When packing for your holiday, do you have trouble deciding between what to take versus leave at home? If so, you’re certainly not alone – it can be tricky deciding what makes the cut into your luggage.
Of course, what often helps is knowing the environment that you’re entering into. With Antarctica – known as one of the coldest, most isolated and remote landscapes in the world – there might be a tendency to pack your suitcase with all the winter gear under the sun.
However, since all of our Antarctica tours take place during the Austral summer (December–March), you’ll face temperatures around zero degrees rather than the minus 40 degrees that occur during the dark winter.
So, here is what you’ll need to pack for a trip to Antarctica.
It could be argued that jackets and parkas are the most important item of clothing for your trip. To protect you against the chilly Antarctic weather, you’ll need a fibre-pile (polar fleece) jacket and at least one warm, waterproof jacket that can act as your top layer.
One of the benefits of travelling with Aurora Expeditions is that all passengers are given a complimentary expedition jacket when you board the ship. This 2-in-1 jacket is designed to keep you warm and dry in the polar conditions. The waterproof, breathable outer shell is fleece-lined and has a adjustable drop tail for sitting in the Zodiacs, and the removable inner liner has a great wind-to-weight ratio.
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To keep your legs warm in the wind or away from splashes in the Zodiac boats, you’ll also be required to bring an appropriate pair of light, waterproof nylon trousers. Invest in a quality pair of waterproof trousers that won’t tear if you sit on the ice to take a photo or won’t get dirty if you accidentally run into penguin droppings!
In the same way as jackets, trousers are critical for the Antarctic environment so ensure you have these in your suitcase.
Base layers – top and bottom
The best way to keep your body warm in Antarctica is to layer your clothing as much as possible. This doesn’t mean wear four polar fleeces, but instead selecting light materials that retain heat well, minimise sweat and trap the warmth below your jacket.
These base layers should include materials such as silk, polypropylene, Sportswool or similar. As such, you’ll need to bring a selection of thermal underwear to sit under your insulating layers eg fleece jumpers and pants.
Thanks to their grip, you’ll spend the majority of your time on Antarctica wearing your gumboots. This said, it’s what you put in your gumboots which is the most important.
We recommend packing a mixture of thick and thin socks to work out the best combination for keeping your feet warm, both on and off board. Sheep’s wool inner soles are also advisable to wear inside your gumboots. We recommend packing two to three pairs.
When you’re on the ship and out of your gumboots, warm comfortable shoes are best. Make sure they have a good grip for the outside decks.
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Mittens, Gloves, Headgear
One of the basics of dressing for the cold is that most of your core body temperature is lost through your extremities – hands and head. To prevent the onset of hypothermia, you’ll need to pack a mixture of mittens, gloves and headgear that will keep you nice and toasty.
In most cases, the best option is to opt for a pair of polypropylene or woollen gloves covered with a waterproof mitten. As your gloves could still get wet, bringing more than one is ideal. Of course, it’s also vital to remember the option of fingered gloves if you want to take photos or want the chance to grip onto something.
For your head, you can either choose a woollen cap or beanie that can be pulled down to protect your ears and forehead. The minimum requirement here is that the headgear is of polypropylene or polartec material that keeps your face and ears warm during Zodiac boat trips, sea kayaking adventures and general exploration.
Additionally, it might be worth investing in a quality woollen or synthetic scarf which can be used to protect your neck or be wrapped around your mouth during cold conditions.
What to wear on the ship?
The temperature inside on the Polar Pioneer is dramatically different to those outside. As such, you won’t need layer upon layer of clothing to keep you warm.
We like to think of the ship dress code as casual – you can wear jeans, casual slacks or trousers, light long sleeve shirts or even T-shirts. Just remember where your jacket is in case any wildlife decides to pay a visit and you need to get outside! As for your footwear, you can easily wear lightweight walking boots or other footwear with good grip.
If you would like more information about our Antarctic trips and what to bring, get in touch with the expert team at Aurora Expeditions today!