"Adventure is just bad plamning" - Roald Amundsen
Two years ago when I decided I wanted to undertake this expedition, the intricacies of polar equipment were completely new to me. Over the next 700 days or so I asked endless questions in a hunt to find the most reliable set up I could. I soon found out that every single person has their own preference and until you test and re-test your kit and equipment you will never fully trust it. Some people will agree with what I have below, some people will strongly disagree, all I can say is that everything below has been tried and tested repeatedly and performed in the harshest conditions (apart from the lanky man-child in the middle - he's rubbish). My real hope is that there will be a youngster reading this hoping to plan their own expedition in the near future who is looking for some info on kit, I hope the below is useful to you, any questions please don't hesitate to hit me up!
The Shackleton Jacket
Both designed and manufactured in Great Britain, I was lucky enough to visit the factory and work with the designers from The Shackleton Company to design the perfect outer layer. Stuffed with the highest grade down and made with British materials, the Shackleton Jacket will keep me warm down to -60C yet weighs in at under a kilogram. Based off their Endurance Jacket, there are only a couple of modifications (such as pockets for electronics and extra long toggles for use with mitts).
When I'm actually skiing I'll be wearing a layering system of merino wool under layer, a windproof pair of salopettes on my lower half, with a ventilation system up the entire leg. I'll have a fleece base layer, a thin down layer on cold days, and a wind proof outer shell. All made with British materials in the Shackleton workshop near Manchester.
THE ACAPULKA SLED
the skis - Fischer
BOOTS - Baffin
FOOD - BASE CAMP FOOD
COMMS - NSSL
Weighing in at around 4.6kg thanks to a mix of kevlar, carbon fibre and epoxy resin. The pulk is incredibly strong yet lightweight. The technology has advanced dramatically since the day of Scott and Shackleton, with pulks getting consistently lighter as materials improve. The chaps at Acapulka know pretty much everything there is to know about pulks. At over 210cm long it is quite a beast with a volume of over 600l. Plenty of space to store everything I need to keep me going for 2 months on the ice.
Fischer E99 Xxtralite - Touring skis which are exceptionally lightweight yet very robust, ideal for a thrashing across the Antarctic Plateau. They have a wood core which is air channelled to shave off a few extra grams. Due to the fact I'm a rather hefty 6ft 5 inches and over 100kg, I need to spread my weight as much as possible to make sure I don't break through the surface of any crevasses, my E99's are over two metres long at 210cm, giving me the maximum weight dispersal.
As someone still serving in the Light Infantry I can vouch that your feet are your most valuable asset and you need to look after them! I needed to find a boot that had the most reliable binding system, was warm and also comfortable. The Baffin 3 pin ticked every single one of those boxes. The 3 pins system combined with Voile Bindings was unanimously recommended as the most reliable out there, even with my horrific skiing technique. The better skiers out there will opt for a Nordic binding, due to the fact my technique can be described more as trudging than skiing, it was important I had something that could take a beating and be repaired easily if something did go wrong.
Undeniably the thing I care about most! To give you an idea of how important food is to me on this trip - as I am sitting here writing this I'm burning around 3000 calories just to keep myself alive, when I am in Antarctica I'll be burning almost three times that at between 7000 - 9000 calories every single day. To try and make up for the deficit I teamed up with the awesome folks at Base Camp Food, they stock a variety of the best meals in the game, all tried and tested, so every meal I am mixing it up rather than being stuck with the same meal over and over again for 50 days. Keep your eyes peeled for a blog soon about what I'll be eating.
I need to keep my satphone charged at all times down in Antarctica, it is my absolute life line. How do I manage that? By harnessing the 24 hour sunlight using my solargorilla panel to charge a powergorilla battery pack. The solar panel is waterproof so I don't have to worry about any condensation or frost getting inside, I've absolutely abused both pieces of equipment in the Arctic and trust them completely. You can use the code AG17 to get 15% any of their products, I was a customer before the expedition and will continue to be so for many years.
Due to the fact I am travelling alone, my only lifeline if something goes wrong is through satellite communications. I'll be carrying 1 x Iridium 9575 as well as 1 x Iridium Go, both which I was able to get through NSSL Global. The Irdium Go allows me to connect my Iphone to the Iridium network, so like a true pesky millenial I'll still be able to update my Instagram and Twitter from the middle of Antarctica!