I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t expect to be able to say that I’ve visited Antarctica so early in my life. It seems like such a faraway concept and place, but I was able to make it happen. Read about that here. You can imagine I was pretty frantic about what to pack, especially since I live in Georgia, United States (hello warm weather almost all the time) and since I was only planning to bring a carryon. Somehow I managed to pack everything I needed and then some. I’ll share exactly what I packed, what I could have left behind, and if I felt like I missed anything. Without further ado, the ultimate Antarctica packing guide.
Before we even get into this guide, I have to give the disclaimer I am notoriously a bad packer. Not only do I genuinely hate packing, I wait until the absolute last minute to get it done. Typically, I am packing mere hours (and yes sometimes even minutes) before departing for the airport. With that in mind, I knew I could not treat this trip the same. I was going to be packing bulky items, clothes for various temperatures, and I needed everything to fit in a carryon. Who knew we would see the day where I would practice pack?? Haha oh Larissa. At the end of this post, you’ll find a compiled checklist to help make your packing a breeze!
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The Bag: Osprey Porter 46 Travel Pack
I usually travel carry-on only, with my rolling suitcase. This was the era when airlines were losing luggage left and right, and AirTags were being purchased like they were going out of style. I knew I was not chancing getting stuck with lost luggage for the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica. I follow Helene in Between and she raved about her Osprey bag (see here, here, and here). Hearing great reviews from friends as well, I bit the bullet and purchased the Osprey Porter 46 Travel Pack.
Not having to check my bag gave me great peace of mind when travelling to and from Antarctica. There was one time, on my last flight to Punta Arenas, Chile where I did have to gate check my bag. This airline was a smaller, budget airline that had limited overhead space. Other than that, all my bags were kept with me the entire time.
In the Bag: Antarctica Packing Guide
Using packing cubes to stay organized, I packed my bag to the brim. Like I said, packing for this trip was a daunting task so I’m happy to assist others who may be embarking on a similar journey. If you live in a cold area, you probably already have most of these clothing items so it may not be necessary to purchase them. Here’s a quick breakdown of all the items I purchased and the links. I’ll go more in depth on several notable items afterwards. At the end of the post, you’ll find a packing checklist that covers everything I packed / recommend packing.
|Clothes||650 Down Jacket|
|Midweight Long-Sleeve Base Layer Top|
|Hari Traa Rulle High-Waist Base Layer Pants|
|Accessories||Women’s Knit Beanie|
|Women’s Knit Headband|
|ThermaCare Lower Back & Hip Pain Relief Heat Therapy|
|myCharge 6-Port USB-A & USB-C Power Hub Charing Station|
650 Down (Purple Puffy) Jacket
I live in Atlanta, Georgia so I don’t own heavy jackets that will keep out the cold and wind. After talking with employees at REI, I decided to go with this puffy jacket. I purchased a 2X in the plus size option, as I knew I would be layering underneath. This link is the same jacket for sizes up to XL. My roommate decided to go with this option from Uniqlo, which is a great option if looking for a jacket with a hood.
Thermal Base Layers
Nervous about the temperatures I was about to experience, I purchased all thermals. Multiple base and mid, top and bottom layers accompanied me on the trip. They are easily found on Amazon or at REI. Honestly, I was happy with my odor-resistant option and could have gotten away with only packing that. I also appreciated this budget-friendly two-pack thermal top layer, if you feel you need more. I don’t know how I missed this when I was researching, but they have a matching two-pack thermal bottom layer.
Arctix Insulated Sown Pants
In order to debark the ship during expeditions, it is mandatory that you have waterproof pants. If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, you should already own some. If you’re like me and live in warmer climates, you probably didn’t realize this was a thing. Well learn from my mistake and order from various brands of different sizes to make sure it fits well and is comfortable to sit in. I waited til the last minute and this brand (which worked really well for me) only had a 2x available for Prime. I needed it within two days, so I got suspenders to hold my pants up haha! It worked out fine, so know that’s an option if needed.
