Antarctica/Aconcagua Gear List: Sunglasses, Water Purification, Backpack, Sleeping Bag, and Down Booties

T-minus 9 days until I leave for over 6 weeks on this epic adventure to ski on the Antarctic Peninsula and Aconcagua, one of the seven summits. And for sure…I’m felling the pressure.


julbo-spectron-x6-lenseI’ve had these Julbo Explorer glacier glasses for about three years, waiting for the right opportunity to bust them out. Well, it’s finally here, and with only a 5% light transition thru the Alti-Spectron X6 lenses, my eyes will love me. By blocking the UVA, UVB and UVC (the julbo-explorer-provide-good-coveragehighest energy and most dangerous) rays of the sun, the mirrored lenses protect your eyes very well without being overly dark to wear during cloudy days. The Explore frame provides great coverage and the removable side-shields add even more protection from the sun and wind. To avoid fogging because of the close fit, Julbo added a few vents in the frame to provide increased airflow and they are held tight to your head with adjustable earpieces and an optional head strap.


msr-miox-and-extra-saltWater and hydration is a huge concern, mainly for Aconcagua, and I’m sure we will be doing a combination of melting snow, as well as treating and purifying water. Here at home, I am a big fan of the MSR Hyperflow. At only 7 oz, it’s light, pumps fast and provides instantaneous fresh, drinkable water free of bacteria and protozoa. However, technically the Hyperflow is only a water filter and not a “water purifier”, and considering the fact that I’ve heard that Aconcagua is not the most sanitary mountain in the world, I think a higher level of protection against viruses is in order.

Miox electrode and salt compartment.

msr-miox-instructionsEnter the MSR Miox, a battery powered, self contained water treatment plant in the palm of your hands. The Moix is a pretty techy tool and was created in part with the US military. In a nut shell, the Miox makes a salt-solution in relative strength to the water you are treating andmsr-mioxx-battery-and-salt-indicator-lights how much water you are treating. The solution is then added to the water, wait 20 minutes, and viola…you are drinking clean water.

miox-saftey-indicator-stripsOf course since it runs on batteries, I’ll have to have some extras of those, as well as some extra salt. Luckily, the Miox has built-in lights that indicate when these things need replacing or topping off. The Miox comes with some indicator strips the help reassure you that the water you are about to drink is indeed safe, but I’ve found after some use, you start to leave these at home. The Miox takes a little time to master, but will be handy for our uses on Aconcagua.


Of course I can’t only rely on the Miox for clean water and I’ll be taking a good supply of Aqua Mira chlorine-dioxide tablets as backup, for when I’m not wanting to futz with the Miox. I prefer to treat water with chlorine-dioxide as opposed to iodine due to the side effects of iodine consumption that sometimes lead to diarrhea, fever, swelling, rashes, headaches and well as confusion. And I sure don’t need anymore of that.

black-diamond-anarchist-avalung-side-accessOne of the hardest choices for me on this trip was deciding what backpack to bring for skiing in Antarctica. Since I’ll be carrying a lot of mountaineering equipment, like a helmet, crampons, rope, harness, etc, I really wanted to a top load loader ‘cuz they are much easier to pack and stuff than a panel/clamshell design. Second, since I’ll be skiing with a large group (5 people) and in unfamiliar terrain (as well as with a bunch of other like minded, unpredictable, testosterone pumping dudes) I want to stack all the odds in my favor in the event of an avalanche. And that means…a Black Diamond AvaLung backpack.

ice-clipper-slotsMy choice for this trip is a 32L Anarchist AvaLung. It’s a top loader for easy filling, but also has a side access zipper (newer models have back panel access) if you need something quick, as well as a separate outside pocket for your avalanche tools. The waist belt of the Anarchist also has slots to accept an Ice Clipper, which is nice for holding gloves, prusiks, ice screws and other things you might need when traveling on a glacier.

It’s booty time!

