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Polar Husky A to Z




The first thing the explorers do when they get into the tent at night, is to hang up to dry all the stuff they have been wearing.

Animals of the Arctic can survive because of their heavy coats of fur or thick layers of fat, but humans do not have natural protection. Inuit people living in the Arctic regions along the coastline of Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia traditionally use sealskin, caribou or polar bear fur to keep warm during the long cold winters.

The women are very skilled at preparing the hides and sewing the clothing for their families. Two layers of caribou fur - an inner layer against the skin and an outer layer that faces the cold air - can keep a hunter warm in the most extreme conditions - even an Inuit hunter who has to lie on the ice for hours waiting for a seal to appear.

What do you think is the most important thing to wear when it is COLD? Find the answer below...

On their feet our explorers wear something very similar to what the natives make; called MUKLUKS (try to say that fast 10 times..). Why are they so warm!? Well, the bottoms are made of moose hide with durable, flexible rubber sole. This allows the foot to move (every time you take a step the foot actually bends) - increasing your blood flow so your feet are toasty warm no matter the temperature. Also since it is hide, the boots breathe, allowing "sweat" to escape so your feet stay dry, an important part of staying warm. Finally, they are less than half the weight of traditional boots like Sorels.

But, traditional clothing would be far too warm for the team to wear because the team members move a lot, whereas if you were hunting for seal lying on the ice for hours it would be appropriate. The team members ski, run, chop ice, move dog teams and sleds over pressure ridges so they would get overheated if they wore thick fur clothing. Instead our team has a special modern layering system of clothing.

Layering means wearing multiple layers of clothes when it is cold and removing them when you warm up. It is also important to remember not to overdress. This will cause you to perspire, bringing about wet clothing, and you become chilled faster. There are three essential layers:

  1. Underwear
  2. Insulation
  3. Shell

These three can be combined to achieve the amount of warmth when needed either for inactive or cold periods, or used separately depending on the temperature, weather conditions and activity level.

The first layer has to be a material that wicks away moisture from the body. Tight fitting underwear made from polypropylene or similar material works well.

Layer 2 is the insulating layer and is usually fleece or wool. Fleece also wicks away moisture and contrary to wool, it dries quickly when wet. (Layer 1 + 2 = Inner layer)

Layer 3 is the outer/shell (outer layer) which protects from wind and snow. Gore-Tex, sopplex or similar material is very well suited for this. Even in extreme cold it is very durable and windproof. In these conditions perspiration will condense on the inside of the jacket stopping the evaporation process. All you need to do is brush off the ice to restore it.


  1. 70% of your body heat is lost through your head. Once your head is exposed, and cools off to a certain degree, your body's natural reaction is to "shut down" blood flow to your extremities; hands and feet. In other words: Put on your headgear!
  2. Body heat does not come from the outside. But from the inside. It is your blood flow that keeps you warm. If you are cold you have to increase the heat production from the inside = increase your blood flow. Clothing is simply just an insulating factor!
  3. Think of your body as a car.. Gas and oil. Gas is food, oil is a liquid. Without enough food to burn you become cold. Without adequate amounts of liquid you simply seize up! Sounds simple, but as everything else in the wilderness, it is more extreme. When it is cold it does not seem natural to drink, as when it is very hot & humid, though it is actually even more important.

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