Clothing for Svalbard
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    Clothing for Svalbard

    What should I wear in the Arctic?

    Svalbard is located far north of the Arctic Circle and therefore has a cool to cold climate all year round, with an average temperature of -7°C. In addition, there are sometimes strong winds and precipitation such as snow or rain. Accordingly, you should prepare yourself well in terms of clothing and wrap up warmly. But don't worry. True to the motto "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes", here we show you which clothes should definitely end up in your suitcase for your Svalbard adventure.

    Basic recommendations: The onion principle

    Since temperatures on Svalbard can be around freezing point even in summer and the weather can change quickly, you should use the onion principle. This means several thinner layers of clothing on top of each other. This has two decisive advantages: Firstly, there is more space between the layers of clothing for air, which acts as a heat insulator. This ensures that you are generally warmer than if you only wear a few thick layers. On the other hand, you can combine several layers in any way you like, so you can take off one layer if you get too warm or add another when it's cold.

    The decisive factor with layers - and also generally with clothing for Svalbard - is not the brand or the manufacturer, but the material. Wool is particularly suitable for the inner layers. It keeps you warm and wicks away moisture well. Alternatively, fleece is also suitable. The outer layer should be wind- and waterproof to withstand rain, snow and wind.

    In arctic temperatures, the hands, feet and face are particularly vulnerable. Therefore, it is important to cover them sufficiently and keep them warm. The onion principle is also useful here. For the feet, it should be one to several layers of woollen socks + warm, waterproof footwear. For the hands, you can also use two layers of gloves - first thinner, then thicker. This also has the advantage that if you want to take a photo or do other things where thick gloves are impractical, your hands will still be protected by the thin gloves. Put a warm hat on your head and ideally a tube scarf - also called a buff - around your neck. You can simply pull this over your face if necessary. Alternatively, you can wear a balaclava.

    The sun on Svalbard is only visible between March and November, but when it comes out, the reflection on snow and ice can quickly cause sunburn or even snow blindness. So pack a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen for protection.

    These basic recommendations apply to both winter and summer on Svalbard. How the clothing differs for the different seasons is explained in the following sections.

    What to wear in winter on Svalbard

    In Winter, temperatures on Svalbard can vary greatly, reaching a maximum of 5 °C and a minimum of -35 °C. This means that you will need several layers of warm clothing. But don't worry, you don't have to be equipped like an arctic explorer. For activities such as snowscooter or dog sledding tours, where you are more exposed to the weather, you will also be provided with special equipment that will definitely not make you cold.

    Accordingly, you only need to equip yourself for the trails in the city or for snow hikes, if you want to do them. For the first layer, start with thermal underwear (wool, if possible), then thicker sports or fleece trousers, and a thick jumper (wool or fleece). Finally, a thick, warm jacket (down, for example) + ski or rain trousers, woollen socks and winter shoes on your feet and one or two pairs of warm gloves for your fingers. Add a hat and a tube scarf and you are well equipped for the winter on Svalbard. If you are worried that this is not enough, you can add another layer of thermal underwear or a thin jumper. For a hike, an outdoor jacket is recommended, as well as clothing that you can move comfortably in and, of course, hiking boots for lower temperatures.

    Tip: Pack a hiking bag in which you can stow clothes that you have too much or too little of, if necessary.

    What to pack for the Arctic summer

    Summer on Svalbard is warmer than winter, but with temperatures between -5 and 17 °C it is not comparable to European summer. This means that you should stick to the onion principle and combine several thin layers of wool or fleece. This way you can react quickly and easily to changing weather conditions. In summer, too, your outermost layer should be wind- and waterproof - even if it doesn't necessarily have to be a thick down jacket. As a guideline, you can use what you would wear at home for outdoor activities in autumn: Sturdy shoes, outdoor jacket, hiking trousers, tube scarf and suitable headgear.

    What do I do if I have forgotten something at home?

    Don't panic, there are plenty of well-stocked outdoor shops in Longyearbyen where you can find everything your Arctic heart desires. The fact that clothing is tax-free means that it is not much more expensive than in other places. So you can also stock up on wool socks or other equipment on the spot.

    These clothes are ready and waiting for you when you join one of our tours.

    As different special equipment is needed depending on the activity on Svalbard, we provide this free of charge for guests who have booked a tour with us. This relieves the burden on our guests' luggage when they arrive in Svalbard and ensures that they are ideally equipped for all weather conditions. Depending on which tour you have booked with us, you will receive different equipment.

    Snowscooter and dog sled tours:

    For snowscooter and dog sled tours you need especially warm clothing. For this reason, we provide you with an ultra-warm thermal suit with extra thick boots, gloves and a balaclava. In extreme temperatures, a special cold mask is added. A helmet and ski goggles also ensure good visibility and protection.

    Snow walks:

    Depending on the snow and ice conditions, you will either be provided with snowshoes or spikes or grödel, which you attach to your hiking boots for the snow hike.

    Ship expedition:

    Dry feet are essential on our ship expedition with the SV Meander. Therefore, as a guest on this tour, you will be provided with rubber boots. For other ship tours, rubber boots can be rented from us.


    In summary, there are two things that are important when it comes to clothing: the material and the onion principle. It is best to work with thin layers of wool and combine them with an outer layer that is wind and water resistant. Keep your hands, feet and face warm. For extreme weather conditions on tours, we will provide you with additional special equipment.