Yak Fiber is the hair that is collected from yak when they shed their winter coats in the spring. Yak have three fiber types, which consist of guard hair, mid-coat, and under-coat. The soft fine fiber that makes up a yak's under-coat is referred to as “down”. This is the fiber that is most valuable and is comparable to cashmere and merino wool. Down is used to make yarn intended for contact with the skin due to its softness. The mid-coat, while a bit more coarse than yak down, may also be used in making yarns, but might be more suited for items not intended for close skin contact such as shawls, vests, or rugs. Guard hair is the coarsest as well as the strongest of the three fibers. While not commonly used in the U.S., the Tibetan nomads use guard hair to make ropes, saddlebags, tents, rugs, and so on. See below for more information.