An adventure cruise to Antarctica on a sailboat is an unbelievable opportunity for any active traveler who yearns for an all-access pass to one of the most remote places on Earth. On this active trip, guests will kayak, hike, camp and get up close with wildlife in spectacular frozen scenery.

Sailboat with ice in the Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

This shot by a Nat Hab guest was taken from the bow of the S/V Australis looking back in Antarctica’s Lemaire Channel. (Photo credit: Skye Marr-Whelan)

Whether you’re gearing up for an upcoming departure, or just wondering if a trip way, way down under is right for you, this list covers everything you need to stay warm and dry while going nose-to-nose with penguins, humpback whales and southern elephant seals.

General Antarctica packing tips:

  1. A waterproof or water-resistant bag will help keep your things dry in case of rain during transfers.
  2. Dressing in layers (base layer, fleece or sweater and a waterproof outer layer) is the best way to stay comfortable on your trip. This tip goes for both your torso and your legs.
  3. In cold, damp conditions the old adage says that “cotton kills” because it holds moisture near your skin and decreases your core temperature. Keep this in mind and opt for silk, wool or synthetic fabrics.
  4. Make sure to bring whatever you need to keep your hands, feet and head warm and dry. These areas of the body lose the most heat on a cold day.
Kayakers observe a waddle of penguins in Antarctica

Kayakers get a close-up look at a waddle of penguins in Antarctica. (Photo credit: John Mittan)

What to bring:


  • A warm winter jacket
  • Waterproof (not water-repellent), lightweight rain pants and rain jacket with a hood. You may be out in heavy rain or snow during your trip, so bring items made from sturdy, high-performance materials such as Gore-Tex.
  • 2 pairs of waterproof gloves
  • 2 pairs of glove liners to keep your hands warm and dry while taking pictures.
  • A warm wool or fleece hat that covers your ears
  • A warm wool or fleece scarf
  • Hiking boots that are sturdy, waterproof, comfortable and broken in.


  • 2 warm fleece jackets or sweaters
  • 2 pairs of long underwear (tops and bottoms)
  • 4 long-sleeved shirts
  • 4 short-sleeved T-shirts
  • 2 pairs of comfortable hiking pants
  • Warm wool or synthetic socks
  • Sock liners for hiking
Seals swim and relax on ice in Antarctica

A seal relaxes in the sun on a patch of ice while another swims nearby. (Photo credit: John Mittan)

For on the boat

  • Hard-soled slippers or other warm, comfortable shoes with rubber soles
  • Warm, comfortable pants to wear in the evening
  • Warm sleepwear
  • Eye mask (It won’t get fully dark at night during your visit and you’ll want your rest to give you the energy to hike, kayak and enjoy Antarctica during the day.)
  • Seasickness medication (This is particularly important for the Drake Passage crossing where the sea is frequently rough.)
  • Toiletry bag and any biodegradable toiletries you may need
  • Small flashlight


  • Binoculars
  • Photography equipment and chargers
  • A re-usable water bottle and a carabineer to make sure it stays with you when kayaking
  • A water-resistant daypack
  • A swimsuit if you want to take part in the optional polar plunge
Adventure cruise guests photograph a humpback whale from a Zodiac in Penola Strait

Nat Hab guests photograph a humpback whale from a Zodiac in Penola Strait, Antarctica. (Photo credit: Skye Marr-Whelan)

Sun protection

  • A sun hat with a brim and string
  • Sunglasses with a U.V. filter and a strap
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 30 or higher

Have you taken a sailing cruise to Antarctica or visited some other way? What did you pack and did we miss anything crucial on this list? Let us know in the comments!