TRAVEL: PACKED LIVES

Pen Hadow acts as a guide on Arctic wildlife safaris and trips to North and South Poles. This is what he takes with him on expeditions
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The Independent Travel
Less is more on the ice, though that takes confidence. Weight costs energy. I wipe my bottom on a wedge of minus-40 degree snow rather than carry toilet rolls and I don't take a plastic pee bottle for the tent at night.

Nor do I wear underwear. I need only my customised one-piece, cyclone- proof sledding suit, its jacket for rest periods and an extreme-weather smock with non-freeze, wolverine-edged, wind-adjustable hood. The layer clothing principle doesn't work in dry polar regions. You can easily let body heat out of a zipped suit without stopping. Full sun block and Neutrogena Norwegian formula stops my skin cracking. If necessary, I can make substitute sunglasses from a Balaclava with slits in it, inspired by the Inuits' black leather eyebands with slits.

Inside canvas bug-like boots rated to minus 85 degrees, I wear thermal ankle socks, vapour barrier liner, thick synthetic calf-length socks and two sets of bootees. It's impossible to get blisters. I protect the gap between glove and sledding suit with thermal wrist-lets and wear my watch on top of my glove.

I spend nearly nine months of the year in polar regions. Packing at home on Dartmoor takes an age, everything has to be pared down yet nothing vital forgotten. It is all sent on ahead and I travel out in whatever I happen to have on that day carrying a holdall that holds my files flat for in-flight work.

Essential equipment includes a Garmin Global Positioning System, run, like my camera and broadcast-quality digital video recorder, from a special solar panel-charged Lithium battery pack kept warm within my clothing, and a satellite communications system that sends pre-set messages - radio is unreliable and relatively heavy. Pens tend to leak, but pencils - multi-purpose in a crisis - are used for all-weather log books which have photo-reduced charts taped in.

Comforts are a wafer-thin Victorian Bible, a prayer book and a tiny boxed set of Winnie the Pooh stories which provide thinking material in my tent during a storm. A candle lamp gives the tent a homey feel. Occasionally I include a Petzl headtorch with a special cable running down my back to body-warmed batteries and a biro-sized Magilite torch, but with 24-hour daylight these things aren't really necessary.

A third of a litre of Naptha fuel which ignites at minus 60 degrees is used daily to heat my dehydrated food packs. Snow hung in double black plastic bin liners in the tent overnight provides water without using fuel to melt it. Treats are Marmite licked on the move from a film canister. It's so strong you think you have eaten something, and High 5 energy bars body-warmed for an hour till malleable and not tooth cracking. These act like rocket fuel, boosting you along that important four extra hours after an eight-hour trek.

I take four levels of painkiller, a stainless steel Thermos flask doubling as hot water bottle, a Leatherman penknife incorporating effective pliers and scissors, a Silva compass balanced for me so it doesn't 'dip' when it nears either pole and a tent which weighs less than 3lbs.

My clients get lots more comforts than I do on my solo expeditions. Last year I attempted an unsupported trek to the North Pole taking only a 120lb rucksack for 30 days - the less you carry, the less time and energy it takes.

I took no tent, but a snow knife to cut an igloo, vacuum-packed all food and took no spares. I lost a ski and had to give up. But nothing will stop me doing it in the end. I grew up to stories of Antarctic adventure from my father's old nanny who was previously nanny to Robert Falcon Scott's son, Peter.

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