Jay (brian1789) wrote,

Clothing notes

Last night I did a "bag drag", essentially schlepping one's baggage (in the dust and snow) up to Bldg. 140 where it is weighed, tagged and taken away to be palletized for the next day's military airlift flight. One gets to keep a single carry-on, which must fit under-seat, no overhead stowage.

One of my bags, a large duffel, contained about 60 lbs of my personal clothing, a spare laptop, boots, toiletries, and stuff I'm bringing home from here. The other bag was a USAP-issued orange bag containing USAP-issued clothing.

We have a 150 lb checked baggage limit… it was 75 lbs until a few years ago. On my way down here, I was carrying about 25 lbs of project gear included. I've shipped ahead about 20 lbs in two boxes by parcel post and one Rick Steve's bag full of my personal field camping stuff will return with the drill on the ship.

Southbound back over a month ago, at the USAP Clothing Distribution Center in Christchurch, they give you two orange bags full of standard issue cold-weather clothes. One set of Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear, including a large red parka ("Big Red") with a reflective silver patch on the back, white air-inflated "bunny" snow boots, and various wind pants, socks, a windbreaker, one set of fleeces. It is not nearly enough under layers for field work… it reflects that most passengers are working at McMurdo, with laundry facilities and heated work areas.

I needed 5-6 pairs of long (silk) underwear… likewise warm wool socks… 3-4 pairs gloves, 3-4 hats. Gave back their wind pants, their long underwear (polypro), their red windbreaker, their gloves and socks, all in favor of my own personal Arctic field gear. Which worked fine. I did ask for an extra set of fleece, top and bottom, as I hadn't been able to find one of my sets when hurriedly packing that afternoon at home in December. My own pocket knife was essential, with a corkscrew. (Expect to increase one's normal alcohol consumption.) As were hiking boots -- I brought *two* so I can alternate them in the field to let them dry out, a long-standing practice of mine. My blue boots looked close enough to the USAP-issue FDX boots that I was able to sneak by on helicopters without wearing the otherwise-mandated bunny boots (which have no ankle support, are heavy, and look dorky). I brought two pairs of sunglasses, but preferred my B&L Aviators to the plastic wrap-arounds USAP recommended. Those were bothersome, I tended to skip them, and then twice got mild snow blindness as a result. (Sort of an eye-sunburn, hard with contacts.)

In McMurdo in summer, people do not generally wear their Big Reds. Individual expression is precious in a corporate/government town full of standard issue. Personal windbreakers, personal hats are the norm, with personal boots. Or even jeans and sneakers, if the weather is nice and ground is dry. Indoors work in Crary Lab, I'm too warm if I'm wearing fleeces and long johns, so several sets of "town clothes" (lighter shirts, khakis, normal shoes) are handy.

I benefitted from reading http://everything2.com/title/Packing+for+and+Traveling+to+Antarctica before packing, although the weight limits are now higher.

So I think I did a good job of packing, for a newbie here. Next time, I'd bring fewer gloves, my own fleeces, and fewer hats, even though some of them this time were knitted specifically for this trip. More full-length foot warmers, not the adhesive toe warmers, which both scrape and are hard to get out of a frozen boot the next morning. Bringing my own personal pee bottle was way better than borrowing one. I brought too many wet wipes, three packages would have been enough. I was warned to use daily wear contacts, that it was too harsh for my regular ones, but in practice the latter were fine, no harder than using them in the Arctic. Didn't need much supplementary food, except chocolate. :-)

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