While the link between gas masks and rainwear would not be clear to most, there are actually several ways the two items are connected. Of course they both are intended to protect the wearer, although in different ways, but there is also a historical connection as many producers of rubber products like rainboots, and in some cases rainwear, produced gas masks at certain points in time. Another way they are connected is through the rainwear community; it is not hard to find pictures of people wearing rainwear, be it raincoats, rainsuits, or rainboots, and also showing a gas mask. We will explore these links further below, and I will go more in-depth about the experience of wearing a gas mask, possible reasons to try one out, and what to look for when you are thinking about buying one. The focus here is on the link between gas masks and rainwear, so do not expect a comprehensive overview of all gas masks, its complete history, or tips for preppers. Below a simple Danish gas mask combined with Guy Cotten rainwear.
The gas masks we know today were pioneered during the Great War after German troops used chlorine in Ypres on April 22, 1915. Initially troops used cotton mouth pads to protect their breathing, sometimes soaked in human urine, tied around their face with a piece of fabric to keep their hands free. Quick developments in poisonous gases required a better solution, one that would also protect the eyes and skin on the face. After several stages of development the first gas masks appeared, which often consisted of a rubber face mask with 2 glasses to look out and a tube connected to a canister with absorbent materials. Below a selection of WW1 gas masks, sourced through wikimedia commons.
The production of the rubber masks was outsourced to existing rubber factories as it required specialized equipment to shape the masks and vulcanize them for durability. Companies like Dunlop and North British Rubber Company, the predecessor of the Hunter rubber boots brand, were eager to produce these important parts for the war effort as they already had extensive experience in producing rubber goods including rubber wellington boots. Below a picture of a Dunlop gas mask which was previously for sale on BidorBuy.
Below a rubber gas masks produced by rubber manufacturer Kaufman from Canada, which also produced the thick rubber Kaufman rainwear. This specific gas mask was for sale on Ebay and is dated back to the Second World War.
While immediate demand for gas masks almost completely disappeared after the Great War ended, many governments kept research and development going for possible future wars as well as general usefulness for people to have adequate respiratory protection in case of working with dangerous materials. For example Porton Down laboratory was tasked by the British government in 1934 to design a civilian respirator that could be mass-produced at low cost. A disused mill in Blackburn became a gas mask assembly plant in 1936 where over 30 million gas masks were produced in the two following years. Similar initiatives were undertaking in other countries, for example in Italy where Pirelli, now best known for their tires, produced gas masks from the thirties onward. Below a gas mask produced by Pirelli, which is sort of a strange sighting seeing the company name on a rubber gas mask.
When in 1939 the Second World War broke out the gas masks were distributed to the troops and general population as a repeat of poisonous gasses was expected. Special gas masks were developed for children, produced in small sizes and sometimes depicting Mickey Mouse, and even babies which could be carried around in a mobile incubator with air filters. Below a 1940s British infant incubator to protect an infant in case of a gas attack. Picture through wikimedia commons.
To get the population used to putting on and wearing a gas masks the government promoted carrying gas masks around, companies had special moment during the day that everyone would wear a mask for a short period of time, and even tests were organized where the government would spray tear gas in neighbourhoods so people would know for sure if they had their masks on properly. Picture below of a gas attack drill in London in 1941 (Eric Harlow/Keystone/Getty Images).
Poisonous gasses were not used during the Second World War, most likely because retaliation was expected turning chemical warfare into mutual destruction even though both sides in the war had stockpiles of poisonous gasses. Below a picture of the British Air Raid Protection (ARP) Merseyside team in 1938. The gas suits used back then closely resemble rainwear with the gas mask giving the last piece of protection. Source memorylane.
