One of the mainstay activities of an Arctic cruise is the hike. Guides usually offer them at varying levels of difficulty, anything from pleasant coastline strolls to rigorous mountainside ascents.

Whichever way your preferences lean, here are five tips for getting the most out of an Arctic trek.

1) Layers Are Your Friend

You might be tempted to throw on a single bulky coat and call it good. Packing on the layers, however, is actually much better for two reasons:

First, it’s far easier to regulate your body temperature with layers. With a large coat, your options are essentially zipped or unzipped. And if you take the thing off, you’ll probably end up carrying it around, as most coats made for Arctic weather don’t fit well into the average backpack.

Second, the layers have little pockets of air between them. These pockets will warm up with your body heat and add extra insulation. However, in the case of a bulky jacket, these little pockets simply don’t exist, and your body heat will eventually find a way to escape.

Added bonus: It’s way easier to share layers than it is to share bulky items with someone suffering from the cold.

2) Don’t Wander Away from Your Guide

Don’t Wander Away from Your Guide - Tips for Hiking the Arctic

Don’t Wander Away from Your Guide – Tips for Hiking the Arctic

Arctic cruises will provide you with pro guides armed with rifles in case of a polar bear sighting. Stay within sight of these guides. Polar bear attacks are rare but they do happen, and when you’re in the Arctic you’re just lunch on two legs as far as Ursus maritimus is concerned.

3) Choose the Right Hike for Your Fitness Level

While we’d never want to deny somebody the chance to challenge themselves, you should choose a level of hike that matches your physical ability. Don’t let people talk you into walks that you’re not up for. It’s your vacation. You chose which activities will make you the happiest.

Once you’re up in the Arctic, medical facilities are hours (possibly days) away. Injuries or major medical incidents could potentially require a full day’s worth of transportation. Cruise ships do have medical bays, but they’re not intended to handle the big stuff.

4) Keep Food and Drink Close

Although the temperature can actually be quite pleasant during the Arctic summers (around the freezing mark), there is always the chance of a dip that results in frozen food and water. Keep your water and energy bars close to your body, so your heat will keep them in a thawed and consumable state.

5) Prepare for Sun

Prepare for Sun - Tips for Hiking the Arctic

Prepare for Sun – Tips for Hiking the Arctic

It may seem counterintuitive in such a cold environment, but you can get sunburned quite easily from light bouncing off the ice and snow. Always pack sunscreen and sunglasses.

A Little Know-How Equals a Lot of Fun

By no means are hikes on Arctic cruises hard-core affairs requiring an assortment of specialized resources. They’re mainly meant for fun and exploration. Still, you are going to be trekking in wild and pathless territory, so a little preparation can go a long way in adding to your enjoyment.

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