Completing a trip over the Siberian ice of Lake Baikal in just 12 days, whilst hiking and skiing with a pulk for 16 – 18 hours per day will put all aspects of your kit truly through its paces. There’d be a few lessons learned for sure.
So, to get some advice for the slightly smaller winter expeditions of our own, we asked Robert to talk us through a few of the items he brought with him…
Hoke One One Tor Ultra Hi
“I wore the Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi for the majority of the trip and they provided exactly what was needed. The ice of Baikal is like steel, so the long days and many hours walking on it was tough on the feet, knees and hips but the Hoka’s provided the necessary cushioning from the solid surface as well as the insulation from the -20 to -30 ground temperatures. They also vented well to stop my feet overheating and sweating which can lead to blisters. Overall, a perfect boot for the expedition.”
PHD Primaloft Polar Mitt
“When the temperatures got cold or windy, I’d put on my pair of PHD PrimaLoft polar mitts. The gloves are firstly, exceptionally warm, so when the temperatures got below -30 with wind, they kept my hands warm and protected them from the spindrift. They’re also incredibly light for the insulation they provide and they pack really small.”
phdesigns.co.ukExtreme Adventure Foods
“Each day throughout the expedition we ate the Extreme Adventure Foods breakfast – 1000 calorie meals and desert packages. I’ve used them for the last three winters. The packs contain good food, with a high calorie content, with no fuss… just add hot water.
“Throughout the day, during some stops we would consume the Liquid Fuel for an extra boost of calories using the hot water in our flasks, and the extra protein was most definitely welcomed. Each evening we would also have an Extreme 4:1 recovery drink to get the electrolytes back into our bodies.”
The OMM Trio Map Pouch
“I would attach my OMM trio map pouch to my harness, so it could free me of wearing my backpack. I didn’t put a map in this, instead I used it for items I would need readily accessible. This would include my sunglasses, sunblock, camera and packs of prepared food bags containing sweet and savoury items to eat throughout the day. Having food at hand without having to stop really helps keeping the fuel in your body, and your legs moving.”
“When I had my Hoka’s on, I’d also be wearing my YakTrax. These light, stretchy pieces of kit gripped the ice fantastically. I had a second pair as a backup just in case something happened, but I didn’t need them. I’d highly recommend these to anyone walking in flat, icy conditions.”
Nalgene Wide Mouth Water Bottle
“I’ve had the same Nalgene Wide Mouth water bottle for a number of years, which has gone to the arctic and around the world with me. They are tough, insulate well, and are affordable. Couldn’t recommend them more for a tough water bottle.”
Montane Extreme Salopettes
“These are the best! Amazingly warm, tough and comfortable. They are quite heavy duty and probably overkill for milder conditions, but I’ve worn these for three seasons now. The chest pockets are also great to keep small items like my Ipod and battery pack accessible, and which also work better when a little warmer.”
Ice Breaker Merino Wool Baselayers
“For thermal base layers, I wore Icebreaker’s Top and Bottom Merino wool baselayers. I have the cold weather range which makes them slightly more expensive, but they’re worth every penny for the conditions you face you in the arctic and Siberia throughout winter. As you do not get to change every night, I was initially worried they may start to smell, but they were great. Layering is key, and having high quality base layers is the best start to being warm in cold temperatures.”
Mountain Equipment Lightline Jacket
“I bought my version of this jacket in 2014. It’s light, warm and tough. As soon as we would stop for the evening, I’d get this on straight away to make sure I didn’t get cold when we set up the tent. Inside the tent I’d often just wear my baselayer top and my down jacket as it was so cosy and warm. When the temperatures can get down to -35, I’d recommend investing in a high quality down jacket.”
“What more can I say about buff bands than what has already been written? Great for wearing as a head band just covering my ears whilst venting my head on the warmer days, or great to wear as a makeshift balaclava during a white out. I had a few of these in various pockets throughout the expedition, and they got used daily. I bought my first buff 13 years ago, and its gone on every winter trip with me to date.”
Not content with the time set on their expedition, Robert’s team have said they’ll be going for another world record attempt in the winter of 2019. You can follow their progress on the Baikal 2019 Expedition Website and on their Facebook page.