A few months ago we kidnapped Dave Fry and subjected him to 3 days of watching Dora the Explorer in an attempt to get him to spill the beans on what the best threads and camping shiz is for the Ice Run. Unfortunately, he bloody loves Dora so after he finished 20 seasons back to back, we bought him some medium strength beer, a packet of cheese and onion crisps, loosened the thumbscrews (he brought his own for some reason...) and he got to talking.
As with some of the other bits, you can navigate the endlessly bleak world of Russian customer service and pick it up in Irkutsk, this is mainly for the outer layers, and who doesn’t want to look like Russian hunter… so hot right now. The bits it’s worth spending on are boots, sleeping bags, mats and tents. These things keep you alive and intact and if they’re not good for you it makes your life a bit shit.
- Down sleeping bag -40 rating or 4 seasons. If you plan on sleeping and not just perpetually shivering this is something you absolutely need. Cheap it ain’t but vital yes.
- Thermal sleeping bag liner, cotton is for suckers, don’t get it.
- Down/technical sleeping mat.
- Arctic tent, MUST BE WINDPROOF. Tents with snow dams are a good idea. Easy to put up tents that have the fly attached already are a better idea. That Pop up tent you took to a festival and is still covered in booze, and cigarette burns is not up to snuff sorry.
- Layers. 3 or 4 full sets. Merino or technical fabric. Cotton will freeze sweat on skin, resulting in burns and frostbite etc.
- Socks - 4 pairs, often worn at the same time. Bamboo socks are great
- Balaclava - Must have. I recommend the Klim Glacier or equivalent. Really good product that will wick sweat away while keeping you warm
- Gloves, inner and outer. Make sure you have good inner gloves that give good dexterity, and really good outer gloves that have really really good insulation. Your hands get cold first, and cold hands are no fun. It’s probably not a bad shout to have a pair of work gloves, that combine good dexterity with cold weather proofing. They will be your friend during a break down or camp setup.
- Boots - -40deg, waterproof boots. You CAN buy boots in Russia, they do cater for extreme cold weather. Don’t be stupid and buy your boots just before you get to Russia and find out they’re not comfortable and give you blisters, sympathy will not be coming your way. Also, get yourself some removable liners.
- Hat, whether you want those extra authentic Russian points and go for a Ushanka or just settle for a beanie, you’ll need some good headware that isn’t your balaclava.
- Work Gloves. These will be handy for setting up tents, cooking, eating, drinking, and packing up, when your thick riding gloves aren’t practical