In Antarctica we will go on winter training trips. These getaways let us hone our skills and also provide a kind of holiday away from base. Short trips out into the wild let us go out and explore the areas further away from base and will mean living in a tent for around a week, but it can often end up being a lot longer if the weather turns nasty. We’ll ride out on our skidoos and explore crevasses, do a spot of ice climbing or go say hello to the penguins.
Whilst out we use a lot of equipment that would be familiar to Scott and Shackleton, such as the Primus Stove. There are more modern equivalents, and although they may look a bit archaic, they really are hard to fault. Nothing too much to go wrong, easy to fix and use and great at what they were designed for. The Primus will keep us warm, cook our food and give us the water we need (by melting snow) whilst we’re out on the ice.
The stoves we use have not really changed in design from the one shown above that was used in the early polar expeditions.
Another piece of kit that has remained relatively unchanged is the Tilley Lamp. Used to light our tents, it also supplies quite a bit of heat in the Antarctic cold. As you can see below the tents look quite cosy with the Tilley Lamp burning away.
The tents we will stay in are bright red pyramid tents, and they themselves have been in use for many, many years. Simple to put up, strong enough to deal with the huge winds and big enough for a good nights sleep, and for any work and cooking we need to do whilst we shelter from the elements.
Again, the tents, the way they are set up and the sleeping arrangements inside would be recognisable to Scott or Shackleton. Although they have been updated, using modern breathable fabrics, and the poles are now aluminium instead of wood, the design remains pretty close to that of those used so many years ago.
Although some of the gear used might look a bit old-fashioned it is kit that is time-tested and reliable. Having your tent blow away or not being able to get yourself warm or have access to water when you’re out on the ice can be extremely serious. With tried and tested designs like these you can be confident that you will not only survive the night in the nothingness that is Antarctica but you might actually spend it in comfort!
The food rations we eat whilst camping-out are referred to as “man-food” rations. This comes from the days when dogs were used in Antarctica and the rations would be labelled as man-food and dog-food. Dogs are no longer allowed on the continent due to fears of spreading canine diseases to the seals but the man-food label is still used.
The rations are all cooked on the primus stove but with a little ingenuity you can bake, grill and even make ice-cream!