The ultimate dressing guide for Zodiac Excursions & Shore Landings
What to bring
Embarking on a Polar Region expedition requires meticulous preparation, especially when dressing for extreme conditions. At Albatros Expeditions, we understand the importance of your comfort and safety throughout the journey - and this starts with the right clothing! In this expert guide, we will walk you through the essential layers and gear necessary to keep you warm, dry, and ready to fully embrace the wonders of the Polar regions.
The key to staying warm in the Arctic and Antarctica is layering. With temperatures ranging from -2°C to 4°C onshore and rarely exceeding 2 degrees on the ocean, layers provide insulation by trapping air and allow you to adjust as needed. Select lightweight technical fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin, such as a wool base layer, a sweater or fleece as the mid layer, and a wind- and waterproof jacket as the outer layer. For your lower body, consider a wool base layer, tightly woven leisure pants as the middle layer, and wind- and water-resistant pants as the outer layer.
Equipping yourself with sturdy, slip-resistant hiking shoes or boots is crucial for onboard wear and dry landings. The dress code on the ship is casual and comfortable, so practical clothes and flat shoes for walking onboard are essential. However, some guests may dress up for dinner, adding a touch of elegance to the experience.
At Albatros Expeditions, we are dedicated to ensuring your journey is enjoyable and safe, providing you with the knowledge and guidance you need to make the most of your adventure in the captivating Polar Regions.
By following our expert guide and understanding the essential layers and gear, you can fully embrace the wonders of the Polar Regions while staying warm, dry, and protected:
Thermal Base Layer:
Start with a wool or synthetic base layer that effectively regulates body temperature and provides excellent moisture-wicking properties. These lightweight technical fabrics pull moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and warm. Opt for full or three-quarter-length leggings and a long-sleeve top that provide insulation and help create a thermal barrier against the cold.
Mid-Layer Fleece or Sweater:
Add a mid-layer fleece or a sweater for additional insulation and warmth. These garments trap air to provide extra insulation and can be layered to regulate body temperature. Avoid materials such as cotton, which can actively absorb and trap chilly moisture, and aim for materials such as synthetic fleece or wool, which release it into the air. Depending on the temperature, having a second mid-layer on hand can be wise, especially on Zodiac cruises where movement is minimal - simply pop it in your backpack if you get too warm.
Wind- and Waterproof Jacket:
Wear a wind- and waterproof jacket as your outer layer to protect against the firm and often humid winds of the Polar Regions. This outer layer is your ultimate defence against rain, snow, sea spray and icy winds, allowing you to focus on the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife without worrying about staying dry. Select a garment made of Goretex or similar to keep water out while allowing sweat to escape.
Wind- and waterproof pants are essential during Zodiac cruises and landings - as above, try to select a garment made of waterproof yet breathable material. These pants provide extra protection against the elements while ensuring your lower body stays warm, dry and comfortable. Ensure these cover your legs down to the ankles and fit over your boots; some models have reinforced knees and seats, which can be useful for getting closer to nature! Ski pants are not ideal as they tend to become waterlogged very fast and are too warm for hiking; sailing salopettes will work, but can hinder mobility.
Insulated Parka/Waterproof Shell (Antarctic Expeditions Only):
For Antarctic expeditions, it is recommended to have an insulated parka or waterproof shell. Upon final payment of your voyage, you can obtain a complimentary parka onboard the Ocean Victory/Ocean Albatros for Antarctic expeditions. This parka or shell offers superior insulation and protection against extreme cold temperatures in Antarctica, ideally worn as a final layer over those described above.
Sturdy Rubber Boots:
We offer loan of sturdy, high-quality rubber boots free of charge for the duration of your trip. These boots are essential for wilderness landings and hikes, providing protection and grip on the icy and boggy terrain while keeping your feet dry. We maintain a supply in sizes ranging from 35 to 47 (EU sizes) for a good fit.
Bring sturdy hiking shoes with a non-slip sole for wearing on board and during dry landings. These shoes provide comfort and stamina to your expedition experience. However, remember to thoroughly clean your boots if worn elsewhere to avoid introducing invasive species during your travels! To avoid blisters, make sure your boots are well-fitted and ideally have been worn in.
Waterproof Gloves and Glove Liners:
Protect your hands with waterproof gloves and glove liners to combat cold temperatures and moisture. These gloves provide warmth and dexterity, allowing you to handle cameras and equipment without compromising comfort. As gloves frequently get wet during days spent exploring off the vessel, having more than one pair is ideal! Mittens are warmer, but will also hamper dexterity (especailly when taking photos).
Thick Wool Socks:
Pack thick loop-knitted woolen socks for optimal warmth and comfort. These specialized socks offer exceptional insulation and moisture management, keeping your feet warm and dry even in icy conditions. To avoid bunching and blisters be sure these fit well, and try to avoid models with thick seams. For added comfort, wear a pair of thin synthetic liner socks - this can also help reduce rubbing if you are not accustomed to boots.
Bring a swimsuit for the Polar Plunge or enjoy the jacuzzi on board! It's a refreshing once-in-a-lifetime experience with eternal bragging rights.
Be prepared with seasickness medication, as rough seas may be experienced during your expedition. There are various options available, such as seasickness patches or pills. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional to determine your best option. Please note that medication against motion sickness can cause drowsiness and other side effects.
We have just launched an informative video on how to dress for the Polar regions - watch it on Albatros Expeditions' social media channel for some valuable insights and follow along for more interesting polar facts, itineraries, and other behind-the-scenes info from our state-of-the-art vessels. Embark on an unforgettable adventure in the captivating Polar regions with us!
If you need even more in-depth info on what to bring with you, check out our pdf "Packing Guide"