What to Pack for Hiking in Greenland

Photo: Mads Pihl

We get a lot questions about hiking in Greenland, and a lot of them revolve around the appropriate equipment to take, and rightfully so. Although the summer has the best weather of any time of year, the weather when hiking in Greenland can be unpredictable.  To that end, we have put together our finest knowledge about hiking in Greenland and listed the equipment that you will need. Without further ado, *drum roll please*…

Backpack/ Daypack

When you carry a certain amount of weight over a certain distance, how you carry that weight becomes important. It’s important to have a backpack that is well padded and with a solid frame. Make sure that you take the time to adjust it to your body and pack it in the right way: the heaviest things should be close to the spine and work your way outwards with lighter things.

Hiking boots

The ground when hiking in Greenland can be rough and uneven. We recommend hiking boots that are semi-rigid and waterproof with a GORE TEX or similar waterproof membrane. The way can have many obstacles, and having  some good ankle support is important too. 

Hiking pants (hard/soft shell)

A good strong pair of hiking pants (trousers for the Brits out there) will stand you in good stead; they are wind resistant and quick drying an therefore ideal for any outdoor activity. It's never a bad idea to take hardshell (non-flexible) pants when hiking in Greenland, you never know when you might get an extended downpour out on the trail.

Base Layer

Having a skin tight base layer underneath all your other clothing is a great idea. Merino wool base layers are the best, but there are other types too. This goes for the top and bottom, as in "long johns". Always a good idea.


Because it can be quite hot in the sun, and then suudenly the sun disappears behind a cloud and the temperature drops a lot, a midlayer which sits between your base layer and your outer shell is a great removable layer which you can shed when you get too hot on the trail. Sometimes, they have a spindrift hood which hugs your head and is windproof in the body. 


An outer shell will keep off wind, water and snow. The outer shell doesn't  usually have any insulative properties since it is mostly worn when active. Make sure it has a hood to protect your head.

What to Wear on a Glacier Walk in Iceland
Photo: Mountain Equipment

Waterproof hardshell

Insulation layer

You may be warm on the trail, but as soon as you stop for a break, or for the day, the wind and cold will affect you quickly and you will lose warmth fast. Having a packable down or primaloft (synthetic down) insulation layer to deploy when you are idle is your surest way to keep the cold out.

GPS/Compass and map

OK, this one is not an essential for hiking in Greenland, but it’s actually really fun. It’s great to be able to see exactly where you have been, mark waypoints and get basic technical information about your trip like altitude gain, air pressure, etc. Of course, if you are going on a serious expedition (like the Greenland Ice Cap) then GPS is essential, but the guide would have that so you wouldn’t need it.  

Taking a compass and map out with you on the trail is a necessity, especially for self-guided tours

Be careful not to keep the compass near anything large, metallic or magnetic, and a protective sleeve for the map is nice since it will stop the map form get chewed up pretty fast. 

Expedition Duffel

Duffel bags are great for just putting a lot of stuff in one place, and it’s practical because they pack together nicely. Use the duffel to “decant” the items you need for shorter hikes into your daypack. 


It’s difficult to overstate the importance of taking a camera out with you. It’s essential for recording those memories, although it’s important to know when to put it down and just take it all in. Sunrise and sunset will be the best time to use it, and if you are hiking in Greenland in summer, the midnight sun will furnish some amazing photo ops!


Oft overlooked, keeping a small pair of travel binoculars with an 8x or 10x magnification gives you a whole new perspective of some of those epic vistas that Greenland is famous for. Even at ground level, whipping out the binoculars over the Ilulissat Icefjord, especially at sunset, is really something special. 

Gloves, socks and hats

Essential items: consider wool, synthetic or some mixture of the two. For the gloves, you could have a thin inner bit and an outer shell mit. 

Did we miss anything? Let us know!

This list could go on and on, especially if we were to include all the small items that you might take with you. However, the point of this little roundup for hiking in Greenland was to help you get the big essentials right; the things that will make a big difference to your time on the trail, and your trip in general. Did we miss anything out that you feel is absolutely essential? Get in touch with us and let us know! Equally, navigate to our page for a longer equipment list for all those little bits and pieces

Enjoying the blog? Subscribe!

We hope you are enjoying the Greenland blog. If you are, you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter where we send you a roundup of our blog posts, travel tips, advice and special offers.

Subscribe to the blog

You Might Also Like: