Saving on Sub-Zero Shopping

A trip to Antarctica is not easy on the pocketbook. But when you are ready to check this off your list, Daniel Pott shares some tips on how to stretch your budget when it comes time to stock up on cold-weather gear.

I live in Florida. Daytime temperatures are normally in the 80s or 90s Fahrenheit. A cold winter means mid-50s. Those are the days when my co-workers arrive bundled in puffy Carhartt jackets. My own wardrobe consists almost exclusively of short sleeve t-shirts. An extreme weather condition in my life might be New York City or Europe in late autumn. That’s when I throw on a leather jacket and tough it out. There was never a question of buying sweaters or mittens if I could get away with less. It would be like buying a tuxedo: way too much money for something I’d wear once.

Bundling up in Antarctica

This year I decided to visit Antarctica. It’s an expensive trip. There are only a handful of cruise ships in the Southern Ocean. You’ll have to board one of these in Tierra del Fuego, which you can reach via Private Jets Charter. But hey, it’s not going to get cheaper in the future, and you have to visit Antarctica once in your life. It’s also darned cold. Minus 12 degrees celsius during the summer on the northernmost arm of the Antarctic peninsula sounds like a fictitious temperature to someone who is more accustomed to see thermometers read three digits than one. I decided it was time to spend some money on cold weather clothes.

Googling “sub-zero clothing” brings up a British company with that name and the first item on their front page is a $90 undershirt. Not cheap enough for me. Sierra Trading Post provides better deals and I chose them.

First up is base layer, right next to your skin. Sierra has silk long underwear, top and bottom for $25 each. It’s lightweight, which is good because packing space will be at a premium. It’s warm, which is good because it’s darned cold out there. And it provides wicking. Wicking was a new word to me, but it’s apparently a big deal among cold weather clothiers. It refers to the action of drawing moisture away from your skin. Similarly you’ll need glove liners for your gloves and sock liners for your socks. Socks are already shoe liners themselves, so you can see there’s no shortage of layers.

The mid layer is for insulation. Wool is traditional here and merino wool seems to be the most popular. Merino is soft and has a high-warmth to weight ratio. I went with a merino cardigan at $140. It retails at $240, if that means anything. In addition, I already own a sweater that my dad gave to me as a Christmas present 10 years ago. I’ve never worn it because it is unpleasantly warm in Florida. I also stocked up on long wool socks. The expedition staff makes a point of saying “You can never have too many socks!” Fleece neck gaiters and balaclavas are quite cheap, in the $7 range.

The outer layer is to repel the elements. It’s easy to spend a thousand bucks or more on a high-tech insulated jacket stuffed with the down feathers of the rarest birds and maybe you should, but since I’m counting on my other layers to keep me warm I’m opting for a simpler waterproof jacket in the $100 range. There’s much less variation in prices for gloves and boots. Expect to pay $50 to sheath your hands adequately and $80 (retail $140) for snow-stompers.

Altogether I checked out at $550. I had mentally prepared to drop seven or eight hundred, so I was pretty satisfied with that. But wait! Searching revealed a coupon for 30% off. $385 plus shipping. Not bad.

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Private Jets Charter.