Fur- and faux fur-trimmed hoods aren’t just an excuse for brands to tack a little extra onto the price tag of your winter parka. Upon closer examination of the hang tag on a Canada Goose parka one of our editors recently acquired, we found this claim: “Fur trim around the hood works to disrupt airflow and create turbulent (warm air), which protects the face from frostbite.”
Naturally, we dug a bit further and found research explaining how fur ruffs are superior to fur-less hoods—and the best style for optimal warmth.
In northern Siberia, natives wore reindeer skin parkas—layers of them, according to research published in Climate Research, with a hood attached to the outermost parka. The hoods were trimmed with the fur from wolverines, wolves, or Arctic fox tails, similar to the anoraks worn by Western Canadian Inuits.
In the study, researchers calculated what type of hood deflects cold and transfers heat most effectively in a subsonic wind tunnel. Researchers tested coats with no hood, a fabric hood, a military hood (a fur ruff with short hairs of the same length), and a sunburst hood (a full-circle ruff with hairs of varying lengths and thicknesses).
After dummies were blasted with cold air, researchers concluded the optimal design was a sunburst ruff that wraps entirely around the hood. To prevent frostbite, you want the least amount of heat transfer because it’s being drawn from your head, and the large diameter and disparate hair lengths of a full ruff interfere with gusts of wind, creating a calm environment around your face. What’s more, even though the ruff is situated behind your cheekbones, this positioning reduces the amount of frost that gets built up around the hood (which sucks the heat away from your face).
You might not find yourself in a subsonic wind tunnel anytime soon, but depending on what part of the world you call him, you might face the next closest thing: gale force winds and bone-numbing temperatures this winter. Invest in a parka that has a substantial fur or faux fur ruff (remember: sunburst is best) that’ll preserve your visibility and keep you from freezing your tail off. Here are three of our favorites of winter 2018.