After 1945 the further development and production of gas masks continued. The next global threat was the cold-war turning hot with the use of nuclear weapons. Most European countries started to develop their own line of gas masks to limit depending on foreign companies or imports as that would become a major risk in case of war. Rainwear manufacturer Helly Hansen started producing civilian gas masks in 1959 after approaching the Norwegian government with their gas mask design that was claimed to be better than foreign produced masks. This mask had a much larger visor giving the wearer a clear view of their surroundings, was cheap to manufacture, and easy to carry. And just as important: all parts were manufactured in Norway which gave a guarantee they could be produced in case foreign trade came to a halt. For example the filters were made out of sardine cans from local factories. The production stopped in 1975 as demand for the gas masks hoovered around zero and stockpiles of masks in government storage were overflowing. Below a picture of a family in Helly Hansen rainwear and Helly Hansen gas masks. The combination of gas masks and rainwear would give full protection to the wearer.
The production of gas masks has since further developed with specialized companies producing expensive masks and filters that protect against different levels of threats. With no necessity of the general population having a gas mask the demand is low and masks can quickly become very expensive as they require a lot of R&D expenditure but the target audience is limited to employees handling dangerous goods.
A fetish is regularly defined as an object or nonsexual part of the body that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification. While a fetish for rainwear is not very common, gas masks are actually pretty much accepted in the rubber, breath play, and dronification fetish cultures. Below a picture of a fully geared Dominatrix Aoi, wearing a rubber suit, rubber gloves, corset, straps, and a gas mask with integrated rubber hood and attached rubber hose. With a bit of polish a gas mask can complete a rubber fetish outfit perfectly.
The origins of a fetish are not exactly known and several theories compete to explain why certain events, materials, or items trigger a sexual arousal for some while not having any influence on others. From an evolutionary physiological point of view a fetish can be explained by the need for diverse sexual interests: reproduction will be more of less guaranteed in a group if the members have different tastes in partners opposed to all being attracted to the same (type of) person only. It is a simple way of saying that every Jack has his Jill. Another explanation is that people reach adolescence with a range of impulses and fantasies and just try them out to see what works and what not, arousally speaking, which can trigger an obsession (or passion). Picture below from Pinterest.
The most commonly referenced theory for the existence of a fetish is Pavlovian conditioning. A study on this theory researched heterosexual men by showing them images of boots followed by pictures of naked women. By repeating this process over time, the men showed sexual arousal by just being shown pictures of the boots. As a fetish often develops at a young age, even before a person becomes sexually active, Pavlovian conditioning could have taken place by triggering feelings of relaxation, safety, or pleasure in general by exposure to a certain item or material. At a later stage these feelings are searched for again during sexual stimulation leading to a connection between arousal and the materials or items. Below a fetisheyes screenshot showing establishing the connection between certain materials and arousal.
Talking specifically about a fetish for gas masks it seems obvious that kids growing up during the Second World War or the Cold War got exposed to gas masks at a young age with gas mask drills and government communications expressing the importance of carrying a gas mask around. A combination of a feeling of safety when wearing the mask with the rubber materials would make these first experiences a multisensory experience that could have a lasting impression on a young mind. For many it would be a dreadful moment they would never want to relive voluntarily in later life, while for others it becomes a moment of safety and relaxation which they later connect to sexual arousal by combining a gas mask with sexual stimuli. Even for later generations, who were not exposed to gas mask drills at school, coming across the odd-looking gas masks was not uncommon, either at an army supply store or shown on television in a movie or series. Below two covers from kink magazines published in the 80s, first Atomage magazine showing a lady in a rubber Mackintosh raincoat, rubber boots, and a gas mask, followed by a cover from Rubberist magazine showing a similar rubber outfit combined with a gas mask.
And in a similar way that lingerie and stylish boxers become associated with sexual desire, by depicting attractive men and women in commercials showing them off, gas masks are regularly worn in certain fetish subgroups creating a connection between the gas masks and sexual desire for people being exposed to these clips and pictures. At certain times this exposure is catapulted further into the mainstream, for example with the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey which put BDSM on the map for many overworked, exhausted females who just wanted to relinquish control and be used, with consent, for sexual pleasure. Imagine the increase in popularity when a gas mask would be shown in a mainstream media production and would be connection to sexual arousal.
