A click-and-pick Antarctica packing list with links to specific products that have been personally tested by Atlas & Boots
A friend of mine recently asked what three things make me happiest, as part of her research for her forthcoming book. I named family and nature which are fairly standard answers. Less common was my third choice of hygge, the Danish concept of cosiness.
We hear a lot about wellness, fitness and mental health but very little about nourishing the body on a tactile level. I explained that I love wrapping up in soft fabrics and fleecy blankets and can’t understand why we use these materials to soothe babies and young children but then swap to jeans and stiff, starchy clothes when we’re older. In short: I love being warm and comfy.
With this in mind, you can understand why I approached my Antarctica packing list with a zeal that verged on madness ahead of our trip to the seventh continent. I read the FAQs and packing lists of every major company that sails to Antarctica, studied countless blog posts and read a slew of reviews.
Praise be, because I bloody well did it: I managed to stay warm and comfy on the coldest continent on the planet. I present to you my Antarctica packing list so that you may do the same with a fraction of the pain.
Antarctica packing list
My packing list for Antarctica is based on a 10-day expedition and is broken down into Expedition clothing, Accessories, Onboard clothing, Transit clothing, Toiletries, Basics, and Electronics. Where relevant, I’ve included links to exactly what I packed. The sheer range of choice when it comes to outdoor clothing can be baffling, so I’ve done the hard part for you. The list has a female skew but most of the linked gear has a male equivalent.
It’s also useful to know that I opted for Helly Hansen (HH) because it’s the brand worn by the expedition team on Albatros Expeditions voyages. HH are based in Norway – the home of polar exploration – and have been making professional-grade gear for more than 140 years. As such, I figured they were a safe bet – and indeed they kept me thoroughly toasty.
Layers are key to staying warm in Antarctica, so make sure you pack base, mid and outer layers. It’s unlikely that you’ll have to pack a heavy-duty parka as most companies supply one as standard.
- Base layer tops x 2 (HH 1/2 zip, HH Crew) – I adore these
- Midlayer tops x 2 (HH Daybreaker, HH Insulator)
- Outer layers x 2 (HH Down Jacket, HH Sailing Jacket) – one of these may suffice but I liked to wear my down jacket beneath my official Albatros expedition parka on particularly cold days, and my sailing jacket on deck on warmer days
- Base layer bottoms x 2 (HH Lifa Merino Pants in two different colours; Peter loves Smartwool base layers)
- Midlayer bottoms x 1 (HH Daybreaker Fleece Pants)
- Waterproof bottoms x1 (HH Aden Rain Pants)
Add plenty of layers to your Antarctica packing list
- Warm hat x 1 (HH Ridgeline Beanie)
- Buff x 1 (HH Neck)
- Balaclava x 1 (HH Lifa Merino Balaclava) – only if you’ll be camping on the continent
- Liner gloves x 1 (HH Fleece Touch Glove Liner)
- Waterproof gloves x 1 (HH Mountain Glove)
- Liner socks x 2 (Smartwool Liner Socks)
- Thick socks x 2 (Smartwool – Maximum Cushion)
- Hand warmers x 10 (Little Hotties) – you may not use them all but it’s better to be safe than sorry
- Dry bag x 1 (Bloc Dry Sack)
- Swimsuit x 1 – for the Polar Plunge
- Sunglasses x 1
- Water bottle x 1 (Ion8 Leak Proof Slim Water Bottle) – I’ve been through about 10 different water bottles and this is by far my favourite
- Hairclip x 1
- Bra x 4 – let’s face it, we all just wear our favourite anyway!
- Knickers x 12 – if you think you may get your period, I recommend Wuka period pants
- Daypack x 1 (Osprey Tempest Pro 18)
- Suitcase x 1 per person (Osprey Rolling Transporter 60)
The evening dress code on Antarctic expeditions is completely casual. Think fleeces, jumpers, gilets and hoodies. Trainers and walking boots are perfectly acceptable. We saw one passenger in a blazer but that was it!
- Casual tops x 2
- Fleece leggings x 2 (CRZ Yoga in two different colours) – these look better in real life and I adore them
- Jeans x 1
- Trainers x 1 (HH Feathering Trainers)
This is a weird category I know, but it’s worth noting that if you’re heading to Antarctica from Argentina like most passengers, you will likely pass through Buenos Aires where we had temperatures of 35°C (95°C). It will be summer in the southern hemisphere, so it’s worth packing the below if you’ll be spending some time in the capital.
- Summer outfits x 2
- Ballet flats or flip flops x 1
- Small handbag x 1
- Comfy outfit for the flight x 1
Don’t forgo the sunscreen. Antarctica may be the coldest continent on Earth but the sun is deceptively strong.
- Batiste dry shampoo – you’ll be in and out of your cabin on some pretty full-on days, so may appreciate dry shampoo for sprucing up weather-beaten hair
- Makeup, vaseline, bobby pins, safety pins
Two notes here. First: take all your cash in USD and convert to local currency once you’re in Argentina. The country’s ‘Blue Dollar’ rate means you can get a lot more for your money compared with withdrawing from a cash machine or paying by card. This is especially useful if you’ll be spending a few days in Buenos Aires or Ushuaia. Everything onboard is likely to be cashless (excluding any cash tips you may wish to give on top of the gratuity added to your bill as standard).
Second: when it comes to seasickness, prevention is better than the cure so if you tend to get seasick, take medication before you begin to feel ill (with advice from a medical professional of course). There will be an onboard doctor who can supply medication too.
- Credit/debit cards
- Wet wipes
- Hand sanitiser
- Seasickness pills
- Any relevant medication
- Phone and charger
- Phone lanyard – this is useful for keeping your phone secure so it doesn’t fall overboard on the Zodiac cruises (sadly, I didn’t pack one but this Takyu Lanyard is well reviewed)
- Laptop and charger
- Kindle and charger
- Adaptor (Ceptics) – our cabin had UK plug sockets so we didn’t need an adaptor but you may want one for Buenos Aires and Ushuaia
- Camera and accessories
- SIM card (Keepgo) – in Ushuaia and the rest of Argentina, we stayed online with Keepgo which connects to local 4G networks in over 100 countries (you can get 10% off using our referral link)
Antarctica packing list: what to leave at home
- Hair dryer – your cabin will more than likely have one
- Heavy-duty walking boots – your expedition company with likely supply waterproof boots for shore excursions, so do check before you pack these
- Heavy-duty parka – your expedition company will likely supply one, so do check before you pack one
- Formal wear – evenings are completely casual affairs
If you have any questions about what to pack for Antarctica, then feel free to message us over at Instagram. Good luck and stay cosy.