Tall fur military hat
A bearskin is a tall fur cap worn as part of a ceremonial military uniform. Traditionally, the bearskin was the headgear of grenadiers, and is still worn by grenadier and guards regiments in various armies.
Following the Battle of Waterloo and the action in which they gained their name, the Grenadier Guards were permitted to wear the bearskin. This tradition was later extended to the other two regiments of Guards. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and officers of Fusilier regiments also wear the bearskin as part of their ceremonial uniform.
The standard bearskin of the British Foot Guards is 18 inches tall, weighs 1.5 pounds, and is made from the fur of the Canadian black bear. However, an officer’s bearskin is made from the fur of the Canadian brown bear as the female brown bear has thicker, fuller fur, and is dyed black. An entire skin is used for each hat.
The British Army purchase the hats, which are known as caps, from a British hatmaker which sources its pelts from an international auction. The hatmakers purchase between 50 and 100 black bear skins each year at a cost of about £650 each. If properly maintained, the caps last for decades; some caps in use are reportedly more than 100 years old.
Famous Bearskin wearers
- Grenadier Guards
- Royal Scots Dragoon Guards