Traditional Inuit Anorak
Traditional Caribou Parka

An anorak or parka is a type of heavy jacket with a hood, often lined with fur or fake fur, so as to protect the face from a combination of freezing temperatures and wind. This kind of garment, originally made from caribou or seal was invented by the Caribou Inuit, Inuit (Eskimo) of the Arctic region, who needed clothing that would protect them from wind chill and wetness while hunting and kayaking. Certain types of Inuit anoraks have to be regularly coated with fish oil to keep their water resistance.

The words anorak and parka are now often used interchangeably, but when first introduced, they described somewhat different garments, and the distinction is still maintained by some. Strictly speaking, an anorak is a waterproof jacket with a hood and drawstrings at the waist and cuffs, and a parka is a knee-length cold-weather jacket or coat; typically stuffed with down or very warm synthetic fiber, and with a fur-lined hood. Originally an anorak specifically implied a pull-over jacket without a zipper, button, or frogged opening, but this distinction is now largely lost, and many garments with a full-length front opening are now described as anoraks. The anorak and parka have been developed from their traditional forms into a number of different designs using modern materials, notably the Fishtail and Snorkel parkas and the Cagoule, a form of lightweight anorak.



The word anorak comes from the Kalaallisut word anoraq. It did not appear in English until 1924; an early definition is "gay beaded item worn by Greenland women or brides in the 1930s". In the early 1950s it was made from nylon, but changed to poplin by 1959, when it featured in Vogue magazine as a fashion item. In 1984, the Observer newspaper used the term to refer to the type of people who wore it, and "an anorak" became a derogatory term for trainspotters or nerds.[1]

The word parka is derived from the Nenets language.[2] In the Aleutian Islands the word simply means "animal skin".[3] It first entered the English written record in a 1625 work by Samual Purchas.


Two young Inuit mothers wearing amautit (angajuqtaujaq)

The amauti (also amaut or amautik,[4] plural amautiit) is the traditional eastern Arctic Inuit parka designed to carry a child in the same garment as the parent so that the child is warm and safe from frostbite, wind and cold. The amauti can be made from a variety of materials including sealskin, caribou skin or duffle (a thick woollen cloth) with a windproof outer shell. Children continue to be commonly carried in this way in the eastern Arctic communities of Nunavut and Nunavik, but the garment is sometimes seen in the Northwest Territories, Greenland, Labrador and Alaska. Traditionally the mother or female care-giver wears an amauti, but the garment may also be worn by fathers or male care-givers. A male who wears an amauti is said, in the south Baffin tradition, to be probably more successful when next hunting for certain species of animals.

N-3B ("snorkel") parka

US Air Force, snorkel parka

The original snorkel parka (USAF N-3B parka, which is 3/4 length and has a full, attached hood; the similar N-2B parka is waist-length and has an attached split hood) was developed in the USA during the early 1950s for military use, mainly for flight crews stationed in extremely cold areas, designed as it was for temperatures down to −60 °F. Originally made with a sage green DuPont flight silk nylon outer and lining it was padded with a wool blanket type material until the mid 1970s when the padding was changed to polyester wadding making the jacket both lighter and warmer. The outer shell material also was changed to a sage green cotton-nylon blend, with respective percentages 80–20, 65-35, and 50-50 being used at various times. It gained the common name of "Snorkel Parka" because the hood can be zipped right up leaving only a small tunnel (or snorkel) for the wearer to look out of. This is particularly effective in very cold, windy weather although it has the added liabilities of seriously limiting the field of vision and hearing. Earlier (Vietnam-era) hoods had genuine fur ruffs on the hoods; later versions used synthetic furs. Original manufacturers of this parka for the government included Skyline, Southern Athletic, Lancer, Greenbrier, Workroom For Designers, Alpha, and Avirex. Older nylon-shell parkas have a tendency to exhibit a change in color from the original sage green to a shade of magenta due to long-term cumulative exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. To some in the military, this is personally desirable, as it lends to its wearer an aura of seasoned experience (referred to as salty by those in the US Navy and US Marine Corps). However, considered in a tactical environment, this is a liability, as it decreases one's ability to be camouflaged on the ground.

The basic N-3B parka design was copied and sold to the civilian market by many manufacturers with varying degrees of quality and faithfulness to the original government specifications. Surplus military parkas are often available for relatively low prices online and in surplus stores; they compare quite favorably with civilian extreme-cold parkas of all types due to their robust construction, designed for combat conditions, and warmth, at (usually) significantly lower prices. However, one would have to be satisfied with the single color choice of sage green.

In the UK, the snorkel parka attained its popularity high point in the late 1970s to mid 1980s when its cheap and hard wearing properties made it the jacket of choice for school kids. It became so popular that at many schools almost every boy had one. Whilst the original N3B parka lining was un-quilted and the same colour as the outer shell, the school type parkas usually has quilted orange lining.

Brands such as Lord Anthony, Campri, Keynote, and Brutus made their names selling snorkel parkas.

In the late 1980s the snorkel parka became unpopular and was associated with geeks and nerds, helping to create the UK term anorak for such people. As such it became highly unfashionable and for a time wearers became the subject of ridicule.

In Europe the snorkel parka started to regain popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s, being worn by the likes of Liam Gallagher, Kenny McCormick (South Park), and David Beckham. Around 2004, the traditional association with "Anoraks" had faded and the Snorkel Parka became a main-stream fashion jacket once more becoming particularly popular in the indie scene and with now middle-aged people recapturing memories of their school snorkel parkas. It is also once again popular as a school jacket, though at nothing like the same level of popularity as it achieved in the 1970s and 1980s.

Most modern parkas more closely resemble the original 1950s design and have lost the orange quilted lining of the 70's school parkas, however the old school style are now considered highly desirable selling for high prices in vintage clothing shops.

