Clothing in Antarctica
So your all set for your Antarctica cruise adventure, but then you have that dreaded thought “what am I going to wear?” Fear not, here is all the info you need.
Hypothermia, frostbite, ice burns – keeping out the cold in the most inhospitable cold climate on the planet is your main priority, however getting too hot can be can be just as hazardous.
Clothing in Antarctica needs to be insulating to keep you warm but it must also allow excess heat to escape. Activity can cause sweating in warm insulating clothes and if the sweat can not escape (breathe) it can turn to ice when the body cools. This can be lethal, and when wind chill is taken into account it can make matter much worse.
A mere 10 knot breeze (18.5 km/h) can cause a temperature of -5 deg C to plunge down to -24 deg C, dramatically increasing the heat loss of your body and increasing the risk of Hypothermia.
Layering your clothing is the way to go for extreme climates such as Antarctica. Usually a sensible way to dress (this is what we wore most of the time when outside in Antarctica) is the following layers:
- Thermal long underwear, usually made of polyester, this keeps you warm as well as wicking away the excess moisture from your skin (sweat)
- A wool shirt, polar fleece jumper, or down vest on top and some shorts down below, preferably made of artificial fibre that does not hold moisture and keeps warmth in. This second layer captures a layer of warm insulating air.
- An outer windproof and for Sub Antarctica waterproof shell such as Gore-Tex (which is a “breathable” fabric) Jacket and Pants or a “Freezer Suit”. Fabrics such as Gore-Tex allows excess heat and moisture to get out, but keeps outside moisture from getting in.
These are the “usual” three layers of clothing, to compliment this you also need to keep your body warmth from escaping from the extremities such as – head hands and feet – Balaclava, good windproof Gloves or Mitts, and well insulated sole Boots such as MukLuks, with extra insulated inner soles. It is amazing how much cold can travel up from your feet when you are standing on metres of rock hard blue ice!
This type of clothing is for the extreme cold in Antarctica, particularly when travelling on open vehicles such as Skidoo’s and Quad bikes.
If you are a tourist in Antarctica you may get reasonable days in summer and along the coast, however you must be prepared at all times as the weather can change in a matter of moments. This is where the layering comes in handy and you just peel off a layer or put ti back on as needed.
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