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Open Access Publications from the University of California

How Warm Were They? Thermal Properties of Rabbit Skin Robes and Blankets


Rabbit skin robes and blankets have both considerable time depth and a wide geographic distribution throughout western North American. Primary and secondary accounts of rabbit skin robes and blankets suggest that these items are very warm. But compared to modern materials, how warm could rabbit skin robes actually have been? To determine a standardized intrinsic warmth value of rabbit skin robes we perform two tests. In the first we compare the relative temperature loss between a rabbit skin robe reproduction and four modern articles of clothing and bedding. In the second we establish the thermal conductivity (k-value)for the rabbit skin robe reproduction, which allows us to make a standardized comparison between the rabbit skin and other materials. We find that the rabbit skin robes outperform most modem materials in basic heat retention but that this may be offset by benefits in modem items such as weight and versatility.

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