Arctic Cruise Packing List: Complete Gear List

arctic cruise packing list

A simple web search for an Arctic packing list returns fairly unsatisfactory results. Whilst there are basic info pages, these Arctic packing lists fall short when it comes to explaining why certain items are needed, how to decide which one is right, and where to actually buy them.

We know that for Arctic cruise travelers, the devil is in the detail. Therefore, we have pooled all our resources to produce an ultimate Arctic packing list. Please note though that this list is continually evolving as we get feedback from travelers and when new products come to market.

We encourage everyone who uses this Arctic packing list to give us suggestions so that we may add it to the list and help future travelers.

This Arctic cruise packing list covers the following items:

  • Clothing (layers, parka etc.)
  • Footwear (waterproof boots, hiking shoes etc.)
  • Socks
  • Gloves
  • Headgear
  • Bags
  • Cameras and binoculars
  • Hiking gear
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel accessories

This Arctic packing list is both long and detailed. We also recommend that you bookmark this page for further use as your Arctic cruise preparations unfold.

Please also share this list with fellow travelers, or link to it from your blog or social networks as a resource for future Arctic cruise travelers.

Arctic Cruise Packing List


It goes without saying that the Arctic is cold, even if you travel in Summer. Temperatures are often around freezing during the day and your clothing will need to reflect this.

To ensure that you remain comfortable throughout your Arctic cruise, you will need to wear layers. the concept of layering is hugely important when travelling to cold destinations such as the Arctic as it gives you the option to layer up or down depending on how warm you are.

For layering to work however, each clothing item needs to be made from a high-wicking material such as merino wool. High-wicking materials allow moisture through the layers, keeping your body dry and warm.

Keep in mind here that cotton is terrible at wicking and should be avoided during Arctic excursions.

However, once onboard our ship, cotton will do just fine.

Below are the layers of Arctic clothing that we recommend you take with you. All clothing suggested below comes in men and woman’s variants.


How many pairs of underwear you bring will obviously depend on the length of your Arctic cruise. Bear in mind that laundry services will be offered onboard. Look for breathable underwear that won’t chafe as you conduct hikes ashore.

Sports underwear made by Icebreaker are excellent. Alternatively, you could wear any sporting brand underwear such as Adidas or Nike. We recommend 4-6 pairs for a standard 10 day cruise.

Ladies should bring two pairs of sports bras, again we would recommend Icebreaker.

Base Layer

Known as the base layer, this is the layer that sits over your underwear. Also known as thermal layers. Base layers should only be worn when it’s very cold and you’re feeling gar chill. Make sure the base layer is not too tight as this will restrict blood flow, however, if it’s to loose you will lose this will undermine the layering process. A good word to describe how the base should feel is ‘snug’.

We personally recommend base layers by Helly Hanson. Other good brands that are worth considering are Smartwool Lightweight Base Layer and Icebreaker Oasis Base Layers.

All three brands construct their base layers from 100% merino wool which is one of the best high-wicking fabrics in the world.

If you are allergic to wool then you can try Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Base Layers. These are a great synthetic alternative.

For a standard 12 day Arctic cruise, two or three pairs of top and bottom base layers should do nicely.


As with any trip, you’ll want a healthy supply of standard shirts. We would recommend about 5 shirts and several long sleeve shirts. Look for lightweight shirts made from breathable material such as nylon or merino.

Just make sure not to purchase cotton shorts as this will inhibit the moisture from your skin passing through the layers.

Great travel shirts are made by Craghoppers, Icebreaker, Patagonia (Capilenerange) and Columbia.

Fleece (Insulation Layer)

For cold climates like the Arctic, having an insulation fleece layer is critical to keeping warm. Ideally you should bring one mid-weight fleece, jacket or parka top.

Your fleece will be your second layer that goes over your base layer. If the weather is warmer, the fleece may simply go over your shirt. Ideally, you should purchase a fleece made with Polartec material. Typically, you’ll find Polartec fleeces come in weight categories of 100s, 200s or 300s. 300 is the heaviest and generally the best option for the Arctic.

