When embarking on your first trip to the Arctic it is often difficult to know what exactly you will need and what will just take up unnecessary space in your carefully packed suitcase. Here at Off The Map Travel we have cultivated a must-have kit list to help you know what’s essential to ensure you stay warm whilst visiting our unique winter destinations.
We abide by the traditional ‘layering system’ and advise all our guests to layer breathable clothing which helps to keep you warm, dry and comfortable through varying Arctic weather conditions. This system works so well as allows you to add or remove layers depending on how you feel, the conditions you’re in and the activities you’re doing. The basic layering system comprises of a base-layer – worn next to the skin which holds in a thin layer of warm air to the body. This layer also helps to wick away any moisture which in turn regulates body temperature. Merino wool is a good choice but any basic ski thermals are perfect. Cotton should be avoided as soaks up any moisture and therefore draws away heat from your body, leaving you a bit chilly! The second layer is the mid-layer – this layer helps to trap in body heat along with wicking away sweat. Common mid-layers can be fleeces, softshell jackets or insulated jackets. Some people choose to layer several mid-layers with each layer fitting over the next without restricting any movement, we suggest micro fleeces, woollen jumpers or thin down jackets. The final layer is the outer-layer – this needs to be the thickest layer and must be wind and waterproof, we suggest jackets with hoods and waterproof trousers such as ski salopettes.
Of course we suggest a scarf or fleece neck warmer and either a hat or earmuffs to complete your final layer along with waterproof boots such as snow-boots or hiking boots with a good grip – these are essential to any snow-based adventure. We often suggest also taking an ‘easy to pull on’ cosy shoe such as ugg boots or slippers to wear whilst inside your lodge, hotel or cabin. Much like the clothing layering system the same applies to socks, a couple of thin pairs of merino wool socks will do perfectly rather than a single pair of thick bulky socks as these tend to bunch up and the wrinkles can reduce circulation to your feet. We also recommend mittens rather than gloves, this is because mittens keep your fingers close together trapping body heat and therefore reducing evaporative heat loss. On my trip to Norway and Sweden back in December I came across these wonderful hand and foot warmers, they are made of entirely natural materials which once exposed to the air become activated and begin to build heat. The foot warmer pads are self adhesive allowing you to fix them to your socks and the hand warmers will slip perfectly into your mittens giving you between 8 and 10 hours of heat!
We also suggest a few basic pieces of equipment which aren’t a must-have but are worth thinking about if you want to be extra prepared for your Arctic adventure –
- Head Torch – with a red light function is ideal this will not affect your night vision like a white light would, perfect for evenings looking for the Aurora!
- Ice Grips – if you’re worried about any walking you will need to do, these can be picked up fairly cheaply and attached onto most hiking/snow-boots.
- Memory card and extra battery for your camera – this is essential for those who are keen to capture the Aurora as well as all the impressive scenery everywhere you look.