Note: This is probably more in depth than the “casual reader” probably wants but I wanted to document what I brought to help future Antarctic trip travelers — especially those diving or doing photography.
The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I’ve had numerous requests for a detailed packing list. I’ve broken it down into different categories and, in some cases, provided links. I don’t have any affiliate programs so I don’t earn any money when people click on them. It is solely to make it easier in case people want more details.
Also, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it comes close and is based upon my packing notes. I won’t list each item that went into which bags, but here is a picture of the luggage I brought along.
Given that I was diving and taking a full-frame camera underwater setup, I think I packed relatively “light” for this trip. Included in the picture above are the following:
Carry On Luggage
- Orange Filson Dry Bag/Backpack (a necessity for RIB boat rides and in general) – Camera & vest/video light batteries
- Patagonia MLC Mini (not sure they make this anymore) – Lenses, books, iPad, etc.
- Patagonia Large Wet/Dry Duffel (no longer manufactured) – Drysuit, Halo 3D, Spares
- Pelican 1535 Air Case – Underwater camera housing, strobes, video lights, etc
- Thule Rolling Duffel – Dive gear & clothing
The most efficient way to pack and go on an expedition (and dive) is to make sure you have plenty of layers of clothing so you can wear as many or as few layers as the conditions dictate. They will not allow you on the RIBs for land tours without waterproof pants and jacket.
On the plane, I wore a pair of jeans, t-shirt, Triple Aught Design Praetorian Hoodie (I used this the whole trip), and I carried on the Fourth Element coat that Faith from Blue Green Expedition had sent to us before the trip (I managed to cram it into checked luggage for the trip home). I also had bought some Solomon waterproof hiking shoes. This was the only pair of shoes I brought on the trip.
In addition, I had the following packed into the “top” of the Thule rolling duffel (except the HH pants):
- Helly Hansen Rapid Waterproof Pants (I really liked these)
- 3 x pairs of Western Rise Evolution Pant
- 3 x pairs of Western Rise Strong Core Merino Socks
- 5 x pairs of Ex Officio briefs
- Various STIO under layers
- 4 -5 various t-shirts
- “Limited Edition” Beanie that my wife knitted 🙂
- STIO Neck Gaiter
Part of my plan was to wear some of my underwater drysuit base layers when going outside and not diving. This would allow me to pack less and it worked out well. Many drysuit undergarments are essentially the same as hiking undergarments and are wicking, etc. Also, to save space, I packed the Helly Hansen pants into the lid of my underwater camera equipment Pelican case instead of the foam insert.
Definitely make sure you bring some kind of neck gaiter and some kind of beanie. Your head and neck/face can get very cold when the wind picks up or you are out on the RIB zipping around on the water. Also make sure you bring a pair of waterproof & insulated gloves.
Note: There is laundry service on the boat that is fast & efficient.
Underwater Exposure Protection
I’ve listed these general in order from outer layer to inner layer
- 1 x DiveRite 901 DrySuit
- 2 x Bare 9mm Hood
- Rolock 90 Dry Gloves & Liners
- 1 x Fourth Element Halo 3D
- 1 x Venture Heat v1 Heated Vest + Batteries/Charger/Remote/RemoteCharger
- 1 x Bare Base Layer Pant
- 1 x Fourth Element Xerotherm Leggings
- 2 x DevOps Thermal Long Sleeve Compression Shirts
- 1 x Fourth Element Arctic Socks
- 2pr Samsox Merino Wool Hiking Socks
- 1 x Fourth Element G1 Glove Liner
- Condom catheters for pee valve
- 1 x Drysuit Inflator Valve
- 1 x Drysuit Exhaust Valve
- 2 x Wrist Seals
- 1 x Neck Seal
- 2 x Glove Liners
- Left/Right Spare Rolock Gloves + Rings
- Rolock 90 O-Ring Kit
- Zipper Wax
- Aqua Seal
My scuba equipment went in the bottom compartment of the Thule rolling duffel (except for the fins & masks which I packed into the drysuit bag). I actually brought less scuba gear than “normal.”
- Steel backplate & harness
- Halcyon single tank adapter
- Halcyon single tank wing
- 2 x Atomics Regs configured for H Valve (Becky has a Youtube video on this)
- Strobe x 2
- Light x 1
- Small SMB & Spool
- Knife & Whistle
- ScubaPro Go Sport Fins
- 2 x masks (inside the fin pockets)
- Snorkel (this was a first for me)
- Weight Belt
- Shearwater Teric (packed in carry on)
- Underwater Camera float arms x 4
- IQSub GoPro Underwater Housing
- European Power Converter & Outlet with USB Ports (ship power is European style plugs)
- Misc hoses (high pressure, low pressure, LPI, etc)
- Apeks 1st & 2nd Stage
- Dive Computer (Shearwater Petrel / packed in carry on)
- BC Inflator
- O-Rings, bungee cord, cave line, grease, etc.
- Backplate hardware
- Misc Chargers
- Keldan Battery Charger
- Panasonic Eneloop Charger
- 18650 Battery Charger
- Heated Vest Battery Charger
- Heated Vest Controller Charger
- Shearwater Teric Charger
- GoPro battery charger
- Sony camera battery charger
My primary camera was the Sony but I also brought a GoPro.
- Sony a7rIV Body
- Sony FE 35mm f1.8 lens
- Sony FE 100mm-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM lens
- Sony FE 28-60 F4.5-5.6 Lens (this was only for underwater with the Nauticam WWL1-B lens)
- 1 TB SanDisk SSD Drive (for on-site photo backups)
- Various SDXC cards
- Think Tank Digital Holster 30 v2
- Oben Monopod (which I never used / packed with scuba gear)
Misc Gear / Carry On
In addition, in my Patagonia MLC Mini backpack, I brought a bunch of miscellaneous gear. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will give you an idea:
- Passport, cash, dive cert cards, covid docs, etc.
- iPad Mini
- GoPro 10 Camera
- American Prometheus book
- Devotion book
- Misc magazines
- Dive notebook
- Misc charging cables
- Batteries for scuba equipment
- Sleep mask, ear plugs
- Meds / toiletries, etc.
- Spare clothes (t shirt & underwear)
- Suntan Lotion (checked)
Since you can’t check LiON batteries, I had to carry-on the heavy and bulky batteries for my heated vest and the Keldan lights. I put those in the Filson Dry Bag.
Underwater Camera Gear
I personally like the versatility of the Nauticam Wet Lens. I don’t like the “barrel distortion,” but as the saying goes “there is no free lunch.” Also, given what I figured I would be taking pictures of, it wasn’t a factor. One of the downsides to these lenses is that you can’t really do “over/under” shots but that is not my “normal” target for taking pictures (I’m usually deep on a wreck).
Below is a picture of the Pelican Case with the underwater camera gear with a list of what I took. I can either carry on or check this case depending upon circumstances. In this case, I checked it both ways. It weighed 33 pounds.
Note that one my of “packing hacks” was to put the insulated waterproof Helly Hansen pants mentioned above into the lid as a substitute for the foam that normally is used.
- Nauticam NA-A7RIV Underwater Housing (discontinued)
- Nauticam WWL1-B wet lens
- Nauticam N100 Flat Port 45 (NA-37165)
- 2 x Retra Strobes (I think these are being discontinued for new models)
- 2 x Keldan 8x 18k Lumen Lights
- Misc mounting hardware (Ultralight mainly), Tethers, etc.
- 2 sets of 2 fiber optic cables
- Spares (packed inside housing):
- Nauticam O-Rings for Port/Housing/Etc
- Keldan O-Ring Kits
- CR 2032 Batteries
I usually weigh my luggage at home before I leave. As I said before, I think I did a pretty good job packing given that I was going to Antarctica on a dive trip with a full frame camera setup. Here are the weights I recorded for each piece of luggage:
- Dive & Clothing Duffel – 59.5 lbs
- Pelican Camera Case – 32.2 lbs
- Drysuit Duffel – 27.3 lbs
- Dry Bag – 13.5 lbs
- Backpack – 14.5 lbs
In total, it was 147.1 lbs. Realistically, call it 150 pounds. Not too bad….