Our recommended Polartec-200 Fleece Jackets include North Face, Helly Hansen and Patagonia.

A really good feature to look out for when purchasing a fleece jacket is a convertible hood that can double as an instant balaclava in the cold, biting wind. See the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody or the Patagonia R1 Hoody for excellent examples.

Core Jacket or Parka (third layer)

The last layer is known as your ‘outer layer’. This is commonly a waterproof and windproof layer that protects you against the elements.

Jackets can be quite complex, particularly if you unsure as to how warm the weather will be. You’ll want a basic waterproof shell jacket for the warmer days when your hiking. On colder days though, or when standing out on deck in the wind, you’ll want a properly thick parka to keep warm. You’ll be surprised how cold it can become on deck when you’re simply standing and observing.

The price in jackets also varies considerably. Generally there are two types, down and synthetic. Whilst down jackets are more warm and lighter than synthetic jackets, they’re also far more expensive. Down jackets tend not to do so well in wet or moist conditions. Below we have given a quick overview of what to look for in a great jacket.

Crucial factors to consider when selecting an outer jacket

Waterproof: Although synthetic jacket are generally not as warm as down jackets, they are far more reliable at keeping the rain at  bay. Down jackets tend to be much more susceptible to rain and many down jackets loose their insulation capacities when this happens. This does not mean to say that a down jacket will not keep you dry in the rain, however, if it was absolutely pouring, then a synthetic would see you through better. If you’re looking to purchase a synthetic jacket then make sure the water-resistant outer fabric is made from nylon.

If purchasing a down jacket, then the best water-resistant outer fabric you can get is Pertext Shield. Down jackets tend to be better for Antarctic weather as it rarely rains heavily, but is often very cold. The best jacket on the market is probably the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, however, this will set you back nearly $1,000. If you want a cheaper option, then the North Face Himalayan Parka is a great choice. Both option won’t let you down on your Arctic expedition cruise.

There are of course cheaper options on the market. If you want to purchase a thin shell jacket that is only there to protect you in the rain or moist snow, then the North Face Nuptse jacket is very reliable. However, if it’s cold out, you’ll want to wear a base layer and super warm fleece as your shell jacket will not provide much warmth. It will be cheaper though.

Weight: Winter jackets can range enormously in weight from as little as 200 grams all the way up to 1kg! Down jackets are often lighter and certainly provide the best warmth to weight ratio. In fact, down jackets at only 200 grams can still be seriously warm. For your Arctic cruise though, we would recommend a jacket on the heavier side as these are always warmer. Look for a winter jacket in the region of  700-950 grams.

Versatility: Having a versatile jacket is always a good choice. Look for a winter jacket that comes with hand-warmer pockets, a good hood with adjustable drawstring and some inner pockets for valuables. A good winter jacket should last you years, so choose well!

Ski jackets: We often get asked if ski jackets can be worn. This really depends on the jacket in question, however, if it meets the criteria above then yes. In our experience though, most ski jackets are quite light for mobility on the slopes, so keep this in mind.


On top of your thermal base layer, you’ll want to bring two types of trousers with you to the Arctic. You’ll want a warm pair of trousers and an outer core layer that is wind and water resistant. You’ll only need to wear the outer layer when going ashore for photography and hiking.

For the normal trousers you’ll find that Moleskin trousers are ideal. Patagonia do also do a good pair. When indoors you can really wear whatever you find comfortable.

We recommend bringing at least two pairs of trousers with you.

For your outer waterproof layer, you’ll want a good, thick pair of trousers that will keep you warm onshore. Ski pants are generally a great option, but most trekking trousers will do. North Faceand Helly Hansen. Other good options include Arc’teryx Pants. For waterproof layers without much insulation you can try the North Face Resolve, Montane terra and the Helly Hanson Packable pants.

Key characteristics to look out for when choosing your trousers are: sun protective, Water resistant, wind resistant, and a warm fleece inner material with a quick-drying polyester outer layer.

