Saturday, February 5, 2011

Arctic - clothing suggestions

Preparing to go to the Arctic

Summer v winter
The sun shines 24 hours in the summer, and barely ever shines at all in the winter.
The climate of the Arctic is characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers.

Resolute Bay's average high for the year is −13.3 °C (8.1 °F) while the average low for the year is −19.5 °C (−3.1 °F). Resolute has a very dry climate with an average precipitation of 150 mm (5.91 in) a year, most of it falling as snow from August to September. The record high for Resolute is 18.3 °C (64.9 °F) on July 18, 1962. The record low for Resolute is −52.2 °C (−62.0 °F) on January 7, 1966

How to be prepared for such extremes?  Layers - colder means more layers, warmer means taking layers off.

So rather than have a full length one-piece worksuit I suggest two pieces - a jacket and bib pants because of the flexibility to use either or both.

Add several layers of the following and you have your basic all weather Arctic clothes:

Next to your skin - something to wick moisture away when you are working and producing moisture (sweat).
You do not want sweat to evaporate on your skin and potentially freeze - frost bite is real - avoid the possibility since hypothermia is the next possible condition - you body core must stay warm - cold can kill you.

Polypropylene under garments wicks moisture away from your skin - consider the following articles made from "polypropylene" materials (read the labels - at least 50% plus polypropylene)

   head - combo balaclava watch cap - rolls up/down depending on your needs. Add an extra fleece head/ear band.
   neck - fleece neck warmer
   chest - turtleneck or crewneck thermal undershirt
   legs - thermal long-john pants (watch for thin fleece pants - very comfortable)
   feet - socks - overcalf preferred 
   hands - glove liners

If you tend to overheat easily you might consider a 1/4-zipper neck top

Does a particular brand of polypropylene clothing keep you warmer?  Not significantly more - but you might consider the "fleece" polypropylene for added warmth and softness - I suggest you watch for close out pricing. Check online as well as at ski shops for winter closeouts.

How many changes should I bring?  If you could do laundry once a week let that guide your quantity decision.  Three of some four of others?

Would you recommend a fleece vest?  Yes, it will provide you with an extra layer whether inside or outside - layers makes all the difference is adapting to climate changes.

Over you foundations add you favorite jeans, chamois, wool, cotton, shirts, shorts etc - we are starting in the humid and warm Gulf of Mexico and going to near 75 degrees North latitude - Arctic... prepare for the cold because you can always take it off.


Jacket and pants

I suggest a float coat and pants - so many times you are working on deck - anytime you are on deck you are required to have a PFD on - but remember a PDF just helps you float - it does nothing for hypothermia so that is why I recommend a float coat and float pants - its provides hypothermia and flotation protection - should you fall into the water.

Here is a recognized manufacturer and model: ( I have found the yellow-green color easier to see in poor light than red-orange)

Add the hood and its a great Arctic cold weather protection system:

See Mustang Survival for more information:



I have used these boots on deck commercial fishing in the Bering Sea etc for over 20 years -

Servus 16" XTRATUF steel toe rubber boots
If you have yachting deck boots - good enough - just remember that you should bring either way two pairs of felt insoles - standing on the felt insulates you from the cold rubber.

I also suggest a pair of low cut day-hikers - so many times when we go ashore we want to walk-hike and the above rubber boots are no hiking boot - a quick change to day-hikers and you will enjoy yourself.

Don't forget a set of flip-flop 'thongs' for the shower.

Finally - a little bit more protection for your face and hands

Cold freezing wind gets your attention real quick - wind chill ouch!
So I'd recommend a neoprene fleece lined face mask like this:

Watch for something like this at the ski shops during close out sales.

And gloves - remember a polypro liner - ski gloves will do the job ok.

you are not working in seawater so do not need platex rubber glove protection.
One last thought - when you are looking at these items - check to see if there is "wind block" built into it - stopping the wind from entering is a major part of staying warm.

Remember - we do not have room for hard shell luggage (if you bring it it will be stowed on the flybridge open weather deck - better choice is a seaman's duffle bag (or a dry 'dive' bag) or back-pack which can be folded up out of the way and stowed inside - my personal preference is a soft bag on wheels that can be back-packed if necessary. Many times this cannot be "fit" to lay flat inside so it must be stowed outside in your  empty ice-cooler for generic storage and impromptu deck seating.

(One checked bag only please - limit to 55lbs - you do not need more 'things' - put valuables in a day-pack carry on.)

Questions?  Email me anytime.

Lets Go North !

(More pictures are here)

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