The technology of the Inuit parka with its multiple layers and the edge of the hood’s hair make them the best coat invented by humans
When it comes to keeping warm in winter, few people know more than the Inuit the Arctic circle. The traditional parka is an engineering prodigy, and the most efficient coat designed by humans in its history.
In its traditional version this coat consists of two layers of caribou skin. The inner layer has the hair in, in contact with the skin, and the outer layer has the hair out. This superposition of layers of skin and hair creates an insulating air chamber around the body very effective.
Much more interesting is the function that the hair has around the edge of the hood, characteristic of the parka. A 2004 study put one of these hoods in a wind tunnel to see what its effect was. The hair on the hood changes the air flow in the face, preventing excessive heat loss. This seems to work only with natural skin, which has hairs of different lengths, and not with the synthetic skin in which they are uniform.
Similar parkas or coats could also have been what saved our species during the last glaciation, according to the theory of researcher Mark Collard. At the same time, a possible explanation for the disappearance of Neanderthals, who were physically better prepared for the cold, is that they did not have adequate clothing to protect themselves, which limited their hunting ground.
Modern parka somewhat mimics the traditional design: a hollow fiber filling, a waterproof and windproof, but breathable, intermediate layer and finally a stronger outer layer. A design that is thousands of years old.