Adventurous travelers brave the Arctic’s freezing temperatures for the breathtaking views and majestic landscapes. But the unpredictable weather and harsh conditions mean that you’ll need to come prepared with the proper clothing, tools, and gear. If you’re thinking about taking a trip to the northernmost parts of the Earth, here are 11 pieces of gear you’ll need.
1. THERMAL UNDERWEAR
Wearing the right thermal underwear will provide a base layer of warmth, helping to insulate you against below freezing temperatures. Look for comfortable long underwear and leggings made of breathable fabrics, and wear thick socks made from wool or brushed polyester. To keep your torso warm, wear a thermal vest or polypropylene long-sleeved shirt under your other layers. In general, opt for wool or polyester rather than cotton, which will absorb moisture and make you feel cold.
2. ARCTIC BOOTS
Safely walking through thick ice and snow requires specific footwear, so cowboy boots and combat boots aren’t going to cut it in the Arctic. Knee-high, waterproof neoprene rubber boots will keep your feet warm and allow you to safely traverse the snow. Try to find boots with a removable liner that have been manufacturer-rated to last in low temperatures. And buy a size or two larger than your normal shoe size, so you can wear the boots comfortably with thick socks.
3. NECK WARMER
Preserving body heat is essential, so don’t forget to pack a neck warmer. A micro-fleece neck warmer will protect against wind and snow, and you can keep it under your chin or pull it up to cover your nose and mouth. Try on a variety of balaclavas, neck gaiters, and scarves to find one that fits your body. Besides a neck warmer, bring earmuffs, water-resistant gloves and mittens, and a wool hat to keep your ears, hands, and head warm.
Although the Arctic is cold, the sun’s rays can be bright and powerful. And in the summer, some areas of the Arctic have 24 hours of sunlight. As the sun reflects off the snow or bodies of water, you’ll be glad you’re wearing sunscreen. To avoid sunburns and protect your face, lips, and eyes, bring plenty of high-SPF sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses.
Thermal underwear and a middle, insulating layer of clothing are essential, but you’ll also need to pack jackets that protect you from strong, cold winds. Look for a water-resistant windbreaker jacket that’s designed for Arctic conditions. Try to find one with a fleece lining, hood, strong zipper, and ample pockets, all of which will come in handy on your trip.
6. SKI GOGGLES
If you’ve ever stood in subfreezing temperatures, you know that your eyeballs feel the cold. Wearing ski goggles will protect your eyes from cold temperatures and provide a barrier so wind and snow don’t mess with your vision. Opt for goggles with UV protection, polarized lenses that reduce glare, and tinted or interchangeable lenses so you can adapt to changing weather conditions and brightness.
7. WATER- AND FREEZE-PROOF CAMERA
You’ll probably want to take photos or videos of the Arctic’s gorgeous landscapes for posterity. Bring a water- and freeze-proof camera that’s designed to handle tough conditions. Some DSLR cameras are guaranteed to be waterproof to a certain depth and freeze-proof to a certain temperature. Make sure the camera you bring has other features you want, such as wide angle or long zoom lenses. And don’t forget extra batteries: Power sources may die more quickly in cold climates.
8. INCREDIBLY TOUGH GADGETS
If you’re trekking through a remote (and potentially dangerous) area, you’re going to want to be sure your other devices can weather whatever your journey throws at them. Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5 helps keep the screen on tablets and smartphones—such as the HTC Bolt™—safer from drops up to 1.6 meters. Which means you’ll be able to rely on it for directions, even when the going gets rough.
If you’re planning to see the Northern Lights or simply want to take high-quality photos of the wildlife you see in the Arctic, pack a camera tripod. If taking photographs in the Arctic is important to you, you may want to spend more money to get a good quality tripod. Look for a tripod that’s lightweight and compact yet durable enough to stand firm in deep snow and forceful wind.
Snowshoes make it much easier to hike in the Arctic because they prevent you from sinking into the snow. Choose snowshoes with the right traction and design for your experience level and the conditions in which you’ll be hiking. Serious hikers may want to bring two different pairs of snowshoes, one for steep terrain and one for flatter land.
Whether you’re walking on land or sailing on the sea, binoculars will help you get a closer look at the Arctic’s wildlife, which includes polar bears, Arctic foxes, caribou, seals, walruses, and birds. Choose comfortable binoculars with the size, magnification, and lens diameter you desire, and watch away.