There is nothing like putting on some down booties when chilling at camp. I own a pair of Sierra Design Booties that work great when conditions are cold and dry…like they will most likely be high on Aconcagua…as well as mid-winter conditions here at home. They aren’t that great in wet conditions because the sole is mostly fabric…though it is still quite durable since there is a tick pad beneath your feet….and the newer versions now look to have a waterproof sole. They are also relatively lightweight and very packable, since there is not a big thick sole that is hard to compress. I have another pair of booties with a beefier/rubberized sole that I use in the springtime, but they aren’t nearly as warm as these booties from SD.mountain-hardwear-king-tut

For nighttime, I own a Mountain Hardwear King Tut -20 degree sleeping bag…now the Wraith SL in the MH lineup. It’s pretty monstrous and has a huge amount of loft since it’s made with 800 fill-power down, and the long version has plenty of room for keeping water bottles and boot liners warm in the footbox. It also has a huge draft color which seals out the cold when it’s down right chilly!

That is one FAT draft collar!

The King Tut I have has a GORE Dry-Loft exterior membrane, which works great at keeping the down dry and protected from the outside world…read, condensation. Some fabrics may claim better breathability, in a laboratory, but will a person see much difference in the real world? Tough to say. They are also probably lighter, but I’d rather deal with a little extra weight and try to vent out the excess heat, than have a wet bag from all the frost falling from the top of the tent and soaking into the bag day after day.


Last but not least, I’m bringing three books with me, since I won’t be distracted by this electronic box that sits in front of me for a lot of the time at home. One is The Third Man Factor, By John Geiger, which talks about the phenomenon of people feeling another presence with them, guiding them, when they are forced into life and death survival situations. The second is Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortensen and David Relin. A tale about a mountaineer’s quest to build schools and improve the live of many children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The third book is The Edge of Never, which I will try to read before watching the DVD. Good luck…right?


21 Responses to “Antarctica/Aconcagua Gear List: Sunglasses, Water Purification, Backpack, Sleeping Bag, and Down Booties”

  1. 1 Jason Oct 23rd, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Awesome man! I like the pack selection especially. Good one for sure. I gotta read the Third Man Factor, looks great. Any updates on how you are going to blog about the trip?

  2. 2 Nick Oct 23rd, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Steve – any other recommendations of Julbo glasses? They seem to be the most highly recommended glacier glasses.

    Have the same SD down booties – agree that they are not the greatest in wet conditions (and I have ripped up the soles a bit as well).

  3. 3 bfein Oct 23rd, 2009 at 10:50 am

    The Julbo Reflex have been my go to pair of glasses for everyday use and glacier travel. They come with 5 different interchangeable lenses, and they are very streamlined and work great. Nice choice on the books Rando. I went through Three Cups of Tea in AK while waiting out bad weather and it is a fantastic read.

  4. 4 Brent Oct 23rd, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Greg Mortensen is an amazing person… you’ll enjoy reading Three Cups of Tea, and then you’ll want to get involved.

    I have the newer wraith-sl -20 sleeping bag. It was way too warm for kilimanjaro, but not a bad trait to have. I wish mine had the dryloft shell instead of the conduit shell. The conduit often has ice integrated with it in the morning, as in between the shell fibers and in the membrane! Ever used a vapor liner inside your down bags? I have grown to like them for 2+ night trips. It really cuts down or eliminates condensation from your body, but the stuff from your breath still is an issue. Just watch it when you get out if your thermals are a bit clammy, brrr!!

  5. 5 randosteve Oct 23rd, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Jason, I will update TetonAT with photos and text when I can. I will also be calling Randokitty back in the states and she will be posting updates as well. I’m taking a satellite phone to Aconcagua, so hopefully it works on the mountain.

    Nick, The Bivouac seems to be a good model as well and not as glacier-glassy looking. The side shields also come off and they look a little more like a ‘normal’ sunglasses that way as well. I like the Race model for everyday BC skiing here in the Tetons.

