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Antarctica Cruise: Packing List and Gear

4 min read

An Antarctic cruise can be one of the most amazing adventures you'll ever experience. Just imagine this scenario for a moment: the sun reflecting brightly off the ice glaciers and snow-covered surfaces, creating a plethora of colors and lights that creates an image that'll last forever. There are also a seemingly endless number of islands you can explore across the Southern Ocean where you'll be able to truly immerse yourself in the wonders of Antarctica.

Hiking in Antarctica is geared to all ages and levels of fitness. Everyone gets to participate!

Hiking snow-and-ice-covered terrain, joining wildlife walks, or participating in an off-ship adventure option such as kayaking require different kinds of clothes. Guests are wise to plan ahead and pack accordingly. Photo: Nicky Souness

However, as you can imagine, you need to prepare for the elements of such a trip. Antarctica is one of the coldest places on the planet. The sheer force of the wind gusts that roll in off the ocean means you'll want the proper gear and equipment to keep you warm and safe.

So what are some of the items you should pack? What's the proper Antarctica cruise packing list and gear you'll need for your journey through this remote, pristine part of the planet? This guide will help you prepare for an incredible adventure in Antarctica.

Antarctica weather conditions

0°C is universally recognized as the point of freezing. In Antarctica, the average annual temperature peaks at -10°C and can drop as low as -60°C. The warmer areas of the continent lie along the coast where the water helps reduce the effects of the cold blowing from the interior. The coldest temperatures are on top of the highest summits across the mainland.

In the summer months, the temperature near the coast can exceed 0°C, potentially rising as high as +10°C. But those days are rare, and in the winter months the temperatures drop as low as -40°C near the shoreline. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Earth's history occurred in Antarctica. Vostok Station, a research station in the interior, recorded a temperature of -89.2°C on July 21, 1983.

What to consider when packing for an Antarctic cruise

The multi-functional Quark Parka

The multi-functional Quark Parka, which Quark Expeditions gives to every guest to keep, enables the wearer to be comfortable in all kinds of
weather. The inner liner can be removed and worn as a light jacket on sunny days. Photo: Quark Expeditions

One sought-after polar voyage in the Southern Ocean is Quark Expeditions' South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula: Penguin Safari voyage. On this 16 day exploration of the Antarctic continent, you'll witness massive albatross and beautiful pintado petrels as they swoop and soar around the ship en route to South Georgia. From there, you'll sail onward past Elephant Island and around the South Shetland Islands. A crossing of the iconic Drake Passage is also part of this expedition. The Quark Expeditions team offer excursions that include hiking on the mainland, flightseeing from a twin-engine helicopter, and even the chance to do a polar plunge...if you're brave enough!

Given all of that activity, and the temperatures you can expect to face, you'll want to make sure you bring the right equipment to fully enjoy your adventure. Polar explorations are very different from other adventures, and that's why we have Antarctica cruise packing lists to help best prepare you for your memorable experience.

Antarctica Expedition gear

A weather-resistant day pack or dry pack for carrying extra camera equipment

A weather-resistant day pack or dry pack comes in handy for carrying extra camera equipment and clothing,
especially during shore excursions during expeditions in Antarctica. Photo: Quark Expeditions

If you really want to explore all that the 7th Continent has to offer, book your spot on the Crossing the Circle: Southern Expedition adventure. You could be rewarded with daily views of dramatic ice formations, humpback whales swimming alongside the ship, leopard seals diving beneath your Zodiac, penguins sliding off icebergs into crystal waters, or giant petrels soaring above the crackling sea. Plus, you'll get the chance to physically cross the Antarctic Circle, which many past guests have rated as one of the best highlights of their adventure.

Since you'll be trekking to one of the southernmost destinations you can visit, you'll need the right gear to ensure you're able to appreciate the full experience on the southern continent. There are some incredible hikes you can take while exploring Antarctica, and an Antarctica gear list that outlines items like the proper clothing to bring, the right boots to wear, and other protective gear that's so important to your adventure.

Essential Antarctica cruise packing list

If you'd prefer a shorter journey in Antarctica, you can always hop aboard the Antarctic Express: Fly the Drake adventure. This is a 9 day journey where you'll fly by charter plane from the bottom of South America, over the Drake Passage, to King George Island where you'll board your vessel to explore the Antarctic Peninsula. You'll experience rewarding shore visits and Zodiac cruises, marvel at intimate wildlife, explore historic polar sites and make the most of your landmark visit to the 7th Continent.

Even for a short trip, you'll need to make sure you prepare for the elements. That's why we have a detailed expedition packing list to help you assemble the right gear and the right equipment to bring on your adventure into Antarctica.

Other Antarctic expedition gear to pack

In addition to the Antarctic gear list that includes standard recommendations, you'll want to consider these additional options to bring on your expedition.
  • Base layers
  • Extra clothing, including warm socks
  • Wool scarves and hats
  • Thick gloves for your hands
  • Survival kits
  • Backpacks
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Water bottles
Also, since you're booking passage on a Quark Expeditions journey, there are a handful of items you'll want to leave at home for your journey. Quark Expeditions will supply you with a parka designed to withstand the cold Antarctic winds. (This Quark Parka is yours to keep.) You'll also be given the loan of hiking boots specifically made for this journey. If there are items you don't own, and perhaps will only need one time, you can also rent certain adventure gear to cover the bases.

Antarctica camera gear packing tips

Of course, no adventure is complete without photos to remember the occasion. You'll want to bring a durable camera that can truly capture the breathtaking scenery you'll encounter in Antarctica.
That's why we've put together a photography gear guide to help you pack the right equipment for your Antarctic voyage. If you follow these best practices, you'll be able to commemorate your adventure with photos to cherish for years.
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