Tracing the Wildly Weird Evolution of the Trapper Hat

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Randy Quaid, E G Marshall
Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock / Shutterstock


THE TRAPPER HAT originated in the 1600s, as a giant pelt beanie of sorts, and it was first worn by, yes, trappers. In the late 2000s, though, the glitterati inexplicably co-opted the functional winter cap. The headwear hit an all-time low in that regard earlier this year, when Prada released a $570 version (see below).

But fear not, because for every trapper-hat-clad hipster, there’s still some grizzled ice-fisherman or state trooper rocking one, too. Not that you have to be either to wear one like a champ.

Iconic Moments

1643

The painting Der November, by German artist Joachim von Sandrart, is thought to include the first depiction of the trapper hat in art.

1917

The leader of Siberia outfits soldiers with the headgear to stay warm during the Russian Civil War.

1927

Charles Lindbergh becomes the first solo pilot to cross the Atlantic—while wearing an aviator hat, which is basically just a fancy trapper hat.

1938

Elmer Fudd wears one while hunting—not trapping—wabbits.

1989

Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) crashes with the Griswolds in Christmas Vacation and forever associates his hat with the line “Shitter was full.”

Frances McDormand wearing a trapper hat in "Fargo"
Michael Tackett/Working Title/Polygram/Kobal / Shutterstock

1996

Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) investigates a roadside murder in Fargo.

2009

Glamour declares: “The Trapper Hat Is Back.” Jennifer Garner is spotted wearing one in NYC.

2015

The actor Jared Leto is seen wearing one and…a tank top?

Head Exam

A quick look at the evolution (or devolution?) of the trapper hat, from its all-fur origins to its new high-end iteration.

Ushanka trapper hat
2happy / Shutterstock

Ushanka

The O.G. Russian hats tend to be crown-shaped and made almost entirely of fur.

Northwoods trapper hat
EM Arts / Shutterstock

Northwoods

American variants often have a polyester exterior, extra ear flaps, and a faux-fur lining.

Prada cap, or "wool cap," from Prada
Courtesy Image

Prada

This high-fashion cap is made of synthetic polymer and has zero fur—real or faux.

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