What to Bring on a Research Cruise?

What do you bring when you head out to sea for a month-long research cruise? Here we present a comprehensive list of items from the tools for our research to the extra personal items that keep us happy when far from home.


Scientific Equipment:

As scientists, our top priority is our instruments, equipment and any supplies we may need when out at sea. In oceanography, we face a highly-unpredictable environment, which means we often pack most of our labs into bins to load onto the ship so that we can conduct research on the fly.

Laptop & Software: Keep that data organized

Instruments: : Nets, sensors, gliders, ROVs, 

Bottles and containers: Of all shapes, materials or sizes!

Writing Utensils: Sharpies, pens, pencils

Filters: A great deal of the science boils down to filtering stuff out of seawater

Chemicals: Acid (nitrochloric, hydrochloric) , ethanol, formaldehyde, 

Adhesive: Electrical tape, duct tape, sealant, glue, 

Zip Ties: A keystone item for oceanography

Tools: Drill, multi-tool, knife, scissors, 



Wet-weather gear: Boots (preferably steel-toed), rain pants, rain jacket,or overalls

Warm Layers: Warm jackets/hoodies, tight/leggings

Hats: Cap for sunny days and beanie for cool nights

Socks: as many as you can fit!

Swimming attire: For swimming in port or in case of the rare swim-call at sea

Exercise clothes: So you can utilize the ship’s gym and stay fit

Footwear: Comfortable closed-toed shoes, running shoes, slippers


Personal Belongings:

Snacks: While the ship is well-stocked, it’s always nice to bring your own stash! Here are some of our go-to’s:

  • Protein Bars
  • Favourite Coffee+supplies (eg Aeropress, filters, your local roast)
  • Electrolyte tablets
  • Gum or mints
  • Salty items-eg chips, trail mix
  • Chocolate covered snacks (Trader Joe’s Has a great selection)
  • Sour Candy

Entertainment: Between the science the party bonds through games and fun-work hard play hard!

  • Board/Card Games
  • Books (though ships usually come with an extensive library)
  • Podcasts, Audiobooks (download before)
  • MusicPlaylists-for every mood, including the necessary 3AM energizer
  • Hacky Sack
  • Guitar/Musical Instruments


  • Pillow
  • Mattress Topper
  • Sleeping bag
  • Yoga mat
  • Foam Roller
  • Hygiene/Toiletry Products: the usual toothbrush, shampoo, etc
  • Lotion
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Ear buds/Headphones
  • Eye mask and ear plugs



  • Styrofoam items: Can be colored, sent to the bottom of the sea on the CTD and to be shrunk and kept as mementos
  • Water bottle
  • Sea-sickness medication: Dramamine, strips, ginger



  • A positive attitude!


While it is always best to come prepared, research vessels are often stocked with many of the items listed above as the crew face similar challenges when separated from the luxuries of land. If you feel under prepared just remember to be flexible and that there is a ship’s worth of people around to support you!