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How To Gear Up For An Antarctic Science Expedition Part 1: Personal Gear

As I write this, I’m en-route to work for a season at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Field Camp, Antarctica. This will be my second season working on the ice, and first time working at a remote field camp. My first deployment was to the heated, enclosed South Pole Station. This time I’ll be living in a tent at a remote field camp.

Gearing up and packing for this season’s deployment were similar, but a bit more complex. Gear planning this time is multi-staged. I packed simultaneously for a two week guiding gig in Israel, my main deployment to Antarctica, and then subsequent backpack travel through Asia, Russia, and Europe. Each leg of my journey requires slightly different gear, but many element of each kit are shared and related.

To support my packing and planning, I assembled a fairly comprehensive gear spreadsheet. I put together this master packing list from a variety of sources – the USAP-supplied recommended gear list, job-specific packing list, my own personal gear list, as well as a few other sources. Once my list was assembled, I did a bit of editing and streamlining, and then got to work researching and putting together all of the gear.

Each item on my list went through a few stages – determining that I needed that piece of gear, then researching exactly the product I needed, locating it, and then testing it, and “staging” it in my packing area. The “S” in my list means that I had the piece of gear, and it had been placed in my staging area, ensuring that I knew where it was, and that it was ready to be packed.

Then, the morning of my departure, I packed everything up and left. In retrospect, it would have been nice to do a test run of packing everything up. Although my gear comes in at 60lbs (one 45lb duffle, one 15lb backpack), which is about half of my gear weight allowance, I still feel like I’m taking a little too much – however there’s some sponsored gear that I’m taking, and a few “creature comforts” that I’m hoping will make life in a tent on the ice more livable – namely a crazy-creek style camping chair, UE Boom bluetooth speaker, down booties, and a few other comfy items.

So, for your interest, here’s my full packing list, as well as a few pics of the gear all laid out.

Coming up, I’ll be going through Extreme Cold Weather Gear Issue in Christchurch, New Zealand, and then another deep field expedition gear issue at the Berg Field Center at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Stay tuned for those reports.

Packing List - Click for Full List PDF
Packing List – Click for Full List PDF

Part 2: Extreme Cold Weather Gear

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