Venturing to the end of the Earth requires the right Antarctica gear. I tested a variety and found out which ones really work. If these pieces will keep you warm on the white continent, they will keep you downright hot anywhere else.
Fjallraven Nuuk Parka
This jacket was the MVP of my Antarctica trip. The Nuuk parka is designed for polar conditions, so I had faith that it would do well. The jacket is long enough to cover to mid-thigh, and has adjustable sleeves that you can tighten around your wrists to keep the cold air out. The synthetic Supreme Micro Loft lining is warm but breathable, and kept me incredibly warm without overheating. It’s fairly lightweight, so I didn’t mind wearing it on the plane rides down (and was in fact grateful for it on one freezing long-haul). The Nuuk is waterproof, and resisted rain, snow, and wave splashes perfectly.
I love the hood on this jacket, which has an ultra-soft and warm fleece lining and detachable faux fur to help block wind. Most hoods are way too big on me, so I appreciated that the Nuuk’s hood has a tab on the back which allows you to adjust it from top to bottom, not just a drawstring to tighten it around your face. There are also plenty of pockets, including small ones for valuables and larger ones that can fit cameras.
BlackStrap The Tube
Neck warmer, face mask, bandanna, or headband—BlackStrap’s small but mighty multi-tasker can be worn a number of different ways. It will keep you warm and also offers UPF 50+ sun protection, something that you might not think of being important in cold places, but really is. The Tube is quick-drying and moisture-wicking, which is key when you’re wearing it as a face mask.
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Eddie Bauer Base Layers
Eddie Bauer’s Heavyweight FreeDry Merino Hybrid Baselayer Pants and FreeDry Merino Hybrid Baselayer Zip were great base layers thanks to the soft merino wool/polyester fabric blend. The merino wool is moisture-wicking and odor-resistant, and the polyester added stretch and comfort. I liked that I could wear these under my ski pants and jacket, and then ditch only the outer layers when hanging out on the boat in between excursions.
Mammut Stoney Mittens
My hands are always the first thing to get cold, but they stayed warm all day ensconced in the Mammut Stoney Mittens. The Stoneys use Mammut’s trademarked DRYtechnology membrane to keep moisture out and a cozy polyester lining to keep hands warm. As someone with small hands, I always struggling finding gloves that actually fit, but these come in an extra-petite size that worked for me.
HotHands Hand and Toe Warmers
On extra cold days, HotHands Hand and Toe Warmers were essential. To get the best results, it’s important that you take them out of the package and expose the warmers to air about 15 minutes before you want to use them. I tucked a pair of hand warmers in my mittens and stuck the toe warmers in between two layers of socks before I went out on each expedition, and they kept me toasty warm.
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Mammut Nara Hardshell Insulated Pants
Getting on to land in Antarctica requires wet landings off of zodiacs, so waterproof pants are key. Mammut’s Nara Hardshell Insulated pants didn’t let any moisture in (even the pockets have water-repellent zippers in case of rain or snow). The Naras have a warm lining that allows you to skip the base layers on some days, but are still lightweight and easy to pack.
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REI Merino Wool Glove Liners
I was constantly pulling my hands out of my mittens to take photos and videos on this trip, and the REI Merino Wool Glove Liners were a great layer to have between the elements. Made from merino wool, the liners are slim enough to fit under most gloves and mittens, and the index finger and thumb tips are touch-screen compatible, so you can use your gadgets without taking them off.
Icebreaker Base Layers
For really cold days, Icebreaker’s Bodyfit 260 Zone leggings and long sleeve half-zip were essential. Both pieces utilize body mapping technology to strategically place fabrics and merino mesh for ventilation and warmth. The leggings and zip have anti-chafing flatlock seams, and are made of merino wool and LYCRA.
Columbia Fleece-Lined Socks
Before putting on my boots, I layered a thin pair of liner socks, foot warmers, and then these extremely warm fleece-lined socks. These wool socks have a ultra-plush fleece lining that ups the warmth level, plus built-in arch support and mesh zones for breathability.
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Mammut Robella Beanie
This stylish beanie is made from a non-itchy wool and acrylic blend, and lined with a fleece band around the bottom to keep your ears warm. Bonus: The fleece inner layer is made from 100 percent recycled polyester.
More from SmarterTravel:
- How to Pack for a Winter Vacation
- 10 Winter Outfit Necessities for Travel
- 9 Packable Winter Jackets for 2018
Caroline Morse Teel really did wear all this Antarctica gear. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from the white continent and around the world.
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