Packing List Of Essential Gear For the Arctic
For comfort and safety, it is important to wear waterproof and windproof clothing and to wear a base layer and several medium-weight layers of loose clothing under your parka. Technical fabrics provide better insulation and keep you warmer than fabrics such as cotton, particularly if they get wet.
Long underwear: Breathable, light-weight tops and bottoms provide warmth without bulk. We recommend high performance capilene or merino wool. Wool is warmer, has natural odor control, is softer on the skin, and more environmentally friendly. Capilene wicks, dries quickly, and is a great option if you are allergic to wool. We suggest at least two sets, based on the length of your trip.
Buy Base Layer
Expedition stretch top and bottoms: This lightweight layer is worn over your base layer and under your waterproof outer layer. Warmth and flexibility are important for comfort when sitting in Zodiacs. Expedition stretch tops and bottoms are flexible. The legs taper to fit into boots and the tops have articulated sleeves that fit easily over the base layer.
Loft jacket, pullover or vest: The loft traps heat with remarkable efficiency, even when wet. It is feather light and compacts for easy packing. Loft garments are water repellent and windproof and double as outerwear in mild weather. Fleece is also an insulation layer option but it tends to bunch up when worn with layers.
Buy Insulation Layer
Waterproof pants: Breathable and wide enough to fit over boots. Knee-high side zippers are preferred so you can get your boots on and off easily. Buy a size larger than your base layer to ensure you are comfortable sitting in the Zodiac with one or two layers under your pants.
Rain jacket: Packable, lightweight, waterproof rain jacket. The fabric should be breathable so that moisture from your body can escape. Pack this piece in your hand luggage so that you have a windbreaker ready when you deplane.
Buy Outer Layer
Boots: Flexible, pull-on boots with sturdy soles that are suitable for Antarctica (easy to clean penguin guano from the soles). As you will step into icy water during Zodiac landings, boots are essential and must be at least mid-calf high (12-15 inches / 30.5-38 cm in height).
Socks: Extra heavyweight socks made of wool or wool blend. If your boots are not insulated, you will need to wear two pairs of socks, sock liners and possibly foot warmers. If your boots are well insulated, (e.g. rated to -40° like the Zodiac Classic High Boots or rental boots) only one pair of socks is needed. If you are prone to cold feet, add sock liners and/or foot warmers.
Hats & Gloves
Hat: Fleece is excellent because it is lightweight and extremely warm. Wool is also recommended. Choose a hat with a visor to shade your eyes and flaps to protect your ears, the best choice for Antarctica.
Neck gaiter: A practical and stylish way to protect your neck. Neck gaiters are more flexible than balaclavas and don't fly around like scarves. You can wear a neck gaiter around your neck or use it as a headband. For added warmth, wear two and pull one over your face to protect your mouth and nose.
Gloves: Windproof and waterproof ski gloves. Gloves that keep your hands warm are expensive but are absolutely necessary and a great investment. Select gloves that provide excellent warmth and durability. A breathable lining is a must.
Glove liners: Recommended as they provide extra warmth on cold days. Some glove liners are wind-resistant and will protect your hands when you slip off your glove to take photos.
Buy Hats & Gloves
Backpack: Lightweight and water-resistant backpack for carrying items ashore and keeping your arms free for embarking/ disembarking the Zodiacs. If you have a lot of camera equipment and do not intend to use plastic seal-proof bags, pack a waterproof backpack.
Trekking poles: A lightweight, collapsible, walking staff (also called a trekking pole) provides a sense of security, increased balance, and confidence when walking on ice, snow and rugged terrain.
Rental trekking poles available on these ships only: Silver Explorer, Silver Cloud, NG Explorer, NG Orion and Seabourn Quest.
Seal-proof waterproof bags: Heavy-duty plastic to use to store your camera, film, binoculars and more in your backpack.
Foot/Hand warmers: To put between your feet and your socks and to slip into your hands for extra warmth.
Mosquito Head Net or Body Net: To protect against mosquitos and other insects. Especially recommended if your itinerary includes Iceland, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic.
Also recommended: A pair of good sunglasses or goggles with U.V. filter protection and protective lotion for lips, hands and face.