Dressing For Your Trip To Antarctica

What To Pack And Wear

Travelers on Zodiac in Antarctica

One of the first questions we get from clients right after they book their Antarctica cruise is, "What do you recommend for clothing?" The most helpful piece of advice we can offer is summed up in a single word: layering.

Layering is a key factor in staying comfortable. Weather in Antarctica can change quickly and often. Even in the short time it takes to travel by Zodiac from ship to shore, the temperature could change significantly or the wind could kick up. By dressing in layers, you’ll be well prepared for a wide range of temperatures and conditions, especially during shore landings. If you become too warm, you can remove a layer. Conversely, if you get cold, you can reach into your backpack for more clothing.

The following are items you will definitely want to have on your trip. NOTE: You can click on the image below to download and print our recommended clothing.


1. Parka

Choose a parka with goose down, synthetic fibers, heavy fleece or other insulation material and a waterproof or highly water-resistant outer layer. Comfort range rating should be approximately 0°–35 °F (-18°–2°C).


2. Waterproof Jacket

In addition to a parka, a lighter weight jacket made of a waterproof—or, at the least, highly water-resistant—material is ideal for layering when standing on the ship’s deck or when going ashore on “warmer” days. Gore-Tex® and other similar materials allow perspiration to escape while shedding water in all but the heaviest rain and snow.


3. Waterproof Pants

Materials such as Gore-Tex® or other waterproof fabric help protect you from spray while riding in Zodiac landing craft and on shore when you want to sit or kneel on snow. Some insulation may be desirable. Ski and snowboard pants work great.


4. Fleece or Lightweight Insulated Jacket

Ideal for layering, fleece is warm, versatile and fairly water-resistant. Mid-weight fleece typically provides plenty of warmth when layered. Lightweight down or synthetic-filled jackets are another excellent option for an insulating layer.


5. Long Underwear

Your base layer of clothing should include long underwear—both pants and a top.  Materials to look for are merino wool (wool blends tend to be less itchy than 100% wool), silk and polyester fabrics.


6. Waterproof Boots

Unless you have an uncommonly large or small shoe size, we highly recommend using the boots that are provided (free of charge) to passengers  on the ship. Not only does this save a few dollars, it also means you don’t have to carry bulky boots in your luggage. However, if you do have an uncommon shoe size—or just prefer bringing your own—look for calf-high rubber boots. Some, like Wellington brand boots, are all rubber, while others, like Muck® brand boots (our favorites), have neoprene uppers. Choose boots that have a sturdy sole with good traction and are comfortable when worn with thick socks.  Wool or wool blend socks are an excellent choice, but other insulating materials also work.


7. Waterproof Gloves

Insulated gloves with a waterproof outer layer keep your hands warm and dry when traveling by Zodiac to and from the ship. Compared to mittens, gloves offer more dexterity, which is useful when operating a camera or holding onto handrails on a ship’s gangway.


8. Hat & Neck Warmer

We recommend wool or fleece hats. Make sure your hat covers your ears. A hat with a bill will keep salt spray off your sunglasses during Zodiac excursions.  We prefer fleece neckwarmers to scarves, which loosen and can get wet. If you’re worried that wool will be itchy, look for wool blends like those used in SmartWool® products.


9. Sunglasses

Bring a pair of polarized glasses. The sun does shine in Antarctica, and when it does the glare off snow and water can be intense. If your eyes are especially sensitive to the sun or glare, you might consider wraparound sunglasses or glacier glasses for maximum protection.


10. Backpack

Though not an article of clothing, we highly recommend bringing a small waterproof or highly water-resistant daypack. They’re great for carry extra clothes when going ashore (or storing clothes you shed when temperatures rise). If you plan on carrying camera gear, you may want to invest in a padded backpack specifically designed for photographers.

For more information on temperatures you can expect during your cruise, be sure to check out our Weather in Antarctica page.

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