This week I am going to touch on equipment and clothing. Some of you will be familiar with the different types of kit available and others won’t, so what I thought I would do is share with you a few of the main concepts and factors around clothing and equipment I consider before I buy something. I will also touch on one particular challenge that I am going to face with a trip like this, and highlight a few key pieces of kit to finish off.
For me, selecting kit for any trip is a pretty exciting and enjoyable part of the planning process. I really enjoy reading, talking, hearing and researching about the different pieces of kit that are available, the fabrics and treatments being used, and looking at the reviews people leave online. It’s just fun 🙂
If anyone has questions by the way or wants to know more about particular clothing or equipment please write to me and ask. Unfortunately it is not possible to cover everything here in this post, but happy to answer questions or help with kit tips where I can.
So, here we go….
KEY CONCEPTS AND CONSIDERATIONS
Layering: a lot more commonly known these days, but for those not familiar with the term, it refers the technique of building up (yes, you guessed it…) ‘layers’ of clothing, which results in an insulating pocket of air being trapped between the layers, providing greater warmth than a larger single purpose item. In addition, layering allows great flexibility to easily adapt and match changing weather conditions.
‘Wickability’/’Breathability’: the former refers to how well moisture can move through the fabric e.g to draw moisture away from your skin to the outer side and evaporate. The latter refers to how well that moisture vapour can pass through a fabric. Wool is extremely good for this, and with the technology available these days there are many very good synthetics out there now too. Without these traits though, many clothes out on the trail soon develop what is commonly known as ‘reek-ability’ 😉
Weight: it is not necessarily the be all and end all, but definitely an important factor, and can tilt the scales in favour of one item over another. It may sound trivial but shaving off 100gms or 200gms here and there can mean extra kilograms saved in the end. You just don’t want to be carrying or pulling any more than you have to
Colour: simple, DON’T WEAR WHITE! 🙂 If a helicopter is searching for you in a storm you want to be seen – black or bright, wear it loud, wear it proud.
THE ‘HMM… IT’S COLD BUT I’M HOT’ DILEMMA
The weather conditions in Greenland will vary from blue sunny skies to windy white outs, with temperatures potentially fluctuating anywhere from +5 degrees to -30 degrees Celsius, possibly all within the same day. Coupled with these changing conditions there is the constant element of your body's core heat building up whilst pulling an 80kg sled.
My particular dilemma? My body tends to run hot than not, and when I exercise I can get quite hot indeed and sweat a bit too. This can lead to problems because once you stop moving and your core temperature starts to lower, your sweat cools as well and chills you as it evaporates from your skin…
…this is why wickering and breathability are important 😉 Secondly, by layering my clothes correctly I give myself flexibility to more easily adapt to changing weather with great efficiency.
A ‘break glass in case of emergency’ jacket: it is going to be cold out there, but, it could also be… ‘COOOOLD!!!’ out there. For these occasions I have my Rab Batura jacket. How can I describe it… You know how a woollen jumper shrinks when it is put in the dryer? Well, imagine a massive super fluffy ridiculously warm duvet, filled with the down from European geese that are impervious to water and raised on paprika flavoured grass so hot it has been known to instantaneously combust. Place this legendary duvet in the dryer, shrink it down into the shape of a jacket and there’s your Batura for you. Yep, toasty huh.
Good warm pair of mittens: mittens are warmer than gloves. Why? Well, similar to how the Constructicons are more powerful combined as Devastator, the same goes for your fingers. When grouped together they have more strength than each digit on its own. Boiled and treated wool mitts are excellent starting ground here too, because wool will keep you warm even if it gets wet. Icelandic wool is the warmest too.
Properly fitted (and broken in!) ski boots: we’ve all been there before, a new pair of shoes rubs the heel or your toes the wrong way and within a couple of hours you have a raw spot and blood stain on your sock. No time outs on this trip unfortunately, it is 7-8hrs trekking a day for 4-5 weeks! Properly fitted and broken in boots are essential
Expedition sleeping bag: the bag I am taking fits in perfectly here, with a -29 degrees Celsius sleeping comfort temperature, limit of comfort at -40 degrees and -67 degrees extreme rating. It is big enough to accommodate both myself, boot liners and some other clothing as well for drying overnight too.
Camera: unfortunately memories can fade, but pictures last a lifetime and I like to try and make sure I can capture those magic moments when they happen. Definitely a worthwhile investment getting a good camera/recorder
Well that is it for now, I am about 90pc there with everything I need. I will also post a bit more including some additional pictures closer to the start so you can see what is coming along for the ride.
Before I go I would like to say a very well deserved special thank you to Rory (Mountain Equipment Manager) at Snow & Rock Covent Garden for all the constructive quality discussions on all kit and for really going out of his way to help me get ready for this expedition. Also thank you to Lee and Tommy/Greg at Braemar and Cairngorm Mountain Sports Scotland respectively, for their help in making sure my Nordic skis, boots and bindings were fitted perfectly, and in time for train back to London 🙂
NEXT WEEKS TOPIC: TRAINING
Until then, keep on smiling!