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What to Pack for Your Antarctica Adventure

The following packing list contains general recommendations for an Antarctica adventure. If you are currently booked on Sailing Antarctica: The Ultimate Polar Nature Expedition, please consult your pre-departure materials for the most up-to-date packing list for your trip. You will receive these pre-departure materials 60–90 days before your departure.

Simplify your packing—shop at Nat Hab’s online Gear Store for some of the key items recommended for your adventure. Look for this icon in the list below, then go to the Nat Hab Gear Store to start shopping.

EXPEDITION-SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

  •  While a water-resistant or waterproof bag is not required, it is helpful to have because bags may be exposed to rain during transfers. If you do not have one, and do not wish to purchase one for this adventure, a good alternative is to place everything inside your luggage into some type of waterproof liner. This will help ensure that, even if your bag gets wet, your items inside will stay dry.
  • We may experience cold and windy temperatures, particularly when we are on the water in the Zodiacs, so we ask that you be properly prepared. Waterproof rain gear is essential should the area be experiencing inclement weather. Keep in mind that it is often cooler on water and in the Zodiacs than on land.
  •  Layers, layers, layers! It is far better to wear a long underwear base with an insulated jacket and an outer waterproof/windproof layer than to have a single large jacket. This will keep you toasty if outside temperatures are cold, and you can always shed layers if you grow too warm.
  •  Wool, silk, and synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene (with wool blends) are superior to cotton because they can trap warm air even when wet. Polar fleece can also be a good option. Please remember that down garments lose their ability to insulate when they get wet, so be sure you have a waterproof layer that will fit over any down jackets.
  •  Body heat is most likely to be lost from the head, hands and feet; it is important to keep them warm and dry with hats, gloves and thermal socks. Hand and foot warmers are a good idea if your extremities are prone to being cold.

NHA PROVIDED GEAR

Natural Habitat Adventures will provide the following gear for your use while on the expedition:

  • Sea kayaking equipment
    —Includes double or single kayak, paddle, PFD (personal flotation device).
  • Kayaking gloves
    —NHA will provide paddling gloves as a protective layer. However, you may wish to bring your own paddling gloves to ensure a better fit.
  •  Kayaking booties
    —NHA will provide Neoprene kayaking booties to wear during kayaking excursions. We have a variety of sizes that range from Women’s 6–10 and Men’s 9–13. If you need a different size, please contact our office. You are also free to bring your own pair to ensure better comfort and fit.
  •  Mustang suit
    —Mustang suits will be provided in a range of sizes (XS–XXL). They will keep you warm while on the Zodiacs or while kayaking. If you need a size outside of the provided range, please contact our office as soon as possible.
  •  Dry bags
    —One large (35L) and one small (8L) dry bag per guest will be provided while kayaking to hold items you need on excursions (sun block, extra layers, etc.).
  • Sleeping bag
    —Our Mountain Hardwear bags are rated to 0º Fahrenheit, keeping you warm in the local conditions.
  •  Sleeping bag liner
  •  Expedition-style camping pad
  •  Three-person Marmot Thor tent (or similar)
    —Two people will share each tent.
  •  Neos Adventurer Overshoes
    —These waterproof overshoes with sturdy soles will be worn over your regular hiking boots to protect your feet during wet shore landings. They are not to be used for hiking while on shore.
  • Trekking poles
    —If you choose to bring your own trekking pole(s), make sure they have covers on the ends so they don’t puncture the Zodiacs.
  • Water bottle
    —In our continuing effort to operate adventures with as little impact on the environment as possible, we will provide you with a reusable water bottle upon arrival.
  • Hairdryers are provided in guest rooms at Alto Andino and Hotel Rey Don Felipe. There is also a shared hairdryer available for use on the S/V Australis.

