Hike any mountain, explore any National Park, or ski any major resort and you are going to see people decked out in an array of high tech outdoor clothing. It seems each year brings a new advance in the outdoor clothing tech. But what was the impetus for the outdoor clothing and what are the roots of such products? The answer is surprisingly steeped in many old and timeless cultures. ## The Norse The Viking domination of much of the western hemisphere between 800 and 1066 is well known, and the Vikings were able to accomplish much of what they did due to their adapted clothing for life in the far north. The Norse can be attributed to designing the parkas and calve-high boots that are used today, albeit with much different materials. ## Yupiq, Aleut, Inupiat The evolution of outdoor clothing also owes a great debt to the First Nations people of the sub-arctic and arctic regions of North America. Mukluks, Malachais (seal fur face masks) and jergas (pull over parkas) are all part of the First Nations outdoor clothes, made for survival but now integrated for outdoor recreation and outdoor sports. One example of such morphing of an Aleut design is the sea kayak cagoule. This is a combination of spray skirt and jacket that has origins going back to the Aleut of Alaska. ## Yvon Chainard As outdoor and “extreme” sports began to take hold in the American psyche and gained in popularity, a pioneering surf-bum named Yvon Chainard realized there was a dearth of outdoor clothing that could withstand the abuses he was putting them through with his surfing, mountaineering and rock climbing. Chainard took the ball and began
to create high tech outdoor clothing that was rock solid, form fitting and made from new materials such as Pyle and fleece. Over time this clothing and gear made it to retail shelves with the name “Patagonia” on the labels. Today, Patagonia outdoor gear is considered the creme de la creme and is the result of modern technology and fabrics and many First Nations and historic native designs. ## Sport Specific Evolution Today, walk around most outdoor gear retailers and you are met with a variety of clothing that is sport specific. Outdoor clothing has evolved to sport specific pieces. A snowboard parka is much looser fitting than a ski parka. The outer shell you wear for trekking deep into the mountains is different from the light weight outdoor rain shell you wear when running trails in the rain. Outdoor clothing has seen fast and tremendous advances over the last 20 years due to the increasing popularity of outdoor sports and pursuits.