The Style of Technology

High Tech Clothing


Whether you are climbing Mount Everest or walking the dog in the middle of winter in Michigan, you probably are benefiting from a huge shift in the technology of clothing. From down-filled jackets with wind barriers to baselayers that wick moisture away from the skin, there is money to be made in the world of high-tech clothing.

The early sportsmen were often hampered not just by weather and a lack of GPS, but by bulky wool garments. These garments would keep you warm, but as soon as they got wet their insulative properties diminished. In the late 1930s, Eddie Bauer became a victim of the wool garment dilemma, nearly dying from hypothermia on a fishing trip. At that point he realized that something had to be done. In 1940, he patented the quilted down-filled jacket. This set him on a long path and he would wind up with many patents by the time he sold his share of a small mail-order catalog outfit and outfitters store in Seattle.

Eddie Bauer and others continue to push the technology of clothing. Aimed mostly at sporting activities, there is a range of high-tech clothing for nearly every activity. From super-slick materials for swimming and biking, to technical wear for hiking and mountain climbing, the clothes you wear can often have a huge impact on both your performance and your ability to reach a goal.

It’s incredible to me how a good pair of gloves and a nice pair of baselayer pants can make such a huge difference in my comfort while walking the dog on these cold, snowy, winter nights. In fact, my clothing for this task has become so good that the dog often wants to turn back before I’m ready to.

[Image Credit: Eddie Bauer]

  • I'm still riding my bike in the wilderness, despite the 20 degree weather. Underarmor long underwear is still the best way to go.

  • CaptianNemo2001

    Yet the great adventures were climbing 27+ thousand feet of mountains in the 1920's.

    • True, but it was extremely risky. The first official ascent to the summit of Everest was in 1953, by which time clothing technology had improved dramatically.

      Hypothermia was a very common killer among mountain climbers in the 20s and 30s.

      • CaptianNemo2001

        Which is why they tried to wait for good weather when climbing rather then climbing through a snowstorm.

      • GlassOnion9

        IIRC from his book, Mallory wore mostly wool, silk, and other natural fiber clothing.
        I love the style of those old climbers. The pictures from the book make them look like they're just out for a stroll in the country in their khakis and wool hats.

  • High tech clothing is a truly wonderful thing.

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    Wait, that's not the right picture.

  • Slow_Joe_Crow

    Sometimes it works the other way. Several years ago somebody, possibly Reinhold Messner, did an experiment involving climbing Mt. Everest using the reproductions of the natural fiber gear George Mallory wore. The takeaway was that the carefully tailored silk and wool stuff actually fit and moved better than modern synthetic gear and was more comfortable but way more expensive.

  • Anson Chappell

    -30*C in Yellowknife yesterday during my run. My friend and I had plenty of time to discuss our high tech clothing choices during our 14.5km run. Dri-Wear from Mark's as a base, then a loose fitting long sleeved shirt, then a technical tee. Top it with a fancy running jacket. Mitts: simple glove liners. You generate enough body heat after ten minutes that you almost don't even need gloves. Bottoms: two pairs of Stanfield's and MEC running pants. Smart Wool socks.