ESSENTIAL GEAR

  • 2 KN95 masks per person (included in your pre-departure package)
  • Lightweight neck gaiter (included in your pre-departure package)
    —Useful for wearing over the KN95 masks to keep them clean and extend their use.
    —Also provides sun, wind and/or dust protection.
  • Additional cloth face coverings
    —We recommend bringing a few more face coverings of your own. Silk, wool or polypropylene long underwear for layering (tops & bottoms)
  •  Warm winter jacket (insulated)
    —For staying warm in cold temperatures, nothing is as comfortable as a down jacket.
  • Lightweight, waterproof rain gear
    —You will need both a waterproof/Gore-Tex jacket with a hood and Gore-Tex pants. It is extremely important your rain gear be fully waterproof, not just water repellent, as it can rain frequently and quite heavily in the areas we will be visiting. Flimsy, plastic raingear is easily torn, rendering it useless for the remainder of the trip, so we recommend you avoid these items when possible. Plastic ponchos are also not recommended.
    —Bulky ski parkas and ski pants are not practical for this trip. A hard-shell rain jacket made from Gore-Tex or another technical waterproof fabric will double as rain and wind protection. Be sure your rain gear is big enough to fit over your fleece and/or down jacket and long underwear or fleece base layers. 
  • Lightweight down jacket
    —To layer under your waterproof shell.
  •  Warm mid layer (i.e. fleece jacket)
    —This should be relatively heavy-weight clothing, as it will be used as your insulation layer, trapping body heat and providing warmth.
  • Waterproof gloves 
    —Warm, waterproof gloves can be helpful should we experience inclement weather.
  • Glove liners
    —Thin glove liners are highly recommended, as they allow you to take your gloves off to take pictures while still keeping your hands warm.
  •  Wool or fleece hat
  •  Warm socks
    —We suggest socks made of wool or synthetic material; cotton socks are not recommended for excursions. Bring several combinations of socks to ensure a warm, comfortable fit, and in case a pair gets wet.
  •  Hiking boots
    —Your boots must be sturdy and fully waterproof, with good ankle support and traction for walking on snowy or icy conditions. Make sure that they have been broken in to prevent blisters. Again, NHA will provide waterproof Neos overshoes to wear over your boots for wet shore landings. Although not required, as a personal preference some clients have chosen to bring a pair of rubber bog boots to wear for shore excursions. These types of boots work well for local conditions. If you do bring bog boots, please keep luggage weight limits in mind for our internal flights. A good trick is to wear the boots on the plane so they don’t take up space and add weight to your checked luggage.
  •  Boat shoes
    —Lined Crocs or warm, hard-soled slippers are highly recommended for wearing on board the boat.
  • Water-resistant daypack
    —To carry equipment/gear during outings.
  •  Sunglasses
    —With UV filter and strap to secure them. Polarized glasses, although not required, help you to see through the reflection at the surface of the water and can be very useful while looking for marine life.
  • Motion sickness medication
    —If you are prone to motion sickness (or if you are unsure) it is imperative that you come prepared with an effective remedy for use on board and during crossings.

CLOTHING

  • 2 pairs of long underwear (tops and bottoms)
    —These items should be used for layering and made of light- to medium-weight, moisture-wicking material, such as polypropylene, wool or silk. Cotton is not recommended. Worn as the base layer, long underwear will transport body moisture away from the skin, keeping you comfortable and dry. These can be worn under your hiking pants for additional warmth.
  •  2–3 long-sleeved shirts
  •  2–3 short-sleeved T-shirts
  •  1–2 pairs of comfortable hiking pants and/or softshell pants
  • Comfortable warm pants
    —Such as fleece, for wearing in the evenings. 
  •  Underwear
  •  Warm sleepwear
    —The cabins on the boat are heated; however, if you get cold easily, we recommend bringing something warm to sleep in.
  •  Swimsuit (optional)
    —You may wish to participate in an Antarctic Polar Plunge!
  • Nice change of clothing (optional)
    —Although not required, some travelers prefer to have a nicer change of clothing to wear for our welcome and farewell dinners, as well as for any extra time spent in Chile or Argentina. Please note that Buenos Aires and Santiago will be much warmer than Ushuaia and Punta Arenas.

ADDITIONAL GEAR

  • Binoculars
    —Binoculars are a great item for this expedition. A good quality pair will definitely enhance your wildlife-viewing experience, and you will get the most out of them if you practice using them at home and make a habit of having them with you regularly on the expedition. Waterproof binoculars work well but are not required.
  •  Toiletries
    —Shampoo, conditioner and soap are provided at hotels in Ushuaia and Punta Arenas. NHA will supply biodegradable shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hand soap on board the boat. If you choose to bring your own toiletries to use while sailing, we ask that you bring items that are 100 percent biodegradable. Please no exceptions, as chemicals could damage the fragile marine ecosystem.
  •  Toiletry bag
    —Helpful for carrying personal items, as the shower is located outside of your cabin.
  •  Sunscreen and lip balm (SPF50+)
    —The sun on the Antarctic water is much more intense than you are probably used to, so please be sure to bring appropriate protection.
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Prescription glasses/contact lenses
  • Outlet adapter
  •  Battery-operated alarm clock or wristwatch
  •  Eye mask (remember, it may not get completely dark during your departure)
  • Headlamp or small flashlight
    —This is only necessary for a few hours in the dusk of the Antarctic night. Bring extra batteries.
  •  Earplugs
    —These can be very helpful when sleeping in a new environment.
  •  Hand and foot warmers
  •  Onboard entertainment
    —Audiobooks, ebooks, podcasts and movies stored on your personal devices can be helpful to pass the time during crossings or long transit days. Please bring your own set of earbuds. 
  •  Sewing kit
  • Reusable waterproof bags
    —Great for wet or dirty clothing and to protect camera equipment.
  •  Mini tissue packs

    Header Credit: Colby Brokvist
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