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Do Parkas Have Hoods?

Woman in a black parka jacket in a snowfield.

Yes, parkas have hoods. If they didn’t, they’d just be jackets. The differences between plain winter jackets and parkas are many, and they have the science to back them up. Living in the South all my life, I’ve never had the occasion to wear a parka.

If my coats and jackets had fur trim, it was about fashion instead of warmth. Warmth is what it’s all about. The science of heat retention and airflow is carefully built into parkas.

Along with explaining that, we’ll tell you about prehistoric man. He invented parkas in the late Ice Age.

What Are Parkas?

Parkas are coats that come past the hips to the thighs or knees. They’re loose-fitting and well insulated, having been modeled on military wear. The hood is lined with fur or faux fur.

Those lined with real fur generally use wolverine fur due to its airflow properties against the face. The softshell of the jacket is usually nylon and usually waterproof. Living in areas with wet snow and cold temperatures in the single to double digits, wearing anything else just invites pneumonia.

Choose a parka that is waterproof and with a detachable hood for the best results.

Man in orange parka jacket.

Do Parkas Have Hoods?

Yes, parkas have hoods. It’s a scientific fact that heat escapes through the head. Wearing knitted hats and hoods on our coats mitigates that.

To stop it entirely, wear a parka with a fur-lined hood. Here’s why.

YXP Women's Winter Thicken Military Parka Jacket Warm Fleece Cotton Coat with Fur Hood (Black,XL)

What Does A Fur-Lined Hood On A Parka Do?

Studies have been conducted detailing what kind of hood cancels out cold while effectively transferring heat in a wind tunnel. Coats in the study were tested that had no hood, had a fabric or textile hood, a hood with a fur ruff with hairs of equal length, and a hood with a fur ruff of hairs of various thickness and lengths. In the study, test dummies were zapped with cold air.

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When someone unprepared for the cold gets frostbite, heat transfer from the head is greater along with having little or no protection around the face. Researchers in the study found that hoods lined with fur of varying lengths and thickness protected the face the best.

Why?

Here’s where we get into the science of warmth. It’s about two things: heat transfer and blowing wind.

Heat Transfer

Heat will do anything in its power to get to the cold. You’ll see this in houses with weak window seals when the A/C is on. You’ll also see this principle in action on a hot day when you’re eating an ice cream cone.

Heat moves towards the nearest cold thing. Now, let’s apply that to a cold winter day as you’re wearing a parka. The cold will aim straight for your head because it’s warm.

Body heat escapes through the head, which is aiming, too, for the cold. It’s an irresistible attraction, and nothing will help but protect the heat source from the cold through insulation.

Air Flow

When air rubs up against something, it creates friction. Air closest to the surface of the planet produces more friction due to the plethora of things to rub up against. The layer where friction is greatest is called the boundary layer.

This directly affects the fur-lined hood of a parka. The cold wind is trying with might and main to get to the heat of the head in the parka. However, the friction has nowhere to go due to the insulation provided by the differing lengths and thickness of the hair lining the parka hood.

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Where Does Prehistoric Man Enter The Picture?

Animal skins and fur have embraced mankind since the Ice Ages. Early Siberian men used caribou skins lined with wolverine fur as protection against the cold. Only early Northern mankind used pine needles as a means of fashioning clothing and coats.

He invented the parka with a fur-lined hood. Early Neanderthal men didn’t have access to these furs or animal skins. He used the animal furs to which he had access as cape-like garments.

Exposure to the cold over time causes frostbite and, in the end, death. A neanderthal man died of the cold. Fast forward to Russian and Alaskan native peoples who made parkas of sealskin and caribou.

The word “parka” means animal skin in these languages. Hunting and fishing in these climes require the robust protection provided by parkas. Fun Fact: Some parkas have a “fishtail,” an appendage intended to wrap around the legs to seal off the body from the cold wind.

Of What Materials Are Parkas Made?

A young woman model of Faux fur parka.

Today’s parkas are made of nylon, polyester, cotton blends, or wool. They’re inundated with a water-proofing solution. The United States Army got into the act in WWII with long, hooded, cotton parkas that were windproof.

Later Army versions were shorter with detachable hoods, adjusting cuffs, snap fronts, and they were quilted nylon-filled. Now it’s the 1960s. Ski aficionados adopted the parka for protection while zipping down a ski slope. The coat was made of corduroy with leather trim and quilting and came in all patterns and colors.

Some skiers preferred the shorter jacket for better maneuverability, while others wanted the protection of the long coat. How the parka entered modern fashion is due to men who rode their scooters to work. Their original parkas of Army design protected them and their expensive suits against the winds of winter.

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Today, the parka can be matched to all fashion areas and worn with all types of clothing.

Do You Know Why Swimmers Wear Parkas?

Have you ever watched Olympic swimming events and wondered why the swimmers wore parkas before they meet? Here, too, is science backing up the, to us, odd habit. It’s about warmth. When you work out, you stretch your muscles before strength training.

Unstretched muscles cramp, which is counter-productive. Thus it is with swimmers. Parkas keep the body warm. If it isn’t warm, range of motion suffers, flexibility is non-existent, and drag is increased. All of this is a swimmer’s nightmare.

Olympic swimmers are under extreme pressure to perform well. Wearing parkas,  especially long ones helps mitigate the pressure by keeping the body warm. It fosters loose muscles, which lead to clean strokes, faster times, and smooth glides.

At What Times Of The Year Are Parkas Appropriate?

The extreme northern reaches of certain continents are cold, if not year-round, then close to it. Canada, for example, apart from its Arctic regions, has some cities enduring snow year-round with temperatures in the minuses. Norway, Chile, and New Zealand also offer visitors some of the coldest weather on the various continents.

You would think that Greenland and Iceland would be on this list of the coldest places on the planet. They would be had they been independent countries. Iceland is, but Greenland is still administered by Denmark.

However, you can bet citizens of both wear their parkas year-round.