How to dress for a hike in the Arctic summer / spring

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The Lille Malene hike involves climbing up that cliff behind us and then walking along it. It took us four hours altogether for a stunning view! More photos on and facebook.

In two days, it is officially the first day of summer. Spring, huh? It snowed the other week. Despite the temperamental conditions, there have been many glorious days to go hiking in the nature here. Below are some dress tips to make your experience more positive.  

The past few times I’ve gone out for a hike around Qinngorput, at least one person in the group has dressed inappropriately. Having been a culprit myself, I can testify that wearing the wrong attire can make the experience less comfortable, if not less fun. Being too warm, cold, or having wet feet from hiking in the snow for 4 hours is tedious. Don’t make the same mistakes!

I used similar principles in a post I wrote about packing light for a European winter.

  1. Think waterproof and windproof outer layers. The weather changes quickly enough during the day so you should prepare for all-weather conditions. An anorak that is not too heavy would be perfect if you can team it with a couple of woollen layers underneath (I’d say three thin ones). Don’t forget your windproof pants!
  2. Consider head-gear that protects your ears as well.
  3. Consider the weather when you decide on your shoes. One time I went hiking, I used regular hiking boots which got completely soaked through (we trudged through knee-deep snow for hours). The next time I went hiking, I assessed the conditions. There was still snow, so I decided to wear my snow boots, even though they were heavier and harder to walk with. My feet were dry, warm and toasty =) A good compromise is probably water-resistant GORE-TEX hiking shoes.
  4. Bring WARM WOOLLEN SOCKS! In fact, bring a spare pair too. Cotton ones don’t retain warmth when wet.
  5. Bring some hardy gloves that you don’t mind wrecking! Chances are that you will climb hills and rocks using both your hands and feet.
  6. Wear your sunglasses! The Arctic sun is very strong here and if there is snow, the reflection is glaring. The sunglasses can also protect you from flying particles when the wind is strong.
  7. Bring a backpack so you can take off your layers, put them back on and so on.
  8. Fill up your bottle. You can also drink and refill from the fresh mountain water trickling in the streams.
  9. Every other person also brings along a thermos flask of coffee or tea and some snacks to keep you going. It’s amazing when you stop walking, how quickly you get cold.
  10. Bring along a mosquito net for your face or strong mosquito repellant (find something with DEET). It’s not a problem just yet, but everyone talks about it and I’m getting rather scared!

By the way, wanted to know how people dress normally in Nuuk? When it’s cold people look like they are ready to go hiking (or skiing) all the time. Otherwise, the website Nuuk Look showcases a sample of Arctic fashion.

4 thoughts on “How to dress for a hike in the Arctic summer / spring

  1. Pingback: Tourists: 10 first impressions of Nuuk & Greenland | The Fourth Continent

  2. Pingback: 2013 Spring Hiking @ Quarry Hill Nature Center, Rocherster MN | Hiking Journal

  3. Tenacious black flies and mosquitoes can be unbearable if the wind subsides in the evenings. Insect spray is really “perfume” that seems to attract them for miles. They crawled under my tightly drawn hood, under elastic sleeve cuffs, and my wristwatch. The tent was covered with them by the dozens. Windy evenings were heavenly. I would go again though. @franehennessey

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