Geographic South Pole


Fourmilab South Pole Expedition

January, 2013

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Packing for Antarctica

ANTarctica 2013 gallery image S001.jpg

2012-12-26 19:49 UTC Click image for enlargement.

Packing for a trip to Antarctica isn't like getting ready for a regular excursion. You need to bring a long list of cold weather gear with you, as well as backups for photographic equipment, spare batteries, and everything else you think you'll need, as once you're there, what you have is all you've got. As always, “two is one and one is none” is the mantra of preparation. But there's the countervailing constraint that everything must fit into a single duffel bag (along with a backpack or camera bag), plus there's a total weight limit of 20 kg on what you can take to the Big South. (I found enforcement of the latter limit rather fluid—I wouldn't want to blow it away by a factor of two, but you can probably go up to 25–30 kg and get away with it.)

You can rent a polar grade parka, sleeping bag, snow trousers, and boots. We opted for that, which reduced the mass and volume of what had to be hauled to the South, and the stuff you rent is not counted against the mass of what you pack in your luggage.

Were I in the marketing department of the tour operator, I'd provide an option in which clients could provide their measurements and order all of the specialised equipment which can't be rented (for example, polar grade wrap-around sunglasses which fit over regular eyeglasses) to be delivered at the start of the expedition. These items can be very difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and buying them in bulk would probably render them less expensive than individual retail purchases.

by John Walker
February 22nd, 2013
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This document is in the public domain.