Antarctic Packing Tips
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
I'm fully aware the Antarctic isn't your typical holiday destination. But, when we were starting to think about our upcoming adventure, the one thing that I was researching above all else was "what clothes do I pack for the Antarctic".
Here are the FTM top tips!:
Pack for varying temperatures ...
We travelled late November 2019 and experienced wide-ranging temperatures (about a 35 degree difference!). It's likely you'll first fly to Buenos Aires before flying down to Ushuaia to board your cruise liner or ice breaker so packing was a military operation!
It will be summer in Buenos Aires (hello thirty degrees) and you'll need something cool and light, especially if you have time to look around this beautiful city. I packed a jersey maxi dress which was ideal - rolled up, it didn't crease. It kept me cool in the daytime and with the addition of a scarf or necklace successfully took me from day to night. A pair of flip flops were all I needed which also came in handy for the Antarctic (especially in the sauna). For Mr, it was typical bloke attire - shorts and polo shirt.
Buenos Aires to Ushuaia
Starting your Antarctic adventure, you will leave the balmy temperatures of Buenos Aires and fly to the most southerly city in the world - Ushuaia. It will be cool. Nope, cold in comparison. I'd recommend jeans, a T-shirt layered with a jumper and a lightweight jacket (I have a brilliant lightweight puffa-style jacket that rolls up next to nothing). A hat may also come in handy.
What to pack for the Antarctic Cruise
I'd base my packing for an Antarctic cruise with the following:
Landings: typically you will be off the boat and on the ice / land for around 1.5 hours. But, it'll still be cold. So, layer up. But, don't go overboard. Thermals are vital but you'll often be walking / trekking and you don't want to overheat. I usually went for: long sleeve thermal top, long sleeve top (e.g. t shirt), zip up hoody, thermal socks, thermal leggings, jogging bottoms and waterproof trousers (I'd recommend these above ski salopettes as they're much easier to get on/off and dry much quicker). Thermal gloves are a must! Invest in ones that you can easily operate your camera. A woolly hat is also essential but I wouldn't necessarily bother with a scarf (I ditched mine after the first landing as I got far too hot).
On the boat:
Don't make the mistake I did and think that the boat will be cold. They have something on board called heating!
Jeans, jeggings and a jumper are absolutely fine. Take some t-shirts to layer up and a couple of scarves to keep out the chill. A pair of lightweight trainers are a good investment - especially when you out on deck whale spotting or iceberg watching. Flip flops are handy for visiting the sauna and our ship also had a jacuzzi on the top deck so using flip flops were much easier than tying up the laces on your trainers!
Formal evenings: There were two 'formal' evenings on our adventure. By formal I (like the majority of people on board) simply swapped our daytime jeans to smarter, darker jeans and a smarter jumper for the evening. No dinner jackets. No ball gowns.
Check your Luggage Allowance
If you're flying down to Ushaia, then there's probably a 20kg luggage limit to contend with - so pack wisely! Mix and Match. Layers. No heavy boots.
Drying your clothes
Your clothes will usually be left to dry in your cabin, so invest in things that dry quickly. Jeans are great on board, but not for landings.
Don't bother packing
We travelled with Hurtigruten. They provided us with a brilliant wind-cheater jacket. It was lightweight, showerproof, with a hood - and you get to bring it home (winner). Check if you get a jacket with your cruise provider as it'll save you having to pack one.
We also got fitted with rubber snow boots - again, check if you get these included as it'll save a lot of space in the case.
Here are the Hurtigruten jackets. Cleverly designed in bright red with a fluorescent hood so that you can easier be spotted should a snowstorm take hold.