Packing List

What Clothes & Gear to Bring to Antarctica - The Ultimate Antarctica Packing List

Trying to figure what clothes to pack to stay warm or the gear and supplies you need for Antarctica? I've got you!

I know it sounds crazy but…I packed everything I needed for a 23-day adventure to Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands in in March 2023 in single CARRY-ON suitcase!

But there where a few reasons I decided to only pack the essentials and travel light to Antarctica:  

  • To avoid airline fees for checking in a bag
  • To reduce the risk of airlines losing my essential clothes and gear I need for Antarctica. Imagine making it to your Antarctica expedition ship, but your clothes and gear don’t!
  • Rooms onboard Antarctica expedition ships are limited and passengers have luggage restrictions

Packing everything I needed for Antarctica in a single suitcase was challenging, but I realized that you really DO NOT need as much clothing or gear as you may think! In this ultimate Antarctica packing guide, you’ll find:

  • A list of the must-have clothing, camera gear, and other essential items I packed to visit Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands
  • How to pack everything you need for Antarctica into a single carry-on suitcase
  • Tips on how to pack efficiently and adventure travel light!
Two carry-on suitcases
My husband and I packed all of our Antarctica clothes and gear into a carry-on suitcase and a personal backpack! Proof it's possible to travel light.

Everything You Need to Bring to Antarctica (Clothes & Gear Packing List)

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Reasons to Pack Only the Essentials for Antarctica

No matter where you travel, packing light has several advantages:

  1. You minimize the risk of losing your clothes and gear - getting to the ship where you pick up your Antarctica ship isn't easy. You'll most likely need to take multiple flights, which means more chances your airline can lose luggage you check-in. Antarctica is a type of trip where you require specific clothing and gear, which I wasn't willing to risk by checking in a bag when flying.
  2. You travel cheaper - a month-long adventure to Antarctica is already expensive. If I didn’t have to pay to check in my bag on my flight, I wasn’t going to!
  3. There are luggage allowance limits onboard Antarctica expedition ships - it's critical for these ships to maintain a proper weight distribution. Which is why most Antarctica tor operators have restrictions on how much luggage passengers are allowed onboard. With Poseidon Expedition (onboard the Sea Spirit), we were allowed 2 pieces of luggage per passenger.

5 Packing Tips on How to Travel Light

  1. Pack only the essentials - it will take a few trips to figure out the essential things you need to bring when you travel and what you can leave at home.
  2. Pack functional clothing - clothes that serve multiple purposes (or can be used for multiple activities) means you don't need to pack as much clothing! 
  3. Pack clothes that are easy to mix and match - with just a few pieces of clothing, you'll be able to make multiple outfits during your trip!
  4. Pack less if you can do laundry while traveling - if I know I'll have access to a sink, I'll pack travel laundry sheets so I can wash clothes while traveling. As long as it passes the sniff test, we're good to go!
  5. Pack your items efficiently - “Roll” your clothes or use compression packing cubes to pack your clothes efficiently in your luggage.

How to Stay Warm in Antarctica: 2 Major Tips You Can't Forget

If you’re visiting the White Continent during the summer season (November - March), Antarctica isn’t as bone-chillingly cold as you think! When I visited Antarctica in March 2023, I experienced day temperatures in the high 20’s to low 30’s, which isn’t too different from any cold-weather camping, hiking, or outdoor adventure we experience when we're not in Antarctica.

Staying warm in Antarctica IS NOT about wearing the most expensive, name-brand gear. It’s even simpler (and cheaper) than that. Here are the golden rules for staying warm in Antarctica:

  1. Layer your clothing
  2. Staying dry is critical

1. How to Properly Layer Your Clothes to Stay Warm in Antarctica

Dressing in layers makes it easy for you to take off layers as you start to heat up as you move around during landings and excursions in Antarctica. Your layering system to stay warm will consist of three layers:

  1. Base layer: the first layer of clothing you’ll wear closest to the skin. You'll wear a base layer bottom and base layer top beneath your warmer layer of pants and shirt. Typically, this will be a lightweight or midweight long-sleeved shirt and pants or thermal underwear.
  2. Mid-layer: the medium-weight second layer to wear over your base layer, like a fleece pullover or hoodie top and fleece pants.
  3. Outer layer: the last piece of clothing to wear in your layering system, which includes a jacket and outer pants. For Antarctica, you’ll want your outer layer to be waterproof.
A woman is wearing tighter merino clothes to stay warm onboard a ship in Antarctica
These merino wool base layer top and bottoms are the first layer I'd put on in my layer system to keep me warm in Antarctica. Base layers should fit snugly in order to wick moisture away from your skin properly.
A woman wearing fleece pants and hoody as mid-layers to stay warm in Antarctica
I wear mid-layers over my base layers for additional warmth. I'll typically wear a fleece pullover or hoodie and fleece pants.

