"Special" clothes to pack for Antarctica

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#1
Boston
4,801 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
I know what SSeas recommends, but what's really needed? I think I should be expecting extended time periods with temperatures in the 20s to 30s, which is what I get at home every winter, so I know how to dress for that. I have pretty good waterproof boots, I expect to pick up some waterproof pants, and I've got every kind of layer for the rest of my body, including very warm gloves and hats and even a knit face covering hat. Will being in the Zodiac be so damp that I need waterproof upper clothing, too?

Do I really need Long Underwear? Special socks (or can I just wear two pairs of regular socks)? Anything else? Should I bring the Yaktrax I've had in a box for 5 years and never needed up here?
#2
Port Saint Lucie - FL
2,353 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Did both Arctic and Antarctic expeditions -- both times we over packed. Had two set of waterproof pants -- used only 1. Had several. Boots yes. Waterproof tops - no. You have the SS Jacket which should take care of keeping the upper part dry. Never used my ski mask. Did use the gloves regularly. Did not bring thermal underwear and did not need it. The weather was in upper 20's to mid 30's on our trips. The biggest issue was the wind on the observation deck

If you are camera happy -- definitely bring a dry bag and a spare body. My Nikon 610 died two days into the cruise. I did have a backup.
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#3
London
498 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Well, you are used to the cold but, yes, you do need full waterproofs as there will be spray when you ride in the zodiacs. SS provide a jacket with down insulation liner but waterproof trousers and high boots which will accommodate your trousers inside are essential for the wet landings. Hat, neck gaiter or scarf and warm waterproof gloves are also essential. Layers are fine, so two pairs of socks will work. Not only is it cold and damp but you will be stationary in the zodiacs for up to two hours watching the amazing nature on occasion.
Some of the walks are on icy snow so the yaktrax aren't such a silly idea. I didn't see anyone using them though. Walking poles were useful for some.


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#4
Atlanta
5,922 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Thanks so much for starting this thread Nitemare. We board the Silver Cloud Expedition in Ushuaia next Feb.

Will print to share with my wife both PaulMco, and 57 Varieties replies who have provided very useful Antarctica clothing tips--thank you too.

Will also bring our Leki Micro Vario trekking poles for sure (especially since when fending off an ugly 4ft Norwegian Troll that was attacking my wife while we were descending Mr. Keiservarden, Bode Norway ten days ago (ok..admit I tripped and fell) and broke my nose).
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#5
Sunshine Coast, Australia
494 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
Originally posted by 57 varieties
Well, you are used to the cold but, yes, you do need full waterproofs as there will be spray when you ride in the zodiacs. SS provide a jacket with down insulation liner but waterproof trousers and high boots which will accommodate your trousers inside are essential for the wet landings. Hat, neck gaiter or scarf and warm waterproof gloves are also essential. Layers are fine, so two pairs of socks will work. Not only is it cold and damp but you will be stationary in the zodiacs for up to two hours watching the amazing nature on occasion.
Some of the walks are on icy snow so the yaktrax aren't such a silly idea. I didn't see anyone using them though. Walking poles were useful for some.

Totally agree ! We have done both poles, Greenland/Iceland and the Cape to Cape.
The coat supplied by Silverseas is great - you don't need too much under that, I had a thermal long sleeve T shirt and then a cashmere vest. I had wool leggings under my waterproof pants, thermal socks - two pair ! your feet really feel the cold when you go ice cruising in the zodiacs - theres not that much rubber between your feet and the icy water ! The walking poles were a definite help for us as we both have leg problems. I had a merinomink hat and neck gaiter, and as for gloves if you are taking photos we found these gloves great -



www.freehands.com


As for boots we had rubber boots that came to just below our knees. Sometimes (depending on location) you are getting out of the zodiac into the water so the higher the boot the better IMO. Our camera would go around our neck on a long cord and into a ziplock bag, then put inside the Silverseas jacket.
Enjoy your trip.
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#6
90,330 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
I just wanted to share my opinion on this having sailed some very cold areas including the Northwest Passage last year. The line we sailed uses the same company that Silversea does.

I would error on having too much rather then too less clothing to choose from.

A couple of things I have learned.

One, too little clothing can make for an unpleasant experience when you go ashore.

Two, too much clothing can cause you to sweat and you don't want that too happen.

Three, each cruise can be different in terms of the weather. Weather in the area of Antarctica changes quicker then most places around the world even the Northwest Passage.

Four and maybe the most important is that what is hot, warm and cold varies by person. Yes, some people require less clothing to be comfortable then others and certainly the reverse is true. Part of the reason is that we all come in different shapes and sizes.

Five, don't underestimate the wind chill. Wind chill can make all the difference in the world.

Speaking of wind chill, one item I highly recommend is a neck gaiter if there are high winds. Keeps the neck protected but you can also raise it a little bit to get it up to your chin.

