What Do You Bring to Antarctica?

Packing List for McMurdo

If you’re using this as a reference for making your own list please keep in mind I’m just one source and your list may vary completely. Also know that I’m super prone to overpacking (but I’m getting better at that!)



We’re all issued some gawd-awful “Bunny Boots” in Christchurch. If you are a Steward like me or any other job that’s mostly indoors, you will probably wear these twice: getting off the plane and getting back on the plane months later.

If you’ve got a job that requires you to be outside a lot, there are a couple alternate styles besides the white monstrosities that you can request at the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center, Christchurch). I hear these are MUCH more comfortable and practical – but you have to ask for them.

I brought:


  • Sorel Joan of Arctic Premium Snow Boots with a second set of furry inserts – These are absolutely perfect when I want a little higher protection/warmth than my hiking boots allow. I see many people wearing Sorel boots, and for good reason. They are expensive, but worth it.
  • Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots  – perfect for wearing around town, to the galley, and wearing while actually hiking. These are my go-to casual shoe.
  • Nike Studio Wraps  – perfect for when I want to head to the lounge!
  • Sketchers Slip Resistant Shoes – I needed these for my job as a stewie. I actually should have packed a second pair as the first was pretty worn after wearing them so many hours per week!
  • Plain Black Flip Flops – These were perfect for living in the lowercase dorms. Communal showers in these buildings meant a need for flip flips. Now, however, I’ve moved into a building where I only share my shower with 3 people so I don’t wear them.

Additional Notes on Shoes:

  • I had also packed a pair of Faded Glory Women’s Shandle Sandals but you can’t wear sandals in the galley without socks and I can’t wear socks with these so I basically never wear them… I should have brought a pair of slides I could wear socks with OR a pair of slip-on sneakers.
  • I brought a set of ice treads (a present from my friend Erica) – Definitely could have lived without simply because the ones the station provides for use are much better.
  • I didn’t bring a pair of gym shoes but I should have. I was able to find a pair in SKUA that fit me well enough. I’ll re-SKUA them at the end of the year and bring my own with me next year. Note: you’re not supposed to wear your “outdoor” shoes in the gym – it gets the equipment dirty faster – so changing your shoes upon arrival is compulsory. Thus, you might want to bring a pair yourself.

Socks and Liners

I’m a sock-nut so my choices are a little bit more expensive than you probably NEED to bring….but socks are the best. I could have brought more but this works out perfectly for a week or so between laundry days.



Base Layers

Packing for Antarctica means packing like an ogre.. or an onion… in layers.


This was way too many. I could have cut out all three UnderArmour tops and still had 1-2 too many. I don’t wear base layers every day. My job, however, is indoors. If you’re a job where you’re in cold warehouses and running around outside all day, you might want the extras.

Mid Layers and Shell Layer




Gym Wear

  • Sports Bras x3 (for working out and for comfy wear)
  • Workout capris (with pockets!)
  • Gym shorts
  • Gym shirts x2

Casual Wear

  • Black capri sweatpants/”joggers”
  • Casual jeans
  • Sleeping tee
  • Casual tank tops for bar x 2
  • “Nice” t-shirt for bar nights
  • Nice sweater
  • Swimsuit
  • Full Damsel in this Dress outfit with a few accessories to mix things up



  • Windproof Buff – this is my #1 most favorite purchase I made to come down here. If you buy nothing else, I highly recommend it. I slide it under my Roxy Neck collar when I hike. It’s the perfect thickness to protect your face while still letting you breathe fine through it.
  • Balaclava
  • Winter Hat (pure acrylic with a polar fleece band)
  • Northface outer shell mittens
  • Polarfleece hat liner
  • Warm scarf


  • Belts x2
  • Sunglasses, 2 pair, plastic frames w/UVA – I bought fun colors from Rainbox OPTX
  • Cute scarf
  • Assortment of rings, necklaces, and earrings
  • Beanie hat
  • 2-3 hair bandanna/buffs


