The correct boots are vital
for Antarctica's extreme cold environment. This page covers
footwear that is suitable to wear in Antarctica in the summer
or winter months.
These boots are rated by the manufacturers
for temperatures down to -148 °F / -100 °C
-148°F / -100°C rated cold weather boots
- Extreme cold and dry conditions
plastic or leather hiking boots cannot be worn when it is
very cold, cold weather boots in Antarctica are known as
Bunny Boots or Mukluks amongst other names.
Extreme cold weather boots
have soft uppers, thick rubber or synthetic
soles, insulation that is usually removable and thick insoles
to prevent heat loss to the snow and ice. The flexible uppers
and lacing system allow you to get them on while already
wearing one or more pairs of thick socks, and allow for
flexibility of fit. It is important not to squash socks
down too much as it is the trapped air that is the real
are great at keeping you warm and suitable for the great
majority of circumstances, though you'll need something
more specialist for exceptionally rugged terrain or climbing.
If you intend to walk or stand around on smooth-ish ground
in incredibly cold conditions, they will fulfill their function
If you're planning on a trip to Antarctica
you'll need some suitable substantial footwear. These notes
are specific to those going to Antarctica, but are applicable to
any hiking boots that you may need for cold and rugged climates.
Antarctica is rugged.
There aren't any footpaths and walking will be at best on sandy
or pebble beaches. The landscape that is not snow and ice is rocky
and pretty rough at that. So a good solid substantial sole to any
footwear is needed so that you don't feel all of those rugged Antarctic
rock formations too directly.
Summer temperatures will be at
mild Northern hemisphere winter levels at best. It may well
get below freezing point, so the boots should be warm enough and roomy enough
to take a pair of under socks and also thicker warmer hiking socks.
Your footwear needs to be warm, water-resistant,
supportive (ankle height) and with a good sole. Comfortable also helps of course
and fortunately modern walking boots are much, much better than then used to be
not so many years ago. Gone are the days of breaking in boots long before you needed
to use them in earnest from a stiff uncompliant starting point.
Also gone are the days when it was necessary as my grandfather
advised me to my great horror as a fastidious teenager, to p**s in them and leave
them over-night (that's what they used to do in the army apparently - India, Northwest
frontier circa 1922).
It is sensible to get used to your boots and wear them around
town or at least the house for a while before you set off for the airport to go
south. It's not a good idea to put them on for the very first time in your cabin
to go ashore and see your first penguin colony close-up. They do arrive pretty
much ready-to-go, but as with all footwear it depends on how standard your feet
Socks - Don't "spoil the ship for a ha'porth o' tar". Get
some nice comfy warm socks too. A good quality light-weight pair for next to your
skin and then some "hiking" socks to go over these. These are usually made so as
not to have seams in uncomfortable positions and may be specially cushioned on the
areas where the weight is taken.
- cold and wet conditions
boots are rated by the manufacturers for temperatures down
to - 40 °F / - 40 °C
Waterproof cold weather boots -
will be on a ship and making boat landings ashore,
would be very useful! While you won't deliberately be
wading through water, a missed footing into just a couple
of inches of water could result in an uncomfortably
soggy foot for quite a while afterwards.
For use in and around boats in the Antarctic summer,
the modern take on rubber wellington style boots are ideal
with a close fitting and insulated neoprene upper.
They are much better for walking in than traditional
wellington boots and are increasingly used in Antarctica
by scientists, guides and tourists alike . They are waterproof
up to the top so you don't have to worry when getting in
or out of the zodiac in shallow water and you can be comfortable
walking around in them all day long.
Clothing for cold conditions -
layering is the key