Qumanagpik Muckpa wears caribou leg skin kamiks and caribou amauti when she travels out to her spring camp. She also takes along an extra pair of seal skin kamiks.
Arctic Bay, July 1984
Photograph by Jill Oakes

  • top frame 
  • Instructional drawing depicting how the individual boot patterns assemble to become the final product, a Style A kamik.
  • Magnifying Glass

The hair colour and direction of the hair is matched for ringed seal skin kamiks. These kamiks are worn by men and women of all ages.
Qapik Attagutsiak, Arctic Bay, 1993
Drawing by Frank Kazmerowich

Skin Footwear

Inuit women make kamiks and other traditional clothing which enable us to thrive in Arctic environments. Caribou skins provide excellent insulation, while seal skins protect us from wet conditions. We use combinations of seal, caribou and other skins to produce footwear that is suited for many different weather conditions.
Sally Qimmiu'naaq Webster, 1995

The footwear produced and favoured by Canadian Inuit consists of a combination of skin stockings, slippers and boots made from seal or caribou skins, in various styles. The number and type of these layers varies according to weather, terrain, activity and cultural group. Seal skin is water-resistant which makes it ideal for boots worn in warm seasons and wet conditions, while caribou has abundant hollow hairs which provide insulation against extreme cold winter temperatures. Inuit boots also communicate the maker's lineage, abilities and decorative styles as well as expressing the wearer's gender, chosen activity and regional relationships.

Feet are difficult to keep warm and dry in the arctic winter because of perspiration, condensation and wet weather or terrain. Most Inuit prefer waterproof skin kamiks instead of contemporary rubberized boots because the animal skin is porous and breathable which does not allow condensation to build up and permits perspiration to escape, reducing the amount of moisture build-up inside the boots.