Some silly questions from a new employee

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    Hi. I will be working as a new person in McMurdo this October as a janitor. I have a few questions that may seem silly. The first one is are the mattresses in the dorms comfortable and fairly new or are they really old and bad? I have a cantankerous back and if I sleep on a bad mattress it can get sore and unhappy. I’ve been thinking about bringing a cushy Thermarest pad and a sleeping bag and sleeping on the floor if the mattress doesn’t work for me.

    My second silly question is does the Extreme Cold Weather clothing fit? I am a fairly petite woman. I’m 5 feet tall and 110 pounds and I have size 5 feet. I’m wondering if the gear will be huge on me or if there is gear for people my size? Should I play it safe and bring my own small sized gear?

    I’d appreciate your answers to my silly questions…


    Hi MW,

    Re: Mattresses… Is anybody ever really happy with a mattress? 😛

    They seem to replace the mattresses every few years — so they never get really bad. If you end up with an unacceptable mattress have a chat with housing, they may be able to give you a new one. Oh wait ,you’ll be working for housing! (You’ll have the inside scoop on what you want and need.)

    As far as the ECW, you’ll find things that fit. Not everything will be perfect (it isn’t for anyone), but most will be good. Try on everything when you first receive your clothes at the CDC in Christchurch! Take your time. If something doesn’t work for you, just exchange it for a different size. You might want to bring your own favorite coat, socks, and long underwear, just for variety. And definitely bring some good hiking boots for walking around town (the roads and trails are lava rock and gravel).

    Have fun,



    Just stumbled back across this forum & thought I’d put in my $.02…

    I ditto Glenn’s response re: mattresses. I inherited a memory foam mattress last season, which I enjoyed, but you may want to wait to check out the situation before spending money to mail something that bulky to the ice.

    Re: clothing, couldn’t agree more that you need to try on everything – no matter what you put on your “personal information” form, I’ve found that sizes vary a lot from item to item, so you’ll likely end up exchanging several items for a different size. You should probably also be prepared to roll up pant legs since even the smallest sizes will probably still be long on you!

    I’ve also found that I don’t end up wearing much of the issued gear on a regular basis – I bring my own lighter-than-big-red jacket, which I wear for most of the season, as well as socks, long underwear, and fleece, etc. I really only wear gear issue clothes on boondoggles or if we get some seroiusly bad weather.

    Good luck!


    my ex (who is now in her fourth winter) is just under 5′ and about 100 pounds … they don’t have Big Reds that fit that small and when she wears it she looks like she’s wrapped in a blanket. But it’s warm. I’d recommend you buy and wear your own warm coat (North Face, Mountain Hardware) and pack Big Red with you on trips or hikes. I think everything else is available, but if you want to be comfortable you should get your own long underwear and socks. The issue boots should fit no problem. Good luck.

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