    Good the hear I got one good book to read. Since I started TetonAT in 2006, I can’t remember the last time I actually finished a book, since most of my free time is spent building posts and doing “research”.

  6. 6 Carson Oct 23rd, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Steve – don’t forget one of these:

  7. 7 randosteve Oct 23rd, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    That is killer Carson. At least my upper lip will stay warm. Can you get me one???

  8. 8 nanook Oct 25th, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    any chance you’ll share your thoughts on tents/stoves/ect? Love to hear how everything works out up high and down south, and what doesn’t work, for those of us who are planning high-mountain trips in the near future.

  9. 9 randosteve Oct 26th, 2009 at 5:36 am

    next post nanook!

  10. 10 nanook Oct 26th, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Love to hear what works and doesn’t in different conditions – even if you have to end up criticizing your own sponsors gear.

    The reason I’m saying this is that it would give you a lot more credence when you are talking about their gear you like (esp when it is some of their more expensive). Otherwise we just think, well…

    Obviously its a fine line, but it would really bring something to the website if you are willing to walk it.

  11. 11 randosteve Oct 26th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Whatever you say Nanook. :roll:

  12. 12 nanook Oct 26th, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    You seem very fond of your sponsors gear – not talking about competitors gear when asked about is a good example – I would love a bit more roundedness in your reviews, but I go to Wildsnow for that. I suppose there are limits to what a sponsored athlete can say.
    Would love another source though and would love it if you can prove me wrong.

    Have a great trip, I’m interested in what works out.

  13. 13 nanook Oct 26th, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Sorry, thats a bad example and there is no edit button, so I will have to elaborate – I was thinking about your comments on headlamps.
    When asked about stuff like that – it would be great – if you would elaborate a bit more with your thoughts about what is good and bad, before returning back to the message of why you chose your sponsors gear, and why that gear is the best.
    I really read reviews to find out where gear fails, I would really like to see more of that in your writing. I think you have something valuable to say about that, often your reviews come across as SELLING your sponsors gear, rather then a (somewhat) unbiased review.

    As above, look forward to hearing what works and what does not.

  14. 14 randosteve Oct 26th, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    isn’t why i choose my sponsors gear a good example of what i think is good and bad? and these gear lists are not reviews…they are quick lists of what I will bring on my trip.

    man, in the next five days I will have been on 10 flights, been in 7 states and two hemispheres. and you know i work a full time job because i don’t really profit from tetonat…right? maybe you can cut me just a little slack…eh?

  15. 15 nanook Oct 26th, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    No I’d just like to see you really succeed – sorry I brought it up now.
    You must be psyched for your trip, but frantic — good luck and have a great time!

  16. 16 nanook Oct 26th, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I was thinking back to some of the video reviews that you were doing.
    Good luck! And Enjoy!!!!!

  17. 17 randosteve Oct 27th, 2009 at 5:30 am


  18. 18 Derek Oct 27th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    What makes you think Steve would take anything but the best gear on a trip like this. In the end it could be a matter of life and death, or at least comfort which is just as important to the success of this monster trip. I am sure Sponsorship plays a role but I hardly think this is a ploy to sell gear This is serious stuff and even with the equipment he feels gives him the best shot, it will be a struggle. I would guess he is stacking every odd in his favor concerning his gear. If something doesn’t work I would guess he reports back to the companies for them to improve it for all us consumers. I believe this is how it works, I would sure hope so. Silly conversation if you ask me. Best of Luck Steve.

  19. 19 randosteve Oct 27th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    thanks derek…this is a dumb conversation.

    live to ski!!!

  20. 20 Water Purification Systems Oct 29th, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Gear up this season with heated boots, a $700 down jacket, …… The SteriPEN JourneyLCD, a UV-light-emitting water purification device.

  21. 21 James Clark Oct 30th, 2009 at 10:05 am

    The best water purifier systems are the ones i found here…
    James Clark

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