Surviving the Arctic for Idiots

By: Jessica Kamikaze

I’ve been to the Arctic. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Jessica, you are so incredibly tough to brave such a perilous wasteland of extreme temperatures!” To you, I say: Yes. I am. Or, you may be thinking, “Whatever, it probably wasn’t even winter time and she could wear her stupid dresses the whole time.” To you, I say: Shut up, you big dummy! It was early MARCH and it was between -30  and -40 degrees the whole time and I had to wear PANTS every single day!! Today, friends, I will tell you how to outfit yourself for an Arctic adventure.


I will not insult you by telling you that north of the Arctic Circle it’s cold for most of the year. You are perfectly capable of googling the average temperature for any given month. However, unless you’re spending entire days outside in the dead of winter, you don’t have to fear for your life or adorable little limbs. For your super cute Arctic explorer outfit I recommend that you splurge on boots and a jacket (I borrowed both from a more outdoorsy friend). Add some inexpensive snow pants (I know you can get snow pants woven from Teflon and meteors and the blood of brave Arctic explorers, but I was ok in regular, no-name puffy pants). Slip on some fleece gloves with a pair of those waterproof padded mittens on top. I topped my ensemble off with a pink toque and a wooly yellow scarf.

Just for reference, in my outfit I walked to and from work every day (20 minutes) and did a three hour tundra hike one day (by the end I was cold, but not freezing). Also, the kids at the local college were wearing skate shoes, jeans and basic snowboarding jackets – not recommended for non-locals, but my point is that you’re not going to die.

Everyone told me that food would be really expensive in the North; so expensive that you need to bring your own. That is a little misleading. Really expensive things include junk food, pop and frozen prepared foods. Fruits, vegetables and fresh meats are more expensive than home, but it depends on the season and the variety you want. If you’re not a total drama queen, you can find affordable food items. If you’re a fantastic and creative chef extraordinaire, like me, you will have no problem throwing together a pizza night for you and all your companions! Toilet paper is expensive, though. Bring toilet paper.

Also, bring indoor shoes – I recommend fuzzy slippers in the shape of your favourite animal or cartoon character. Wearing winter boots inside is not allowed, but if you’re still in a public place like a school or a health centre, you will want something on your feet.

There’s so much more I could tell you, but I will save it for another post. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks for looking and feeling delightful on your Arctic expedition!

Written by Ross French