What to pack for Svalbard

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  • loisl's Profile Photo

    Good planning necessary

    by loisl Updated Feb 18, 2005

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    Miscellaneous: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Just a general comment:
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If you want to do expeditions style trecking you need to plan carefully.
    I do not recommend such a adventure in this very remote location without any previous expirience.

    If you are not an expirienced outdoorexpert you may better go with a guided tour.
    Adresses you find on the website below.

    Contact me if you need some advices.

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  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Winter gear for active use

    by Saagar Written Mar 2, 2005

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    Luggage and bags: Backpack, size according to need, for outdoor use, certainly with a draw-stringed snow lock. You need to be able to manage it without taking your gloves off.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Thick, padded boots for winter use, bjekso Saami leather boots, heavy ski boots, thick woollen socks, indoor slippers.
    Layered clothing: long underwear, pref. wool or polyprop, not cotton unless for sedate use, extra thick layering pants, shirts, fleece jacket and wool sweater(s), windproof shell/jacket/pants, preferably cotton/polyester mix since goretex etc stiffens.
    Woollen hat that covers ears, perhaps balaclava, scarf, gloves and windproof glove shell, long or semi-long gaiters to keep drift snow out of the boots.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Anything you prefer to take care of dry skin. Ensure the lotion or cream doesn't contain any water (or buy it in Norway - skin creams here don't contain any H2O because it freezes). Something to counter blisters.

    Photo Equipment: Camera and video equipment that can be used in cold climate. Reserve batteries - they will run out fast in the cold.
    Your ideal film and digital memory cards, double what your estimated consumption tells you.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Any specialist gear you wish to bring. For excursions by snowmobile, dog sled etc. the organisers will provide relevant clothing extra as part of the package.
    If you have, bring gun (not handgun), preferably 30.06/ 7.62mm rifle or rent locally.

    Miscellaneous: Sunglasses, snow glasses.
    A good book if you get stuck in your hotel room in a bad storm.
    Travel insurance that covers your intended activity.
    If you only want to sit in the bar and watch the snowdrifts from inside, know that dress in Svalbard is very casual.

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  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Bring skis

    by Saagar Written Mar 2, 2005

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    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If you want to go skiing, you will need to bring your own or rent from any agency that have skis for rent (I don't know yet). I am planning a skiing trip and phone calls to sports stores in Longyearbyen only yielded randoneé skis, not very useful for cross-country style. Bring your own. Take steel edged mountain cross-country type sturdy skis with 75mm NNN bindings and warm ski boots - minimum...

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  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Guide books

    by Saagar Written Mar 5, 2005

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    Miscellaneous: Bradt's "Guide to Spitsbergen" by Andreas Umbreit. ISBN 1 898323 38 0. English and German editions.
    I found this one by far the best. LP's "Arctic" is a bit "popish" and skims the surface only. Same for their Norway book.

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  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Maps for Svalbard

    by Saagar Updated Jan 14, 2010

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    Miscellaneous: A map is handy for all travellers to Svalbard. For trekking and expedition planning a detailed map will be necessary. The best series published covering Svalbard is by the Norwegian Polar Institute's "S100" Svalbard 1:100 000 series.
    For Longyearbyen and environs get the map "Adventdalen" 1:100.000 published 2003. You can order it from the Polar Institute or buy in a biggish bookshop. Probably they will have all the maps readily available at Longyearbyen, too.
    And certainly at the Polar Institute in Tromsø: Polar Environmental Centre, 9296 Tromsø.
    Sysselmannen (The Governor of Svalbard) has a range of specialist maps covering various natural resource and administrative aspects of the islands; see http://www.sysselmannen.no/hovedEnkel.aspx?m=46031 .
    Online purchase of maps is available at kartbutikken http://www.kartbutikken.no/produktlisting.php?kategori=212 .

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  • wideview's Profile Photo

    Dress in layers, avoid cotton!

    by wideview Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Luggage and bags: A big suitcase and a smaller backpack for daytrips.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Dress in layers, the temperature and the weather change often on Svalbard. Avoid cotton, use only wool or synthetic. Several layers of wool and windproof outside protection may be required in any season. The windchill may exceed -40°C in winter and early spring. Protect your head and your hands. Special suits, hats, gloves and boots are usually included in the tour's price.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: As always, bring any medicament you may need.

