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Expedition Clothing

Layering for comfort

Expeditioner rule of thumb: You can always take it off but you cannot always put it on – particularly if you do not have it with you!

It is important to understand the principle of layering. Layered clothing is the appropriate way to dress for your days in the Arctic. By all accounts, weather in the Arctic is constantly changing and anything can happen at any time. Typically, temperatures may vary between –10 degrees and +10 degrees, as we are travelling during the summer season.

Layering is the concept of wearing multiple layers of clothing when it’s cold and removing items when you’re warm. There are three essential layers: underwear/base layer, insulation, and shell. These can be combined to achieve maximum warmth when needed, or used separately or in different combinations, depending on the temperature and weather conditions.

Layer #1

The first part of a good layering system is your underwear/base layer. This base layer provides you with basic insulation and pulls the moisture away from your skin. Moisture against your skin can cause chills. The type of underwear you need as your first layer in the Arctic is light-to-medium weight thermal top and bottoms made of synthetic fabrics. Wool and wool blend is also suitable. Cotton is a less acceptable fabric as it keeps the moisture next to your skin, instead of wicking it away. We recommend clothing made of synthetic fabrics, which can be purchased in any outdoor store.

Layer #2

Insulating clothing provides additional warmth. There are two categories of fibers available—natural fibers such as wool and down, and synthetic fibers such as fleece. Down is a great insulator, lightweight and extremely warm. This is a wonderful layer for chilly Arctic evenings. Wool is also good and has the added advantage of remaining efficient when wet (unlike down). Synthetics are widely used because they work well when wet, keep you warm, and dry quickly. Fleece is probably the most commonly used synthetic and easy to find in any outdoor store.

Layer #3

You need a water-proof jacket and pants. This outer layer is the final step in insulating you against the cold and wind. These layers are used to combat the elements, and in the Arctic, the predominant element is often wind. Since your first two layers are providing your “warmth” layers, this outer layer does not need to be big and bulky. A good waterproof rain jacket with a hood and pants that are breathable are preferable.

Clothing and Equipment Checklist

It is very important that you are warm, dry and comfortable. It is especially important that you look after your head, hands and feet. The following list of suggested clothing will cover most of your needs. If you have any questions or concerns about what to bring please contact us at the Students on Ice office.

Students on Ice will also be providing passengers with a few items: a t-shirt, a ball-cap, an expedition journal, and two warm expedition items: a wool toque (wool winter hat/beanie) and a down-filled vest. Both expedition clothing items are provided by our partner, Canada Goose, a reputable company known for high-end and high-quality winter gear and apparel.

Open your printable packing list HERE.


The checked baggage allowance on our group flights is ONE piece of baggage with a maximum weight of 44lbs (20kgs). The maximum size of the outside dimensions (L+W+H) cannot not exceed 158cm (62in).  Carry-on baggage can be a maximum weight of 11lbs (5kg). We suggest that you use your daypack (small back pack) for the expedition as your carry-on. Please ensure that your baggage is clearly labeled with your name, phone number and home address before traveling from home. It is also recommended that you identify your baggage with something distinctive so that you can recognize it quickly (eg: secure a coloured strap around it).

Photography – Notes & Tips


Just about any camera will work well in the Arctic, from “point-and-shoot”, to “state-of-the-art” 35mm, to digital and video cameras. Many people have great success with the “point-and-shoot” cameras. They take great people, scenery, and wildlife shots. However, note that the light meters can be thrown off by bright snow and ice.


If you are bringing a 35mm or a higher-end digital camera your lenses should preferably range from wide angle (24 – 28mm) to telephoto (200mm and up). Broad range 24 – 75mm and 80 – 300mm zoom lenses are ideal. Bring lens cleaning cloths or tissues to clean your lens. The salty air can leave a film.

Film and Memory Cards

Bring plenty of extra memory cards and/or flash drive space! People take anywhere from 50 to 5000 photos on their expeditions. You will shoot more images than you expect, so make sure you come prepared! It is a good idea to bring large capacity memory cards and a couple extras. Computers will be available on board to upload photos, so bring one or two USB keys if you have one.


Batteries can fail quickly in cold temperatures. Bring an extra supply of batteries or a battery recharger (as well as an adaptor) for all your camera equipment.

Protecting your Camera Gear

It is a good idea to bring some sort of a protective, waterproof bag or a Pelican case for your camera and accessories. Budget-conscious travelers can improvise with items like heavy-duty garbage bags or zip-lock bags.

Selfie Sticks

Please note that selfie sticks are banned on the Expedition. With professional photographers and videographers on board, we take photos for everyone. To have the best quality photos and videos, we need to keep selfie sticks out of the picture. Please do not bring your selfie stick on the trip.

How to Participate

SOI Expeditions are open to high school and university applicants from around the world. Scholarships are available. Learn more and apply!

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Meet our Educators

A global team of scientists, elders, artists, musicians, historians, and industry leaders who help to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Polar Regions through cross-disciplinary learning.

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Apply for scholarships

The SOI Foundation provides scholarships for each Arctic and Antarctic Expedition. Check out whether there is a scholarship for you!

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Students on Ice is proudly supported by bv02.

This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.

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