New clothing suits Antarctic expeditioners

A new range of polar clothing hit the ice-walks this season, giving Antarctic expeditioners a smart, modern look, coupled with improved functionality, ruggedness and safety.

Designed by Damian Flynn, the Australian Antarctic Division’s (AAD) Clothing and Field Equipment Officer, the polar range incorporates the best features of modern mountaineering clothing, adapted for the harsh Antarctic environment and each garment’s specific purpose.

‘One of the main changes I’ve made is to use six ounce canvas, which is a cotton-nylon blend fabric, rather than Ventile, which is an ultrafine weave of 100 percent cotton,’ Damian says.

‘The canvas is cheaper than Ventile and more robust than Gortex, and should give us at least one winter and up to five summers of use.’

Damian has also reinforced all the ‘wear’ areas — elbows, knees, cuffs, shoulders and seat — with cordura, to improve durability. Other subtle touches include zips sewn such as to provide a flush finish, and a ‘drop seat’ inserted into the freezer suit to easily accommodate the call of nature.

The bright yellow-orange clothing, with its black reinforced patches, provides the best colour contrast in snow. Reflective piping and tape sewn in strategic areas, also increases visibility in low light and around vehicles, aircraft and heavy equipment. The Australian Government crest, embroidered on the pockets of jackets, provides a more corporate look than earlier, un-badged jackets.

‘My brief has been to design technical clothing that can be used in the field and for support activities around station,’ Damian says.

‘But I’ve also tried to standardise the range so that we present a professional image that doesn’t look overly institutionalised or industrial. The clothing is designed to make wearers feel safe and secure and to allow them to carry out their work efficiently and comfortably, but let’s face it, most people like to look good in it too.’

WENDY PYPER, Information Services, AAD