    Photo Equipment: To minimize changes (especially on cold weather) use 36 exposures films and zoom lenses. Bring spare batteries (battery's life is shorter on cold weather). A tripod may be required on darkest months. Overexpose by 1 or 2 stops on white scenes, the snow will be more brighter.

    Miscellaneous: Always ask to the tour operator the reccomended gear list, as it always changes depending on the type of the tour and season.

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  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Three-season gear: spring, summer and autumn

    by Saagar Updated Mar 2, 2005

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    Luggage and bags: A backpack and a daypack. Waterproof to the extent possible

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Long underwear, hat, gloves, scarf any time of the year.
    Hiking boots
    Wind /rain proofs - shells, jackets and pants

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Nothing special needed for Svalbard, except of you are out on the snow in sunny condition: sunscreen and sunglasses.

    Photo Equipment: Film, film and film - and your special camera battery, which might not be available here.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: High-powered rifle 7.62 mm (30.06) if leaving the settlements.
    Tent, sleeping bag etc., including a military-style trip-wire warning system against polar bears if embarking on an overnight trip.

    Miscellaneous: If hiking independently outside the main settlement area, and staying overnight in the wilderness, you will need insurance guarantees and permission by the local authorities. You can avoid all this by joining an organised tour.

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  • Spader's Profile Photo

    Listen to the experts!

    by Spader Updated Oct 9, 2005

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    Luggage and bags: If you are cruising get a small waterproof backpack for outings and landings with the zodiacs. Think about protecting your camera from watersplashes and the odd rain- or snowfall.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Really good footware is essential. Some recommend good boots others top gear wellies, all good as long as they are waterproof and comfortable and can resist the spiky stones Svalbard is full of. I had waterproof hikingboots that was good enough for most landings but not the really wet ones. I'd go for top nodge wellingtons!! Other than that, think: no cotton-water resistant -layer upon layer-windproof and warm. I wore old military stuff and that was great (and cheap)!

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Skinlotion for hands and face, it's very dry in Svalbard and the wind gets to your skin. Also sunlotion for the senitive skin beacause your out in the sun a lot. If travelling with M/S Origo get some medicin for seasickness. Even if you have never before been seasick you most likely will have a first on Origo. It's the price you pay for beeing able to get very close to shorelines and into the packice.

    Photo Equipment: A really good camera with a good zooming lens is highly recommended. You will find yourself klicking away and you will see so many amimals and birds that you really do not want to look at small black spots when you get home. Put some money on it!

    Miscellaneous: Paper napkins! In and out your nose will be runny from temperature changes. Sunglasses! Protect your eyes, it's very bright in Svalbarden.

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  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Summer clothing for Svalbard

    by Saagar Written May 6, 2008

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: For Svalbard summer clothing I would bring/dress up like this: short underwear, though cotton/polyester 65/35% mix pants, thin socks, jogging shoes/sneakers, plus thick socks and not too heavy hiking boots. Extra socks for indoor use, jeans or similar for indoor/restaurant use, short sleeved undershirt/Tshirt, any long sleeved simple and cheap twill/cotton shirt, light woolens. The good news is that you can buy absolutely all of these things in Longyearbyen cheaper than in Norway. So you can consider what you need once up there.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: A thin sweater underneath a cotton or goretex, or best: cotton/polyester 65-35% mix anorak or similar hooded wind proof outer jacket (also called "shell" these days), scarf, caps with ear flaps, thin gloves. This is what you wear, and as you get warmer you can take some of this off. But don't go on an outing without adding this in your daypack/backpack: a somewhat heavier fleece og wool sweater - or a thin, good quality one to put on top of the sweater, long sleees/legs either wool or polyproylene "superunderwear" both top and bottom, extra socks and you'd be fine. If the weather can be presumed to turn bad, or if it is actually raining, light rainclothes to put on top of everything else is very nice to have - but expensive.

    Miscellaneous: The wind-chill thing is something we have always taken for granted here in Norway, and it's probably the American clothing companies that started to introduce the word here. It simply is a coldness multiplier effect with increasing wind. The cold is effectively colder if the wind gets stronger... No need to bother about the mathematics as long as you know that wind will cool you down faster.
    Then, there are certain points on the body that cools you down faster than other parts: these are the head (25% of the body's blood circulates there at any time), neck/throat part, ears, the feet, hands and wrists. You won't experience frost bite at this time of year. In winter you have to consider the jewels as well!
    As there is sunshine 24 hours - provided there aren't any clouds - the temperature in the sun might be quite nice, with hardly any temperature difference between night and day. It actually gives much sense to walk in shorts at Svalbard during summer, but keep a hat and wrist warmers on! Seriously, you can bring a shorts there, too, in the sun it may be very nice, in fact.
    If you are taking part in a cruise or organised trip, the company will normally take care of outfitting you with the right equipment and outer clothing for ice, snow and water adventures, and take care of your polar bear security as well.

