Despite the fact that going to Greenland has always been a dream of mine, I’ve never actually planned on going there. Unlike Iceland, it’s not a midway point of travel from America to Europe, and it’s so incredibly remote that getting there would be expensive, and I never thought I’d be able to justify the expense. Extreme E’s Arctic X Prix provided the perfect excuse to attend — but then I came up against another problem. I had no idea what to pack.
Extreme E provided a pretty comprehensive list of items, but the main recommendation I read was: layer up. Temperatures range from the high 30s to the mid-60s, but it can feel colder or hotter depending on the sun or if it’s raining, or if it’s windy. So, if you wear a few layers, you’ll probably be prepared for anything.
My main problem? All my cool-weather layers are up in Canada because I thought I’d have no use for them in Texas. That meant just about everything I’d need to pack would be things that I’d need to buy, and I am not currently in the mood to be spending a lot of money.
Instead, I tried to get economical. I decided I’d bring my athletic leggings and a few sweaters as my outerwear, but Extreme E recommended we bring long underwear as well. I nabbed two pairs of merino wool pants, plus three merino wool t-shirts. I tried to justify the price with the fact that I also got free pairs of merino wool socks with everything I bought, which meant I didn’t have to buy anything else, but it only helped so much.
For outerwear, I packed a pair of my mom’s hiking boots that have already been serving me well on race car trips, since my own high-quality ice-friendly boots are packed in the back of a storage unit in San Antonio. I bought a cute hat and a thin pair of gloves with those sticky finger patches that still let you use your phone. And I also bought a mid-thickness winter coat that promised to be water resistant and warm.
That coat was my biggest expense; I justified the $200 price tag with the fact that I don’t have any winter coats, even in Canada, and that this coat is cute, functional, and high quality. I may not get tons of use out of it in Texas, but it’s one of those “bring it everywhere else” kind of jackets that I can keep for the rest of my life.
That coat also did not arrive before my trip. When I ordered it online, I did so with more than enough time for it to arrive. Unfortunately, I didn’t foresee five days of delays, so by the time it arrived at my house, I’d already landed in London. I then had to find an outdoorsy store to buy a new one, which was also expensive but which would have to do the job.
Overall, it was pretty standard stuff, but because I’d be heading to England afterward, I knew I’d need a second wardrobe, since most of my layers were not going to be London-friendly. I ended up vacuum sealing all my clothes into two separate bags: one for London, one for Greenland. That way, I could fit everything in a smaller bag but still bring the shit I wanted.
The only strange ask? My own cutlery and dishes. Extreme E would be providing meals, but they asked us to bring our own plate, cup, bowl, knife, spoon, and fork, which we would be asked to use for every meal and which we could wash at designated washing stations, along with a refillable water bottle. I did not learn I’d have to bring these things until the morning I was set to depart, which set me off on a frantic search for my mom’s old ceramic picnic set, which was the only thing I could think of that wouldn’t break in my luggage. So far, everything has survived the trip.
For anyone else heading out in the summer, I’d recommend a few things. You’ll need a plug converter. You’ll also want to bring sunscreen and, for certain months of the summer, mosquito spray. We didn’t have an issue with the mosquitos in late August, but I’ve heard they can be absolutely brutal in June and July.
The most important thing? A sleep mask. In late August, it isn’t as much of a total necessity as it would be in the earlier summer months, when the sun never actually goes down. But there’s still a definite glow in the sky late at night, so if you’re a light sleeper, the sleep mask goes a long way.