Clothing you should avoid on your Arctic cruise

Jeans: Denim jeans are useless for the Arctic, especially when wearing layers. Jeans absorb moisture, don’t breathe and are difficult to walk long distances in. Heat escapes very easily through jeans and they take a long time to dry.

Cotton: Whilst wearing cotton aboard your vessel is absolutely fine, wearing it for your shore landings is a mistake. Cotton has terrible wicking properties and your bodies moisture will get stuck in the cotton layer.


Getting the right footwear for your Arctic cruise is very crucial. You’ll be on uneven, slippery and wet terrain quite often. Therefore, you’ll need to purchase specific boots for your Arctic cruise and not just standard hiking boots.

The boots you will require are knee high waterproof rubber boots or ‘muck boots’ as they’re often called.  These types of boots are essential to your Arctic cruise because you’ll be making frequent ‘wet landings’ along the coast in which you will have to jump out of the zodiac into freeing ankle deep water to get ashore. Therefore, having knee high waterproof boots are a must.

You’ll want to choose the boots that have thick rubber soles and deep grooves that grip the ground well. Arctic boots with a good layer of insulation are an added benefit, although this will often come at a cost. Beneath your boots you’ll want to wear several layers of socks (more information below). A key point to note here is that it is not the socks or boots themselves that keep you warm, but the air that gets trapped between each layer.

Your Arctic boots will want to fit well as you’ll be walking on a  variety of surfaces over (sometimes long) distance.

Characteristics to look out for when choosing your Arctic footwear

Sole: Because the Arctic is remote, you’ll be walking over rough terrain that can be slippery, icy and wet. Having a durable and grippy sole is therefore key to your enjoyment. Make sure your soles have deep lugs for better grip and traction. Remember though, the thicker the sole, the heavier the boot.

Fit: The fit is super important. Blisters are common, especially with new boots. Remember, you’ll probably be wearing two pairs of socks, so make sure you calculate for this. A good little tip to find the right fit is to push your toes all the way to the front of the boot as far as you can go. If you can fit your middle finger snugly between your heel and boot then that is often a good fit. Always make sure you wear your boots in before your Arctic cruise. This way there will be no surprises!

Waterproof: Make sure your boots are waterproof! Avoid boots with zips and try to go for an outer layer of  GoreTex as this is usually the best option. Muck boots will be rubber and automatically waterproof.

Quality: Good quality is not necessarily the most expensive option. The materials, fit, ankle support and grip are all increased when you purchase a brand of boot you trust. If you are unsure, read thet reviews as these will give you peace of mind.

Footwear Recommendations

One of the most popular shore landing boots for Arctic cruises is the original muck boot. These have excellent grip and keep the water well away. However, they are not super warm and you may prefer the Bogs Classic High Waterproof boot instead. These have a warm rating of up to -4 degrees Celsius.

If you are travelling in some of the colder months or you particularly feel the cold then you may want a warmer boot.

The best option is probably the Baffin Snow Monster all-weather boot or the Sorel Glacier Extreme Snow boot.

Both boots have a warm rating up to -50 degrees Celsius and will keep your feet dry during shore landings. Once you return to your warm ship, any footwear will be suitable – including sandals!

Thermal Socks

Because of the cold weather of the Arctic, choosing appropriate socks is just as important as your boot choice. Whilst onboard your ship you can wear standard socks. On shore landings you will need to wear two pairs of high-wicking socks. One inner ‘liner’ sock and one thick thermal sock.

Be careful with the fit though, wearing two pairs of socks can cause some amount of constriction.

Make sure your thermal socks are seamless to prevent irritation or blisters.  Avoid cotton socks at all cost!

Ragg Wool is definitely the best thermal sock material available. For the liner sock you should purchase ones made from polypropylene. These have high-wicking properties that will allow your feet to breathe. Bridgedale Coolmax Liners are a great option.

For thermal socks we recommend SmartWool. We would also recommend bringing 4-6 pairs for a standard Arctic cruise.

Arctic Cruise Headgear


We lose up to 20% of our body heat through our heads. It’s therefore critical to keep your head warm in the cold Arctic conditions. Whilst many fleeces and jackets come with in-built hoods, these are often not the best answer if it’s not raining.

