Greenland ExpeditionNorth Pole Expeditions

South Pole Expedition: ♦ ItineraryClothing

South Pole Clothing & Equipment List


Purchasing new clothing & equipment for a polar expedition is a challenge in itself. There are so many new products on the market that it is easy to become overwhelmed by the options. Our recommendations we are based on clothing & equipment that we have personally used on Polar expeditions. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

 In the list below, we emphasis “ systems .” An excellent one-piece wind suit or a great ski boot is worthless if not used in a proper system . All your “systems,” whether they are clothing, sleeping or skiing, must be tested to insure that all items are compatible.

NorthWinds supplies Group Equipment:

- Tents: Hilleberg tent have been customized with snow flaps, insulated floors, and tent poles that are installed in the sleeves for quick set up.

- Radical designs Pulks (sled) with trace & harness

- MSR stoves mounted on stove board, pots, & cooking items, and stoves

- Expedition First Aid kit (you still need to bring personal blister kit, your favorite pain killers and vitamins)

- Repair kits (bring a repair kit for your Therm-a-rest)

- Navigation: GPS, compass mounted on holder

- Communication system: 2 Iridium phones

Developing Your Arctic Clothing System:

On an expedition to the South Pole you can expect temperatures to be around -20°C at the start, with days of -15°C as we near the summer solstice, and colder -30°C as we near the South Pole. We will be working hard, pull pulks uphill into katabatic winds. You can expect wind-chills up to -50°C! At this temperature, exposed skin will freeze in less than 30 seconds. Your clothing system needs to wick away perspiration, protect you from the wind and insulate you from the cold.

 - The first layer is worn next to your skin. This layer must wick perspiration away from your skin to keep you dry and warm: capilene polyester is excellent, untreated polyester, wick-able polyesters (polypropylene) and the new smart wool are also good. Do not bring cotton, as it has poor wicking properties.

-The second layer (or layers) provides insulation. This layer retains your body heat, and must also wick perspiration away from your body. Pile, polar fleece and synchilla are all great. (From now on they will be called "fleece") as they dry quickly. Wool is not recommended, it is heavy and difficult to dry.

-The third layer offers protection from the wind. The more wind proof a garment is, the less breathable it will be. A mountain parka or anorak made of a suplex, ventile or micro fiber is excellent. Most Gortex and waterproof-breathable materials do not breathe in temperature below -20 C.

-The fourth layer offers extra insulation and is worn when you are taking a break, repairing a broken binding on the trail or setting up camp. A down or synthetic filled expedition parka and pants are ideal. Pants need full side zips to allow putting them on over boots. These insulating layers are also used if you go for an unplanned swim in the polar ice and must continue to ski in wet clothes.



- 2 hats; must offer insulation, wind protection and cover ears. A fleece with a wind-shell cover is great. Lowe makes a good one.

- 2 pair of eye protection: 2 goggles or 1 goggle & 1 pr. glasses. Goggle need to be double lenses, and offer good visibility in flat lighting (violet lenses are very good). Sun glasses need to block side light such as glacier glasses or wrap around glasses. All eye protection must block 90% of UV rays to protect from snow blindness

- 1- 2 neck gaiters (fleece neck tube to protect lower face)

- Optional: balaclava or cowl (knit or fleece that covers head & neck)


- Optional: 1 – 2 pr. polypropylene or lightweight polar fleece glove liners. These are good for finger dexterity, like operating cameras.

- 2 pr. insulated ski gloves with leather palm that are wind proof & breathable, large enough to wear over glove liners. A thinner and a thicker pr. is ideal.

- 1 pr. Expedition Mitts, large enough to easily pull over insulated gloves. NorthWinds makes an Expedition Mitt; see Expedition Support for more information.


- Optional: 2 pr. polypro sock liners

- 1 pr. VBL inners (Vapor Barrier Liners) or 6 – 8 foot size plastic bags

- 2 pr. med. weight socks

- 2 pr. thick expedition socks

- Optional: camp booties, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) sells good one called Hut Booties 2

- Ski boots see notes below


- 2 pr. top and bottom or one-piece (with threw the crotch zip) long under-wear (see First Layer above)

- 1 pr. thick fleece pants

- 1 pr. medium fleece pants

- 1 fleece shirt (fleece 100) to wear as second layer over long under-wear

- 1 light weight fiber fill jacket or pull over (check out: Patagonia 's puffball pullover, MEC has a Northern Lite Pullover, Integral Designs makes a Rundle Jacket or PLQ Jacket)

- Wind-proof jacket or Anorak (see notes on Third Layer)

- Wind pants, (see notes on Third Layer) or Soft Shell pants or bib pants (with crotch zip)

- Expedition parka, (see notes on Forth Layer)

- Expedition over-pants: fiberfill with full side zippers (see notes on Forth Layer)

Ski System

Boots & Bindings

Many ski boot & binding systems have been tried, many have failed, none are fail proof. Here are some of your best options that have been tested on Polar Expeditions.

