What to Pack for an Arctic Expedition: From Base Layers to Waterproof Pants and Gloves, Here’s What I Recommend.
What to Pack for an Arctic Expedition: From Base Layers to Waterproof Pants and Gloves, Here’s What I Recommend.

What to Pack for an Arctic Expedition: From Base Layers to Waterproof Pants and Gloves, Here’s What I Recommend.

I recently travelled to Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic with Adventure Canada, a Canadian-based company that has been leading expedition cruises since 1987, on a 13-day dream expedition.

Once I had all the necessary paperwork signed, from medical forms to travel insurance. My mind anxiously turned to packing for the Arctic. I travelled in August, during the Arctic summer. There were almost 24 hours of daylight and temperatures around 8 degrees Celsius (some days were warmer).

Adventure Canada provided an excellent suggested packing list on “what to pack” for the Arctic. I used my experience with polar travel previously in the Antarctic and did my own research, to select what I would bring.

If you’ve ever dreamt of seeing the High Arctic, I suggest making plans to visit at least once in your lifetime. And when you do begin to prepare for the expedition, here are some tips and recommendations on what to pack based on what proved useful for me.

In addition to a merino wool base layer, you will need fully waterproof pants, gloves, and hat, and a dry sac for all the Zodiac excursions and transfers. Waterproof pants are mandatory, according to Adventure Canada.

There is no need to take a waterproof jacket or parka since Adventure Canada provides a lightweight blue waterproof jacket with a hood. And that is yours to keep after the expedition. Jackets were distributed in Toronto after the orientation meeting. So you will have it before arriving by charter plane in the Arctic.

A down puffy for warmth over a base layer is necessary. Layering is important to be able to adjust to the varying weather throughout the day.

For footwear, I took my Blundstones with rubber soles to wear onboard, as well as a pair of sneakers. Since the attire on the ship was casual, I wish I had brought my comfy wool Glerups slippers for the lectures, briefings and even for meals. When leaving the ship, Adventure Canada provided Rubber Boots for walking during landings. So taking your own hiking boots/shoes is completely optional.

Bring the correct plugs for the outlets, international 2 round prongs.

Bring an eye mask for sleeping since there is 24 hours of daylight during the summer months. The drapes did not block out the light completely.

Bring a good pair of sunglasses. I packed Ray-Ban glasses. The sun can be intense.

If you are prone to seasickness, bring some Gravol capsules, sea bands, ginger tablets, or Motion Sickness Relief Bands. Depending on the winds and ice conditions you might encounter some rough waters.

Take at least an extra week or two of your important prescription medications in case of itinerary changes due to weather.

I found a waterproof backpack very useful to carry extra gloves and liners and my camera equipment when leaving the ship on Zodiacs.

I planned to bring hiking poles. However, I was assured by friends who had done this expedition aboard the Ocean Endeavour with Adventure Canada that there were poles available in the mud room, and indeed, there were.

Follow the packing list and do not exceed the 20 kg for a checked bag and 10kg for your carry-on. They do weigh the bags when checking in for the charter flights.

Interested in doing a High Arctic Explorer Expedition with Adventure Canada?  My itinerary and other information can be found here for 2024. https://www.adventurecanada.com/expedition-cruise/greenland-and-arctic-canada-high-arctic-explorer/greenland-and-arctic-canada-high-arctic-explorer-2024-1.

Get ready for the trip of a lifetime!


Pack your sense of adventure. Anticipate changes daily based on the winds, currents, ice, and even polar bears!