Choosing an Expedition to Antarctica – What you Must Know Addendum

The response to the recent series of articles I published on what you must know when choosing an expedition to Antarctica has been beyond fantastic – thank you.  As such, I wanted to expand a little further and publish a short addendum post to Part Four of the series and add in a couple more items of equipment you should consider before your expedition (my thanks to Anil for the first two excellent recommendations). If you missed the earlier parts of the series you can read Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four at each of these links.antarcticaunionglacier-02027Most expedition ships will provide you with a pair of rubber boots (Wellingtons) for zodiac cruises and shore landings. However, these boots are generally not insulated and provide poor warmth and support (even if you bring inner sheep skin liners). They are also frankly pretty disgusting having been used and abused by countless participants over many years. I recommend you plan to bring your own boots and that you purchase a pair of Arctic Sport Muck Boots. These insulated waterproof boots are absolutely ideal for expeditions to Antarctica and will keep your feet both warm and dry. They are also relatively inexpensive and useful to have around the house for occasions such as washing cars once you get home. Hiking boots and similar type boots are not suitable for zodiac operations and shore landings in Antarctica. You absolutely must have a boot that comes up to just below the knee and that is warm and completely waterproof. A pair of Arctic Sport Muck Boots will last you many years and will keep you warm, dry and clean. I actually also use my Arctic Sport Muck Boots on board whenever I am photographing from the deck of the ship.

The next item is actually more of a tip than a piece of equipment. You should ensure you mark your dry bag (along with all your possessions) clearly with your full name and contact details. All equipment tends to look alike on expeditions and its best to avoid any confusion by clearly labelling all of your bags and equipment. I even go so far as labelling my card readers as these are items participants tend to borrow quite often. Items such as camera equipment can me labelled with a label maker and clothing and bags can be labelled either with  a sharpie or with permanent tags.Antarctica-7003-EditOn the question or sunglasses or snow goggles for zodiac operations I tend to prefer sunglasses in all but the heaviest of blizzards. Sunglasses are easy to photograph with where as it is necessary to remove goggles to actually see through the cameras viewfinder. Personally I like and use sunglasses from Maui Jim as they have no colour tint and are heavily polarized. For goggles I like and use Zeal.SouthGeorgia2015-8184-EditAlthough I briefly touched on clothing in Part Four of this series I want to expand a little further on the outer waterproof shell you will need to wear for zodiac operations and shore landings. If possible, I recommend you purchase Goretex bibs rather than pants as these will afford your lower back much needed protection when you are bending over in the zodiac. There is nothing more uncomfortable than salt spray down ones lower back and a good pair of waterproof bibs will ensure you are protected from this unfortunate and uncomfortable eventuality.

It is a very good idea to take a number of microfibre cleaning cloths with you and to keep one handy in an outer jacket pocket at all times. Salt spray, snow, sleet and rain drops are all a fact of life in Antarctica and you will have to clean the front element of your lens regularly during most outings. A lens hood is also a very good idea for all your lenses as it affords some additional protection for the front element of the lens.

Micro-spikes and crampons are not required in Antarctica and are best left at home unless you have a very specific need for them. If you do bring spikes with you keep in mind that you will not be allowed to put them on until you go ashore.Antarctica1DX-7760I strongly recommend you purchase and download SanDisks Rescue Pro software to recover any images from damaged or accidentally formatted CF, SD and CFAST cards.  I have used this software on several occasions to recover images from cards that clients have accidentally formatted or from cards that are proving otherwise unreadable. This useful piece of software is absolutely worth investing in when you weigh the importance of your photographs against the cost of the expedition.

Underwater housings can be used in Antarctica with great success but you should check with your photographic leader before hand on what sort of opportunities you may have to use this sort of specialised equipment. Not all expeditions cater to underwater photographers and it is best to understand if you will have an opportunity to use this equipment before you schlep it all the way to Antarctica. As some of you are aware I recently invested in a Nauticam NDA-1DXMKII underwater housing for one of my Canon EOS 1DX MKII cameras and I plan to use this in Antarctica this November with a new pole-cam system. The pole-cam system has been designed to facilitate underwater photography without actually having to get into the water. I will have more details on this new custom made system soon.

3 thoughts on “Choosing an Expedition to Antarctica – What you Must Know Addendum

  1. Your photos are amazing! Thank you for the tips, although I am not a photographer myself, I am dreaming about joining a similar expedition in the close future! Do you get to wear your Arctic Sport Boots back at home as well, or did you purchase them especially for this expedition? I am thinking about the investment in clothing and footwear involved in planning such a trip…


    1. Thank you – I actually use my Arctic sports boots a lot at home as well as when travelling. Well worth the investment. Cheers


  2. The photos are absolutely breathtaking! Thank you for sharing! Also, thanks for the tips for preparing for a similar expedition. I hadn’t heard of ships providing wellies, but I would never have left for such an expedition without appropriate waterproof and well insulated winter boots either! Thanks for the post – I really enjoyed it.


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