I’m elbow deep in fleeces, mittens, and wool socks! This is the 6th time I’ve packed for a multi-week polar expedition. You might think I’d have the process down to a science by now, but I still find it to be trying! We have a saying in the field that “two is one and one is none”, meaning pack extra because if something breaks in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, you can’t just run to Home Depot or Target for a replacement. The flip side of this mentality is that space, especially for storing personal gear, is extremely limited aboard ships — I will be sharing a small stateroom with narrow bunkbeds with two other scientists. So the competing interests of packing extras and being space conscious is always an internal battle! Luckily, we will have laundry facilities aboard the ship and we will be outfitted with some cold weather gear in Tromsø, so that cuts down on the amount of warm (and voluminous) layers I need to pack.
Here is an overview of what I’ve settled on. In addition to clothes and toiletries, I’m also bringing several “luxury items”, including noise canceling headphones, my travel watercolor kit, and good coffee (because I’m a shameless coffee addict and the ship only stocks instant coffee)! I find that while in the field, small items like these are huge moral boosters when things get tough!