Long-johns and a hat! How to pack for summer-adventures in Greenland

By Verified Expert

Didn’t expect to be needing a fluffy sweater and long-johns for your summer vacation? Great news, my mistakes will now come in handy as I’m here to help you pack the most necessary and unexpected items for your trip to Greenland.

My Greenlandic dream is just around the corner, and so the packing has slowly begun. Fortunately, I have visited Greenland before, so I know what to bring. And soon, so will you.

Woman taking a selfie with snow in the background
Here I am, not feeling cold on The Ice Sheet in August

Dressed to impress… Or at least to stay warm.
The Greenlandic summer offers a confusingly wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. In Sisimiut the temperatures differ from coldest 1-2 °C and warmest 13-14 °C during the summer.

Furthermore, the weather changes incredibly fast in Greenland, so you want to pack clothes that can keep you warm and dry in various weather conditions. Personally, I prefer dressing in layers. 

Here’s how:

Base layer – closest to your body. This layer needs to be breathable and able to regulate your temperature to keep you warm and dry. I prefer a layer of merino wool shirts, e.g. a merino tank-top, a t-shirt or a long-sleeved top. You can get super lightweight pieces, so it won’t fill up much space. I’m packing both merino shirts and pants for those extra cold days, plus it makes out for a great “relaxing evenings in the cabin”-outfit accompanied by woollen socks, of cause.

Mid layer – that cosy warm layer. This layer needs to keep you even warmer and once again I prefer wool. If you have the most awesome fleece-sweater you should pack that as well. On warmer days this layer might be your outer-layer, so I also like to bring a thin down-jacket as mid layer, but that’s more “nice to pack” than “need to pack”.

I will be bringing regular jeans as well as a pair of hiking/outdoorsy pants. Some prefer water resistant trousers for the trip as well.

Outer layer – no rain or wind shall pass. The main feature of this layer is of cause wind- and waterproofness. A good tip before you go, is to wash your jacket with repel-soap, cuz really, you don’t want to get wet in Greenland. 

This video gives you the perfect washing instructions 

Accessories – warm and stylish. An easy way to stay warm in the Greenlandic weather-mood-swings is by bringing a hat. Once again mine will be made of wool, however this time it is made of musk-oxen wool, the warmest and softest wool you can imagine. I will also be packing light gloves, wrist warmers and a buff neck-warmer. And sunglasses of course, don’t forget.

I will be packing trekking boots as well, and even though you might not be going on a hike, you should bring shoes or boots that can support your feet – you don’t want your footwear to be the barrier between you and a great outdoor adventure. 

Obviously, I will also be bringing t-shirts, socks, my toothbrush and all those everyday items you need. Just figured the list would be endless if I had to mention everything.

The last clothing-advise is for going out. Not outside, we got that covered. But bring a dress or a nice shirt. Greenland has beautiful dining-opportunities, and I think it’s nice to enjoy them dressed for the occasion. 

Boat-ride views in Sisimiut
Boat-ride views in Sisimiut. Definitely calls for that sweater and sunglass-look

Sometimes it snows in April…and in May and in June!
…and sometimes it’s just too fogy, rainy or stormy that you might need to stay inside. And you can pack for that as well. 
When I first visited Sisimiut a few years back, a seriously heavy fog came in and didn’t leave for 3 days. This meant staying inside for some time. I got so bored but my hosts where having a great time knitting. So to stop my boredom I learned that as well. So obviously I will be packing my knitting-tools, but if you don’t like knitting (and don’t expect to be learning it on your vacation) you should bring a book, playing cards or whatever lightweight indoor fun you prefer. 

Make room for Greenland…
…in your luggage as well! Because you will want to bring home lots of souvenirs and a handmade tupilak needs some space. So don’t’ pack your suitcase too tight.

Signs in Sisimiut

Now you might be thinking “hey, that sounds like a super cold and potentially wet way to spend my summer”, but don’t worry, once you’re here, experiencing this outstanding nature, you won’t really notice the weather. Unless of course you didn’t follow any of my packing advice. 

Obviously, if you are going on very specific adventures in Greenland such as a very challenging hike, fishing trips, hunting etc. you will need to pack some gear that is customized for your trip… But in that case, you will know what to pack for that.

Stay cool (not cold!) and enjoy your time in Greenland.


Ps. Don’t forget to pack your passport.

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