For someone who is used to cold weather you already have a leg up on those who are not.

Again to me the key is preparation so that you can enjoy each of your stops and to realize that weather changes often even on the same day.

Keith
#7
Boston
4,801 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Most helpful, thanks! Especially about the SS parka, although since we're leaving home in winter I'll probably have mine on for the flight(s).

Could you link to the kind of boots that are recommended? I have warm, strong, hiking boots, and I have LL Bean-like rubber boots, and I'm wondering if either will be appropriate. The rubber ones go a good way up but they are far from warm.
#8
London
498 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
We call them Wellington boots in the UK but I think you say gum boots or 'Bogs'. They were available to rent when we did the trip some years ago. Ordered for delivery to the ship and left on board.


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#10
Albany, NY
4,434 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
We brought a bunch of good layering clothes but nothing special or out of the ordinary. I think we bought the gloves and the long underwear specifically for the trip but it was 8 years ago, so forgive me if my memory is off.

A few mock turtlenecks from LL Bean, synthetic with some cotton, for base layers. They wicked well and kept your skin fairly dry which is pretty important in this cold. I would put a sweater or sweatshirt or fleece over this depending on the temperature and how active we planned to be. Then the SS parka went over that. Many days, that got unzipped because with all of those layers we could get quite warm.

I did not bother with a neck gaiter and never felt as if I needed one (I don't own one, yet). I don't think I brought a scarf. We had heavy ski-type gloves and if it was cold or windy we put glove liners under them. I had a hat which I needed some of the time.

Bottom layers - silk long underwear, fairly lightweight. We wore jeans over them, and then the waterproof rain pants. Come to think of it, we bought the rain pants for the trip too.

Feet - two pairs of socks. One plain sock, and over that, a heavy wool hiking sock. The wool sock goes over the long underwear to keep it in place.

Footwear - we borrowed the boots from the boat. Their lightweight "gum boots" were just fine. Even though they were not insulated, with my heavy wool socks I don't remember being cold. One of the days was windy and a snowstorm; I can't believe we landed but we were still fine.

Assembly notes (like IKEA) - the jeans tuck into the boots, but the rain pants zip up over (i.e., outside of) the gum boots. That way, even if you get drenched, the water cannot get into your boots. Obviously that won't protect you if you are submerged but short of that, it is fine, and we never got wet feet.

As an aside, we found the Svalbard trip much colder than the Antarctica trip. May be a fluke, or may be a trend. I don't know. Or maybe we got old and wimpy in between the two trips...

So in summary, nothing more than you'd need to be outdoors in a New York winter.

Edited to add: the LL Bean boots are probably like what we wore. Thin rubber boots with a decent tread and a hard sole. You do NOT need hiking boots; the walks are slow and not far. We were fine with the boots that were provided. IMO, dry feet were more important than hiking boots.
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#11
Atlanta
5,922 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Thanks Keith (will bring my neck gaiter, tho did not use it last month in Norway).

JP, very helpful post. Have read numerous Antarctica posts where posters spent the coin on new boots only to find the Ship's boots were fine. Your Ikea rationale made precise sense. Will now bring my Salewa's (with two pair of Darn Tough Merino boot sox) to wear inside the Silver Cloud Expediton boots we get before landings.
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#12
SF Bay Area, CA
1,828 Posts
Joined May 2004
Thank you for this thread. We were hiking last month in Longyearbyen Spitsbergen, wasn't too cold, but with the wind, definitely needed windproof/waterproof pants and thermal underwear for me.

We are booked on the Cloud for December 2018 so we have some time to pick up some more pointers. Hubby decided to purchase the Bogs boots since they were only a little more than the rental price.

Any additional pointers are appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Cheryl
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#13
United Kingdom
1,985 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Originally posted by WesW
Will also bring our Leki Micro Vario trekking poles for sure (especially since when fending off an ugly 4ft Norwegian Troll that was attacking my wife while we were descending Mr. Keiservarden, Bode Norway ten days ago (ok..admit I tripped and fell) and broke my nose).
Haha - I did say that was the most plausible and admirable reason for your mishap. Glad you're back safely and hoping you've made a full recovery without any further medical needs. You're journal has definitely made a visit to the Fjords imminent.

Yikes on the thought of camera bodies or lens dying! I'm glad I read this thread, it's not something I'd ever even considered a problem.
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#15
Port Saint Lucie - FL
2,353 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
You can also rent the boots from the Silversea outfitter in Seattle. This way you are guaranteed your size.
Silversea jacket and boots are waiting for you when you arrive in your stateroom -- the jacket did run a bit small but Silversea has a good stock and your butler can arrange to get another one if too small or too big.