2. What Clothes to Pack to Stay Dry in Antarctica

The second piece of staying as warm as possible in Antarctica is to STAY DRY. Wet clothing in cold temperatures will make you feel even colder, which can be dangerous and lead to serious health and safety issues like hyperthermia.

In Antarctica, your clothes may get wet from:

  • Water spray during zodiac cruising and landings
  • Hiking in snow 
  • Sweating during land excursions and activities (especially if you’re visiting Antarctica in the summer season)

To stay dry in Antarctica, you want to pack base layers and mid-layer clothing that are moisture-wicking. Whatever you do, AVOID COTTON! Cotton clothes and socks absorb moisture and are difficult to dry (which also leads to some unpleasant odors). Instead, choose clothing that is made from wool or wool blends, merino wool, or bamboo.

And when it comes to outer layers to pack for Antarctica, make sure your outerwear is waterproof.  

A woman wearing a thick jacket, waterproof pants, and waterproof boots on a cruise ship in Antarctica.
To stay warm in Antarctica, I wore a waterproof jacket, rain pants, and waterproof rubber boots over my base layer and mid-layer clothes! Both the jacket and boots were provided by our cruise operator.

Outerwear to Pack to Stay Warm in Antarctica

As mentioned, staying warm in Antarctica is about staying dry. Which makes waterproof outerwear that much more critical when traveling to Antarctica.

Waterproof Jacket or Parka

Your jacket for Antarctica should be waterproof, insulating, and windproof for additional warmth on those days when the polar winds are strong. 

*Pro tip: Check with your Antarctica tour operator whether they will provide you with a jacket or parka. Traveling with Poseidon Expedition, I was provided a durable, windproof, and weatherproof parka (to keep!), saving me a ton of valuable space in my suitcase! 

Rain Pants

I wore a pair of waterproof, windproof rain pants over my mid-layers to keep my legs dry from water sprays during zodiac cruises and hikes in the rain or on glaciers. 

I wore the Storm Surge Rain Pants by Columbia, whereas my husband wore the Rainer Full-Zip Rain Pants by REI. Both were truly waterproof and windproof!

Should I pack rain pants or snow pants for Antarctica?

Struggling to decide whether to pack waterproof rain pants or snow/ski pants for Antarctica? I did too!

I decided to pack a pair of rain pants instead of snow/ski pants for Antarctica for several reasons:

  • Rain pants are warm enough - as long as you properly layer your clothes (with base layers and mid-layers), rain pants will be warm enough for Antarctica summers
  • Rain pants are more compact - snow/ski pants are big and bulky, making it hard to move around. With rain pants, I didn’t feel like I was being restricted during land excursions. And even better, rain pants took up less space in my suitcase!
  • Rain pants are less expensive - snow/ski pants can get expensive (especially if you’re only purchasing them for a single trip). Living in the desert, I’d have more use for rain pants.

Rubber Boots

Tall waterproof rubber boots with good traction (that are at least mid-calf or taller) are essential for Antarctica. These rubber boots will keep you dry as you get in and out of zodiacs or if you’re doing any glacier hiking.

I’d recommend sizing up the boots so you have enough space to layer up on socks to keep your feet warm.

Like the parkas, check with your tour operator to see if they will provide rubber boots for your trip. My tour operator provided me with a pair of gum boots after we boarded the ship. 

Mittens & Thin (“Liner”) Gloves

To keep my hands warm in Antarctica, I also used a layering system with my gloves. I packed a pair of thinner gloves (“liner gloves”) to wear underneath a pair of waterproof, outer mittens.

I recommend packing extra mittens and gloves in case any of them get wet during your excursions. Wearing wet gloves in Antarctica will make you COLD. 

Thankfully I packed (2) pairs of thin gloves and (2) pairs of outer mittens. The extra pair of gloves and mittens came in “HANDY” (pun intended) after they both got wet while kayaking.


Keeping your feet warm in Antarctica also means you’ll need to layer up on your socks! I packed several pairs of thinner socks to wear underneath my warmer, thicker socks. I packed (5) pairs of thinner socks and (3) pairs of thicker, outer socks.

The type of socks to pack for Antarctica is also important for keeping your feet warm and dry. Here are two tips when it comes to packing the proper socks for Antarctica:

  1. Pack socks made from wool, wool blends, merino wool, or bamboo.
  2. Choose socks that are moisture-wicking. Not only will this keep your feet dry, but this will keep your socks from getting too smelly, allowing for multiple uses.

Hat or Beanie

Packing a single beanie or hat should be enough to keep your head warm in Antarctica. However, if you have room in your suitcase, I'd recommend a spare hat. My beanie ended up in the ice-cold water during a kayaking expedition, which would've been problematic for the excursion we had later that afternoon. 