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  • 4 more images

    Clothing for Temperature Extremes

    by maryellen50 Written Aug 11, 2006

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    Luggage and bags: If you are on an expedition cruise, baggage is limited so it's best to carry a large soft sided bag with wheels. Dress clothing is not required for expedition cruises so save the space for souvenirs.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Travelers must be prepared for rapid weather changes. Comfortable, casual clothing is the best choice. Dress in layers to ensure warmth and comfort.
    Two essential pieces of clothing required for a polar voyage are a pair of rubber boots and an insulated, roomy, waterproof parka with detachable inner fleece shell with long sleeves. The waterproof outer shell can be worn alone on warm sunny days. Rubber boots are usually available on most ships.
    Gloves. Hat and scarf. Waterproof pants or trousers. Quick-dry socks, plus, warm, long wool or cotton socks to wear over a thin pair of silk, or polypropylene socks. Waterproof, light backpack or a dry bag to line a backpack. Hiking boots. Sunglasses with UV protection.

    Photo Equipment: If you use a digital camera, 2-3 extra batteries are a MUST as the extreme cold weather substantially shortens battery life. On my Sony point & shoot, one ion battery only lasts 2-3 hours and requires recharging.

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  • Saagar's Profile Photo

    Packing for a weekend on Svalbard

    by Saagar Written Jun 25, 2008

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    Luggage and bags: A light suitcase is ideal for flights, terrrible for transfersand luggin in snow and mud. Go for a large backpack that can be zipped up and loose straps and belts and be removed/hidden like a cargo bag. Bring a small day pack for excursions, camera etc. you want to have your hands and arms free on Svalbard.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bring one set of nice clothes maximum, and do not overdo it: leave tie and jewellry at home. The only see and be seen occasion are when you are not wrapped up in polar gear is for dinners.

    Lightweight hiking shoes to negotiate gravel, slush, dust and mud during summer.
    Winter boots og heavy hiking boots with a good outer sole grip to handle winter cold and snow/ice.

    Bring wind proof cap, gloves, scarf, buff.

    For every season you should bring long underwear.

    Wind proof for town hiking and ice grotting. For tough weather excursions and mine tours you will be equipped with overalls, cold-weather gear etc from top to toe.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sunscreen, lip balm; it is dry and cold. During late winter and summer, reflection from snow and water is very strong. Sunglasses.
    Bring whatever medicines you need.

    Photo Equipment: Lots and lots - as per your interest. wide angel and telephoto lens helps your nature and landscape photograpy, making snow flats and sea motifs more interesting and selective. Bring binoculars, very useful for watching arctic wildlife, whales, birds, polar bears, seals. bring batteries that you need, do not waste time hunting for such things whan you can enjoy Svalbard.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Depending on your interests and the activities you wish to attend. If you are planning to do hiking or skiing alone or in a self-organised group outide the settlement, bring a heavy-caliber rifle for polar bear protection.

    Miscellaneous: Buy in Longyearbyen: All clothing that you didn't have at home but need here. Long underwear, various Norwegian brands are good bets, hats, caps, buffs, jackets, backpacks, windproofs, anoraks, you name it. Some good deals available. Buy maps, guidebooks and reference books in Longyearbyen.

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  • jarto's Profile Photo

    Packing List

    by jarto Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: It's a good idea to pack lots of warm clothes. Make sure to take your warmest shoes and gloves as you'll need them if you stay out a lot.

    You get all the warm clothes you need if you take organised daytrips with snowscooters or dog sledges. However, pay attention to your feet and wear some warm woolen socks. Pack another pair with you just in case.

    The shops do sell warm clothes so we went to a sports shop there and wanted to buy the warmest gloves they have. The gloves were half a meter long (I'm not kidding), really thick, fluffy and warm.

    Also take with you some slippers as people don't wear shoes inside. Instead, they are left in the lobby.

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