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There’s been a boom in Antarctica tourism in recent years, making it easier for humans to venture further south than ever before. (And as we recently reported, many cruise and travel companies are working to ensure that influx doesn’t harm the exceptional environment.) It’s crazy to think that just over a hundred years ago, Ernest Shackleton’s wooden ship was destroyed by sea ice, but today, technology has made it possible to take a luxury cruise, a heli-skiing trip or an overland expedition to the furthest stretches of the Earth’s poles—and have wi-fi and central heating the entire time. While Shackleton’s 27-man crew was outfitted with little more than woolen long underwear, cotton-gabardine Burberry trench coats and reindeer fur boots, the journey’s requisite gear, too, has come a long way.
If you’re heading to Antarctica, the company you’ll be traveling with will undoubtedly send detailed packing lists ahead of your departure (as well as provide sturdy boots for shore landings and often a parka) but there are a few nuances to read between the lines. The main key is to pack lightweight, highly functional layers that will shield you from the elements, not hinder your movement or cause you to overheat as you trek—and also look good for the deluge of photographs you’re bound to take on this bucket list adventure.
And while you may want to buy some new gear for your voyage, it’s not ideal to invest in a bunch of pricy performance wear that’ll wind up collecting dust in your closet once you return home. After all, any trip to Antarctica, as you’ll discover, is a humbling lesson in sustainability. If you’re planning a trip to the White Continent, here are some of the pieces that will do the job in style—and serve you for years to come.
The North Face E-Tip Recycled Gloves
Unless you’re prone to extra cold hands, a giant, cumbersome mitten might be overkill for those sunny Antarctica days. Go with something like this highly functional glove from The North Face, which keeps your fingers nimble so you can snap pictures with ease.
Arc’teryx Beta Pant
Dressing for shore landings is less about bulking on the warmth and more about choosing versatile layers—precisely like these shell pants. They’re waterproof (so any splashing seawater just rolls right off), incredibly lightweight and have a tapered fit that easily slides into a boot.
Canada Goose Stormont 1/4 Zip Sweater
Half the fun of traveling to Antarctica is looking the part, and this Canada Goose sweater lives up to the brand’s adventurous reputation. Made from super warm merino wool, it features Arctic Tech and Cordura patches on the shoulders and elbows for added durability, as well as a ribbed collar that holds its shape even when stuffed into a suitcase. It’s the kind of sweater that you can wear over a base layer for excursions, or over a button-down for dinner when you return home.
Burton Multipath Gore-Tex Shell Jacket
This lightweight rain jacket is the perfect top layer to keep you sheltered from the elements. It’s made from Gore-Tex Paclite 75D, an unlined fabric that’s lighter and more breathable than traditional Gore-Tex, so it keeps the sea spray and wind out while providing just enough insulation. Calling it packable is an understatement: It folds up neatly into a single pocket, easily slipping into any suitcase.
Falke Trend Men Tights Warm
The importance of a high-quality base layer for your Antarctica trip cannot be overstated, and Falke has been making them for nearly 130 years. Durable, well-fitting long underwear is key to keeping warm without sacrificing freedom of movement. Falke offers various options; these long tights are a great place to start, but you may want to consider the shorter options if you know you run warm, or so forth.
Alps & Meters High West Turtleneck
A functional combination of merino and luxe cashmere, this refined sweater has an incredibly soft hand feel, but the rugged waffle weave texture makes it well-suited for adventures. It comes in ivory, charcoal and “chipmunk” colorways, all of which will look fantastic against the blue and white Antarctic landscape.
Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie
The ideal down jacket is more art than science, but this Outdoor Research bestseller takes top marks on both fronts. It has a positively cozy 800-fill down interior, amped up with wind- and water-resistant exterior and reinforced shoulders for a truly hardy jacket that will last you for many winters to come. The clincher, however, is in the design itself—the down panels are thoughtfully angled downwards where the jacket meets your hips, making this piece easy to layer under a shell jacket for your Antarctic excursions, but also flattering to wear on its own when you’re back home.
Julbo Vermont Classic
Antarctica in the summer can be a sunny place. Come prepared with these classic “glacier goggles,” which are designed to both prevent snow blindness and protect sensitive eye-area skin from damaging UV rays. The temples have a flexible ear-bend, so you can be confident that these won’t slip off on your hike or zodiac ride, and the side shields are made from a pliant leather material that gently molds to your face’s shape.
Rowing Blazers Wool Flannel Blazer
Come evening, you’ll want to peel out of your base layers and look presentable for dinner. Antarctica trips usually have strict luggage weight requirements, so while we don’t recommend you bring an arsenal of eveningwear with you, we do suggest bringing a single, smart navy blazer. This option from Rowing Blazers is made from 100 percent wool flannel for those chilly nights, yet is unlined in the back making it ideal for layering over shirts and sweaters alike.