Hoods can restrict bot movement and sight, preventing you from getting the best wildlife and landscape views.

A good beanie will work far more efficiently, offering you warmth without compromising on viewing potential. Great option include the North Face polar Beanie, Helly Hansen beanies and Mountain hardwear beanies.

Arctic Headband

If you find beanies irritating for your head, the best option is a headband or balaclava. A standard North Face headband will do the job. Balaclavas are also useful as they protect your face as well.

If conditions are bad, you can combine your balaclava with your hood to give you optimum protection against the elements.

Rothco synthetic balaclavas are cheap and do the job nicely.


In the far North Arctic, the glare from the sun is significant. Don’t be tricked by the cold weather. The UV levels in the Arctic are incredibly high and having sunglasses is very important.

This is especially true when you also consider the glare you will be receiving from the white snow/ice and the sun reflection from the sea. Sunburn is common, even on cloudy days.

The undisputed leader in polar sunglasses are Julbo. Providing you with 100% protection from UVA, B and C rays, Julbo sunglasses are our number one choice.

Their category 4 rating sunglasses block up to 90% of visible light, protecting you fully from the intense Arctic light, especially in snow.

We recommend is the Julbo Montebianco for men and the Julbo Monterosa for women. Both are the most versatile in the range and would loudest out of place in the Artic or city.

The Julbo Explorer range is also fantastic, but may look slightly odd in social situations. They are essentially tiny goggles and sit around your eyes, protecting them from the elements (see picture left).

Another option is the Camel rangefrom Julbo. These are transitional lenses making them ideal for moving in and out of sunlight. The Camel sunglasses can range from category 2 to category 4 depending on the intensity of the light.

Arctic Cruise Gloves

Because the weather is so cold in the Arctic, gloves are an essential element for your Arctic cruise packing list. Much of your body heat escapes from your hands, therefore, purchasing good quality gloves is paramount.

Depending on the weather (and how much you personally feel the cold) will dictate what gloves you’ll need. On days above freezing you may be fine with a single pair of good quality thick gloves. On cold days you may want to wear a liner pair below your main gloves.

Liner gloves are a great option for photographers who want the dexterity, but still some protection from the elements. Liner gloves are thin and don’t constrict finger movement excessively.

Remember, cheap gloves will not have the same insulation levels and will restrict movement.

Our Recommendations

For inner gloves, we recommend you avoid cotton! This will restrict movement and prevent moister from escaping. Instead, we suggest purchasing a good quality pair of synthetic or wool inner gloves.

These have excellent wicking properties and won’t let you down when you need to move your fingers around the camera buttons. The lighter the better. We suggest the Arc’teryx Gothic Glove.

For outer gloves, we recommend purchasing heavy, well-lined gloves. It is super important that your outer gloves are of good quality and keep the heat in. Look for waterproofing as a basic, then get a pair that feel good, don’t restrict movement and are durable.

The best gloves we have tried include the Outdoor Research Southback Gloves and the Black Diamond Guide Gloves. For a cheaper option that still works, we would suggest the Dakine scout gloves.

Arctic Cruise: Rucksacks and Duffel Bags

Purchasing a good quality bag is a great investment. Poor travel bags fall apart easily, particularly when thrown around by airport baggage handlers. A good bag will withstand a good beating a protect your gear inside.

Below we have given our recommendations on the top duffel bags and day packs.

Duffel Bag

For bags that you won’t be carrying on a daily basis, you can’t beat a good duffel bag. Duffel bags tend to hold more than suitcases and are much easier to carry around. Any traveller who has the road for a good period of time will recommend a duffel bag. If you don’t plan on taking any other trips than your Arctic cruise then a suitcase will do fine.

Your duffel bag should be made from a waterproof laminate material to protect your gear. You should also look for a bag over 80 litres in capacity for your Arctic cruise. Also look for good quality shoulder straps and a strong zipper system.

