Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

What to wear?


Deciding what clothes to bring with you to Antarctica is the biggest challenge in packing. The US Antarctic Program provides all of the essential layers for survival, but not necessarily comfort. So that means bringing down a lot of clothes of your own – but fortunately, the really, really warm gear, called ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear is supplied by the USAP.



The previous photo is of all the warm clothes I am bringing. In general, the USAP clothing is on the left and my own clothing in on the right. I will be working in -25˚C (-15˚F) conditions. We have a warming hut at the drill sites, but most of the time we will be in the cold. So I have a lot of clothes with me. Exactly what I will wear is still undecided. At the WAIS Divide drill site, my typical choice of clothing was:

  • Two Pairs wool socks
  • Boot liners
  • FDX boots (the big blue ones
  • Lightweight long underwear bottoms
  • Heavyweight long underwear bottoms
  • Fleece pants
  • Carhart bibs
  • Lightweight long underwear top
  • Heavyweight long underwear top
  • Fleece jacket
  • Big Red
  • Neck gator
  • Two ski hats
  • Glove liners
  • Work gloves

So as you can see in the pile, I have a couple sets of everything. Things are a little more complicated this year as the drilling fluid being used is smellier. So I will be changing my outer layers before heading back to South Pole station. You might notice that I also have what looks like regular ski clothing on the far right. I’m bringing these so I have clothes to exercise in outside. Not sure if I’ll be able to too, but I’d rather have the option than not.


In the last photo, I have my station clothes. Since WAIS Divide wasn’t a full station, I’m not quite sure what I will be wearing inside. But I have some normal clothes as well as a pair of workout clothes – I hear there is a gym at South Pole.

In all, it’s about 75 pounds of clothing. I’m sure I’ve brought some clothes that I won’t use, and wish I had brought something I didn’t. But as you can see, I should have enough warm layers not to freeze.

You can see current weather and forecasts for South Pole Station here.

Find more about Weather in Amundsen-Scott, AA
Click for weather forecast

One response

  1. deb

    Fun to see TCM so well represented at the S Pole! Be safe and bring back adventure stories

    January 2, 2015 at 8:26 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s