Option #1 We recommend the custom made Afta Expedition boot with a Meindl inner boot liner (this is a climbing boot liner). The boots come with a felted liner, but it does not wear well, felts to your socks and is hard to dry if you get them wet. The Meindl liner (or any climbing boot liner that has a water-proof inner layer) adds ankle support and acts as a vapor barrier so that it is not necessary to dry out your boot liners every night. Use this boot with a Voile 3 pin w/ cable binding. The weakness in this system is that the binding pin holes in the toe of your boot can pull out. The solution is to add the cable to the binding. To add warmth, NorthWinds makes a custom made insulated over gator that insures warm feet. See Expedition Support for more information.

Option #2 Another system is a soft boot system that uses a Sorel, Baffin Boot, or Acton boot (these are rubber soled with nylon upper and knee high removable liners) with a Hummock binding that straps onto your boot and use a step-in Solomon binding. Check out: . You may need to make straps longer for large size boots.

Option #3 A back-country boot such as: Alpina, Rossinal…that works with a NNN BC binding. This is a lighter weight system good for the Greenland Ice Cap and the South Pole where temperatures are not as extreme as the North Pole. You will need to add an insulated over-boot. MEC sells an insulated over-boot. NorthWinds makes a custom made insulated over gator that insures warm feet. See Expedition Support for more information.

Note on over-boots: they will need to be glued and screwed on. I've had the best luck with Shoe Goo. Use a washer under the screws to keep them from pulling out.

 Skis, Skins & Poles

- Skis: You need a back-country (BC) cross country ski with full metal edges. We recommend: Fischer Europa 99 or 109, Asnes BC , or Black Diamond Aurora (indestructible but heavy).

- Skins: To pull a heavy pulk you will need ½ ski skins, screwed into the mid section of the base of your ski. No matter what they tell you in the store, skins do not stick in extreme cold.

- Poles: Ski poles must be strong but not too heavy, handle straps should be adjustable to fit your large expedition mitts (you may need to modify the straps to make them large enough.) Some folks prefer adjustable poles like the Black Diamond “Traverse” or “Expedition.” If poles are not adjustable we recommend they be shorter than your standard length as you will be leaning forward when pulling your pulk. NorthWinds used the Swix Expedition ski pole.

Winter sleeping system:

Although wind-chill temperatures can be -50°C it is surprisingly warm in the tent due to a greenhouse effect and 24 hours of sunlight. We also place in fully insulated floor in the tents (made of thin evizote pads). You will need:

- Winter down sleeping bag good to -30 C

- Sleeping pad system: 1 closed celled foam (ridge-rest, Z-lite) 1 Therm-a-rest (ProLite or Base Camp) or the new down filled air mattresses (heavier but oh so comfy) Exped Dowmat 7

Personal Items:

- you will NOT need a head lamp, as there is 24 hours of light

- personal toilet kit: tooth brush, small tube of tooth paste, comb, hair elastics for long hair, nail file or nail clippers….etc.

- 2 chap stick (1 for re-supply) recommend Dermetone

- 2 skin cream (1 for re-supply) the dry polar conditions cause skin to crack on hands and flake off body like dandruff

- 1 small sun screen (face is covered most of the time)

- women - tampons

- men- most men find it better to shave as ice in beards is not fun

- small personal repair kit for your Therm-a rest, skis…etc.

- small personal first aid kit for blisters, minor aches and pains

- small quick dry trail wash cloth (Note: not listed under optional)

- 1 duffle bags to haul gear to Patriot Hills

- 3 – 4 stuff sacs for personal items, snack bag…etc.


- Treats to share at degree celebrations (when you cross a line of latitude)

- Photos of your loved ones

- 2 small books (1 for re-supply)

- Journal

- vitamins


-Northwinds will have 2 Iridium phone. We recommend that you get your own SIM card, that you can put in a NorthWinds phone, to make personal calls or up dates to a personal website. Or you may wish to purchase or rent a Iridium phone.

Music & Cameras

- Mini disc player (music) & spare batteries, or ipod

- Camera, film & spare batteries (lithium batteries last longer in the cold).

Note: if you are going to purchase a point and shoot, look for a waterproof camera that takes AA batteries.

•  NorthWinds will bring a Solar Re-charging system

NorthWinds is a distributor for:

Hilleberg Tents, Harvest Foodworks, Fischer skis (and Swix poles), and Integral Designs.