Special/extreme clothing supplier REI has nothing on spacesuits. Whether US, Soviet, Russian, or Chinese; whether used for space-walks, shuttle flights, capsules, or moon-walks; whether they looked like flight suits, robots, or Fat Tron, spacesuits are important to the people who wear them while working. Space.com has an excellent picture gallery of spacesuits from different spacefaring countries throughout the years. There’s even a short history about the suits.
The suits are all designed to protect their wearers in a space environment which is hostile to a degree which would make that “adrenaline-seeking” rock-climber (the one who buys only Patagonia chalk bags and wears Oakley “speed glasses”) turn pale and cry “Mommy.” Back-country skiers, ensconced in Marmot jackets filled with the down tenderly shaken from baby swans raised in emotionally positive nurseries, actually are surrounded by a breathable atmosphere. Atmosphere is a mere luxury the spacesuit-wearing astronauts can only dream of as they move above Earth breathing recirculated air while fixing a solar panel.
So, the spacesuit is an important technology–just ask any 10-year old child who wants that bubble space-helmet. But as technology and missions change, so do the spacesuits. Sure,
these suits are more expensive than that Arc’teryx cardigan fleece jacket you’ve been eyeing, but spacesuits actually do things. How often have you worn an air scrubber? Does your clothing keep away compression sickness? Is it micro-meteoroid resistant? Will your clothing be adequate in an environment that changes from -249 degrees Fahrenheit to 250 degrees Fahrenheit? If not, you’re just wasting money.
Next time, then, when you’re shopping at REI fantasizing about how awesome that pair of prANA Stretch Zion pants will show off your, um, muscles (??), remember the humble, but life-saving, spacesuit, which does so much more.