THE APPEAL OF GAS MASKS
An article published in the British kink magazine Atomage explains the different ways a gas mask can be attractive to different people: “gasmasks have a strong appeal for a variety of reasons: the desire for full encasement in rubber, restricted breathing, the ability to control ones breathing, the ability to control ones partner’s breathing; the feeling of rubber close against the face, the grotesque and sinister appearance of the wearer, the feeling of protection, and, perhaps, even the feeling of genuine protection in the event of World War III”. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this and see if, and how, gas masks can be linked to rainwear specifically.
An experience often being mentioned within the rainwear community is the feeling of being fully enclosed in gear. Just wearing a raincoat is often not enough, it should go accompanied with rainpants, rubber boots, a southwester rain hat, and sometimes even rubber gloves. Or, when in public, the amount of gear might be reduced but the feeling of being enclosed is emphasised by tightening the waist belt, putting up the collar, or closing all the buttons. The face will be left open though, and at best only protected by the rim of a rain hat or a visor on the hood. Here a gas mask fits in perfectly as it covers the last part of the body not yet enclosed in protective gear. Especially with the hood of the rainwear worn over the gas mask the feeling of enclosure is even stronger. Where some express joy of breaking a sweat in their rainwear, which is often build up until climax, a gas mask will not only speed up the process but also intensify it. Adding a gas mask to your rainwear outfit can certainly enhance the pleasurable feelings of enclosure. Even from the sperspective of your partner a gas mask can add an interesting twist, where you can clearly hear the reaction to your actins by a change in speed of breeding, and the eyes become so much more telling of what is going on under those layers of protective gear. Below a picture of Azraa_latex on twitter showing a complete Japanese rubber rainsuit combined with a gas mask with attached tubes.
Part of the sensation of wearing a gas mask is the extra attention you will put on your breathing pattern. Besides that it takes a bit of extra effort to pull in the air through the filter, there will also be an accompanying sound of the air movement and the clicking of the valves to release the air when breathing out. For some this can be a very relaxing experience, similar to meditation where you just concentrate on your breathing. For others it can be a very intense and exciting process, especially when the flow of air is being restricted partly or completely for periods of time. Some gas masks are available at erotic stores with extensions to attach a hoses or rebreather bag, meaning you can experiment by yourself with airflow restrictions. Caution is required though as this kind of play can become very dangerous. Below a picture of a customized gas mask with rebreather bag attached, integrated rubber hood and inflatable mouth gag, which is for sale on Etsy. Much more extreme or complete you will not quickly find.
The feeling of rubber
An obvious appeal of gas masks is the material they are made from: rubber. For those that have a liking to rubber the idea of having to put a rubber mask against your face for an extended period of time can be thrilling. This is most likely the main reason for the popularity of gas masks in the rubber scene, but also within the rainwear community there is regularly experience with rubber. Be it as the shell for vintage rainwear like a mackintosh raincoat, the Klepper mantel, or the Friesennerz, or the backing for Dutch rainwear from the Agu brand, or of older cagoules from brands like Peter Storm and Henri Lloyd. Adding a rubber gas mask to your rubberized rainwear and rubber rainboots seems like an almost logical continuation of feeling rubber all over. Below an invitation to try on a rubber gas mask with attached rubber hood.
Gas masks change your appearance completely, which might be great in case you are aiming for a visual transformation. Maybe even more important, wearing a mask can make it much easier for most to assume a completely different identity or let out part of their identity they normally don’t share. For example assuming a dominant or submissive role in erotic play, or even going as far as being and feeling dehumanized with your complete body covered in rubber gear and your identity taken away with a gas mask with black or mirrored lenses: think becoming a gimp or dronification. To quote Marie Lu: “The irony of life is that those who wear masks often tell us more truths than those with open faces”. I doubt she was referring to gas masks specifically, but being covered out does make it easier to show your true self. Below a picture from the Hexcorp site showing a latex drone donning a MSA Millennium gas mask which easily goes for $500 without any modifications made.