Snorkel jackets remain very popular within Hip Hop culture being worn by both men and women and also have an association with Indie pop.

Fishtail parka

M-51 fishtail parka. This was a favorite amongst the mods.

The fishtail parka was first used by the United States Army in 1951 to help protect soldiers from the elements in the Korean War.

There are two main styles of fishtail parkas: the M-51 fishtail parka and the M-65. The M stands for military, and the number is the year it was standardized. The name fishtail comes from the fact that the coat is longer at the back than it is at the front. This was so the coat could be tied around the upper legs, much like a Knochensack for added wind proofing as they are not, as some think, waterproof. The hood of the M-51 Fishtail Parka is integral to the jacket and folds down inside the jacket collar when not in use. The M-65 fishtail parka has a detachable hood. Both types feature a removable liner. Designed primarily for combat arms forces such as infantry, they are to be worn over other layers of clothing; alone, the fishtail parka is insufficient to protect against "dry cold" (as used in the US military; see FM 31-70, Cold Weather Field Manual) conditions (i.e., below 14 °F.). On the other hand, the N-3B parka (above) has more integral insulation and can be worn alone in colder temperatures than the fishtail parka. Because it has less insulation but is designed to fit loosely, it allows infantry more latitude to add or subtract layers underneath to adapt to changing weather or situational conditions than that allowed by the N-3B parka, which was designed for aircrews who typically worked under more static weather and geographic conditions. With proper additional insulating garments in the US military inventory, one can remain warm with the fishtail parka in −60 °F. temperatures. The fishtail parka has been replaced in the US military by the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS).

In the 1960s UK, the fishtail parka became a symbol of the mod subculture. Due to their practicality, cheapness and availability from army surplus shops, the parka was seen as the ideal garment for fending off the elements when on the mod's vehicle of choice, the scooter. Its place in popular culture was assured by newspaper pictures of parka-clad mods during the Bank Holiday riots of the 1960s.


A cagoul, cagoule, or kagoule is the British English term for a lightweight, weatherproof anorak or parka, usually without the lining and sometimes coming to knee-length.[5]

A cagoule which can be rolled up into a very compact package and carried in a bag or pocket was invented by Noel Bibby of Peter Storm Ltd. in the early 1960s.[6] It has an integral hood, elasticated or drawstring cuffs, and a few poppers or a short zip at the neck. Like the original Aleut anorak it does not open fully at the front and must be pulled on over the head. In some versions, when rolled up, the hood doubles as a bag into which the rest of the coat is pushed. It became very popular in the United Kingdom during the 1970s.

See also


  1. ^ Games, Alex (2007), Balderdash & piffle : one sandwich short of a dog's dinner, London: BBC, ISBN 9781846072352 
  2. ^ ""parka" in ''Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary''". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  3. ^ Brewers Dictionary of 20th Century Phrase and Fable
  4. ^ Asuilaak Living Dictionary
  5. ^ The Chambers Dictionary, 1994. ISBN 0-550-10255-8
  6. ^ Mike Parsons and Mary Rose, Invisible on Everest—innovation and the gear makers. ISBN 0-9704143-5-8
  7. ^ "Nunatsiaq News 2007-07-27". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Anorak — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Un anorak Un anorak o parka es un tipo de chaqueta pesada con capucha, recubierto a menudo de piel natural o de imitación, para una completa protección de bajas temperaturas y del viento. Esta clase de ropa, hecha… …   Wikipedia Español

  • anorak — [ anɔrak ] n. m. • 1906; mot inuit ♦ Veste courte à capuchon, imperméable, portée notamment par les skieurs. ⇒ doudoune, parka. ● anorak nom masculin (mot esquimau) Veste de sport imperméable et chaude, à capuchon fixe ou amovible. anorak n. m.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Anorak — Sm wasser und wetterfeste Jacke std. (20. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus grönländ. anorak, dessen Herkunft nicht sicher geklärt ist.    Ebenso nndl. anorak, ne. anorak, nfrz. anorak, nschw. anorak, nnorw. anorakk. grönl …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Anorak — »Windbluse, Schneejacke«: Der Name des Kleidungsstücks wurde im 20. Jh. aus eskim. anorak entlehnt, einer Bildung zu eskim. anore »Wind« …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • anorak — a word of Greenland Eskimo origin, has taken on a new meaning from its association with people waiting around in cold weather (in anoraks, supposedly) to watch trains and aeroplanes or do other things the rest of the world can sneer at. Hence an… …   Modern English usage

  • anorak — (plural anoraks) sustantivo masculino 1. Prenda deportiva, parecida a un chaquetón, impermeable y con capucha, para protegerse de la lluvia, del frío y de la nieve: Mete el anorak en la maleta porque han dicho que lloverá mucho …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Anorak — [Wichtig (Rating 3200 5600)] Bsp.: • Es ist nicht mein Anorak …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • anorak — (Del fr. anorak, y este de or. esquimal). m. Chaqueta impermeable, con capucha, usada especialmente por los esquiadores …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Anorak — Anorak,der:Windbluse·Windjacke+Parka …   Das Wörterbuch der Synonyme

  • anorak — ‘Chaqueta impermeable con capucha’. Su plural es anoraks (→ plural, 1h): «Deslizándose gentilmente por la nieve, con sus anoraks de colores» (Landero Juegos [Esp. 1989]). Se desaconseja, por minoritaria, la variante anorac. No es correcta la… …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • anorak — (n.) Eskimo s waterproof, hooded jacket, 1924, from Greenland Eskimo anoraq. Applied to Western imitations of this garment from 1930s. In British slang, socially inept person (Partridge associates it with a fondness for left wing politics and… …   Etymology dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.