What to Pack: An Arctic Expedition
Only in the arctic would you endure rain, wind and a harrowing zodiac cruise across the choppy ocean for the chance to see a polar bear. Gripping the boat’s cold wet ropes and holding on for dear life, we realized that this is what we came for: not the polar bears, but the wild journey itself. If you want to be pushed out of your comfort zone and into the unknown, head north.
Before embarking on the Heart of the Arctic expedition with Adventure Canada, we knew that we would be facing diverse weather conditions and landscapes. Going from Toronto’s July heat to the arctic climates of Greenland and Northern Canada requires you to rethink your typical summer packing list. With temperatures ranging from 4•C to 10•C and the chance of extreme weather (including snow and heat) at any moment, layers are crucial.
We test drove some outdoor gear on our recent expedition and selected a few of the key pieces we couldn’t live without. From misty mornings to crisp evenings, these are the items we deemed essential for a summer trip to the arctic.
Designed for vigorous hikers traversing arctic tundra, Patagonia’s Nano-Air Hoody features Full Range insulation that is flexible, durable and warm-when-wet. Whether your facing a wet zodiac ride to shore or a chilly night spent watching the midnight sun, this piece is adaptable enough for most conditions. The shell and liner offer generous stretch, while the water repellent finish protects from inevitable splashes at sea. The best part about this jacket is the close, flattering fit that pairs perfectly with base layers.
When northern winds call, W’s Nano Puff Hoody answers. Would you expect anything less from a jacket made with the most thermally efficient synthetic insulation available? The water-repellent compressible 60-g Prima Loft Gold insulation maintains 96% of warmth, even when wet. For a puffer jacket, this hoody is sleek and low-bulk, allowing for effortless layering and compact storage in changing conditions.
As an Aboriginal-owned, proudly Canadian company, Manitobah specializes in footwear that keeps traditions alive by supporting Aboriginal artists and communities. We came prepared to explore the arctic with Tall Gatherer mukluks, the brand’s iconic plains-style winter boot. While traditional mukluks were built thousands of years ago out of animal hides, Manitobah has infused modern techniques into its designs for added functionality. Take the sole, which was made in partnership between Vibram and an Aboriginal artist. Wearing our Mukluks, we were able to walk across diverse terrain while still enjoying the comfort and style of leather footwear lined with sheepskin shearling.
If you’re travelling the arctic by ship, you’re likely heading to shore with camera equipment, extra clothing layers, a water bottle and other necessities depending on the conditions. Throughout the whole trip, we relied on our Herschel backpacks to store our goods in style. Crafted for adventure, the Dawson Backpack was a good option for lightweight essentials while the Little America Backpack (rendered with a water-resistant coating) was ideal for carrying camera equipment that needed extra protection.
Summer showers can strike at any moment in the arctic, making a resilient waterproof shell a necessity. During zodiac rides and treks in the rain, we wore Ilse Jacobsen Hornbæk’s Rain02B and Rain03 coats. Both feature an iconic raincoat silhouette, pockets and a large hood for added coverage. Inspired by nature and the Scandinavian lifestyle, the collection strikes a balance between Danish design and the outdoor explorer aesthetic. The waterproof rubberized material and welded seams kept us dry and chic in the roughest of rainstorms.
It’s a beautiful thing when you can find a hiking boot that allows you to effortlessly trek across uneven ground, rivers and slippery moss for hours in total comfort. On several arctic hikes, we were thankful for our Vasque boots, which lived up to their glowing reviews and surpassed our expectations. Unlike traditional bulky hiking boots, the Talus Trek Low Ultradry boots are sleek and flexible while still being tough enough to handle rugged landscapes.
With the Arctic’s fluctuating weather, having a spacious and durable suitcase to protect and organize all your essentials is important. We chose the 32-inch High Sierra’s Wheeled Duffel Upright luggage for its durability and multiple compartment design. This suitcase is designed for adventurers who appreciate the finer details. Its features include a fleece lined pocket, hidden backpack straps and two side-loading water resistant gear compartments. Whether you’re an outdoorsy explorer or a luxury vacationer, this wheeled duffel boasts a smart design that every kind of traveller can appreciate.
By Aleyah Solomon and Julia Eskins