The Importance Of Keeping Your Head Warm
When you were a child, in the winter your parents probably never let you leave the house without a hat on. You'd likely think, "Why? I have hair for that!" But they were onto something. When your head is the slightest bit cold, the rest of your body will feel it. While the old adage that you lose 70 percent of your body heat through your head isn't actually true, you can still lose a lot of heat through that noggin of yours. After all, in most individuals, the head makes up about 10 percent of their body. That's a large percentage of your body to leave exposed to the elements. A hat won't keep you warm if you're totally nude, but it's still a very important addition to your winter wardrobe.
There are two main ways that your entire body can lose heat: conduction and convection. The former pertains to one solid matter interacting with another, and the latter pertains to gases interacting with solid matter. In terms of keeping your head warm, you mostly need to worry about convection. You probably don't put your head on cold objects, but your head does interact with cold gases all day long if it is exposed. Because hot always travels to cold, if the air your head interacts with is colder than your head, then the heat from your head will leave it and travel towards that air. Wearing a hat traps that heat against your head, and keeps it from following its instincts of chasing after the cold air.
Keeping your ears warm is also very important. Don't forget that your ears have almost no fat on them to keep them warm. That's why they become cold to the touch almost instantly when you go outside in the winter. And beneath the cold skin of your ears lie the nerves in your ears. These are tremendously sensitive to temperature change, which is why you can often feel a pain inside of your ears when it's cold out. That's why wearing hats during the day and even sleeping in hooded blankets at night is especially important when it is cold.
What To Look For In A Good Winter Hat
When you were a child, you had to wear whatever winter hat your mom plopped on your head as you left the house. But now that you're an adult, you can tailor your hat choices to your style and needs. If you live in a very cold climate, the material type will be especially important for you. Some hats are reversible, with extra-warm polar fleece on one side, for those particularly biting days, and wool on the other. For less severe climates, you can look for a wool blend that may also combine acrylic and polyester.
If you need your hat for winter sports and plan on having cold winds whip against your face for hours, look for a hat with an attached windproof mask and ear flaps. If you combine that with some good goggles then your head and face will be completely warm. You may also want a hat that is water-resistant, because you never know when you'll be caught on the slopes during snowfall.
Some hats have a visor that you can clip up or keep down to keep some sun out of your eyes. These are a nice option if you wear your hat both indoors and outdoors. Wearing a hat can sometimes interfere with conversation, but some have ear holes you can uncover to better hear your friends. Speaking of which, if you do plan on wearing your hat for a full day, going from meals with friends to hiking to other activities, look for one that easily folds up, so you can stick it in your jacket pocket.
The History Of Signature Winter Hats
When you think of winter hats, you likely picture two main types: the beanie, and the ushanka (the Russian hat with fur-lined earflaps you've seen in movies). Each of these has its own unique origin story. But first, let's look at the history of hats as a whole. Hats have been used for several reasons throughout history, including warming purposes, fashion, to denote different rankings in the military, and even to show someone's social status. The first recorded incidences of hats come from around 3000 B.C.E., but historians believe they must have existed before then. In the Middle Ages, hats transitioned more from utilitarian items to symbols of social status. In fact, hats have a long and complicated involvement in society. The 19th century saw the emergence of hats mainly intended for fashion. They started with bonnets and evolved into the large, elaborately decorated hats you might see the ladies of Downton Abbey wearing.
The beanie has been around since the 12th or 13th century. The first beanie was called a Monmouth and was named after the town where it was created in Wales. The original versions were made out of taffeta, satin, or velvet, and some even featured embroidery. Sometime between the 15th and 18th centuries, beanie makers started using wool, particularly that from the beloved Ryeland sheep. The beanie is still a very popular accessory today, and designers regularly come out with new styles and types, such as the Bluetooth beanie.
The ushanka hat has appeared in images from as early as the 1600s, and people throughout Slovenia, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Germany, and other nearby countries have worn them for centuries. Many of these countries altered and improved upon the hat, particularly during wars throughout the area. Throughout the 1900s, Eastern European soldiers wore several versions of this hat, which is how it became a Soviet Union media icon. One photo of President Gerald Fold wearing a ushanka in 1974 caused quite a bit of tension in the U.S. Fortunately, since then, the hat has become de-stigmatized and is mostly a fashion item today used on especially cold winter days.