Figuring out equipment for JIRP can be overwhelming! Skiing and mountaineering, our two modes of transportation for most of the field season, are both gear-intensive pursuits. If you're new to either (or both), you're not alone. Skiing and mountaineering equipment can be expensive, but planning and preparation can help keep costs down. Many items will go on sale at the end of the winter season (February-March); don’t necessarily start buying items immediately, but the sooner you start learning about the gear the better you’ll be able to spot a good deal when you come across it.
The first step to rounding up all the gear you're going to need is to check out the 2019 Gear List (linked above). The Gear List includes a description of everything you'll need for JIRP, so it's long. Note that the last page is a check list. We've included pictures of many of the trickier items.
We’re planning to put together a series of video introduction and webinars for students in the winter and spring. Some of these will focus on equipment, and there will be space for asking questions. Until then, stop by office hours on Sunday and Thursday night (more info) or shoot Annie a question via phone, email, or skype at your convenience.
Labeling your equipment
There will be upwards of 50 people on the expedition on any given week. Many people have similar or identical clothes and gear. Personal space is tight and it is common to have your equipment get mixed up with your bunkmate’s, ropemate’s, or research partner's equipment. Please label everything you bring to JIRP clearly with your last name in permanent marker. The only exception to this is hard items that are difficult to write on (ex carabiners), which many people mark with a personalized combination of colored duct tape or electrical tape.
If you were to bring this list into your local outdoor store and purchase everything new it would be exceptionally expensive. If you are concerned about costs, we do not advocate doing that. Instead, start with these steps:
Figure out what you have: You may already have suitable items for many of the items we require. If you have any questions about whether what you own is appropriate, contact your staff mentor or Annie.
Borrow: Ask around to friends and family to see if they own things you may be able to borrow. One advantage of JIRP is that our field season is the northern hemisphere summer- exactly when most people do not need their skiing and winter outdoor equipment.
Buy on sale: See what you can buy on sale. The end of the winter sports season (February-March) can be a great time to find gear steeply discounted. This takes a bit of looking around, but it can save a lot of money.
Buy used: You may be able to find some of these items used over the internet. This requires doing your homework- know how to tell if something is damaged, at the end of its lifespan, or not the right size. If you are careful, craigslist, ebay, and geartrade (link below) can all be good sources of used gear. Also look around for local used sports stores! If you find something that looks promising but you're not sure, ask your staff mentor.
Good things to look for used: Skis, ski boots, ski poles, crampons.
Items you should not buy used: Climbing harnesses, carabiners, webbing/prussiks, rain gear.
College Outdoor Club/Earth Science Dept.: Check with your college/university outdoor club and Earth Science Department. Again, we're using skiing and winter equipment during what many people in the northern hemisphere consider to be the off-season. You may be able to borrow or rent equipment for the summer.
ProDeals/Gear testing: Many outdoor companies offer "Pro Deals", loaner gear, or other support to athletes who are using equipment for unusual trips. This support usually comes in the form of gear discounts or borrowing the gear for the summer in exchange for reviews or photos of the trip. Ask around! Make sure to tell anyone you talk to you that you're a climate science student working in the Coast Range of Alaska- JIRP is pretty cool! Don't forget to try local companies as well as bigger ones.
Rent: We offer helmets, ice axes, crampons, ski boots, and skis for rent. More information on this process will be available March 15th, and rentals will be first come/first serve at that date.
Buy new: If you have to buy equipment new, check out rewards programs, shop around, and feel free to ask your staff mentor before you make any big choices. Shopping at your local outdoor gear store can help if you find a knowledgeable retail clerk, but be wary of people who may not understand exactly what we're getting into. Also check out these websites: