I consider myself to be a pretty light packer, but planning for Antarctica was a bit daunting. Luckily, living in Montana helped prepare me for the trip as I already owned lots of cold-weather clothing. My goal for the more than two-week-long trip was to bring only a carry on suitcase and a small backpack and I successfully achieved this goal! There are no shops in Antarctica, so if you forget something, you can not just make purchases on the go! Ushuaia, however, is a good town to rent things in and I actually rented a parka, gloves and waterproof pants before boarding the ship. Most ships will give you information on where to rent gear in Ushuaia, and most of these outfitters will deliver gear directly to the ship. This certainly helped lighten the load of my suitcase!
Here are some of the things I brought with me, that I think are important for a warm and comfortable trip:
A few pairs of base layers/long underwear are a must-have! You can wear these as layers under your other gear. They also make great pajamas and are quick dry so you can wash them in your sink and re-wear them!
Polar fleece jackets! I brought three, which was probably too many, but a polar fleece added a nice layer underneath the parka for extra warmth. When it was sunny I took off my parka and was super warm in just this jacket.
Wool or synthetic fiber socks to keep your feet warm! The rubber boots provided by the ship are not very well insulated, so socks provide warmth and extra padding.
A bandana or a Buff for your face and head. I used this when we were making landings to cover my face against wind and also my nose against the smell of the penguins!
Ski goggles to keep out the sun and wind. Sunglasses are good but can fly off your face if it is windy or if you are moving around on the zodiac.
A bathing suit for the polar plunge.
A good camera to take plenty of pictures!
Antarctica was not as cold as I expected, but maybe that is because I am used to living in a colder climate!