We layered up using Patagonia gear. The SS Outfitter is a bit expensive and you an find alot better deals on the web.
Same with the Expedition luggage. What they have is actually good and it has several compartment allowing you to segregate the stinky stuff -- especially the boots, SS Jacket, waterproof pants. We have used the luggage on two additional expedition trips.

I found that snow boarder pants worked very well. Waterproof and also thermally insulated.

Originally posted by les37b

Yikes on the thought of camera bodies or lens dying! I'm glad I read this thread, it's not something I'd ever even considered a problem.
Yes and also the charger. Our last cruise in Africa -- I was the lender of a Nikon charger (as I had a spare). Most of the expedition team is Canon oriented.

Reminder -- the SS Backpack is not waterproof -- so plan accordingly for camera gear.
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#17
SF Bay Area, CA
1,828 Posts
Joined May 2004
Originally posted by CCKelly
Are these the women's boots that you rented from the SS supplier?

Thanks
I bought these boots without the handles (one less hole for water to enter, but more difficult to put on/take off).
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Cheryl
08/04/19 Oceania Nautica - British Isles, Iceland, Greenland RT from Southampton
03/13/19 Majestic Princess - New Zealand RT from Sydney
12/22/18 Silversea Cloud Expedition - Antarctica RT from Ushuaia
09/15/18 Majestic Princess - Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia RT from Sydney
07/05/18 Grand Princess - Alaska RT from SF
10/15/17 Grand Princess - California Coastal RT from SF
06/27/17 Pacific Princess - Norway, Spitsbergen, Murmansk RT from Dover
12/17/16 Royal Clipper - BVI Christmas Cruise RT from Barbados Pictures
04/02/16 Grand Princess - Hawaii RT from San Francisco Pictures
10/17/15 Grand Princess - CA Coastal RT from SF Pictures
01/03/15 Star Princess - Mexican Riviera RT from SF Pictures
04/06/14 Grand Princess - California Coastal RT from SF
02/08/13 Ocean Princess - French Polynesia RT from Papeete
09/24/12 Star Princess - Pacific Coastal
05/16/12 Island Princess - Alaska Inside Passage RT from Vancouver
05/13/12 Star Princess - Pacific Coastal
09/24/11 Coral Princess - Pacific Coastal
05/19/11 Coral Princess - Pacific Coastal
10/04/10 Island Princess - Pacific Coastal
05/22/10 Sea Princess - Alaska RT from SF
04/17/09 Star Princess - Mexican Riviera RT from SF
05/19/08 Coral Princess - Alaska Voyage of the Glaciers Southbound
05/12/08 Coral Princess - Alaska Voyage of the Glaciers Northbound
01/16/07 Tahitian Princess - French Polynesia & Marquesas Islands
05/26/06 Regal Princess - Alaska RT San Francisco (Haines, Sitka)
05/12/05 Coral Princess - Pacific Coastal
04/24/05 RCI Adventure of the Seas - Southern Caribbean RT from Miami
04/17/04 Tahitian Princess - French Polynesia & Cook Islands
04/19/03 Star Princess - Mexican Riviera RT Long Beach
06/08/02 RCI Radiance of the Seas - Alaska RT from Vancouver
04/22/01 RCI Voyager of the Seas - Western Caribbean RT from Miami
#18
London
498 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by CCKelly
Are these the women's boots that you rented from the SS supplier?



Thanks


I don't think they are the same boots but are similar. Go to the link on the SS website for the 'expedition gear' and you will see what is on offer to rent.


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#19
90,330 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
We sailed with a different cruise line (Crystal on their Northwest Passage Cruise last year) and they use the same outfitter that Silversea does. We rented the boots. Their is a women's boot and a men's boot. Boots look similar but biggest difference is the sizing of them.

I took the same size in a boot that I wear for shoes. My wife wears a slightly larger size in sports shoes then she does in regular shoes. They advised to go with the sports shoe size and were right.

We wore two pairs of socks.

We looked at purchasing them and they were available at Amazon.Com. Took me awhile to find them but I did.

The break even point on a rental to purchasing them was about two cruises.

We decided to rent them. One of the benefits of this was if we bought the two pairs of shoes between them they would have taken up quite a bit of a suit case.

They worked very well and we were pleased we had them and were glad we just rented them. Down the road we hope to take another expedition cruise but that will likely be it so we really don't need to own these types of boots.

Keith
#20
Atlanta
5,922 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
PaulMCO & Keith, very helpful Antarctica clothes posts, thanks. After, readying your posts, we would prefer to rent boots for our Silver Cloud Antarctica voyage in late Feb. Alas, since this is also a repositioning voyage for the cloud from Antarctica to South Africa, it is the only Antarctica SS voyage that does not have the rental option. So, we will buy the Bogs boots brand (men & women) and devote one carry on bag for these boots.


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