What to Wear on a Polar Expedition

Travelers entering Antarctica on the Lindblad / National Geographic Explorer in February 2015

Travelers entering Antarctica on the Lindblad / National Geographic Explorer in February 2015

I laugh a little now when I look at this picture to the right. It was taken during the beginning of my month-long voyage through the Southern Ocean. Not knowing quite what to expect in terms of the weather, all were well-prepared with orange polar Shackleton anniversary jackets and other polar wear at all times. We quickly learned the art of layering clothing — those layers often becoming the only cold-weather protection while on deck… you cannot prepare for a pod of Orca or six Blue Whales! When they show, you just get your butt out there wearing whatever you are wearing, with whatever camera/lens/iThing that happens to be on you. So this is funny to me now, all bundled up… I was actually freezing for about a month.

But I did have what I needed when my ducks were in a row. This or some version of the gear laid out in the photo below is what I wore all at one time when fully equipped:

What to wear a polar expedition -- layers!

What to wear on a polar expedition? Layers!

Thermal pants
Thermal long-sleeved shirt
Knee-high sock liners
Knee-high wool socks
Zippy neoprene shell jacket w/ finger-holes (I have boat loads of these, mostly all are from REI)
Waterproof pants (I like Sherpa)
Down jacket
Polar jacket with faux fur
Glove liners
Gloves with grip
Polarized sunglasses (I like Smith and Oakley)
Penguin neck gaiter 🙂
Wool scarf
Life jacket
Penguin hat for colony photo ops
Fluffy hat, sometimes with a ball on top 🙂

…Not pictured but essential: muck boots!
I bought BOGS – the best damn muck boots ever made. BOGS, bone dry.

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Categories: Adventure + Exploration, Life. Style., Polar Regions, Travel Tips, Where to Travel

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