• Books, audio books, movies, TV-series (older ones are available on the base server).
  • Crafts such as paints, colouring books, beading, knitting etc. You may want to get creative when bored or make some birthday presents. The workshop has tools for wood and metal work.
  • Costume dress-up and accessories. The island has tote bins of dress-up in the stores but they are old and a bit dank. Bring your own for some fun occasions such as Halloween and the Maid Marion event.
  • Board games and puzzles. There are some on the island but they are old so consider bringing your favorites along.
  • There are two pool tables and a table tennis table in the games room. If you are planning on taking this seriously bring your own pool cue, table tennis bat and balls.
  • If you are into photography, or would like to get into it, bring a decent DSLR with a long zoom lens. Otherwise a decent quality, preferably waterproof point and shoot is fine.

Special Snacks/Drinks

  • Exotic spices/sauces/spreads you like to cook with (olive oil, coconut milk, biltong spice, popcorn spice, Nutella etc.).
  • Variety of energy sweet and bars (Snacker, Jungle Oats etc.) for when you are in the field.
  • Exotic dried fruits (Mango, berries etc.). There are tote bins of dried apple, pear, prunes, peaches and raisins.
  • Biltong & droewors.
  • Variety of special teas, cappachino sachets if you like your warm beverages (normal tea & coffee will be supplied).
  • The DEFF will provide certain luxury items such as chips, chocolates, biscuits and sweets but this will be in a limited quantity and will probably not be on the food list as it changes every year. Therefore it is advised you bring your own variety of special treats.
  • Alcohol. The general rule of thumb is to multiply your normal consumption by two or three. Also bring extra for parties and sharing. Rather bring too much than too little.
  • Soft drinks (Fanta, Coke etc.)
  • TOP TIP: If you can get hold of the right sponsors you will be able to supplement the luxuries provided by DEFF to the extent that you may not need to bring any extras yourselves. It is a good idea to look for sponsorships of wine. There should be a list of wine farms that have previously donated, available from the current team leader.

Room Comforts

  • The DEFF supplies bedding but their fitted sheets shrink in the wash. Therefore it would be best to bring along your own fitted sheets. Throw in a nice duvet cover if you want to personalize your room.
  • Laundry bag or basket.
  • Clothes hangers.
  • Insulated travel mug. Great for the ship on the way there to reduce spill & keeping you bevvy warm out on deck & great for base so you don’t spill on the corridors on the way back to your room.
  • Bring along pictures of family/friends to put in your room.
  • TOP TIP: It is a nice thing to have gifts from the family. Ask someone to pack a present for you that you can open every month, or just special occasions such as Christmas. It is also a good idea to buy a variety of small gifts that you can give to team members.


  • Do bring plenty of underwear, and some thin socks to wear inside the base.
  • Comfortable clothing for inside the base such as tracksuit pants, hoodies and jerseys.
  • Comfortable shoes for inside the base (Sheep skin slippers, slops, Croc’s and Ugg’s are all recommended).
  • Swimming costume to use in the Jacuzzi and Sauna.
  • You will need something formal to wear on special occasions. There will be functions on the ship and at the base during summer and the team will have formal celebrations during the year.
  • Hair bands and clips to keep your hair out the way in the field (it gets long during the year).
  • Small sewing kit. There may be holes to mend. TOP TIP: Dental floss works wonders for sewing up holes in your weather gear (these develop along the seams of your pants usually).

Outdoor Gear

  • The issued wet weather gear is pretty good, but if you are working with animals, these will get messy and tattered. So bring at least one pair of backup waterproof pants, and a nice waterproof jacket (Cape Storm is good option).
  • Make sure your issued gum boots are comfortable with two pairs of socks. Do not even attempt to buy hiking boots, they do not work. The issued socks are okay but they may not fit well or be too warm to wear in summer, to be safe bring a few pairs of good quality, thick hiking or skiing socks.
  • Get your own waterproof gloves and a few pairs of thin gloves that you can comfortably write in, but also wash after working with animals (the issued gloves are not waterproof or comfortable to work in).
  • A few beanies and buffs. You lose a lot of heat from your neck area so a Buff will protect you. It is also useful to keep long hair in place when you are out in the wind.
  • Some team members swear by inner soles, others are not as keen, rather safe than sorry. Get 5 or 6 good quality pairs (Green Cross is a good choice).
  • Wrap-around, polarized sunglasses. These will protect your eyes when it’s raining ice pellets & from the strong reflections off the snow and surrounding ocean.
  • There are a lot of backpacks on base to use when visiting huts but it is highly recommended to bring your own. A good quality 50 to 60l backpack with rain cover is ideal. And a small backpack for your day trips is useful.
  • CamelBak water bottle for your backpack & a couple normal water bottle for daily use. TOP TIP: Bring more than one water bottle, you will probably lose at least one in the field.
  •  Lunchbox Tupperware to avoid food getting crushed in your backpack.
  • Good headlamp & batteries to power it.
  • Micro fibre towel (saves space in your backpack & is quick drying).
  • GPS, your PI should be able to provide you with one.
  • If you have a pair of Binoculars bring them along, there will be times you want a better view of Killer Whales.
  • Cheap wristwatch for the field.
  • Bring a few large dry bags to put place stuff in as it rains almost daily on the island (at the very least to fit your camera and mp3 player but strongly consider bringing enough to place all your fit all items in dry bags).
  • The huts have sleeping bags but these are used by almost everyone so if you’re a field assistant it’s good to have your own. A -3 rating would be ideal, however if you are easily chilled something warmer would be better. TOP TIP: If you’re using the sleeping bag in the huts, bring along a base duvet cover to use as an inner.
  • TOP TIP: Be sure to mark all of your belongings, especially issued gear as everybody gets the same stuff. Also make sure that you try on everything and get the right size.