Fleece Lined Neck Gaiter or Buff

Pack a gaiter or scarf to keep your neck covered and warm in Antarctica. I packed a windproof fleece-lined Buff for extra warmth!

Sun Protection

The sun in Antarctica can be STRONG, especially when it’s reflecting off the ocean and snow. Make sure to pack your sunscreen and sunglasses!

Essential Clothes to Pack for Antarctica

Base Layers

Base layers are the first layer (closest to your skin) in your layering system to keep you warm in any cold-weather adventure. 

Features of a good base layer:

When it comes to picking the best base layers for Antarctica, you want to avoid cotton material, since cotton retains moisture as you sweat. Your damp clothing will make you feel even colder.

Instead, you want to pack base layers made from wool, wool blends, merino wool, etc. for the moisture-wicking properties. These materials will keep you dry if you start to sweat from activities.

I packed two pairs of base-layer bottoms and tops for Antarctica. 


Mid-layers are thicker layers worn on top of your base layers, underneath your outerwear. These layers can be hoodies, fleece pullovers or pants, or even thin jackets (or jacket liners).

I packed three mid-layer tops and pants for Antarctica. Even when I wasn’t out on a land excursion, I’d wear these mid-layers to hang out onboard!

Bathing Suit

“What am I going to need a bathing suit for in Antarctica” you ask.

Honestly, you can't visit Antarctica without doing the famous Antarctica polar plunge!

I mean, how many people can say they’ve swam in 34F water?

A woman is jumping into the cold water of Antarctica
Antarctica is the ultimate spot to do a polar plunge...I HAD to do it, no matter how painful it would be! And honestly, it doesn't hurt as badly as I thought because my body got numb almost instantaneously!

Workout Clothes

My 23-day cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands means LOTS of days at sea. With that many consecutive days onboard, you’ll be itching for some physical activity. So whether you’re walking laps around the ship or getting a quick workout in the ship’s gym, make sure to pack some workout clothes. 

I packed (2) lightweight workout tops and shorts.

Formal Clothes (optional)

When packing for my trip, I read about several ships having Welcome Dinners or Farewell Dinners where passengers could dress up. Although I packed a lightweight jumpsuit “just in case”, I never wore it! Like me, the rest of our ship was chill and casual.

Shoes to Pack for Antarctica (To Wear Onboard)

Although you’ll need a pair of rubber boots for land excursions and zodiac rides, you’ll also want to pack comfortable shoes to wear onboard your Antarctica cruise ship.


Whether you plan to do laps around the ship, exercise in the gym, or just do some city touring before or after your cruise, you’ll want a pair of sneakers. 

I packed my favorite lightweight trail running shoes (Altra Lone Peak) to hike in Tierra Del Fuego, stroll through Buenos Aires, and work out during sea days on our expedition ship. 

Camp Slippers (optional)

Since the ship was going to be my home for 23 days while exploring the Antarctic region, I wanted to feel like I was at home!

I packed a pair of camp slippers to wear pretty much EVERYWHERE on the ship, whether it was to attend lectures or meals in the dining room. These slippers were also perfect to slip on quickly (with great traction) when the captain would announce wildlife sightings and I needed to run on deck to beat the crowd!

Comfortable camping slippers being worn on an Antarctica ship
Camp slippers made it so easy to slip shoes on and be the first on deck whenever there were whale and other wildlife sightings!

Gear to Pack for Antarctic Excursions


I recommend bringing a backpack with you to Antarctica if you plan on bringing a camera or just need something to hold your layers if you get warm.

Just make sure to protect your backpack from getting wet during bumpy zodiac rides! The saltwater can damage your backpack and any gear inside. 

Pro tip: You cannot bring any food or drinks (besides water) onshore in Antarctica or South Georgia per IAATO regulations, you won’t need a backpack for this purpose. 

I packed my 22L Patagonia Blackhole backpack, which was perfect for holding my camera, camera gear, and extra layers for land excursions. But what I love about this backpack is that it is waterproof, protecting my camera from getting wet during zodiac cruises. 

Don't have a waterproof backpack? Backpack rain covers are an affordable way of keeping your backpack dry on wetter outdoor adventures.


A drybag is used to keep your valuables and electronics dry on wetter, outdoor adventures! I packed a dry bag to keep my camera dry while riding the zodiacs and hiking in the rain in South Georgia. 

Kayaking in Antarctica? Check with your cruise operator to see if they will provide dry bags for your kayaking sessions. We borrowed dry bags for the duration of the trip to keep our phones, cameras, and other valuables in as we kayaked! 

A female hiker hiking through the snow in Antarctica. There are beautiful views of snow everywhere and sea ice.
I got to hike to the top of Brown Bluff in continental Antarctica! Waterproof outerwear and boots are critical for staying dry and warm during landings and expeditions in Antarctica.


