Antarctica Packing List: The Complete Guide

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Antarctica packing list

Embarking on an Antarctica cruise adventure is an exciting time. The wilderness of the White Continent is nothing short of spectacular. 

But how does one pack for the coldest, driest, and windiest region on earth? We're here to answer that question and provide you with the ultimate Antarctica packing list.

Many people travelling to Antarctica often assume it's going to be seriously cold. Although it can certainly get cold, all Antarctic cruises depart in the Austral summer when temperatures are not that bad, often ranging between 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit.  

To avoid bulking you down with every last detail, we've separated our Antarctica packing list into sections. We've also added a quick inventory list below for you to check off as you go along. 

Essential Items - Checklist

  • Parka
  • Base Layer
  • Warm Fleece
  • T-Shirt
    Waterproof Pants
  • T-Shirt
    Warm Gloves
  • T-Shirt
    Warm Beanie
  • T-Shirt
    Thermal Socks
  • T-Shirt
    Wellies/Muck Boots
  • T-Shirt
    Casual Clothes
  • T-Shirt
    Casual Shoes
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • UV Sunglasses
  • Check
    Day pack
  • Check
    Sunscreen
  • Check
    Water Bottle
  • Check
    Earplugs
  • Check
    Sunhat
  • Check
    Lip Balm
  • Check
    Toiletries

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Essential Clothing

As noted above, the Antarctic Peninsula is not as cold as many people think during summer. Saying this, there is still some crucial pieces of warm clothing that you will need to bring with you on your Antarctica cruise. 

The key to staying comfortable during your cruise is wearing layers. Layering allows you to add or shed layers depending on the temperature and how much exercise you're doing. Layers also trap the heat, keeping you insulated and warm. 

When wearing layers, it is paramount that you purchase clothes made with a high-wicking material. Although more expensive, it allows sweat moisture to pass through from layer to layer. 

Warm Parka

A thick, warm parka is the most crucial thing you will need in Antarctica. Most operators will give you a parka when you board your ship free of charge. However, it's worth checking as this is not always the case. Also, some people prefer wearing their own parkas that their used to. The best parkas we can recommend are Canada Goose. Their expensive, but their super comfortable and very warm. 

Warm Fleece

Bringing a warm fleece is a great backup for the days that are slightly warmer. They're also great for the super cold days as they can be added to the layers beneath your parka. A fleece is also very versatile as it can be worn inside your cabin. Helly Hansen, Patagonia and North Face all do great fleeces. 

Base Layer

Base layers are potentially the most important item of clothing for keeping you warm. This is the first layer and the one that needs to be able to breathe the most. We strongly suggest choosing a base layer made from a high wicking material like merino wool. Smartwool, Helly Hansen, and Icebreaker have good options. 

Waterproof Pants

Bringing waterproof pants is key as you'll be making numerous wet landings and often hiking through snow. You can potentially wear your ski trousers, but these may be too bulky - it's up to you. Great options include North Face Resolve, Helly Hanson Packable pants, and the Montane terra pants.

Muck Boots

On all expedition cruises, including Antarctica, you'll need to bring some muck boots or calf high waterproof boots. These should have good grip and be insulted against the cold. Ankle boots or hiking boots will not suffice.  

Socks & Gloves

Thermal socks are key to keeping your feet warm during your cruise. You may even want to wear a nice liner pair underneath your main socks. Thermal socks by Smartwool are great. You'll also want thick, warm gloves (such as Black Diamond Gloves) and some liner gloves for photography and added dexterity. 

Further Clothing To Consider

Essential Accessories

Although bringing the right clothing is paramount, there are also many accessories you'll need to consider in order to get the most of your Antarctica cruise.

Whilst some items are necessities like toiletries, others will simply make you more comfortable or give you more enjoyment. 

Binoculars

Bringing a good pair of binoculars is a must for your Antarctica trip. Much of the time is spent taking wildlife watching trips and binoculars will get you much closer to the action. If you want to splash out, we recommend getting binoculars with image stabilisation - makes the world of difference when it comes to hand shake! 

Camera

Because Antarctica is so visually stimulating, it's well worth bringing a camera! Whether you're a beginner or an experienced photographer, everyone has a blast taking wildlife and landscape shots in Antarctica. You can take anything from a point and shoot to a high end DSLR like the Sony A7R III or the Canon 5D Mark IV

UV Sunglasses

Although it's cold in Antarctica, the UV rays are actually some of the highest you can encounter. The ozone layer is thin above Antarctica and the white snow increases the glare effect. Julbo are by far the best UV sunglasses for the harsh climate. 

Daypack

On top of your suitcase or duffle bag, you'll want a good quality daypack. You can use this on short outings o carry your wallet, camera, water bottle and much more. One of the best daypacks the Osprey Talonwhich comes in several sizes depending on how much space you need. 

Further Accessories To Consider

  • Lip Balmand moisturiser for dry and cracking skin
  • Sunscreen for shore excursions on sunny days
  • Sun hat for warm days on deck and on shore

Other Considerations 

Trekking Poles

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Trekking poles are optional, but some people swear by them. They certainly take the strain out going downhill. We recommend Black Diamond trekking poles

Balaclava

If you feel the cold more than other people, you can always wear a balaclava to protect your face from the cold. Plenty of people do it. 

Flashlight

You never know when you'll spot something at night! We recommend flashlights over 300 lumens. Led Lenser make great ones. 

Guide Book

Although there is more than likely to be guidebooks on board your ship, it's often nice to bring your own copy! We recommendLonely Planet's guide to Antarctica

Tripod

A tripod is a personal choice. Most wildlife photographers will not need one, but for landscape photographers it's a great idea. We recommend travel tripod like the mefoto or the Befree

Insurance

Always remember to bring travel insurance documents. Because Antarctica is so remote, your operator will not let you on the ship without proof of adequate cover! For more information on cruise insurance please see our page here

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

​FAQ

If you have any queries or questions regarding our Antarctica packing list, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Expedition Cruise

ExpeditionCruise.net is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

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