The Dark Ice Expedition
The Dark Ice Project









Three explorers embark on a journey to one of the world's most hostile environments, gathering the effect of microplastics in the earth’s ice pack.

Their lives depend on the clothes they wear.


More is known about the surface of the moon than the Arctic Ocean in winter, yet it provides a key barometer to the health of our planet. However, there is almost no knowledge of its behaviour, particularly the impact of plastic.

Alex Hibbert, George Bullard and James Wheeldon will embark on an unassisted 6-month journey in a race against the sun, to uncover how microplastics behave in the water, snow and ice of the dark Arctic depths. They will be the first humans to ski to the North Pole without resupply.

The Dark Ice Project

the dark ice expedition begins in


The 3 Dark Ice Explorers


The Dark Ice Project draws on the expertise of technical performance leaders The Woolmark Company, adidas Terrex, BYBORRE and GORE-TEX to design and create a kit to meet the explorers’ physiological and environmental needs. Specific requirements for the garments, such as wind and water resistance, durability, breathability, moisture management and maintaining thermal comfort will be key to the explorers’ success.


Merino wool is the original performance fibre and its technical benefits coupled with its eco-credentials - it is 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable - make it the fibre of choice for the explorers’ kit.

Breathable activewear
Durable activewear
Wind resistant activewear
Wind resistant
Increased circulation
Water resistant activewear
Water resistant
Insulation activewear


“Our clothing forms an essential part of this project; it allows us to survive in the harsh winter on the Arctic Ocean.”
Dark Ice Project Explorer George Bullard
Explorer, Dark Ice Project



“The kit needs to be hyper-breathable so that we don’t get a build-up of moisture/ice inside the garments,” says Dark Ice Explorer George Bullard. “Whilst we collect data on microplastics, it is vital that our clothes don’t contribute to the problem. Therefore, a natural option such as wool is infinitely better and goes some way to combat the athleisure industry and contributions to microplastics.”

“Only by really understanding the scope of this momentous expedition we are able to engineer the perfect kit for the explorers from the yarn to the final gear.”

BYBORRE Founder/Designer Borre Akkersdijk

The Woolmark Company and textile innovation studio BYBORRE developed a wool-rich base and mid-layer system from technical Merino yarns from the Südwolle Group, providing next-to-skin comfort, superior breathability and enhanced protection from the elements. By utilising innovative Merino wool yarns and fabrics, the explorers are able to dress lighter, without losing protective benefits such as warmth.


The Woolmark-certified single jersey base-layer successfully outperforms the single jersey base-layer previously worn by the explorers:

  • 18% reduction in total weight
  • 26% increase in thermal resistance
  • 3% increase in breathability
  • 28% faster dry time
  • 61% improvement in drying rate
  • 75% improvement in abrasion resistance

“The conditions that will be experienced will test both the men and their equipment to the full,” explains adidas Outdoor General Manger Tim Janaway. “The Dark Ice Project exemplifies our belief that performance need not be sacrificed for sustainability. The learnings we will take from this work will help us to develop even better performing, more sustainable products for the outdoor consumer.”


The explorers will set off by boat for the first phase, followed by a ski phase of up to 70 days, usually trekking for eight-to-ten hours each day, in extreme cold reaching -40o Celsius and hurricane-force winds.

Phase 1 phase 2 Phase 3

Phase 1

Boating North

Boat leaves from Tuktoyaktuk, Canada, to Barrow, Alaska. In the final weeks before the winter freeze, the team sails for 3 weeks until they are surrounded by sea ice.

phase 2

Drifting in the Arctic

Using special equipment, the team will set up a floating, drifting headquarters on the dynamic sea ice of the Arctic Ocean, bound for the North Pole. This phase will allow for many weeks of ambitious scientific work, collecting never-before-seen data on the effect of microplastics in the sea ice. All will occur in the darkness of polar winter.

Phase 3

Skiing to the North Pole

400km to 600km out from the geographical North Pole, the team will take to skis with lightweight science instruments, completing the final phase across pressure ridges and open water to the North Pole. Having reached the final destination, the team will then be airlifted to Svalbard, Norway.

“We have seen an urgent need for more data surrounding the Arctic Ocean in winter. Because of diminishing ice on the ocean, using a boat to reach the ice edge is the only way to do this.”
Dark Ice Project Explorer George Bullard
Explorer, Dark Ice Project


The expedition will be the first in history to reach the North Pole in true winter conditions and without resupply.

Adidas Goretex Byborre