Tuesday, October 18, 2011

South Pole packing list

Well, for McMurdo Base on the coast, all you need are sneakers and regular clothes. Warm boots if you get cold feet easily, and the staff at the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center, not Centers for Disease Control) in Christchurch, New Zealand will get you outfitted with the rest. It's warmer there in McMurdo than back in the upper Midwest of the US in November through February.

But for Pole, it's genuinely cold there, and a lot of the work is outside. So you need to bring some good sock liners (polypropylene, or SmartWool, or silk, try REI or the like) to wear under big wool socks (these are issued, but you're better off with your own good wool socks, I like these Swedish army wool surplus socks I got a few years ago, big, thick, and comfortable). You also need slippers or flip flops for around the station and to the sauna and the like. Good thermal underwear is nice as what is issued doesn't fit me very well. Polypropylene or silk work well again for this inner layer. SmartWool if you can afford it. Outer layers are pretty good as issued, but a pair of your own warm boots is useful. Sorrels work fine. I have a pair of Columbia -40F (-40F and -40C are the same, which is nice and convenient) boots that are plenty warm enough most of the time.

One of my colleagues made an impression by wearing a tuxedo for the New Year's party. Suit and tie or nice dress are not out of place for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners. And you'll want a hat that people can recognize from a distance outside.

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