyone who has personal experience with it.
I have a Mill Whse 50/50 western weight blend that I when I get the time will make up as a test hat It has a really nice hand, thick, dense but plush. I like it more than the Sunrise Nutria western weight but need to work with it more to get a real 'feel' for it. I wish I had a 100% beaver felt of theirs with which to compare side by side. Compared to Winchester both Sunrise and MillWhse are both expensive but in a market with not a lot of choice the seller rules.
 

AbbaDatDeHat

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,008
Hi, I'm currently in the talks with a member on here about creating a fully western rugged hat. My only question is whether or not to go with 100% beaver, offered by the millinery warehouse in 210g western weight, or 100% coypu (nutria) offered by sunrise hat supplies in 220g western weight.
Beaver or Nutria...one or the other??
You’ll always wonder.
Obvious answer is one of each and you tell us what you think.
B
 
Messages
16,305
Location
Central California
I have a Mill Whse 50/50 western weight blend that I when I get the time will make up as a test hat It has a really nice hand, thick, dense but plush. I like it more than the Sunrise Nutria western weight but need to work with it more to get a real 'feel' for it. I wish I had a 100% beaver felt of theirs with which to compare side by side. Compared to Winchester both Sunrise and MillWhse are both expensive but in a market with not a lot of choice the seller rules.


I’m not a fan of the 50/50 felt Winchester uses for western felt. My two customs in it are stiff/hard/harsh and much thicker than I’d prefer. I have a 100% beaver (Winchester) in queue with Northwest. Mike thinks he’ll have to soak the felt in a solvent to get the excess stiffeners out. Yikes! I have a 100% beaver western from Montecristi in New Mexico that has the finest finish I’ve ever felt but the core of the felt is stiff way too stiff for me. I also have a 100% beaver (Winchester again) western in the works with Gannon but he thinks he can do his magic and get it to split the difference between his dress weight hats and the typical overly stiff western. Fingers crossed.

My nutria westerns Gannon made are more shapable and softer than 90% of fedoras being made today. I went with beaver on my current hat with him because we both wanted to see what’s possible with this felt. Just as an aside, Gannon also said that the dress weight nutria produced a nicer hand than Winchester’s beaver dress weight; however, he prefers beaver for the moldable qualities and the thinness of the felt for fedoras.
 

Robieman

A-List Customer
Messages
351
Location
Tennessee
I’m not a fan of the 50/50 felt Winchester uses for western felt. My two customs in it are stiff/hard/harsh and much thicker than I’d prefer. I have a 100% beaver (Winchester) in queue with Northwest. Mike thinks he’ll have to soak the felt in a solvent to get the excess stiffeners out. Yikes! I have a 100% beaver western from Montecristi in New Mexico that has the finest finish I’ve ever felt but the core of the felt is stiff way too stiff for me. I also have a 100% beaver (Winchester again) western in the works with Gannon but he thinks he can do his magic and get it to split the difference between his dress weight hats and the typical overly stiff western. Fingers crossed.

My nutria westerns Gannon made are more shapable and softer than 90% of fedoras being made today. I went with beaver on my current hat with him because we both wanted to see what’s possible with this felt. Just as an aside, Gannon also said that the dress weight nutria produced a nicer hand than Winchester’s beaver dress weight; however, he prefers beaver for the moldable qualities and the thinness of the felt for fedoras.

Hey Brent, I have a 50/50 Winchester and I really like it. It is stiff as you say, but I don’t think quite as stiff as the pure beavers I have. It shaped real easy too. I’d get another one. Maybe just difference in hatters.
I think you will be happy with the Winchester one you said Mr Gannon is doing for you. You may or may not recall, he did one for me late last year. It was the dark brown 100% Winchester. It was really soft and smooth. Maybe not quite as much as some of my older Stetsons, but for the Winchester, I was really impressed. I think you will be too.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,716
Location
vancouver, canada
Hey Brent, I have a 50/50 Winchester and I really like it. It is stiff as you say, but I don’t think quite as stiff as the pure beavers I have. It shaped real easy too. I’d get another one. Maybe just difference in hatters.
I think you will be happy with the Winchester one you said Mr Gannon is doing for you. You may or may not recall, he did one for me late last year. It was the dark brown 100% Winchester. It was really soft and smooth. Maybe not quite as much as some of my older Stetsons, but for the Winchester, I was really impressed. I think you will be too.
I have a Winchester 50/50 from Mike @NWHats. I love the hat, the felt has a real nice sheen to it. But it is very western stiff. I would be hard pressed to take it back to open crown and recrease it. Love the hat but it is def not easily reshaped.
 
Messages
16,305
Location
Central California
Hey Brent, I have a 50/50 Winchester and I really like it. It is stiff as you say, but I don’t think quite as stiff as the pure beavers I have. It shaped real easy too. I’d get another one. Maybe just difference in hatters.
I think you will be happy with the Winchester one you said Mr Gannon is doing for you. You may or may not recall, he did one for me late last year. It was the dark brown 100% Winchester. It was really soft and smooth. Maybe not quite as much as some of my older Stetsons, but for the Winchester, I was really impressed. I think you will be too.


Good to hear from you. I agree that the same felt can make very different hats in the hands of different hatters and with different objectives. I can’t wait to see what Gannon can do. Is your western Gannon malleable enough to take back to open crown and recrease without reblocking the hat?
 

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