The best camera to bring to Antarctica is the one you know how to use the best. There would be no point bringing an expensive, professional DSLR camera if you don’t know how to use it! Although I packed a Nikon DSLR camera to Antarctica, I used my phone camera the most to capture the landscape and wildlife. 

If you do end up packing a DSLR camera, make sure to bring a few Ziplock freezer bags to protect your camera body and lens from damage from condensation. Since the air temperature in Antarctica is far colder than the temperature onboard the ship, condensation will form on the inside and outside of your camera lens and body. To protect your camera from condensation:

  1. Place your camera inside the Ziplock freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before zipping the bag up
  2. Head back on board the ship
  3. Leave your camera inside the Ziplock bag for a few hours to let your camera warm up to the ship’s temperature before taking it out.

Camera Accessories

Imagine taking the most incredible pictures of Antarctica’s magical landscape and unique wildlife, only to lose them! To prevent that, I packed a few camera accessories that were essential for protecting the thousands of pictures I took in Antarctica.

The camera accessories and essentials I’m glad I packed to Antarctica include:

  • Extra camera batteries - the cold drains camera batteries quickly, which makes having some backup batteries essential.
  • Extra memory cards - although I didn’t need my extras, I got some piece of mind knowing that I’d have extra memory cards for my camera in case the one I was using got corrupted.
  • External storage device - to prevent losing any of the pictures I took on my DSLR and phone camera, I backed up my pictures daily onto my external storage device using my laptop. I packed a portable SSD, but the cheaper alternatives are external hard drives. 

Seasickness Prevention & Medication for Antarctica

Your experience crossing the Drake Passage can be either smooth as butter or rough as hell! Even though I had no previous issues with seasickness, I wanted to prepare for the worst. 

The key to curing sea sickness is to prevent it! Here are the essential things I packed to prevent seasickness in Antarctica, especially while crossing the Drake Passage:

  1. Scopolamine seasickness patches - these prescription seasickness patches (that you place behind your ear) prevent nausea and vomiting from motion sickness for 3 days. But the key is to put the patches on at least 4 hours before the effect is needed. I never experienced any motion sickness with these patches, only dry mouth which is a common side effect. You will need a doctor’s prescription for these patches and not all countries offer them.
  2. Ginger chewy candy - ginger reduces nausea caused by motion sickness, which makes these ginger chewy candies an easy sea sickness preventative to pack for Antarctica.

Fortunately, I did not experience any sickness! I do believe the scopolamine seasickness patch was extremely effective for me, so I highly recommend packing those if you're able to.

Forgot to bring seasickness medication? Our ship's onboard doctor had Dramamine (over-the-counter seasickness pills) available.

To prevent seasickness in Antarctica, I packed chewy ginger candy purchased from Amazon and prescription scopolamine seasickness patches.

Other Supplies to Pack for Antarctica

Travel Laundry Detergent Sheets

Because I wanted to pack light for Antarctica, I knew I would need to do laundry and wash my clothes throughout the trip. To minimize how much I spent on this trip, I packed travel laundry detergent sheets to wash my clothes in the sink when my clothes got dirty. And I’m glad I did because it costs $2.50 per pair of socks to get washed using the ship’s laundry services!


No matter how long your Antarctica cruise itinerary is, full days at sea are guaranteed. Pack your favorite things to keep busy, like books, a laptop for blogging, or some cards! Our ship offered multiple educational lectures and activities on sea days and even had an onboard library!


Outlets will be available on your Antarctica cruise ship for electronics. Make sure to pack any adapters and portable chargers you may need for your trip! Because I had so many electronics to charge (and wasn't sure if there would be enough outlets in my room), I ended up packing this power strip to make it convenient for to charge all of my devices at once.


If you’re looking for the ultimate guide on how to pack and travel light for Antarctica, this Antarctica packing guide lists the essential gear, clothing, and things to bring that will fit in just a carry-on suitcase for an epic trip!

A female hiker posing next to a group of king penguins in South Georgia. There is a glacier in the background.
Hiking amongst the dense population of king penguins and fur seals in South Georgia was truly one of the most impactful and moving experience of my life!
Is Antarctica on your adventure bucket list?

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about the author
Molly Chhiv
What's up, my dudes! I'm a weekend adventurer and blogger based in the U.S. that found my self-confidence, independence, and limitless potential through the outdoors. So much so that I quit my engineering job to do more fulfilling work in the outdoor industry!

But real talk: the outdoors can be intimidating. So I'm on a mission to empower you to find your confidence to adventure more. From beginner hiking tips to learning how to travel on a budget, I've got you. Whatever your adventure and whatever your skill level, I'm here to HYPE YOU UP!

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