Packing Questions

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    I have less than a week before I leave and packing feels a little more complicated than packing should. Usually I pack very little and figure I will either make do or get what I need at my destination, but that doesn’t exactly apply to this situation. The Antarctic guide says we get to bring 75 lbs of stuff, but that the average ECW gear weighs about 30, so basically I get to bring 45 lbs of stuff? I don’t think I will need much more than that anyway but I wanted to make sure this was correct before I went through the trouble of shipping my books (the heavy little culprits). And while I am posting…any packing suggestions? Things that weren’t on the list that you are glad you brought? Things you wish you hadn’t?


    Hi Sassparilla,

    Yup, you’ve figured right: you get about 45 pounds of stuff after accounting for the ECW. What they don’t tell you is that your carry-on bag is not counted in that weight, so pack any heavy stuff there. This also applies to laptops if you’re carrying them separately. My carry-on bag has sometimes weighed so much (camera gear, etc) that it would have exceeded the weight limit just by itself.

    The McMurdo library has *lots* of books: people bring them down, read them, and leave them there… So you might find it easier just to pick up a few paperbacks there and bring only the most necessary ones.

    If you’re bringing things that you won’t need for several months, you can “guard mail” them for free from the APO next to the Clothing Distribution Center. The only catch is that it could take them a couple months to arrive, so make sure it’s nothing you need right away.

    The storage situation at the CDC is excellent, so you can leave unneeded suitcases, backpacks, scuba gear, whatever, in their stoarge area and pick it up when you return.

    There was a recent discussion about this same stuff over on Mike Poole’s Antarctic Memories web site. I hope this link works for you:

    I don’t know if you’re a guy or girl, but for girls they also had some good suggestions to bring “girly” things. For everyone, I’d suggest good hiking boots, a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman, and a camera.

    Have fun!



    Thanks so much for the info! You have alleviated my packing woes more than you know. And I will definitely check out the link, as a girl I haven’t found that much as far as the female perspective on packing for the ice so I am sure that will be a great help as well.


    I’m Mike from the other site. Go ahead and post your question there. Lots of people respond and you should get a wide range of answers. The girls will help you out if they haven’t already packed their laptops.

    Probably don’t need to say this, but with the recent terrorist plot, take care what you pack in the carry on. No swiss army knives, and now no liquids or even toothpaste.

    It doesn’t happen often, but everyyear someones bags don’t make the same plane and they have to live out of their carryon. Pack extra clothes. As Glenn said, wear all the heavy stuff if you are near your weight limit.


    Can’t add to much to what has aleady been said.

    I would stress to try and not take too much. I take less every year and may be getting abit extreme. But I have the advantage of having a box I leave behind with stuff in it.

    I take a largish case to CHC. You can then use one of the orange bags they lend you, or in my case I have a duffel in my bigger case for going to the ice. I have street clothes I don’t intend to take to the ice. When I leave I put a red tag on it and it goes into storage. Then when/if you don’t fly or boomerang and start to obtain stuff in CHC you just add it to the storage bag. Once you run out of clean clothes those extra street clothes come in hand. I’ve been stuck in CHC for a few days plenty of times and my longest run was 10 days and it is handy having a extra supply of stuff stored at the CDC.

    On the clothes side I prefer my own thermals, and head gear. A good pair of hiking boots is a must. I wear a pair of Scarpa SLs in MCM on my way to Pole, and for most times at Pole, except if I have to stand around outside for more than an hour or so. I take 1 tee-shirt, and this seems over board as you end up bringing back many many more…

    About books – don’t take any! I read a lot, and am a bit fussy, but have no problems finding something. Books eat weight.

    In my box I leave shampo and soap, etc. I also have a set of my own bed linen for a homely touch. I do recommend this. It got rid of the feeling of living in a hotel. I also have my own pillow. These you can send down.

    There is a thing called Skua – Antarctic equivalent of Good Will. I always keep an eye on it and have collected bits and pieces which make my place mine. And if you’re ever short on clothes there is something there.

    Good Luck



    I just posted a suggestion under the Employment file (perhaps should have gone inside Life on the Ice, but …) about getting stuff at the CDC.
    Be sure to check that out before you get to Cheech … Enjoy.

    BTW, would you post and let us know how your flights went from security to landing … I’m afraid I’ve become mostly annoyed by the whole TSA thing … so I’m curious how much more of a pain in the arse it’s become …


    The title pretty much says it all. I did send two 10lbs boxes by mail with two sheet sets, some personal items and whole lot of tolietries which I still have left.

    Things I wish I would have brought:
    Humidier (I skua’d one but it is crappy).
    Patches for my denim (iron on or sew).

    Things I am glad I brought:
    Good pair of headphones
    Laptop (I’m an IT guy though, YMMV)
    Cold Weather Hiking Boots (North Face SnowCats or the like)
    A good watch

    If you are going to Pole, notice no hot water clothes washing during the winter. So don’t bring a lot of whites, they never get clean.

    I found that I could order almost anything I needed well before last flight if I was missing something.

    SKUA is your best friend, know it, live it, love it.


    Well I’ve been here about three weeks and I can say all the packing advice I’ve gotten here has been pretty dead on. I only regret that I didn’t get some of it until after I left, I had to buy a watch here and skuaed a humidifier (though packing one would be a bit of a hassle). I think I did pretty well overall, one thing I wish I had brought was my own bed linens. I’m a janitor so I do get the perk of working in laundry and finding good stuff but there is nothing like your own nice sheets or blankets, especially if you get a crappy matress.

    As far as the flights went, everything was pretty speedy, you just have to think about how you pack. And the military flight from ChCh to Mactown doesn’t go by the same guidelines as regular fligths.


    For folks already on the ice… this will be OBE. 🙄 But on the advice of a experienced traveler…I took 2 sets of twin bed linen, fitted bottoms, tops and pillow cases….AND make those of any color except white, preferably patterned. Mine were dark blue paisley….*because* if the laundry service is unimproved from year’s ago (meaning the water is recycled 🙁 ) your bed linen will come back gray and slick. Lovely! Not. Ladies take lots of personal wipes!


    Been There

    Actually the water recycling for the laundry went away many year ago.

    Been There

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