Shopping *for* the final frontier

I am not an outdoorsy person, ordinarily. I like being outdoors if activities take me that way - working in the garden, having cold white wine on the deck on a balmy summer evening, lying in a deck chair any season in the middle of the night to watch meteors - but I'm not someone who finds things to do to be outdoors. 

You'd never know it to see what I'm packing. 

Chris and I went to the REI store in Reading last weekend - that wonderland of adventure gear and clothing. This expedition involved some highly technical and detailed conversations about: layering of hand gear and whether neoprene was the right outermost layer; layering of socks, and whether silk or polypropylene was best innermost layer; and the virtues of merino wool vs. a blend for long underwear (Results: neoprene, silk, and the blend). 

And then there are the rain pants.

Everyone assumes - and with good reason - that travelers venturing down to the Antarctic need to stay warm, and that is true; the Antarctic summer experience will be that of a typical New England spring - 30 - 50 degrees F.  Antarctica also happens to be the driest (take that, Sahara Desert!) and windiest place on earth. So warm and windproof layering is the primary dressing approach.

However, our on-shore excursions will be via Zodiac boats. There are no wharves or docks, remember. We pile into these boats from the ship and then pile out again on shore, or close to - we'll most likely be getting out in the water and wading ashore. We rent waterproof boots from the expedition company, but the rest is up to us, and waterproof gear is the order of the day. So yes, on the driest place on earth, I need to also think about waterproofing. 

The rain pants are reminiscent of snow pants, in that they are a protective layer, but there the resemblance ends. I used to dread wearing snow pants to school when I was little. Bulky and usually involving suspenders sort of mechanism to stay on, they took forever to get on and off. Which, if you are trying to get to your bus at the end of the day, was aggravating and stress-inducing. But the rain pants are remarkably light and flexible - not like snow pants at all!

What I have not been thinking about - or trying not to think about - is if all this expedition gear makes me look fat(ter). Not that I need to impress anyone, but I don't want to be confused for a penguin in our photos. 

Photos next time - promise!