Fur hats on shopping list for Alaska Department of Public Safety

By: Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon

Fairbanks-based Alaska state troopers visiting the Interior village of Allakaket in December 2023 pose for a photo while wearing fur hats. Such hats are provided by the state to help troopers work in cold conditions. The Department of Public Safety is now seeking to replenish its supply of fur hats to be used by troopers. (Photo provided by the Alaska State Troopers)

The Alaska Department of Public Safety is shopping for some distinctly Northern items of clothing: a collection of fur hats.

The intent to buy the hats, expressed in a state public notice seeking proposals, is not about making a fashion statement. Rather, it is about properly equipping public-safety employees who work in the cold Alaska environment, said Austin McDaniel, a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers.

The state has for decades supplied such fur trapper-style hats as part of the regular trooper uniform, McDaniel said.

“While some Troopers have local artisans from their region make their authorized fur hats at a personal expense, we also issue Troopers this uniquely Alaskan headgear to all Troopers as part of their standard issued uniform,” he said by email. “Troopers are exposed to some of the harshest environments on the planet as they patrol remote regions of the state to ensure public safety and enforce fishing and hunting regulations, and this is one of the pieces of outerwear that keeps Troopers warm.”Just as troopers in Southeast Alaska might be decked out in rain gear and fishing-style rubber boots to work in that wet environment, troopers working in Interior and Western Alaska can be seen wearing parkas and fur hats of the type that the department is seeking to buy, McDaniel said.

The notice seeking bids does not specify the quantity of fur hats to be supplied, but the department anticipates buying about 50 a year to equip new troopers and to replace damaged hats that are no longer serviceable, he said.

There are some specifications for the qualities of the hats that the department wants to buy, however.

According to the request for proposals, the hats must be made with either otter or beaver fur, have fur lining around the trim, have leather straps, be unisex, be waterproof and windproof and be good to temperatures down to minus-40 degrees Celsius – which is also minus-40 Fahrenheit – among other qualities. In general, hats must be functional in extreme cold while being consistent in appearance with the hats that are already used in troopers’ uniforms, the request states.

Proposals from would-be suppliers are due on Jan. 12, according to the notice. Sample hats provided by bidders may be subject to a 15-day wear test, according to the request for proposals.