The best duffel bags on the market come from the North Face. Made from great material, the bags by North Face are very durable, waterproof and have excellent strap systems. There are a range of sizes, but we suggest the 80 litre option. Click here for options.

Helly Hansen also make fantastic duffel bags. They’re also slightly cheaper than North Face.

Day Packs

All good Arctic packing lists should include a great quality day pack. The simple reason is that most Arctic cruises have shore landings in which most people bring their camera gear. As most photographers know too well, camera gear can get seriously heavy!

You’ll also want a backpack for regular items such as snacks, drinking water, gloves, sunscreen etc. When purchasing a day pack, make sure you get a light weight pack as this will have a big impact on your walks. Also look for good quality compression straps that reduce the stress on your shoulders and back. Side pockets for water bottles are also handy.

One of the best day packs in our opinion is the Osprey Talon 22.

The backpack is very comfortable and lightweight. It’s made from durable materials and won’t let you down in any environment. The Talon also comes in a 20L size, however, we would recommend the 22L.

Another great option is the Borealis backpack by North Face.

Very versatile with lots of pockets and space for all your day items. The Borealis is made with durable materials and also comes with a nice laptop compartment. The bag is slightly larger than the Talon and also slightly cheaper.

Walking Gear

Most Arctic cruises will consist of a number of day time hikes when ashore. These excursions are unmissable as they allow you to get close to nature and experience the Arctic landscape from a unique perspective.

Although you will never be pushed beyond your abilities, some of the hikes can be several miles long and there are several key pieces of walking gear that will help you have a more enjoyable experience. Both are listed below.

Hiking poles

Although you won’t be going on any excessively long hikes, having a good pair of trekking poles will greatly reduce the stress on your joints. This is especially true of older people who haven’t got the same sort of strength that they used to have. It has been proven that using trekking poles can reduce up to 25% of the impact on your joints.

The key characteristics to look out for in a good trekking pole is weight, grip, quality and adjustability. The lighter the better as you’ll be carrying these poles around with you. Make sure you have a fully height-adjustable trekking pole that is made from a lightweight aluminium or carbon fibre material. Also look out for rubber grips as supposed to cork as these will help keep the heat in your grips.

The best trekking poles are undoubtedly made by Black Diamond.

In our opinion, the best two models are the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork and the slightly cheaper Black Diamond Ultra Distance. Both are lightweight and offer excellent comfort and durability.

Other options that are slightly cheaper include trekking poles by Leki and Komperdell. We suggest the Leki Corklite or theKomperdell C3.

Water Bottle

Keeping well hydrated is incredibly important. Although it will be cold, you’ll still need to replenish your fluids regularly as you will still be sweating.

We suggest drinking at least 2L of water each day aboard your vessel.

The best water bottles we can recommend come from Camelbak. The Camelback Eddy 0.75L is a great option for short hikes and will fit in your backpack easily.

It is actually quite common in the colder months for the water to freeze inside your bottle when ashore. To avoid this, we suggest wrapping the water bottle in something such as your socks or spare fleece to protect it. We also suggest packing the water bottle upside down as the top will freeze first.

Cameras and Binoculars


We seriously suggest you take a good pair of binoculars with you on your arctic cruise. They are possibly the most important thing on your Arctic packing list! If you do not bring binoculars you will be sickened with jealousy when hearing the admiring noises from your fellow cruise passengers as they view a polar bear perfectly through their binoculars.

Even if you have an old pair of binoculars, we would caution you to perhaps upgrade. Good quality binoculars are simply brilliant and offer no comparison against older models of the past. A very nice pair will cost over $1,000. Don’t panic though, there are cheep options that still do the job nicely.

Because binoculars, like cameras, are optical instruments, you essentially get what you pay for in terms of image quality.The important point to note though is that a higher magnification is not necessarily mean a better binocular.  In fact, more often than not, a higher magnification means a darker image with a shallow depth of field. A longer magnification also means more noticeable hand shake!

Because binoculars are optical instruments, you need to look out for things such as colour quality, edge sharpness, depth of field and resolution. You also need to make sure your binoculars are waterproof as you’ll be making numerous wet landings and walking on snow.