  • Sketch book and drawing supplies
  • Energizer Headlamps x2
  • All important paperwork and cards including prescriptions and copies of IDs
  • Towels – 2 bath, 1 hand, 1 washcloth
  • Tupperware selection
  • Nalgene water bottles x2
  • Thermos/Coffee cup(s) x2
  • Zip-lock bags
  • Rechargeable calling card
  • Pocket knife
  • Yellow throw blanket, pillow from home, and XL Twin Bed Sheets
  • Flags/tapestries to decorate
  • Hiking backpack
  • Luggage locks, luggage tags, and in-bag ID cards


  • Rechargeable AAA and AA batteries and charger
  • Surge protector and New Zealand Plug Adapters (x2)
  • External Speakers and a few sets of headphones
  • Google Pixel phone (to use as MP3 player, point ‘n shoot, and alarm clock)
  • Selfie stick with mount, mini tripod, and bendable tripod
  • DSLR camera and accessories
  • Waterproof digital camera and accessories
  • Optoma ML750ST Movie Projector (pocket-sized)
  • ANKER battery charger
  • 64GB Thumbdrives (x2) – these have been super useful to pass around
  • External 4T harddrive full of movies, TV shows, and music – this is a MUST if you like media.
  • Laptop, mouse, and external DVD drive


  • I made a list HERE about all the LUSH Cosmetics brand products I’ll be buying for the trip. It’s silly to repeat them again. I’m buying LUSH because they’re mostly solids!
  • Lip scrub that my sister made me, sunscreen, make up, setting spray
  • Prescriptions and a few OTC Medications, copies of labels/prescriptions
  • Alive! Max Potency Multivitamins
  • Travel first-aid kit
  • Tampons, pantyliners, cleansing wipes, Two toothbrushes, holders, floss, tooth stabby floss things, Dollar Shave Club razors and handle, Sally Hansen Zero Bumps spray, eyebrow scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, Q-tips
  • Hairties, bobbi pins, two bandannas, hairbrush, thing I put in the microwave that curls my hair

The store will sell most of the things above but you won’t get a large selection of brands and you risk them being sold out of something you want.

UPDATE: Things I Wish I Had Packed and Didn’t!

  • My own indoor rock-climbing gear – the shoes and harnesses provided in the gym are okay but didn’t quite fit me right so I didn’t feel as comfortable as I would have liked
  • Hot Water Bottle for putting at the foot of your bed – because sometimes you need something to warm your bones after hours outside
  • Electric Heating Pad – necessary for achy muscles
  • French Press
  • Electric Tea Kettle
  • Reusable Tea Strainer
  • Bath Mat because sometimes the floor would literally freeze over!
  • String lights to decorate my room!
  • Thumbtacks to hang things

New Zealand

The CDC allows you to store a small bag or box there for your retrieval on the way home. I left a bag there with:

  • Pair of hiking shorts
  • Thin jacket
  • Bug-resistant pull-over
  • Camelbak and red day pack
  • Sandals

ECW Gear

USAP issues each person their own extreme cold weather gear (see header photo). I’ve read the most on base avoid wearing their USAP-issued ECW gear in public and during the summer the heavier stuff is mostly not needed. All together you’re issued six pairs of hand coverings!

  • Balaclava wind stopper – I did not take, I liked mine own better
  • Gaiter, neck, pile – also did not take
  • Gloves, leather
  • Goggles, Snow, Smith – I took these but I REALLY wish I’d brought my snowboarding goggles as these don’t fit tight on my face and thus fog up
  • Hat, fleece – very meh
  • Liner, glove, polypro
  • Mitten, Kodalite – I wasn’t issued these, I think it was mittens OR gloves
  • Pants, Polar Fleece
  • Pants, Wind
  • Boot, rubber, thermal
  • Parka
  • Jacket, Polar Fleece
  • Bag, Orange x2

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