Learn About the Russian Ushanka

When we discuss an army or a sizable number of soldiers, we must consider military operations. During military operations, they use a variety of weapons to safeguard themselves and attack their adversaries.

Of course, they must undergo extensive skill and physical training to be ready to face their enemies and protect themselves. They must not only be physically healthy and strong, but they must also develop skills and a strong mentality.

Aside from the weapons or other means utilized to their advantage during wars or conflicts, wearing good uniforms is another way they protect their bodies. A bulletproof vest, for example, can help to minimize the penetration of explosions into the body. This vest is worn around the waist.

The torso isn’t the only part of your body that requires protection. Yes, an explosion is extremely dangerous and has the potential to kill the army. But, as we learned from the Winter War between Soviet soldiers and the Finnish army, it wasn’t only their less-sophisticated weapons that caused the Soviets to fail, but also their uniforms.

It was winter when the war broke out, and their uniforms did not keep the army warm enough. During the Winter War, many people died.

As a result, the Red Army (the Soviet Armed Forces) had their uniforms redesigned after the war. The Finnish taught them to wear their winter uniforms with Ushanka, a fur hat with ear flaps. It was a replacement for Budenovkas, their previous woolen hat.

The Ushanka is so important to the Russians that it’s part of their military uniforms. There’s so much to discover about this Russian hat. Here’s everything you need to know about the Russian Ushanka.

What Is an Ushanka?

An ushanka is commonly referred to as a shapka by English speakers. Shapka is a “hat” in Russian, and the Ushanka is a man’s hat type made of fur or wool with earflaps worn in some of the world’s coldest climates.

It is best known as the hats sported by Soviet soldiers, but studies show that it was originally a Mongol design. Many believe the Russian troops incorporated the design during clashes with Mongolia during the Middle Ages.

The Ushanka is a circular and cylindrical hat worn above the ears, with the brim covering the head in front to around mid-forehead. In extremely cold weather, fold the hat’s earflaps and tie the hat under your chin. People who do not want to wear earflaps can easily tie them above the hat.

Any available fur, including bear, wolf, and fox, would have been used to make a Middle Ages hat. The typical Ushanka worn by police officers or Soviet Union armed forces was grey with a red star in the center.

The use of this hat predates the establishment of the Soviet Union, and military and police officers in Russia undoubtedly wore them prior. It would not have existed if the Communist Party had not adopted the red star as a symbol.

Certain traditions in modern Russia are tied to the Ushanka. Wearing earflaps down might be regarded as unmanly. However, earflaps can be very useful in cold weather or for work that involves being outside in the cold.

While collecting garbage, Russian sanitation workers frequently wear their earflaps down. Women can also wear the modern Ushanka because it’s a useful hat in cold weather.

The Origins of the Hat

Fur hats were made and worn for centuries in cold climates. However, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that strings were introduced to the earflaps of the hats that were said to have come to Russia from Scandinavia.

The hat became popular among young and rebellious people in the early 1900s, particularly in St Petersburg. However, the designation as a “Russian Cap” dates back to World War II.

Thousands of Russians died of cold during the Winter War with Finland (1939), so the Red Army launched a new winter uniform that included an ushanka, replacing its predecessor, the budyonovka. Since 1940, the Ushanka has been the official winter hat of the Soviet Union’s army and the militsiya (police). Because of the warm earpieces, they also became a prominent winter item for children.

The Parts and How to Wear It

Ushanka is derived from the Russian word “ushi,” which means “ears.” As the name suggests, the Ushanka has two ear flaps on each side of the head.

This hat comprises three parts: the two ear flaps, the round crown, and the visor. The ear flaps have strings on both sides. These strings allow the Ushanka to be worn in three different ways.

The first method is to tie the strings beneath your chin, and you can protect and cover your jaw, ears, and lower chin this way. The second method is to tie the strings around your head.

The third method involves tying the strings behind the head. This style is known as the “ski-style.” This is the best style of Ushanka to wear when skiing, as it provides excellent visibility while protecting your head from sharp objects.

You can select one of those three choices based on your needs.

As previously stated, Ushanka is very popular in the Russian army. Nowadays, the hat is worn not only during the winter but also in their daily activities.

The army wears it in the various ways described above. However, they are unable to decide how to wear it. The only individual with authority to make this judgment is the unit commander.

The Materials

Ushanka’s primary material is animal skin or fur (check out these unique facts about fur!). The most commonly used materials are sheepskin or muskrat or rabbit fur.

There are now many Ushankas made of “fish fur” or faux fur.  Although it is not genuine fur, it is claimed that the material offers the same warmth as genuine fur, does not look fake, and even has the same feel. Manufacturers typically use a combination of acrylic polymers and other polymers to achieve similar effects and benefits.

If you purchase the fake Ushanka, you will receive additional benefits. It is easier to wash and dry and lasts longer (due to the synthetic material).

All you have to know about the Russian Ushanka, particularly the faux version, is that you can achieve a more fashionable look without worrying about upkeep. It’s also a guilt-free item for animal lovers because no animals were harmed or killed during manufacturing.