Gut skin parka
Organic GORE-TEX that actually breathes!
For thousands of years, Alaska Natives have used mammal intestines from seal, sea lion, beluga whale, and bear to create lightweight, breathable, waterproof coats. These garments were worn while paddling kayaks and umiaks to protect from the cold water and rain. Panels of gut were held together with a special waterproof stitch, resulting in a completely waterproof, but also fully breathable, jacket. Until the introduction of GORE-TEX in the early 1970s, most commercially available waterproof gear was made from heavy wax or oil-treated cloth and PVC-bonded cloth. PVC offered excellent waterproofing, but did not allow perspiration to escape, creating a clammy feeling for the wearer. Intestines have microscopic holes, large enough to allow perspiration to escape, but not big enough for rainwater to enter. GORE-TEX mimics the properties of intestine.
Martin Family Collection, Anchorage Museum, B2007.5.2.301
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