Our Recommendations

We always suggest going for quality over magnification, even in the great expanse of the Arctic. A magnification of 8 x 32 or 8 x 42 or similar is good enough if you purchase quality. The top of the range is the Swarovski Optik Swarovision range. These are extremely expensive, but offer the best wage quality on the market. If you have the money then definitely consider them.

For most mortals however, a better option may be the Monarch range by Nikon. For a slightly better image quality, go for the Canon Image Stabilization All-Weather Binoculars. These are absolutely fantastic at controlling hand shale and offer a crisp image at all distances.


Because the Arctic landscape is so breathtaking and varied, most people who visit want to capture some of the magic on camera. Choosing the right camera can be a minefield though. Everyone has an opinion on cameras – even us!

Like binoculars, the more you pay the better the image quality will be. This is also dependant upon the lens you have also. If you’re serious about photography which many Arctic cruise goers are, then you’ll want to bring a good quality DSLR with you. If you simply want to document you trip, then any point and shoot camera will do the trick nicely.

Firstly, you will need to choose if you want a full frame or cropped sensor DSLR. Full frame sensors give a wider image, whilst cropped sensors essentially crop in on the image, magnifying it slightly. Although not a set rule, most landscape photo-hers prefer full frame whilst wildlife photographers prefer cropped as it gives them a bit of extra reach.

Choosing the right camera to suit you can be difficult. You’ll need to take into consideration elements such as ISO, FPS (how fast your camera can shoot, and mega pixels. We advise tat you read as many articles as possible and, if you can, try the cameras themselves.

In our opinion, the most versatile wildlife camera on the market currently is the Canon 7D mark II. The camera has a cropped sensor, good ISO range and can be used with a wide range of Canon lenses. The older 7D model is still a great option also and certainly one to consider if you’re on a tight budget. Professional wildlife photographers will often choose the full frame Canon 1DX, however, this si super expensive and out of most people’s league.

If you’re keen on Nikon, then wildlife photographers should definitely consider the Nikon D4!

Our Recommendations

For landscape photographers the Canon 5D range has always been a favourite. At the top of these models is the 5DS R, however, the price tag reflects this. Nikon also make a great full frame sensor camera in the D810.

A slightly cheaper option from Nikon is the D700. The cheapest full frame option from Canon is the 6D model which certainly holds it’s own in terms of image quality.

Sony DSLR cameras are also becoming popular recently with landscape photographers thanks to their absurdly high ISO capabilities. This makes Sony’s extremely popular for using in low light conditions such as at sunset or sunrise. The Sony A7R III is a 42.4 megapixel beast with added video benefits.

Please remember to bring dry bags for your camera as the cold weather will affect it.


Lenses are very personal choices as it really depends on what you’re looking to shoot and what style you’re after. Like cameras and binoculars, the more you pay, the better image quality you get. Nikon and Canon are most people’s first choice, however, Sony is also pushing into the market now.

The main decision you need to me make when deciding on a lens is focal length and whether or not to use a prime lens. Prime lenses cannot zoom, however, their image quality is unrivalled. Zoom lenses are more versatile though. Although top line zoom lenses offer exceptional image quality, a good level prime lens will always trump it.

This being said, zoom lenses are far more popular for both landscape and wildlife photography. One of the most popular wildlife lenses by Canon is the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens. Although quite heavy, the range and image quality more than make up for this. The prime version is the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Super Telephoto Lenswhich produces cracking images.

Other great Canon zoom lenses that are a little lighter include the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM UD Telephoto Zoom Lens and the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM Lens.

For Nikon fans, there is the excellent 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S V.R Nikkor.

Our Recommendations

For many landscape photographers, the wide angle zoom lenses are the main choice on Arctic cruises.

Two of the most popular lenses are the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L ll USM Zoom Lens and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens. Both lenses have incredible Image Stabilisation and superb image quality.

For Nikon we recommend the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus. Its a great all-rounder that won’t let you down in any landscape situation.

