Warm clothing

August 14th, 2005

When people find out that I work for BAS, they quite often say “isn’t it really cold there?”. The answer is of course, yes, but you can always wear more clothes! Now I’ve found out exactly how many more clothes: I went to the stores to check over the clothing I’ve been issued. Two big bagfulls of stuff were dragged out of the racks, and I went through them trying them all on. Certain things, like the eight pairs of thick woolly socks and the balaclava, were expected. Other things – such as the kind of giant fleecy babygro suit with no sleeves – were less so! Trying it all on took about an hour-and-a-half. Anyway, here are a few of the things in my bags:

  • Dryflo underwear – long-sleeved teeshirts and leggings – the fabric draws sweat away from you by capillary action, so you don’t get sticky.
  • Moleskin trousers – these are combat trousers with a kind of combed-cotton finish, and are warm and hardwearing
  • Ventile jacket and trousers – Ventile is a fabric made from cotton which is windproof, lightly waterproof and very breathable and hardwearing. Because it’s made from the topmost quality cotton fibres (only 4% of the crop is suitable) it’s very expensive. It was originally developed for survival clothing for the RAF in WWII, but has been the choice of British Antarctic expeditions ever since.
  • Thirteen pairs of gloves! Every kind you can imagine: big mittens for skidoo-driving; fine-fingered gloves for delicate work; heavy leather-palmed rigger gloves, rubber waterproof gloves, fleecy gloves and so on.
  • Three pairs of boots: plastic walking boots that take crampons; insulated safety boots and mukluks. Mukluks are Canadian felt-lined boots that come up to mid-calf. They have a separate lining: you get issued with a spare one and are supposed to swap them over each day to stop them rotting!
  • Eye protection: one pair of skiing goggles and one pair of (prescription) glacier-grade sunglasses. These have side pieces so that they don’t allow any light to leak around their edges and make you snowblind.
  • And finally, a black woolly hat with the BAS logo!

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