  • Bio-degradable fabric conditioner (washing powder is supplied)
  • DEFF will provide washing powder for the year but you will need your own washing powder on the ship.
  • Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body & face wash, body & face cream, toothpaste, deodorant etc.) – generally multiply by 12 to give you enough to last through the year. TOP TIP: Bring more conditioner than shampoo & hair masks if possible, your hair will need the nourishment with the harsh weather conditions and dry air in the base.
  • Face wipes. These are useful in the field and hut life.
  • 40 SPF Sunblock (or higher). Also bring aftersun or Aloe Gel. Everybody has at least one sunburn incident in the summer.
  • Sudocrem (getting chafe from hiking is a real thing, this will help keep those niggly spots happy).
  • Dental floss * 4; Tooth brush * 4; Toothpaste * 8. TOP TIP: Take especially good care of your teeth since the base doctor will have limited training in dentistry.
  • Nail clippers & files
  • Nail polish, acetone & cotton pads if you feel like pampering yourself.
  • Boys, you may want to bring along beard oil, wax and a beard comb (shaving is not encouraged on Marion).
  • Body loofahs & scrubbing brushes (bring a pumice stone for your feet, gum boots and mires don’t do your feet any favours)
  • Tweezers and razors to keep the fuzz in check.
  • Foot powder. Thick socks = smelly feet
  • TOP TIP: The team can look for sponsors for toiletries as purchasing for the year is costly. Otherwise, if you have sufficient time, the team can go to Makro/DisChem and buy everything in bulk and share the cost.
  • TOP TIP: If you’re going to be a Sealer or Killer Whaler you may want to invest in essentials oils and an oil diffuser/burner for those long days sieving smelly skat in the labs.
  • TOP TIP: Ladies, when it’s that time of the month and you’re in the field for a few days, you can’t go wrong with a Mooncup. Its hassle free and environmentally friendly.

Technical Equipment

  • Spare rechargeable batteries & their charger.
  • iPod & more than one pair of headphones (one pair will probably break from the harsh conditions).
  • Spare SD memory cards (or whatever memory cards your camera takes).
  • Small point & shoot, preferably waterproof camera to use in the field (Olympus is a good choice).
  • Check your current phone & determine if your phone will last a year especially if you use WhatsApp.
  • Bring your laptop if possible and a UPS to protect it from power failures. TOP TIPS: Apply any major updates to your PC before you leave for the island, updates are hard to complete.  If you have a second screen, bring it along (check with your PI first if there isn’t already one on the island for you to use).
  • A multiplug or two
  • Empty hard drives/flash sticks for movies, TV series etc.
  • E-Reader – there are over 2000 books on the server.
  • Aux cable (useful for playing music through the stereo’s in the gym & bar).

Health Supplies

  • Years’ worth of any medications that you are currently taking (such as oral contraceptives). The hospital is stocked with emergency meds only, equipped to deal specifically with infections and ailments.
  • Sea-sickness tablets for the ship, enough for four days there and four days back. Start taking it the evening before you get on the ship. Stugeron works well. The ship is a great place to make friends and to socialize, so you do not want to be sick the whole trip.
  • Multivitamins (Centrum multivitamin and Air Immune effervescent tablets are a good choice).
  • Oral rehydration salts. These are great to take in the field with you especially when you’re doing round island trips.
  • Gym supplements if you plan to use the gym often.
  • If you’re predisposed to allergies, it may be a good idea to bring along a stock of Allergex.
  • For Field Assistants bring gelatine capsules for joint support and anti-inflammatories for after field care (Cataflam, and Indomethacin are popular choices but consult your Doctor first).
  • Hot water bottle. This is helpful for Marion Knee (everybody who hikes, gets it), sore muscles and injuries.
  • Knee guards – get 2 good quality ones that fit well.
  • Humidifier so your nasal passages don’t dry out. Warming up the air at base causes the air to dry out.

Packing Gear

  • You will be issued with two duffle bags in which to pack any gear you have. But it is suggested that you procure yourself several ‘tote bins’, which are strong plastic or metal boxes, to pack your belongings. On average it seems 400 liters combined tote bin space is used by each team member. You will also need to get locks for them.
  • Everything you take to the island will be in either your duff bags or tote bins. The only exception to this will be your booze, usually a few containers are specifically kept for this and booze goes directly in these. TOP TIP: Mark your booze CLEARLY (there have been instances where stuff disappears and or mix-ups).
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