Svalbard Packing List for an Epic Expedition

The Polar Regions are some of the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Massive icebergs glisten in the bright sun as powerful waves crash against the icy shorelines, creating majestic scenery that voyagers live to capture on camera for lifelong memories.
 
The Svalbard archipelago is one such destination. Located directly between the mainland of Norway and the North Pole itself, the island chain is a renowned archipelago full of incredible wildlife, mind-bending rivers, unforgettable fjords, and incredible icebergs that welcome visitors to the Arctic Circle.
Quark Expeditions guests enjoy a Zodiac cruise in waters of Svalbard

Quark Expeditions guests enjoy a Zodiac cruise in the wind-swept, ice-covered waters of Svalbard. Packing the
right gear and clothing is important. Photo: Acacia Johnson

Travellers who appreciate great polar adventures love to visit the Svalbard archipelago to bear witness to some of these incredible natural features. But to truly immerse yourself and appreciate all that the land has to offer, you need to pack the right gear for the journey. That’s why a Svalbard packing list can help you make the most of your adventure.

Svalbard weather conditions

Since Svalbard is located in the Arctic Ocean, the climate throughout the area is very cold and temperate, even during the warmer times of year. During the summer, the average temperature ranges between 3°C to 7°C, while the winter months average around -23°C. At any time of the year, you’ll need to brace for cold air and even colder winds.
 
That’s why any trip to Svalbard should be made with assistance from an experienced travel adventure team. You’ll typically want to plan an adventure during the summer months of the year, beginning as early as May but running no later than September. This is the ideal time to enjoy all that the Svalbard archipelago has to offer without being overwhelmed by extremely cold weather conditions or rough ocean currents.

Considerations when packing for Svalbard

Your Svalbard packing list will depend on the type of adventure you wish to have. We highly recommend that you book passage on the Spitsbergen Explorer: Wildlife Capital of the Arctic adventure, a 12 day expedition that will take you all across the western half of the archipelago. You’ll arrive in Longyearbyen and explore areas as remote as Moffen, Phippsøya, and the island of Nordaustandlet.
 
You’ll be able to book a number of excursions so you should prepare yourself or with the right gear and equipment to enjoy them. From the hiking treks across the islands to the chilly possibilities of the polar plunge and Zodiac cruising throughout the archipelago, you’ll want to be prepared for your immersive Arctic experiences. 

Essential Svalbard packing list

Weather-proof packs are handy for shore excursions when guests

Weather-proof packs are handy for shore excursions when guests want to carry extra clothing or
to protect camera accessories.

On any polar adventure, there are essential items that you need to bring with you. A trip to this archipelago is no different, and that’s why we have your essential Svalbard packing list assembled to help you best prepare for your voyage.
 
Among the most important items you should bring are:
  • Base layer wool tops and bottoms
  • Mid-layer fleece tops and bottoms
  • Waterproof tops, bottoms, gloves, mitts and extra socks
  • Scarves and other face protection items
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • High resolution camera
  • Weather-proof backpack

Other gear to pack on an expedition to Svalbard

There are also other items you’ll want to bring along on your adventure. For example, waterproof bags and backpacks are excellent ways to keep all of your gear and clothing dry when travelling over the waters in a Zodiac or even kayak, should you choose to embrace that adventure. You can also bring casual clothing so you’re comfortable during the flight to and from Svalbard, and you should consider packing a bathing suit if the polar plunge is one of the items on your To Do List.

The complimentary Quark Parka is designed for all kinds of Arctic weather.

The complimentary Quark Parka is designed for all kinds of Arctic weather. The inner liner can be removed and worn separately as a light jacket on days when the sun is out. Photo: Quark Expeditions

In addition to what you should bring, you should also keep in mind items that you should not worry about packing. After all, you don’t want to lug extra gear around that you don’t actually need during your trip. Quark Expeditions will provide you with a parka (which is yours to keep), as well as the loan of waterproof boots. 

Svalbard wildlife photography packing tips

If wildlife is the lures you to  Svalbard, we recommend you book a passage on the Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears voyage. This 14 day trip begins with a flight from Oslo, Norway, northbound towards the Svalbard archipelago. You’ll land in Longyearbyen and sail throughout Spitsbergen and its surrounding  islands. Throughout the entire journey, our experienced adventurers will do everything possible to ensure you witness the majestic polar bears as its roam the edges of the pack ice in search of food, and other wilderness experiences.
 
You’ll want to pack a high resolution DSLR camera for your journey so that you can capture all of the impressive elements of the Norwegian Arctic in all of their glory. As part of your Svalbard wildlife photography packing tip guide, consider leaving the tripod at home. It’s extra gear that is awkward to carry, and you’ll have more opportunities to capture iconic moments of polar bears in their natural habitats by being more mobile with your shots.
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