The type and amount of clothing needed to stay warm and dry depends on the time of the year, location, and what sort of activity you are doing.
Buildings on station are heated to around 18°C, so normal clothes (such as jeans and t-shirt) can be worn. Outside on the ice during summer, expeditioners have long woollen underwear, trousers and a shirt with a windproof layer on top. In winter, they wear lots of layers topped with a thick, quilted freezer suit.
Clothing can be divided into two layers:
- inner, insulating layers
- outer, windproof or waterproof layer
Layering works by trapping air within the clothing. It is important that clothing fits properly. If clothing is too big, movement will create a bellows effect causing warm air to leave and cold air to replace it. If clothing is too tight, you will not have enough air trapped to stay warm.
Dressing for the sub-Antarctic
Wear an outer layer that is windproof and waterproof. Wear the minimum number of inner layers required to keep warm. Avoid sweating and remove layers if you overheat, replacing the outer waterproof unless the weather is dry. Always carry gloves, headwear and additional insulating layers (such as jumpers and woollen shirts) in case you stop to rest or observe wildlife. Dry your clothing whenever you get a chance.
Dressing for Antarctica
When walking, skiing, digging and running, expeditioners wear layers of insulating clothing so that they can be easily adjusted. Add, remove or open them up as necessary. Avoid sweating at all costs, especially in winter. If you sweat, your clothing will become full of moisture, which will freeze in the outer layers and melt with potentially harmful consequences when you warm up again. Even at low temperatures, you will be surprised how little clothing you need if you are walking, skiing or digging. Always take an outer windproof layer with you.
When driving quads, observing or surveying, you will need heavy quilted garments such as freezer suits and duvet jackets. These can be worn with or without many insulating layers. Unzip them as much as possible if you have intermittent bursts of activity.