The added feeling of protection would be a regular mention for most people combining rainwear and gas masks. A common reason for having a liking to rainwear, over for example regular rubber or latex gear, is the protection rainwear gives against the elements. I personally associate wearing rainwear with a feeling of comfort and power where harsh weather stops having an effect on me. Adding a gas mask would strengthen this feeling, as the last part of exposed skin is now also protected. Below a screenshot from a videoclip with a water pistol fight available on fetisheyes.com. The addition of the gas mask assures the last bit of needed protection to cover what the rubber mackintosh leaves exposed.
The final attraction gas masks can have, which was not mentioned in the quote from Atomage magazine, is that wearing a mask ads anonymity. With the prevalence of social media and accessibility of pictures which might not have been intended for sharing, wearing a gas mask gives an extra level of anonymity to the wearer. Even if pictures would appear online in full view: nobody would be able to recognize the wearer. So from a purely practical point, when a gas mask gives you no extra sensation or pleasure, buying one could be a good idea for when you plan on taking and posting pictures, or in case you physically attend get-togethers in your community of choice.
Tips and tricks
Finally a short part with some tips and tricks for those interesting in trying out a gas mask to make your first purchase a bit easier. Do keep in mind that how you experience wearing a gas mask is very personal and can differ widely between people.
Where to buy
Luckily the process of purchasing a gas mask is relatively easy nowadays with many army surplus stores and fetish shops selling their products online. You can probably find a range of shops in your country selling kinky toys and having a couple of gas masks available at the same time. In many cases the range of masks available is quite limited, even though there are specialized sellers with extended ranges of different masks. You can also try online second-hand sites to see if someone is selling their antiquated gas mask, but be careful here as older gas masks can contain dangerous materials, like asbestos, which could be extremely harmful to your health. I would always recommend purchasing a mask brand new, especially as you probably plan on wearing it extensively in a hot environment like under the blankets or while enclosed in rainwear and hygiene should be high on your priority list.
What to look for
One problematic point I have discovered is that gas masks are often produced in different sizes. In most kink stores and army surplus stores there is only one adult size available, but this might be a bit too small or too big for some faces. And from experience I can tell that a mask that does not fit well is not very comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. Unfortunately not many shops mention the size of the mask they sell, and it is not possible to try them out first with an online purchase. In most cases the sizing will be fine though, so let this not withhold you from trying one out.
Another point to keep in mind is the size of the visor. Some older models of gas masks can have relatively small glasses meaning wearing it will strengthen the feeling of being enclosed, while a mask with a larger visor would be more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time or when you still want to be able to see a lot for the activities you are planning to do. Below a gas mask with a large visor, making it easier to still enjoy activities that require a decent field of view.
Finally the overall looks could be a consideration. Especially when you plan on enhancing your appearance you can really make yourself stand out with the right choice of gas mask.
What to pay
Gas masks can be as cheap as 25 euros for a regular pair of one of the most commonly available models, but quickly become more expensive when a certain model of mask is more exclusive or customized. Often seen customizations range from tinted glasses, extended hoses attached, or an integrated latex hood. From experience I know it pays to shop around on different websites, as a mask might easily go for a multiple of what another site is charging for the exact same item.
In general I would advise to start slow: purchase a new but cheap gas mask to first see if you like the whole experience. In case you do, you can always purchase a second mask that fits you better, has more customizations, can be connected to a rebreather bag, or has that perfect look you were looking for.
- New York Magazine on the origin of fetishes
- ABC.net also on where fetishes come from
- Flickr group revolving around gas masks
- Historycollection on gas masks during WW2
- Military history discussing the history of gas masks in warfare
- Ostfoldmuseum about the production of Helly Hansen gas masks
- Fossum history on Helly Hansen gas masks
- Thoughtco on the history of gas masks
- Dailydot on dronification
- Atomage magazine appreciation site