I struggled the longest with what shoes to pack. I brought three pairs, and at one point had four pairs with me. I ended up leaving my hiking boots behind. But if you plan to do any sort of hiking either before or after your trip, PACK YOUR HIKING SHOES. I bought a pair while I was in Chile. If I didn’t have them during my tour, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the experience as much.
Hiking Boots / Shoes
My Merrell hiking boots were too heavy and bulky to pack, but I ended up purchasing hiking shoes in Chile. If you have lightweight hiking shoes, I recommend bringing those. If they can easily double as tennis shoes with outfits, you have a winner! For future trips of similar nature, that’s what I plan to do. These may also be used to walk around the ship. Be mindful you may not want too heavy-duty of a shoe because it’ll be a hassle to put on and take off quickly. (Aka when you hear ‘WHALE’ and have to run out of your room really quick).
Safety-wise, it is a rule to wear close-toed shoes while outside your cabin. As it is possible to hit a rogue wave, causing items to go flying and crashing.
NorthFace Thermoball Traction Mule
I debated for quite some time if I wanted to purchase them, and then if I wanted to bring them. I’m so glad I ended up packing them. These are the shoes I (and pretty much the group I went with) lived in while aboard the ship. They are so comfy and warm, and I appreciated the emphasis on traction.
I brought a pair of old Rainbow sandals that I knew I was going to throw away soon. I used them in the hotel rooms and in the room on the ship. And since it was spring in Buenos Aires, Argentina – I wore flip flops some days exploring the city.
What I Could Have Left Behind
Even though I did ample research looking into other Antarctica packing guides prior to my trip, I ended up packing items I could have easily left at home. Some of them I actually did leave at home before I even went on the trip.
Stormhenge Down Hybrid Parka
Initially, I purchased this parka because ya girl is a warm weather individual through and through. My roommate reminded me know though that the cruise company would provide us a heavy jacket through the duration of the trip. Keeping that in mind and remembering my limited space, I decided to leave the parka and returned it when I got back home.
Let me just make a quick note here. If you’re an REI member, make sure to check the sales and co-op only options. Not only can you check these options in stores, but also online via the REI app. One of the thermal bottoms I purchased was found this way. Do be mindful that you may not be able to return though, so be pretty sure the item will fit.
Don’t get me wrong now. You WILL need thermals, but definitely not as many as I packed. I didn’t even end up wearing some of them. Since I purchased an odor-resistant thermal top, that was really the only one that I needed. For thermal bottoms, I really only needed two. I recommend packing two just in case water seeps through your pants during a Zodiac ride and they don’t dry in time for the next outing.
KIWI Camp Dry Water Repellent
I obviously wasn’t planning on packing the can of water repellent spray, but I did purchase it specifically for this trip. I didn’t want to buy a dry bag, so I waterproofed a Cotopaxi bag I already owned. I also waterproofed my tennis shoes.
What I Wish I Packed
Regardless of how well you research or plan, I think you’ll come away from the trip thinking ‘I wish I packed x’. Thankfully, what I wish I packed didn’t negatively impact my trip at all, but definitely made me want to share with friends and family for their potential trip. I was not expecting to be as warm as I was on the ship. Having one or two more pairs of shorts would have been great, as well as more short-sleeve shirts.
I also wish I would have bought some lightweight hiking shoes before the trip. They could have doubled as my hiking shoes and tennis shoes, making more space in my bag overall.
Since I knew I would be spending some time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I packed two summer outfits and a light jean shirt to throw on top as a jacket. If you’re flying straight home, there’s no need to worry about packing additional outfits.
The Ultimate Antarctica Packing Guide
Here’s a quick snapshot of the recommended packing guide. Obviously adjust as needed to fit your needs. I highly recommend practice packing if planning to only bring a carry-on. It helped me gauge what I needed to wear on the plane due to bulkiness, and what didn’t take up as much space as I thought. It also helps determine what you think you’ll actually need.
I hope this Antarctica packing guide has greatly assisted with helping to determine what to bring and leave for your trip. Is Antarctica on your list of places to visit? What surprised you most about the this packing guide? I’d love. to hear your thoughts!
Additionally, if you have any questions, leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to answer. As always, thank you for taking the time to read and for supporting Life with Larissa. Safe travels!