Video Camera

Recording your Arctic adventure is one of the best things you can do. Really, we think there is only one video camera that will do the job in all situations – the new GoPro Hero 6 Black.

Whether you’re kayaking, taking a hike or having a go on a sled team, a GoPro Her 6 will get the job done in style. Some of the footage that comes out of Arctic cruise journeys can be breathtaking.

Our Recommendations

The GoPro Hero 6 Black films 4K footage and delivers 2x the performance compared to HERO5 Black thanks to a new GP1 chip. 

The 2 inch display means you can frame your shots perfectly and the new stabilisation makes capturing smooth footage far more easy than on previous models.

For people looking for something more professional we recommed the Sony Alpha line. for low light performance, purchase the Sony A7S IIand for an outstanding all-rounder we suggest the Sony A7R III. Both cameras offer focus peaking, zebra, 4K shooting and HD slow motion.


Having a tripod is a key element to any Arctic cruise. Any landscape photographer worth their salt will invest in a good quality tripod that stays steady in the wind and comes with a good smooth ball head.

One of the best options on the market is the Manfrotto MKBFRC4-BH Carbon Fiber Tripod with Ball Head. Super light carbon fibre, super steady and very smooth. Another great option is the Mefoto Globetrotter tripod (carbon fibre model).

If you want a top level tripos then anything from Sachtler will far outstrip most market tripods. This does come at a price though.

For wildlife photographers, a tripod my not be necessary as the fast shutter speeds will negate the need for one. However, it’s always good to bring one just in case.

There is one small (and cheap) tripod that we never go anywhere without. Thats the JOBY GP3-BREN GorillaPod SLR-Zoom GP3+BH.

The GorillaPod is light, completely flexible and can literally wrap around any object to get the best angle possible for your shots. Absolutely ideal for wrapping around a ship rail or tree branch!

SD Card

With the amount of pictures you’ll be taking, you’ll want a fast SD card and probably a spare or two!

Try to purchase one with a memory of over 32GB. We recommend the Sandisk Extreme and the PNY Elite Performance.

The faster the write speed of your card, the less time you’ll waste waiting for images to buffer.

Camera Batteries

Because the weather is so cold in the Arctic, you’ll notice that your camera batteries do not last nearly as long as they normally would.

There really is nothing worse than seeing a perfect shot go missing because you have run out of battery. We therefore recommend bringing at least 3 batteries with you on your Arctic cruise. Official batteries will last much longer than knock-off brands.

Arctic Cruise Packing List: Accessories


Power points can sometimes be a rare commodity on an Arctic cruise vessel. It’s therefore prudent to take a small powerstrip with you.

By bringing a powerstrip with you there will be plenty of plugs to power all your electronic devices including your phone, camera, laptop etc.


Although it may sound strange, the cold Arctic conditions actually have a strong UV intensity. The latitude of the far north and the snow reflection can give your skin sunburn very quickly.

We always recommend an SPF factor of greater than 30 for all shore hikes. A excellent suncream option is P20.


Most cabin walls aboard your Arctic vessel will not be as thick as home walls. You may hear other passengers, snoring or just the noise of the engine. This can become extremely frustrating very quickly.

We strongly recommend bringing a good pair of a earplugs with you if you want to guarantee a good night’s sleep!

Small Lock

Although your Arctic vessel will be extremely safe with no theft, airports will not.

We therefore strongly recommend you bring a couple of small locks to keep your suitcases and backpacks secure from prying hands. Especially on bags that are carrying your passports and cash.


There will be some down time aboard your Arctic cruise, so having a book handy is very useful. Kindles are probably the best option as they’re super light and can fit literally thousands of books on them!

The new Kindle Fire is way more than just a book. It’s capable of playing movies, searching the internet and streaming games live.


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

Tags: Arctic packing list, Polar packing list, what to wear in the Arctic, Arctic cruise clothing, Arctic cruise packing list

About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Jan Bachrach says August 3, 2019

Very helpful, detailed suggestions for an Arctic trip
Thank you!

Add Your Reply