Black Friday Shopping For A South Pole Expedition

By Chris Powell

The biggest shopping day of the year is upon us: Black Friday.

While it’s true – I’m not known to spend hours in stores searching for just the right shirt or tie – my shopping trip this past weekend was epic. So from me to all those Black Friday athletic shoppers: #respect. I am a true amateur.

As I prepare to meet up with the South Pole Energy Challenge, for which Commvault is the official data partner, I have been doing half marathons, weight training and pulling a sled on a neighborhood trail (my wife and kids hope no one recognizes me dragging the sled). But nothing prepared me for the grueling five-hour adventure I had at REI last Sunday. You read that correctly: I shopped at REI for five hours. Who knew I had it in me?

As you can imagine, the list of supplies for the Challenge is long. Here are only five:

  • Wool-based layers. Cotton is a fashion-don’t for a polar expedition, as it traps moisture, and that moisture freezes. Just because it’s insanely cold at the South Pole, it doesn’t mean I won’t be sweating. Wool is the recommended fabric to both keep you warm and also wick perspiration away from the body. Who knew?
  • Piles of socks and gloves. Thin, mid-weight, heavy. Am I embarrassed to say that it was well over an hour of sock and glove shopping? Um, yes, yes I am.
  • One unbreakable bowl, utensils and two water bottles – yup, those are important. By the way, the food is going to be provided by Patagonia. Should be pretty awesome – really.
  • Goggles. Two pairs with different lenses for different lighting conditions. (Although we are there in the peak of summer with nearly 24 hours of sun.)
  • Inflatable mattress and pad. Needs to weigh as little as possible (remember: they go on that sled I am dragging), as well as thick as possible (this is the most important layer between the ice and me).

At the end of the five hours, it’s official. I much prefer the idea of 10 hours on skis as part of the final 10-day push to the South Pole.