Antarctica packing list: everything you need for your first trip south
We know a thing or two about keeping warm in Antarctica. If you’re heading south for the first time, here’s our tried and tested packing list.
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest continent on Earth. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration at the end of the 19th century. These days, you’ll be much more comfortable than the likes of Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton. That said, it’s worth getting the basics right. As such, we’ve put together our detailed Antarctica packing list drawing on 30 years of experience on the great white continent.
We’ve linked through to items we sell in our online shop where possible. By purchasing directly from us, you help us care for and conserve all six historic buildings and artefacts. You also directly enable us to create experiences and tell stories to inspire people with the wonder of this unique place.
As ever, thank you for all the support and have a wonderful time in Antarctica. We’ll see you down there!
The key to staying toastie in Antarctica is to follow the layering system so you can adapt your clothing to suit the conditions. Make sure you pack a mix of layers including base, mid and outer layers. Avoid using cotton layers as it holds moisture and is never waterproof. Stick to Polyester, Polypropylene or Merino wool.
- Base layer tops – long-sleeved tops worn next to your skin
- Mid-layer tops – our Berghaus microfleece is ideal
- Outer layers – could be thicker down or sailing jacket*
- Base layer bottoms – long pants or leggings worn next to your skin
- Mid-layer trousers – could be hiking trousers
- Waterproof trousers or snow pants
- Walking boots*
*Cruise ships should supply a waterproof expedition parka and insulated waterproof boots.
Clare Ballantyne in her Port Lockroy beanie (Credit: Clare Ballantyne/UKAHT)
Essentially, this section is about keeping your head, hands and feet warm whether you’re on a Zodiac cruise or a continental landing.
- Warm hat – such as our Port Lockroy Woolly Hat
- Neck buff – we sell a warm Arctic Edge Neck Gaiter and a lightweight reversible Map & Gentoo Neck Warmer
- Sun hat – or Port Lockroy Baseball Cap perhaps?
- Liner gloves
- Waterproof gloves
- Liner socks
- Thick socks
Our Arctic Edge Neck Gaiter (Credit: UKAHT)
Evening dress code on polar expeditions is generally casual. There’s no need for top and tails although if you do don a shirt, our Antarctic Tartan Bow Tie or Silk Scarf would complete any outfit. Instead, we suggest dressing for comfort on board – think fleeces, jumpers, gilets and hoodies. Trainers and walking boots are also acceptable.
- Casual tops – how about a pop art-inspired Gentoo t-shirt?
- Trousers, jeans or fleece leggings
- Trainers or comfortable shoes (with the right socks of course)
- Antarctica maps – we have a range of maps including Graham Land and the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia and a double-sided map of Antarctica and the Arctic among others.
- Enjoy your time at sea with some Antarctic-inspired reading:
- Madhouse at the end of the Earth
- Antarctica: a history in 100 Objects
- Operation Tabarin
- Ship beneath the ice
- Browse all our Antarctic books and maps.
- Skip the queues and buy your Port Lockroy postcards in advance.
- Learn all about Port Lockroy in our Souvenir Guide before your visit.
- Better still, write them with a UKAHT responsibly sourced wooden pen.
- Are you an artist? Consider taking one of our Watercolour Sketch Pads and maybe some pencils.
Our unique Watercolour Sketch Pad (Credit: UKAHT)
Don’t forget sunscreen! Antarctica may be cold and windy but the sun can be still be intense. Use biodegradable toiletries where possible.
- Lip balm
- Seasickness medication
- Hand sanitiser
- Ear plugs
We love these pop art-inspired t-shirts (Credit: UKAHT)
- Camera and accessories (spare SD card and battery)
- Phone and charger
- Power bank
- Power adapter
- Water bottle
- Day pack
- Dry bag
Follow a unique colony at the end of the world
The gentoos of Port Lockroy are perhaps some of the most famous penguins in the world! The colony made their home with us on Goudier Island over 30 years ago and we have been studying and contributing to their protection ever since. Inquisitive, fluffy and funny, we love sharing their activity with everyone around the world.Buy now Buy now as gift Renew your adoption
Support our work Protect Antarctica's heritage
Every membership and donation we receive helps our expert teams deliver vital conservation work across the heritage sites that we preserve. Without your support, sites of great importance in Antarctica's history could quickly deteriorate, taking with them historic artefacts, tales of scientific advancement and human endeavour that inform how we, as a global community, view and value Antarctica today. With your help, we can continue to conserve this special continent to ensure its protection for years to come.Donate now