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24 May 2016

The Payload Bags

Equipment lashed down on to my sled (making up a journey payload) is made up in part by dog food, stove fuel and duffle bags known as the cook bag, the human food bag, the spares bag and the clothes bag. For obvious reasons food and fuel are never packed in close proximity and, together with the duffle bags, all are lashed down throughout a day's travel. If they are called upon, it means we've stopped to camp.
The bags.
The cook bag includes a stove with a full fuel tank and a stock pot capable of holding 12 litres of water. Melting snow and ice for dog water is the first thing I set about doing once inside my tent.

One not so obvious cook bag item is a sew kit that includes a sail-maker's palm used to repair dog harnesses and a fid used to make all the components of a dog team trace.

Sail maker's palm (left) and a blue fid (right).
The human food bag holds journey rations Jennifer dehydrates and vacuum seals. Done properly this nutrition can be stored for years. This winter I was eating food out of depots five years old, that were not used on the 2012 journey. Each four-day dehydrated ration block weighs 520 grams (130 grams per day) with enough energy to sustain me at minus 40°C. The essential dehydrating machines capable of this are available from UK Juicers.

Food blocks worth their weight in gold.
The spares bag contains essentials for equipment maintenance and repairs. My journey sled runners are made from 11 layers of vertically laminated wood. At 1.5 cm thick it is very strong and light but it is wise to prepare for breakages, especially sled runner prows. Into the spares bag I pack metal brace plates riddled with screw holes to brace broken prows.

Metal plates to repair a sled prow.
To maintain the smooth high-density plastic strip on the sled runner underside, I pack a very small razor-sharp carpenter's planer.

Wood planer used to maintain sled runner undersides.
The small metal fuel funnel I use replaces all the past broken plastic ones.

Metal funnel packs better than plastic ones.
For an independent power source to charge up electronic devices such as a stills and a video camera I use a 12V 12A rechargeable gel-cell battery (9 cm x 15 cm). Gel-cells charge more efficiently in the cold using solar power. On the battery casing I write capacity volt measurements for various temperatures starting at minus 20°C down to minus 77°C. Originally these were worked out by engineer Doug (Jennifer's brother). To get an accurate reading of how a gel-cell is charging I pack a tiny volt meter.

Brick-like gel-cell battery for independent power source.
The clothes bag is not to call upon for fresh attire but for dry clothing in case I take a dunking having broken through ice. It is the bag I hope never to use.

For more about Gary and his dogs go to www.garyrolfe.com