Polar Exploration Training


Traveling in polar conditions is physical whether it be dog sledding, fishing, hunting, cruising or skiing. The better condition you are in, the easier the trip will be. You should do some kind of physical conditioning prior to the trip.

Those undertaking any major expedition will benefit from joining a program that provides training in snow or similar conditions. If this is not possible you may be able to simulate the conditions like the real explorers do. For example one modern explorer reports swimming underwater as much as possible each day to condition the body to the effects of lactic acid. Another drag around truck tires to simulate dragging a sled. And this is probably the only time you’ll hear it but major expeditions will require gaining weight and body fat, which you may need to survive.

If you’re undertaking a major hiking or skiing expedition tour operators will probably have guests fill out a profile form to find out any physical conditions, past injuries, allergies or medical conditions. They may also like to observe your diving or skiing skills for example before you head out.

Mental Preparation and Endurance

The key to enjoying these trips is mental attitude. If you’re excited about having a unique adventure, you will do well and have a great time. During some trips you might be expected to sleep out in tents or pull heavy sleds or lug packs. Things like this test your mental fortitude as much as your fitness.

Skill Levels

It’s a good idea to have basic cross-country or downhill ski technique and experience for dog sledding, skiing or kite skiing. Some operators may actually need you to provide a list of your previous expeditions/experiences.

Polar Exploration Gear


You will require some serious cold weather gear for polar exploration. Some tour operators will provide highly specialized cold-weather outer layers as they recognize it’s the kind of item people would pay a lot for and not use again. These items include things like cold-weather pac boots, dog-mushing over-suits and over-mitts, top-of-the-line sleeping bags and tents and camping gear. But they will expect you to provide the inner and middle clothing layers. Layered clothing is the key to survival in the poles.

Other operators might assume people that engage in winter activities such as skiing already have most of the things they need. In any case they will provide you with a list of required items. Most will be available from outdoor retailers near you or near the starting location.

In some places you will be able to rent protection (i.e. a gun), camping equipment and snowmobiles. If you are doing your own explorations you might need more specialized items like a sled, ski poles, boots, headlamps, satellite phones and GPS equipment.


Sunblock that does not contain water is advisable because water will freeze the skin. Anti fog goggles are also essential. Don’t forget your camera but remember batteries can freeze in these conditions. Keep your camera or batteries warm by putting them in the sleeping bag with you at night or keeping the batteries in your mitts when you’re not shooting.