Dress for success in Antarctica

By Joyce Lin · November 18, 2010 ·
Cindy Furse trying out cold-weather boots.

At 10am today*, we headed out to Antarctica New Zealand, which was just a short walk away. We passed by some snow cats and were excited to be riding them tomorrow.

Cindy Furse trying out cold-weather boots. 

We were led into two rooms, one for the women and one for the men, which had all our gear hanging up or neatly stacked on the tables. We tried on thermal plants and shirts, fleece pants and shirts, and a primaloft jacket under insulated overalls. On top of these we had either an “extreme cold weather jacket”, rated to -50 Celsius, or a soft shell jacket that can be combined with another jacket to block the wind and allows for better layering ability. If need be, all three jackets could be worn together. We had special, well-padded merino wool socks, and two kinds of boots. One pair is lighter, rated to -50 Celsius, and the other pair is large with waterproof lining. These big shoes are rated to -100 Celsius and have soles that are 25 mm thick. These are the shoes that we will use to walk out on the ice because they will be best able to keep the cold and water out.

Watch as Joyce Lin, Cindy Furse and David Lubbers demonstrate “layering” on 20+ pounds of cold weather gear.  Click HERE.

We had a neck gaiter, balaclava, wind-proof cap, sunglasses, and goggles. Lastly, we had an assortment of gloves. Rubber, fleece lined gloves. Large, leather mittens covered with fur. Normal knit gloves. Wool gloves and wool mittens. And of course windproof gloves as well. Our hands will have lots of outfits to go through! All our jackets have our names on them, and we also got two carrying bags for these. One will be our carry-on, which also has a laptop pouch, and the other carries all the other gear. About 20 pounds worth altogether.
More photos of our gear are HERE.

We’re here, going there. 

Of course, these 20 pounds felt heavy when we tried them on. Given that New Zealand is so wonderfully warm at the moment, we were sweating by the time we got to our heavy coats and have no doubts we’ll be able to stay warm in Antarctica. With big boots and overalls, we felt a bit like firemen, and all this clothing will surely give us a good workout when we’re out exploring on the ice.

After getting “kitted out”, we got a basic tour of where we would be going. We will leave at 9am tomorrow on a commercial plane directly south to Scott Base, where they’ve built a landing strip on first year ice. We got a tour of the buildings of Scott Base and shown where we will be working. Based on what we heard today, it should be a really amazing experience!

*Editor’s note:  “Today” was November 18, 2010, 4:07am MST.

About the author


Joyce Lin.
I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Utah.
To find out more about Joyce’s adventures in Antarctica, check out the Photo blog.

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