Packing for your Polar Expedition can be stress free with a bit of planning and some expert tips. With 25+ years of experience bringing travelers to the most remote places on Earth, we've assembled some of the best gear required to keep you warm and dry on your next expedition. Below are recommendations from travelers and your Expedition team that will make packing your next expedition a breeze. We've broken down essential items into categories below.
Thermal underwear (tops and bottoms): A good set of base layers are the foundation of warmth when dressing for the polar climates. Wools and synthetic fibers are best as they will draw moisture away from the body. Cotton should be avoided. Baselayers should sit next to the skin and have a slim fit. Put these on over top of your regular underwear and continue to layer. Bring two or more sets when traveling to ensure you always have a clean and dry pair.
Fleece Tops and Bottoms: For added warmth, a layer of fleece (synthetic or wool) worn over your base layers will provide additional protection from the cold during times where you may not be active. From bird-watching to zodiac cruising, an additional layer will provide maximum heat and comfort. Be sure to try them on with your base layers and waterproof pants before packing to ensure a comfortable fit.
Vests and Sweaters: A warm sweater or vest that can easily be removed is the final layer for added warmth. A full zip vest (down or wool) will keep your body core warm while allowing you to zip open or remove if you get too warm. If wearing a full sweater you may want to consider a quarter zip which allows heat to escape from the chest and neck if you overheat.
The Quark Parka: A essential part of every Quark Expedition, a 3-in-1 para will be supplied to keep you warm and dry during your travels. It features a durable protective hooded outer shell with a removable insulating layer. Sizing will be requested during your reservation process and parkas will be distributed on board the vessel.
Waterproof Pants: Durable waterproof pants are essential for going ashore as you’ll likely encounter splashes of water during zodiac operations or snow while walking ashore. Make sure they fit over any base and insulating layers of pants you wear and have a wide enough leg opening to fit over top of a pair of boots (Quark supplies Muck Boots onboard).
Boots: Heavy-duty boots appropriate for walking ashore in the Polar Regions will be supplied during your expedition. We do suggest however bringing comfortable non-slip footwear for walking around the ship and on deck.
Socks: Nothing can spoil a landing like cold and wet feet. Pack extra thick warm socks made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton fabrics should be avoided here. Bring several pairs and you can layer on the coldest days. Bring an extra pair ashore in your day pack in the event you get wet.
Gloves: To keep your hands warm and dry at all times, consider packing two pairs of layered gloves. You’ll need a durable waterproof and insulated pair to wear ashore and while in zodiacs. Consider a pair with removable liners that allow for flexibility and for taking photographs. An extra pair is always recommended should your gloves become wet or lost during your trip.
Glove liners: A thinner pair of gloves are great to wear for short stays on the ships outer decks when a bulkier pair is not required. Some glove liners will feature touch-screen capability which allows you to use your smart phone or camera without taking your gloves off.
Hat: A warm hat can be your best friend. Fleece or thick wool is best as they are lightweight and warm. Bring a hat that’s comfortable and can cover your ears for added warmth.
Neck Gaiter / Neck warmer : More practical and lightweight that a scarf; a gaiter is the easiest way to protect your neck from the cold. Make sure it’s tall enough to pull over your mouth and nose and wide enough that it can be removed easily. A good neck can be used in multiple ways; they can be turned into a headband or a hat in a pinch!
Heat Packs: Hand and Foot Warmer packs are great to add targeted warmth where you need it most. Open a pack of hand warmers and stash them in your gloves before going ashore and you'll be warm for hours. If your day calls for hiking through snow or standing stationary to photograph wildlife, consider foot warmers to keep you comfortable.
Sunglasses: A comfortable pair of sunglasses with polarized lenses will keep the wind out of your eyes and help block the glare of the ice and snow on sunny days. Straps such as Croakies will ensure your sunglasses remain around your neck when you need to remove them.
Sunscreen: Don't let the cool temperatures fool you; the suns UV rays are strong and a few hours ashore can result in bad burn. Apply sunscreen prior to a landing to exposed skin and consider bringing a face-stick to reapply to cheeks, nose and forehead while ashore.
Backpack: A lightweight and waterproof back pack is essential for carrying items ashore. Ensure your pack is easy to put on and remove and has enough space for camera equipment, extra socks and gloves and other on-shore essentials.
Waterproof Dry-Bags: These wonderful little packs come in a variety of sizes and keep all your gear dry. Use one for camera gear and electronics or one for extra socks. These can be tossed in a bag quickly and can be used to separate goods and toiletries when packing your suitcase.