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6 June, 2004


It's been said that "there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."

The weather at Toolik Lake: 60*F and sunny; or wind and blizzards. We have to prepare for it all. The packing list for the trip was adapted from the Toolik Lake field guide:

"The most important rule in dressing for arctic work is to stay dry and warm. The second rule is to expect any weather at any time of year. Snow is frequent even in summer months. Layer clothing and choose fabrics that wick perspiration away from your body and hold little moisture. Clothing should be loose, providing insulating air spaces between layers and the ability to regulate temperature by adding or removing layers. Fabrics to consider are Polar Plus Fleece, Polypropylene, Capilene, Gore-Tex, wool, and silk. Avoid cotton fabrics and jeans for working outside at a remote field site."

Maintaining body temperature is a vital consideration for living things. Cold-blooded animals go dormant, search for shade or bask in the sun. Mammals sweat or grow hair or hibernate. The science of staying warm is almost as old as life. For many animals that live in cold environments (or work there!), keeping warm means staying dry and trapping air next to the skin. For hairless apes, er, humans, we layer our clothing. Cotton clothing is not recommended for work in cold regions because when cotton gets wet, it sucks our body heat away from our body to the cold air around us - Bad idea when it's -20*F outside.

Here is what my gear looks like before and after I packed it: --

1. Cold weather: long underwear (top and bottom), fleece jacket, windproof fleece vest, waterproof top and bottom, gloves and liners, wool socks, hat, neck gator, etc.

Work clothes: pants, shirts, t-shirts, cap, etc.

Living in the field: tent, toiletries, camp towel, first aid (splint, bandages, gauze pads, iodine, iodine tablets, whistle, emergency bag, matches, etc.), compass, books, water bottle, rope, knife, mosquito jacket, comfortable shoes, day pack, water bottle, mug, baby wipes

Working in the field: computer, adapters, camera, journal

Still to come (i.e., waiting for me in Fairbanks): sleeping pad, sleeping bag and pillow; waders so we can tromp through the water; waterproof with the fingers cut off so my hands stay mostly dry but so I can still work on samples.

The cat stayed at home. --

2. Packed! --

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