The history of "miracle" fabrics is long and illustrious within the history of outdoor gear. In a sense, the key push into modern gear centered around the introduction of lightweight nylon fabrics after WW II by such pioneering companies as Holubar and GERRY. Some twenty years later, we find a new "waterproof/breatheable" fabric named "Reevair" in the 1966-67 Sierra Designs catalog (This was the Company's very first true catalog)... In line with the Company's well-earned reputation for honesty, one can note in the product description above that they steered well clear of any miracle fabric claims. It was to be almost exactly another twenty years before Goretex was introducted to the market, the most likely holder of the title "first to market" was probably Early Winters in 1976 (click for link).
I believe that the Cagoule is a climber-designed garment that came to America from French alpinists pretty early in the History of Gear.... The proper cagoule is long enough and wide enough that the climber caught in an exposed location can draw their knees up inside and hunker down to survive whatever Nature can throw at them. Needless to say, it was constructed of waterproof nylon of some type. A good cagoule was one of the key pieces of a climber's bivouac outfit, along with of course ones "duvet" (a big puffy down parka-- remember, this was before the advent of pile garments)...I've always thought the cagoule is a timeless design and wish it had not fallen out of favor in modern times... Bob Sherlock of Northwerks still made one as of 2006, and if he's still around, I recommend his design very highly: Click for link to Northwerks.
I personally cannot remember ever wearing anything made of Reevair, and would especially appreciate reader input from folks who can remember this fabric (eg. a recent reader commented that his Reevair mountain parka had a very lightweight fabric and did not seem very stout). Contact me: email@example.com
Perhaps "a mummy made for two" does not qualify as a major innovation in the History of Gear, but the fact remains that I dreamed of buying the SD "Double Mummy" for many years. Sierra Designs offered their double mummy right from the start, here seen in their 1966-67 catalog. The price was $118.50, quite a lot of money in those days but the quality was superb and there was an authentic lifetime guarantee....Specs: color = blue. 3 1/4 pounds of white goose down, total weight = 5 lbs. 10 oz. The divider in the middle snapped open or closed (this was before velcro!)....Holubar Mountaineering was also a source of gorgeous double mummy bags......Sadly, my dream of owning one is impossible now, no company seems to make such a thing anymore-- nowadays one must buy two normal bags, one with a zipper on the left and the other one with a zipper on the right, then, to make them into a double bag, one must go to all the bother of zipping them together in the cold and dark at the end of a long day of hiking, and in the morning go through the routine in reverse to get re-packed...... Why don't modern companies make a true double bag? Perhaps the United States' modern obsession with divorce is to blame?