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
Temperature 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
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
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.
Boots - cold and wet conditions
boots are rated by the manufacturers for temperatures down
to - 40 °F / - 40 °C
Waterproof cold weather boots
As you will be on a ship and making boat
landings ashore, waterproof boots 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
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