Packing for your Arctic Adventure.

(Summer Fashion Edition)

In the past I struggled with packing and selecting all the items and clothing that I would like and need to take with me on holiday. You can call them luxury problems. Too much choice or never been to such a destination before, so I always took too much with me and didn’t wear half of it or only wore it for 1 evening. But since we have been traveling regularly since 2010, not only for relaxation but also for work, I am getting better at it. Also with regard to the maximum kilos.

Nowadays people often think that you have to take a lot with you on an expedition (cruise) to the Arctic. Especially because it is cold there. But that’s actually not too bad. You don’t need much with good clothes.So if you are going on a trip to the far north and are looking for tips on how to pack your suitcase without running out of clothes, then this blog is for you. Please note that this packing list is based on spring/summer in the Arctic (between May and August). So not for extreme winter conditions

Are you going on a Cruise or Expedition Cruise to the Arctic?
A question you should ask yourself, because they both go to the same destination, but your Packing List will be different per Cruise. With Wild-Encounters we mainly work on small Expedition Cruise Ships and that is why this list is focused on this.

First of all, Waterproof clothing. And especially the waterproof pants. Why would you think, does it rain so often there? No, that is not the case, although that is of course possible. During an Expedition cruise you will be taken to and from land by zodiac. This is a rubber boat “Zodiac” that can accommodate 12 to 24 people on the outer edge. This does mean that with just a little wave or wind you can get quite wet from the seawater that splashes up. So waterproof pants are a must. Please note: Waterproof is not the same as water-repellent. Rain pants are waterproof and ski pants are water-repellent. On some ships you will not be taken on the zodiac if you are not wearing waterproof pants at the time of the excursion.

Layers, layers, layers.
And to stay warm, it is wise to dress in layers. So normal trousers are often sufficient under the Waterproof Trousers. But for colder days you can of course wear long thermal pants underneath. Yes, in spring the temperatures can sometimes fluctuate. And when you sit still for a while it can get chilly.

Pay close attention to what the activity will be before you change clothes to get into the zodiac. Because if you go zodiac cruising alone, you will find yourself in the zodiac for a longer period of time without getting out or moving. So it can get chilly. (Some companies will give you a special warm suit for this.) But if you are going on a land excursion with the option of a walk, for example, I would not dress too warmly, and 1 pair of pants under the waterproof pants is sufficient.

The jacket that you will wear above the waterproof pants is offered by some companies during the trip (usually semi-waterproof). If you have to bring this jacket yourself, I would definitely recommend taking at least a Semi-Waterproof jacket. And what I always recommend is a jacket that falls under your butt when you sit down. So that the jacket provides extra protection against any splashes of water in the zodiac. And with the added advantage that it also keeps your back warmer during the zodiac ride. For example, think of a Parka.

If you are a real chilly person like me, I would go for the Waterpoof Hardshell jacket made of Gore Texx fabric with a puffy jacket underneath. Together, these ensure that you can participate in the activities in a wind and water-repellent manner.

And then the final outer layer, the boots. Yes on Expedition cruise you are expected to bring boots or they are present on the ship, you will find out per company. And if you bring your own, make sure they fit comfortably and have a good profile. Make sure there is room for foot warmers or extra thick socks. Because the feet are often the first to get cold.

And yes, you will really need these boots if you want to go ashore. Because during a landing there will be no scaffolding, but you will get off on the beach / wet landing.

As you read, thick woolen or warm socks are really a must. But I personally like to use compression ski socks during walks. These ensure good blood circulation from my legs to my toes, so I don’t get cold feet.

Now I hear you thinking, with all those walks I would like to take my walking shoes with me or wear them during the walks on land. But here it is not always possible to change the boots with shoes when you come ashore. Remember, you are still in the Arctic and therefore there is always the danger of polar bears lurking around every corner. Therefore, make sure that you can also walk comfortably in your chosen boots. So those were the three most important items on your pack list.

Now let’s delve a little deeper into the layers.
I had already mentioned thermal pants, but a thermal shirt is also nice to bring with you, so that you can regulate your outfits without having to take too many sweaters and shirts. I am not a fan of woolen thermal clothing because I think it starts to stink as these thermals get older.

And then I get into an area that will be a little different for everyone. Because it can be called very pleasant to warm on the ships. So a sweater or blouse will often be enough with normal trousers.

And it can certainly be warm on the ships, but remember that you will always have to wear shoes. And that flip-flops and sometimes slippers are not allowed in public areas. Why you ask? Well, that’s because the thresholds are often high, and with swells you can lose your balance and therefore easily break a toe. Now that in itself sounds very annoying. But there are also few or no hospitals in the Arctic. On medium-sized ships with more than 16 passengers, there is always a doctor on board who can actually perform everything that a small hospital can do.

Hat, Scarf and Gloves.
And finally, don’t forget a hat, scarf or buff and gloves. The hat is very important because your head loses a lot of heat, and due to the wind in the Arctic, keeping your ears warm with a hat is certainly necessary.
I always use a winter buff instead of a scarf because I can’t lose it when putting on and taking off life jackets, for example, and it is smaller to pack in the luggage.
And gloves are often a personal choice. Because I work and often get wet because I work with a boat, I have neoprene gloves that keep my hands dry and warm. But as a guest I would often opt for a glove with an inner glove. These keep your hands warm during, for example, a zodiac cruise. But during a walk you can still take nice pictures with the inner gloves. And I’m a fan of gloves with wristbands, ”like you used to have as a child”, so that I can’t lose them.
But nowadays there are even gloves with heating elements available. These are extremely suitable for the cold!

Below you will find a list with of our favorite Amazon products and/or brands.
If you purchase one of these products through our link, we would greatly appreciate it. The product will not become more expensive, but it will contribute to this blog. Thank you in advance and good luck with packing.

A blog will soon be online that focuses on which photography gear to take with you on Expedition. So sign up for the newsletter and receive the latest blogs in your mailbox (max 4 times a year)

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