There are three main expeditions to the Antarctic that we recommend. They are as follows
1. The helicopter based: Weddell Sea deep exploration
2. A short 10 day expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula
3. The wildlife and dive special: Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctic circle voyage.
The Equipment you need varies slightly on all of these Antarctic Expeditions. But the good thing is that if you live in a temperate climate and enjoy the outdoors, you will have most of what you need. Your certainly do not need a high budget for Antarctic clothing and equipment.
Take a soft bag, with wheels if you need them.
Deluxe: North face make a superb wheeled duffel.
Budget: Take any strong duffel bag
You will also need a daypack, and cheap dry bag to put inside it. This is to keep your camera and jumper dry on the zodiac. Drybags are $20 on amazon.
If you want to be really posh, you buy a $100 gekko dry bag daypack and use that on the Zodiacs and while hiking. While they are very nice, and do the job, they are not vital.
The best thing you can buy is a merino T shirt and similar thermal johns. If the temperature stays around 1’c and the weather is not horrid, then you will not wear the long johns. It really is quite warm.
Make sure you can move in the thermals easily. You need to be dextrous. In addition, its handy to have two pairs. If you live in the UK, mountain warehouse sell £30 cheap tops and Lidl’s/Aldi often do thermal long johns.
You will two pairs of socks to go under your boots. (they supply wellies). We used £15 bridgedale wool rich hiking socks and I have sealskinz army waterproof socks (£12 on EBay).
You will also need normal T shirts and socks for being on the boat, and in the Falklands /South Georgia for sunny days.
We wore: base layer, Norwegian army shirt or similar zip soft top, merino midlayer and then the jacket.
So a merino mid layer (Macpac/Mamut) or a woollen jumper (EBay again or mum at Christmas) are what is needed. Either buy a good merino top or a thick woollen jumper like an arran.
We also had a fleeces for wearing around the ship.
We want to throw a curve ball in here. Because we invested in Arktis Avenger Jackets and a Dutch “human Nature” arctic jacket sold by the ANWB. You don’t need either of these.
Our friends all had standard hiking Gore-Tex (or similar) jackets. If we did it again, I would take my Gore-Tex, and leave the Avenger behind. (although the pockets were awesome). The focus on the jacket is twofold, Absolutely waterproof for the zodiac rides and yet breathable for the on ice/land activities.
If you are on a budget, there is an easy way round this. Buy a military windproof smock on EBay (£25) (make sure it is genuine) and then the cheapest waterproof. Again an MTP genuine issue military Gore-Tex over jacket is perfect (EBay $25) . Or a simple oil skin. The key here is that if its wet and pissing down, then you generally won’t be moving too fast so sweat will not be an issue. Also if its that cold and miserable, the chances are that you will heading towards shelter.
Most of us took down jackets or thermaloft jackets. These were invaluable for putting between the merino midlayer/jumper and the outer layer.
You must bring waterproof trousers. We all bought mountain warehouse trousers for £30 which kept the snow off, and most of the water, but we found that after constant contact with sitting on a damp surface, they did allow water in. Would we use them again? Yes, because I own them, but if we had to buy something, we’d go for something more industrial from countrywide.
Note: if you have an MTP waterproof jacket, do NOT buy MTP trousers or you will look like a clown.
You will need teva type sandals for around the inside of the ship and decent shoes for walking around Ushuaia and on deck. We used karrimor walking shoes.
Sealskinz waterproof gloves are the best. But also buy a cheap pair of Gore-Tex military mittens from Ebay for emergency over-gloves. (there is no fashion in a snow storm). Fashion some loops on your gloves so they can hang off a simple carabiner. (this is irrelevant if you have an Arktis or military jacket, as the chest pockets are great.
A woollen or acrylic beanie is vital, and so is a buff or neck gaiter. We used both every day. It is a little known fact that you loose most of your hear through your neck.
There are very important. We used Eye level £15 polarised glasses and Bolle Ski glasses. Some people had ski goggles. These are also a very good idea for rubbish weather. If you use normal glasses get over glasses.
Sunscreen and lipbalm. Two small carabiners. Water bottle. 2 Cameras, binoculars (good ones) Spare battery. Euro adaptor(all the ships we use have European plugs) USB stick to share photos. Small laptop/smartphone/tablet . Paper notebook and pen. First aid kit, sea sickness medication, Walking poles.