One of the biggest questions we had while planning our trip to Svalbard was “what do we pack?” Svalbard is located so far north that it’s easy to assume that it will be ice-cold all year round. Good news! That’s not the case, at least not during the summer months. Even so, we packed an assortment of lightweight, warm clothes and threw in our heavy winter coats for good luck. In this Svalbard packing list, find out what we actually used, what never got touched, and the one thing we really wished we had!
Summer Weather in Svalbard
If you look at Svalbard on a globe you get a sense of how far north it is. And you would think that it could be quite cold here, even in the summer months.
The larger island of Spitsbergen, where Longyearbyen is located, receives the warm Atlantic current. This current helps to moderate the temperatures on Svalbard. Sure, it can get downright frosty in the wintertime, but during the summer months, it can be rather comfortable.
Summer in Svalbard can be surprisingly warm. Daily temperatures can be quite balmy (given its arctic location), ranging from 3°C to 8°C (36°F to 47°F). Add in the midnight sun, and the temperatures do not change much over the course of the day, since the sun never sets.
We spent four days in Svalbard at the end of June. In Longyearbyen, the average temperature hovered right around 4°C (40°F). It rained the day we left and we had snow showers on our hike up Hiorthfjellet.
If you will be in Svalbard during the summer months, you can expect chilly temperatures with a chance of rain.
Svalbard Packing List
Here is our summer Svalbard packing list.
Clothing (per person)
- 2 pairs of hiking pants (Tyler had a pair of jeans)
- 1 wool base layer
- 2 long-sleeved shirts
- 1 fleece
- 1 rain jacket
- 1 wool hat
- 1 pair of thin gloves
- 1 pair of thick gloves (never used them)
- 1 heavy coat (only used once)
- 1 pair of pajamas
- wool socks
For the most part, we wore our hiking pants with a long-sleeved shirt, a rain jacket and/or a fleece, and a pair of light gloves, and felt very comfortable walking around Longyearbyen.
The only time we wore our heavy coats was during the cruise to Pyramiden. And even then, we were still a little bit cold. It’s a big item to pack and we only used it once but I am very glad we had our heavy coats.
We never used the base layer for our legs or our thick gloves.
We all wore Merrell waterproof hiking shoes. The waterproof feature is important, especially if you plan to do any hiking. The ground can be very wet and muddy from the melting snow, so your shoes need to be waterproof in order to keep your feet dry.
On our hike up Hiorthfjellet, we walked through snow that was almost up to our knees in places, so our feet got drenched, even with waterproof shoes. A pair of gaiters would be a good idea if you plan to do this hike or something similar.
The beginning of the hike up Hiorthfjellet. Longyearbyen is in the background.
- Binoculars – polar bear spotting!
- Hiking poles
- Travel umbrella
- Power adapters
- Travel Power strip
- Back up hard drive
- Hydro Flask Water bottle
- Laundry kit: clothesline, detergent, and universal drain stopper
- Kind Energy bars – perfect for snacking
Sunglasses are a must. And guess what, with that midnight sun, you may even need them at 1 am, if you’re up that late!
A camera is the most important thing on this list, if you ask me. And it’s always a good idea to back up your photos on a back up hard drive.
We just started using the Hydro Flask water bottles and we are big fans!! In environmentally friendly Norway and Svalbard, hotels and restaurants will gladly refill your water bottles for you. And yes, the water is safe to drink.
To learn more about our photography gear, we have an in-depth post: Travel Photography Gear Guide
Oh, that Midnight Sun!
It was here in Svalbard where we experienced the midnight sun for the first time. At first, it’s really cool. At midnight, sunlight is streaming in through your windows. And then you try to go to sleep. It feels more like you are trying to take a nap, not go to bed.
You would think that hotels would be prepared for this and provide blackout curtains. Nope. We stayed in 2 hotels in Svalbard and 7 hotels as we road tripped through northern Norway, and only 1 hotel provided blackout curtains (our hotel in Tromso).
I had a terrible time sleeping. Actually, all four of us had a terrible time sleeping.
When it looks like midday, all day and all night long, your body never really gets those cues to get sleepy. It’s the strangest thing. I would eventually fall asleep but it was hard to stay asleep with the brightness in our hotel rooms.
So, the one thing I REALLY wished we packed, but didn’t, was a sleeping mask. Do yourself a favor and put this at the top of your list! 🙂
Have fun planning your trip to Svalbard. It’s an awesome place and one of our new favorite spots in the world. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. Cheers!
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