How to Dress for the Arctic in 13 Easy Steps

How to keep yourself cozy and warm while exploring the Arctic

Photo illustration by Erik Mace

Paula Froelich—Yes, I know it’s hot out — summer usually is — but not in Greenland. Ever. And it certainly wasn’t anywhere near hot in April, when I went there to film a story for “A Broad Abroad.” Being terrified of the cold and not exactly a “mountain climber”/hike-outdoors-in-the-snow kind of girl (I am much more an après skier than an actual skier), I was concerned. 

(Photo illustration: Erik Mace)

So, I checked with some friends and, thanks to their help, was dressed appropriately. In the end, I may have looked like the Michelin man or the kid from A Christmas Story, but I was warm. And this, my friends, is how you dress for the Arctic:

For a good base layer, start out with some solid long underwear like the Women’s MTF4000 Leggings from Hot Chillys. (Photo: Hot Chillys)

Step 1: Base layer — long underwear 

You can use any kind of long underwear, but I prefer the Hot Chillys brand — it has fleece on the inside and hidden key pockets and Uniqlo. (It’s cheap. And good.)

A pullover like the Women’s La Montaña Zip-T will keep you nice and warm. (Photo: Hot Chillys)

Step 2: Insulating layer — pullover sweater or fleece

I also used Hot Chillys for this.

Related: Iceland, The Most Magical Layover Ever

Keep your toes toasty with some these Icebreaker socks. (Photo: Sierra Trading Post)

Step 3: Sock liners plus wool socks 

I used Icebreaker hike socks. They have support and are made of merino wool. They are a good option, since they wick moisture and keep you dry.

Layer jeans over your long undies. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Step 4: Jeans (or a layer of pants over the base layer; fleece pants work too) 

I used jeans, as they were handy, but fleece is more flexible.

Related: Go Now: The New Seventh Wonder of the World — That’s Empty

ExOfficio’s Calluna Fleece Hoody is just the ticket to keeping warm. (Photo: ExOfficio)

Step 5: Insulating layer, part deux — fleece jacket

I wore an ExOfficio fleece jacket with hood. Bonus: ExOfficio jackets also have the “monkey thumbs” opening in the sleeve so that your hands keep warm. 

Protect your neck with the Icebreaker Flexi Chute. (Photo:

Step 6: Buff for your neck

I used an Icebreaker Flexi Chute — it is merino wool, and if you get warm, you can pull it up over your head and use as a hair band.

You’ll want to get down with this down jacket. (Photo: ExOfficio)

Step 7: Protective layer — down jacket

I wore an ExOfficio light down zip-up jacket.

Windproof, waterproof, and fall-down-proof! (Photo: Canada Goose)

Step 8: Waterproof pants

I love the waterproof windproof pants from Canada Goose. For one thing, they have suspenders, so they won’t fall down and don’t have to be too tight. 

Classic fur-lined Uggs for ultimate insulation. (Photo:Zappos)

Step 9: Snow boots

I wore Uggs.

Related: Traveling in the Footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia in Jordan

Be sure to bring a parka to the arctic party! (Photo: Fjallraven)

Step 10: Final layer — a heavy-duty parka

I used the Fjallraven Kyla parka, which not only is warm but also has a ton of pockets and zip compartments (because there is no purse in the Arctic).

A fur hat will keep your noggin nice and warm. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Step 11: Hat and gloves

I bought these locally — sealskin gloves and a fox-fur hat… Yes. I know. Animal skins! However, please note: In Greenland, hunting is regulated. Every animal that is killed is eaten, and all the parts are used. Every skin has a number, and you know exactly where the animal was killed and what happened to it. This is ethical hunting, with ethical products.

You can never go wrong with some classic aviators. (Photo: Ray-Ban)

Step 12: Sunglasses 

Because snow hurts your eyes! I used my trusty Ray-Ban Aviators.

Crampons slip over your boots to keep you from slipping in the snow. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Step 13: Crampons for boots 

These rubber attachments, which can be slipped on and off, are available at any outdoor store.

For more A Broad Abroad awesomeness, check out Meet the Elf Whisperer of Iceland. Yes, She Sees Elves. Yes, She’s For Real:

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