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Leave your Sunday best at home. Your packing strategy should prioritize comfort, warmth and function. To help keep costs down and help the planet, consider renting what you need or purchasing lesser-priced upcycled gear. And don’t forget to ask about about loaners and freebies: Some expedition companies provide bulky items such as boots and parkas so you don’t have to haul them up North (or down South) with you.

Dress in layers. Not only are thinner pieces of clothing easier to pack than thick sweaters, but this allows you to dress according to the weather and activity. Canadian outdoor-apparel brand Arc’teryx designs its apparel around a layering guide that ebbs and flows with the weather and makes shopping easy. Its new ReGEAR program offers upcycled pieces at a discount, offering a more sustainable option. Don’t forget a pair of waterproof, windproof outer pants for Zodiac rides, too.


Arc’teryx's men's Delta jacket in blue, top, and the women's Rho LT zip neck in Synth.Arc’Teryx

Keep it casual. Expedition polar cruises are not about dressing up. The typical outfit onboard is jeans, cargo pants or leggings, paired with a long-sleeve shirt and an insulated vest thrown over top.

Often, you can leave the jacket at home. Many luxury expedition cruise companies include a 3-in-1 parka as part of the ticket price. It’s yours to keep, so inquire first before buying a coat that you don’t need.

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Footwear matters. You should be able to get by with three pairs of shoes. For onboard the ship, go for a pair of boots or booties. You want something that’s comfy, but will also keep your feet warm and provide traction when you rush out onto the snowy deck to snap photos. Lightweight hiking boots or a slip-on style such as Blundstones are good options. Pack a pair of sandals for going to/from the sauna or outdoor hot tub, and for wearing down to the Zodiac/kayak launch bay so you can quickly change into your outdoor boots. And when it comes to those, do your best to avoid packing them. You need tall, thick, cold-proof boots with good traction, such as insulated Bogs, which are heavy and bulky to pack. Fortunately, many cruises include loaners.

Blundstone's lightweight vegan black boot.Handout

Renting is an option. If boots aren’t available as a standard, you might be able to rent them through Ship to Shore Traveler,, which works with several expedition-cruise companies. You can also rent some apparel and gear. Just order in advance and it will all be waiting in your cabin.

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