What to pack for a polar expedition

In a polar climate where you’re exposed to the elements, the right gear is essential to keeping you safe and protected. Ready for an Arctic expedition? Discover a few of the key items that Fjällräven Polar participants will take with them for a successful journey, and a packing list for your next winter adventure.

Winter expedition tent  

A good night’s sleep is never guaranteed in the Arctic, but certain design details on a winter expedition tent can provide all the protection and comfort needed in some of the toughest environments on Earth. Above all, it must be able to withstand extreme conditions. An extra durable flysheet should be made of polyester, which is better suited to colder climates. Reinforced tent poles and guylines will ensure stability in high winds – there should be enough space to use two poles in each channel if needed. And large snow anchors (rather than pegs) are designed to be buried horizontally in the snow, ensuring the tent can be pitched and secured easily.

Winter expedition tents also come with a large vestibule. Digging a snow pit in the vestibule will give you some much-needed extra space in which to get changed, store gear or use a stove. You’ll also find a circular vent or window, through which equipment can be passed or snow can be collected for melting without leaving the security of the tent or letting wind and drifting snow into the vestibule.

A snow skirt on the outside of the tent will also stop strong winds or unwanted snow from drifting into the tent and potentially lifting it or destabilising it. All that’s needed is some soft snow shoveled directly onto the snow skirt to keep the flysheet weighed down. 

Multi-fuel stove 

When it comes to staying fed and watered in Arctic conditions, a reliable and robust stove is essential – both for melting snow for drinking water and for a hot meal when warm water is poured into freeze-dried food bags. A multi-fuel stove, as opposed to a single-fuel stove, not only has a minimal design to reduce the need for service and repair but is also travel friendly, as it can run off gasoline, petrol, or even aviation fuel.

Multi-fuel stove

The pump on the fuel canister is used to create enough pressure to light the burner which needs to be preheated. Once the temperature is right, ease open the valve to produce a high-efficiency flame which will serve a team of up to four people. 

Although the nozzles and handles are large enough to be used while wearing thick winter gloves, it may take a little practice to learn the pre-heating process and light the stove efficiently. You should be prepared to use the stove almost constantly in a winter camp, melting snow for water. So, as with any new equipment, make sure you’re confident using it before you leave!  

Dog sled 

Only one thing comes between mushers and their dogs, and that’s their sled.  

Traditionally made from lashing strips of wood together, sleds have been vital forms of transportation for centuries. But rather than the heavy and slower sleds of yesteryear, mushers nowadays use sleds with a lightweight aluminium frame, allowing their dogs to go further, faster and travel across more complex terrain. 

Once sled dogs start running, they’re unlikely to want to stop for a while, which is why an essential part of the sled is the braking system. Modern sleds come with two brakes that the musher stands on: a hard brake digs deep into the snow for a full stop, and a soft brake, also known as a drag mat, is used for slowing down or maintaining a certain speed. There’s also a snow anchor for longer rest periods, which can be anchored into the snow and isn’t dependent on the musher’s body weight.

The sled’s long, slim storage bag, also known as the bed, should be weighted specifically with heavier gear, such as a tent, placed closest to the musher, and lighter gear, like sleeping bags, placed at the far end of the sled to ensure the sled is easier to steer.

A dog sled should also be comfortable to drive, particularly if long distances are involved. Each sled set-up will be individual to the musher, but they are all likely to have a large pocket underneath the handlebars to store water, snacks and smaller essentials that can be easily reached on the go. A storage box placed behind the musher can also function as a seat for long days in the wild.

Polar Expedition Parka 

When temperatures drop, when you’re not expelling much energy in camp or if you’re travelling at speed, it’s vital that you stay warm and fully protected from the elements. Even the smallest amount of exposure over time can cool you down, meaning you’ll need to work hard and use much-needed energy reserves to warm back up.  

The Polar Expedition Parka is designed for the most extreme winter conditions. On the inside: large, 700 fill-power down baffles and an inner baffle collar will retain the heat captured from your body. On the outside: hardwearing G-1000 Heavy-Duty fabric is placed on the chest, elbows, underside of the forearms and the seat for durability in high exposure areas. During Fjällräven Polar, participants often wear it over all their other layers, including their shell jacket, for immediate warmth and reinforcement.

Polar Expedition Parka

A jacket like the Parka is vital if you’re planning on staying in a winter camp or covering ground on multi-day dog sledding expedition.

The right gloves

Driving a sled into a headwind calls for a special kind of reinforcement for your extremities. During Fjällräven Polar, participants often wear extra-large Hestra mittens, designed to slip over the top of regular winter gloves. They hang on the end of a harness which is worn over the top of the Polar Expedition Parka and can be easily clipped together at your lower back when not needed. This ensures that the musher won’t drop a glove while on the sled, potentially putting an end to an expedition. As soon as the temperature drops, simply unclip them, pull them around your waist to your front and slip them on. There’s even a soft patch on the gloves designed to wipe a wet nose while on the go. 

Fjällräven Polar participants will need to pack much more for their Arctic expedition than the gear mentioned above. Use the packing list below as a guide for a multi-day winter excursion or as a reference for your next winter adventure. See you out here! 

The Fjällräven Polar packing list

Clothing, top to toe

Thick wool beanie, e.g., 1960 Logo Hat 

Thin wool skull cap / beanie, e.g., Abisko Lite Wool Beanie 

Regular cap, e.g., 1960 Logo Långtradarkeps 

A robust, warm hat with under-chin buckle, e.g., Nordic Heater 

Warm, padded cap, e.g., Polar padded cap 

Sunglasses, Category 4 which shields eyes against snow  

Goggles, including a low-light lens for travelling in challenging conditions 

Neck warmer / balaclava, e.g., Keb Fleece Neck Gaitor 

2x merino base layers, e.g., Bergtagen Thinwool LS 

Merino/wool underwear 

Technical mid layer, e.g., Keb Fleece Hoodie 

Down Jacket, e.g., Expedition Pack Down Hoodie 

Shell jacket, e.g., Bergtagen Eco-Shell Jacket 

Shell trousers, e.g., Bergtagen Eco-Shell Trousers 

Merino glove liners 

Thin leather working gloves 

Thicker leather gloves with a wool liner 

Hestra reinforcement mittens with harness 

2x wool sock liners and trekking socks 

Insulated boots with a separate inner liner, e.g., Hanwag Abisko GTX 

Booties for the tent or a hut, e.g., Expedition Down Booties 


Expedition tent, e.g., Polar Endurance 3 

Sleeping bag, e.g., Polar –30 

75L backpack, e.g., Kajka 75

Waterproof pack bags, e.g., Waterproof Packbag 20

Multi-fuel stove and pot 

Fire striker or Firesteel 

Camping mat 



1L water bottle 

First aid kit 

Suncream, factor 50 

Freeze dried, high calorie food bags 

Long camping spoon 





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