When packing for your holiday, do you have trouble deciding between what to take versus leave at home? If so, you’re certainly not alone – it can be tricky deciding what makes the cut into your luggage.

Of course, what often helps is knowing the environment that you’re entering into. With Antarctica and the Arctic – known as the coldest, most isolated and remote landscapes in the world – there might be a tendency to pack your suitcase with all the winter gear under the sun.

Polar temperatures in summer are similar to most ski fields in winter. If you are a skier, your ski clothing will be perfectly adequate; as long as it is thoroughly waterproof. Under your waterproof layer, you will need between two to four insulation layers depending on the day.

Our vessels are air-conditioned and the temperature on board is generally between 15°C (59°F) and 25°C (77°F). When on board, dress is informal. Normal clothing usually consists of jeans or casual trousers, and light long-sleeve T-shirts or jumpers.

So, here is what you’ll need to pack for a trip to the polar regions:

The Layer Principle

The layer principle has been proven to demonstrate that wearing several light layers of clothing is recommended over wearing one heavy layer. Between each layer there is trapped air which when heated by your body acts as an excellent insulator. See information below.

Complimentary Polar Expedition Jacket

Each passenger will receive their very own Aurora Expeditions’ waterproof polar jacket to use during your voyage

The 3-in-1 jacket is designed to be worn over your essential base layers and provides a versatile layering system suitable for the conditions to be encountered on our polar expeditions. Both pieces offer sophisticated expedition styling and have been customised exclusively for Aurora Expeditions, complete with an included ‘drop seat’ design on the back of the jacket, allowing for additional comfort when sitting in Zodiacs.

Your jacket will be ready and waiting for you in your stateroom when you board for your expedition.

Please note: Jackets are unisex and are designed to be an over-sized fit to allow for easy movement and layering underneath.

Polar expedition jacket

Waterproof Trousers

To keep your legs warm in the wind or away from splashes in the Zodiac boats, you’ll also be required to bring an appropriate pair of light, waterproof nylon trousers. Invest in a quality pair of waterproof trousers that won’t tear if you sit on the ice to take a photo or won’t get dirty if you accidentally run into penguin droppings!

In the same way as jackets, trousers are critical for the polar environment so ensure you have these in your suitcase.

Base layers

Waterproof Trousers: A light pair of waterproof nylon trousers is critical for keeping you warm in wind, and dry on the Zodiac.

Polar Fleece Jacket: A 200-300 weight fleece is ideal, or another warm jumper would be suitable.

Warm Trousers: Ski, tracksuit or polar fleece pants are suitable to wear under your waterproof trousers. Jeans are not suitable to wear as an under layer.

Thermal Underwear: Medium to thick thermal underwear, leggings, long-sleeve shirt, and socks are essential. Polypropylene fibres are warmer when wet than silk or wool. ‘Sportwool’ – wool sprayed with synthetic is also ideal. We recommend singlets, three tops and two bottoms minimum.

Woollen Jumper: Ideal to wear


When you’re on the ship, warm comfortable shoes are best. Make sure they have a good grip for the outside decks. Slip on shoes or moccasins are ideal for indoors.

We offer complimentary loan of Muck boots during the voyage.  This said, it’s what you put in your boots which is the most important.

We recommend packing a mixture of thick and thin socks to work out the best combination for keeping your feet warm, both on and off board. Sheep’s wool inner soles are also advisable to wear inside your gumboots. We recommend packing two to three pairs.

Mittens, Gloves, Headgear

One of the basics of dressing for the cold is that most of your core body temperature is lost through your extremities – hands and head. To prevent the onset of hypothermia, you’ll need to pack a mixture of mittens, gloves and headgear that will keep you nice and toasty.

In most cases, the best option is to opt for a pair of polypropylene or woollen gloves covered with a waterproof mitten. As your gloves could still get wet, bringing more than one is ideal. Of course, it’s also vital to remember the option of fingered gloves if you want to take photos or want the chance to grip onto something.

For your head, you can either choose a woollen cap or beanie that can be pulled down to protect your ears and forehead. The minimum requirement here is that the headgear is of polypropylene or polartec material that keeps your face and ears warm during Zodiac boat trips, sea kayaking adventures and general exploration.

Additionally, it might be worth investing in a quality woollen or synthetic scarf which can be used to protect your neck or be wrapped around your mouth during cold conditions.

Fly/Sail & Fly/Fly Voyages: If your voyage commences with a charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica, it is important that you have a waterproof/windproof jacket to get to the ship after disembarking the flight in King George Island.

Other recomended items:

  • Waterproof daypack for landings
  • Dry bag or plastic bag for camera
  • Binoculars: to get the most out of the incredible wildlife-viewing opportunities during the voyage. Please bring your own binoculars. You are welcome to use Aurora Expeditions’ supply of binoculars on board the ship, but they are limited to use on the Observation Deck
  • Camera and accessories
  • Spare batteries and memory cards for camera
  • We suggest you bring a laptop for image processing; there are limited public computers to use 
  • External hard drive for storing downloaded images and other data
  • USB stick to share photos with fellow passengers
  • Collapsible hiking poles, depending on individual needs
  • Sunscreen and chap stick
  • Moisturiser for wind and / or sunburn
  • Glasses cord for prescription glasses and sunglasses
  • Extra prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Ear plugs (especially if you are sharing a stateroom)
  • Sleep eye mask (great for plane travel and for ice camping)
  • Watch – to keep track of landing return times
  • Swimsuit (for the sauna, jacuzzis and Polar Plunge)
  • Double-adapter for multi-charging
  • Personal toiletries (bodywash, shampoo, conditioner, and handsoap is provided in each stateroom and refilled throughout the voyage)
  • Sea sickness medication
  • Personal medication – we recommend carrying this in your hand luggage at all times 
  • Personal first aid kit. An onboard medical clinic is available whenever you need it
  • Small flashlight
  • Pocket-sized notebook and pen
  • Pack of playing cards or other travel games

Ready to tick off your polar packing list?


Call Now | Find an Expedition