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HomeSpits­ber­gen infor­ma­ti­onArc­tic tra­ve­ling – some prac­ti­cal hints → Equip­ment recom­men­ded for expe­di­ti­on

Equipment recommended for expedition style cruises in polar regions

It always depends some­what on the occa­si­on… (Ant­arc­ti­ca!) nor­mal to warm wea­ther con­di­ti­ons …

Hannah Point

… cer­tain sta­te of men­tal dis­re­pair has to be assu­med.

Deception Island

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

If you join a crui­se, the com­pa­ny will pro­vi­de you with detail­ed infor­ma­ti­ons about the voya­ge and the equip­ment you need. Plea­se read the­se infor­ma­ti­ons care­ful­ly – good pre­pa­ra­ti­ons are the foun­da­ti­on for the suc­cess of your jour­ney!

Being fre­quent­ly asked about the sub­ject, I want to offer my opi­ni­on regar­ding clot­hing and some basic gui­de­li­nes:

Clot­hing is a very per­so­nal issue. Under the same con­di­ti­ons one per­son might feel well in light clot­hing and the next one free­zes des­pi­te of a warm jacket his ass off (oops… sor­ry!). In the end, you have to deci­de your­sel­ves what works for you and what doesn’t.

  • Usual­ly you will not encoun­ter tem­pe­ra­tures way below zero. In Sval­bard, for examp­le, average sum­mer tem­pe­ra­tures ran­ge from +1 to +6°C. But depen­ding on wind, pos­si­b­ly absent sunshi­ne and your (in)activity you may expe­ri­ence the tem­pe­ra­tures as col­der (wind chill). On a calm and sun­ny day (not ever­y­day con­di­ti­ons!) you may inde­ed feel qui­te hot. Greenland’s pro­tec­ted fjords can be qui­te warm, Ant­arc­ti­ca tends to be a bit col­der. South Geor­gia is often very win­dy (well, it can be win­dy any­whe­re, but the­re even more so).
  • The lay­er princip­le is always good. Wea­ther con­di­ti­ons chan­ge quick­ly, and may­be at first you spend a while in a zodiac (infla­t­a­ble rub­ber boat) under rough con­di­ti­ons without moving, then the bright sun comes out and you go and climb a litt­le moun­tain. Thus you should always be able to adapt quick­ly. Using several lay­ers enab­les you to add or remo­ve ano­t­her swea­ter which you can then store in a litt­le day­pack which you should always have with you.
  • The upper­most lay­er should always be wind- and water­pro­of (even in sun­ny wea­ther – splashwa­ter during zodiac trans­fer!). Modern out­door clot­hing with breat­hing mem­bra­nes is good, but for short lan­dings che­a­per rain­we­ar will usual­ly do the job.
  • Always have gloves, scarf and a woo­ly hat with you – at least in your day­pack. An old Inu­it say­ing goes like “If you have cold feet, cover your head”. It’s true! A spa­re set of gloves can be use­ful in wet con­di­ti­ons. A ligh­ter pair of fin­ge­red gloves will still enab­le you to hand­le bino­cu­lars and came­ra.
  • Jeans or simi­lar are useless.
  • Pro­tect your came­ra gear against wea­ther and splash water!
  • Don’t unde­re­sti­ma­te sun radia­ti­on in high lati­tu­des – always use sun cream and good sun­glas­ses!
Rainproof gear is good, sunshine is better

Rain­pro­of gear is good, sunshi­ne is bet­ter.

  • Shoes are some­ti­mes an issue. I use always wel­ling­tons (wel­ling­tons, rub­ber boots – is the­re any dif­fe­rence…?). But not the cheap ones may you use in your gar­den – get solid hiking rub­ber boots with good soles with deep pro­fi­le. Plea­se – if you spend several thousand € for a trip, don’t try to save a few bucks on cru­cial equip­ment! They are much bet­ter than most peop­le think, I have used boots like that for my lon­gest day trips (up to 40 kilo­me­ters) without get­ting blis­ters. Take rub­ber boots a num­ber lar­ger than you would at home to allow for a thick extra pair of socks.

I per­so­nal­ly like to wear some­thing like this during shor­ter hikes and boat-based trips in the sum­mer (May-Sep­tem­ber):

  • first a lay­er of ther­mal under­we­ar.
  • Solid Gore-Tex-pants are always good.
  • A warm pull­over and a Gore-Tex jacket.
  • I always car­ry a litt­le day­pack with scarf, wool­ly hat, gloves.
  • Sun cream, good sun­glas­ses.
  • Always good, solid hiking rub­ber boots.


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last modification: 2019-01-31 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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