Earlier this week, Columbia Sportswear launched Omni-Heat Black Dot technology. The new gear follows a long history of humans innovating clever ways to stay warm outside—but it’s never been done like this.
Thousands of years ago, our ancestors crafted primitive capes out of wolverine fur to keep warm in the winter—there weren’t a lot of options, after all, for paleolithic winter apparel.
European cave dwellers later morphed the cape into more of a coat-like garment but it wasn’t until Canadian Inuits invented the caribou parka that humans began wearing anything resembling the modern winter jacket.
Much of today’s cold weather apparel has been driven by outdoor athletics. Mountaineering ascents in the early 1920’s prompted the first wave of down jackets and, as winter sports went more mainstream with activities like skiing and snowboarding, the demand on textile engineers grew to develop increasingly effective winter apparel.