Wondering what to pack for Antarctica, what seems like the coldest place on Earth? Don’t worry, there’s a good chance you’re going in summer, so it’s not super freezing, but still freezing. Take it from a girl who chases summer year-round, and who has also been to Antarctica (and the Arctic), you’ll need the things on this list!
Well, some of them you technically don’t need. Like penguin-onesies and long flowy dresses. So I’ll start with the essentials and get down to the optionals.
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Ok so let’s get started with this Antarctica packing guide!
Base layers, AKA thermal underwear, are ESSENTIAL to keeping warm in Antarctica, or any cold weather destination for that matter. According to people I met in the Arctic, Merino Wool is the best option for warmth. It’s a bit pricier, but it definitely works
Since I do not do well in freezing cold temperatures, I also went ahead and found actual heated thermal underwear that you can power with a battery pack.
Whenever you go outside and onto the ice, you’re going to want/need to wear snow pants. Make sure they’re waterproof, and maybe one size bigger than you usually get so they’re not tight over all of your layers.
Regular Long Sleeved Tops
You may want to bring a few regular long sleeved tops to put over your thermals. It will somewhat add another layer of warmth, but more importantly, versatility 🙂
Although you’ll be getting a jacket from the expedition team, I’m adding jackets on my Antarctica packing guide anyway. Why? Because the jackets they give you aren’t exactly sexy. At least not the outer one. So if you want something nicer to wear on board or in photos, bring your own jacket as well.
I’d recommend something that’s compact, like these puffer jackets:
Or something light that you can put on over your actual warm jacket like a peacoat
Here we go with the extra items! Well, technically a snowsuit is suitable for Antarctica, so I don’t feel bad about adding it. Now if you want to get real extra (like I will be), you can opt for a bright color or metallic. I will be rocking the gold, rose-gold, and white snow suits!
Antarctica Packing Guide for Socks
Getting the right socks for Antarctica is crucial. If your feet are cold, your whole body will be cold! My feet were freezing in Antarctica, so bad, that a guy on my trip gave me a pair of his Smartwool socks, and then everything was unicorns and rainbows again.
So yeah, definitely get wool socks (I’d definitely recommend Smartwool)!
And again for my fellow freeze-haters, I found wool socks that can also heat up with a battery pack.
Smartwool also makes smart socks, which are the kind that have finger pads so you can still use your phone. That last part is mostly essential for taking photos with your phone. Because if you try to take your gloves off in Antarctica, your hand will likely freeze.
Don’t forget about your head! Just like your feet, if your head is cold, your whole body will be cold! Plus hats are an easy way to change up your outfits and pop in photos! Here’s a few of my favorites!
It’s advised not to wear your outdoor shoes inside the ship, so that you don’t get it dirty or scuff up the shiny floors. So try to bring a comfortable, warm pair of shoes that still have a grip on the bottom. Since, ya know, the Drake Passage is going to send us all rocking back and forth.
You’re going to be given thick rubber boots to borrow for when we do landings. So it’s up to you if you also want to purchase/bring your own snow/hiking boots. If you’re doing Patagonia, or any other outdoor activities before or after the trip, you may want to get some good hiking boots.
Antarctica Packing Guide for Scarves
Scarves also have the dual function of keeping you warm, and easily changing up your outfits. You could easily wear the same outfit every day and just change your scarf, and it would be like a new outfit. Just be sure to pick ones that are actually warm!
We have the Captain’s Dinner which is usually black tie-ish (as fancy as you can get while freezing), and on my Antarctica group trips, I also will have some cocktail parties. So if you want to bring a nicer outfit for those events, please do! You do NOT need a suit and tie or ball gown, just whatever you would normally wear to a nice dinner in freezing cold temperatures.
If you’re planning on using the jacuzzis, sauna, and/or doing the Polar Plunge, please bring a bathing suit! I wore a regular one piece last time but will likely bring a long-sleeved one this time as well since I caught pneumonia after the plunge. (Mild exaggeration, but I did get sick from not showering and running around in a wet robe afterwards because my body was in hyperthermic shock.)
OH! Or you can be eco-friendly and buy one of my last remaining recycled sea-waste swimsuits!
Optional: Dresses for Photos
Fact: I was the first person with documented photos wearing a long-train dress in Antarctica. And yes, I am damn proud of it. I do things like this mostly as a bold statement to society that shows a woman can be feminine and do badass epic adventures at the same time.
You do NOT have to bring a long ass dress. I will have a red one and a blue one, so if anyone wants to coordinate another color and then share, that’s more advised!
If you’re going on an Antarctica group trip with me, it’s true, I’m going to throw a pajama party, and think it would be hilarious if everyone got Antarctica-animal-themed onesies. No pressure though, since I know they may be a bit bulky to pack!
Speaking of which:
Travel Compression Bags
You probably know that I swear by these travel compression bags, and I use them regularly while traveling full time around the world. They compress your clothes without a vacuum (you just roll and squish them), which keeps you organized, and saves a ton of space!
Everyone wants to make sure they capture all of the epic moments in Antarctica, and that doesn’t mean that you need to go out and buy a Nat Geo style camera and massive lens. In fact, most people just use their phones to take photos there!
But if you want to step it up some notches, here are my recommendations!
For smooth, crisp video footage, I highly recommend the DJI Pocket. It’s a tiny camera attached to a gimble.
For multi-function, get an action camera. I use a DJI Osmo, but to be honest, they’re not as user friendly as GoPro. However they are extremely cheaper, and they get the job done for photos and videos!
If you’re wanting to get into professional photography, below is the camera and lens I use, as well as a couple others my blogger-friends use. You can also check out my full Photography Gear Guide!
For those who are bringing multiple cameras like I am, I’d recommend the small camera backpack I use that has adjustable compartments!
Oh! And don’t forget to get my signature selfie stick with tripod foot if you’re planning on taking your own photos!
Other Tech Gear
Definitely bring several portable battery packs and extra batteries for your gear. The cold weather makes them die faster than usual! That being said, try to always keep your phone and camera warm while going outside in Antarctica. I honestly was shoving them in my sports bra or against my stomach to keep them from dying!
You will also want to bring a universal adapter to use in Argentina and on the ship, depending on its outlets (check the specs on its website as all ships are different).
If you’re wondering about bringing a tablet or laptop: Yes to tablet if you want to read or watch movies you’ve downloaded, but also like, good luck trying to read on the Drake Passage (barf). For your laptop, if you plan on using it for things you don’t need wifi for, go for it! Unless you’re wanting to pay $60/hour for wifi!
If you’re bringing a camera or phone off the boat onto the ice and you’re worried about losing it, you may also want to get a sturdy dry bag. I just used my pockets when I went, but since i have an expensive camera now, I’ll have a dry bag.
OH, and absolutely NO DRONES (but also like…we may or may not have one on board).
Trust me, the Drake Passage is NO JOKE. If you look out the windows during it, you will feel like you’re in The Perfect Storm or something.The whole ship rocks, and if you try to attempt not taking anything for sea sickness, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’d highly recommend getting less-drowsy Dramamine and regular Dramamine as well, in case you want to just pass out.
Some of the people on my first group trip only used the sea bands, and swore by them, in case you don’t want to take meds!