Many readers may wonder what the clothing kit for an team of Arctic rowers might look like. The environment on the North West Passage is very windy and cold with the temperature of arctic waters being just a hair above freezing – survival in them is defined by minutes not hours. Our rowing outfit has to be warm, water and windproof to combat the elements while still being breathable enough to deal with the moisture generated from our hard physical labour. This is no easy requirement and is the reason why we’ve gone with a very special outfit uniquely suited to the conditions.

Our inner layers consist of heavy wool socks on the feet and a combination of MEC underwear and fleece on both top and bottom. The idea here is to have the underwear whisk away the moisture from the skin and the fleece to provide insulation. Over this we slip ourselves into arguably the most important piece of clothing we have: our one-piece Ocean Rodeo drysuits made locally in Victoria, BC. With fully integrated sock system, the suit only has gaskets on wrists and neck, the neck gasket being removable when additional ventilation is required. I couldn’t imagine undertaking a cold water expedition without such a piece of gear.

We protect our feet with either a pair of MEC neoprene Moque booties – typically when we’re in the water towing – or insulated rubber boots when rowing. On our hands we don MEC Humboldt neoprene gloves and a neoprene Noque toque. We round out our rowing kit with a pair of Native Eyewear polarized sunglasses to cut the glare of the water.

When resting in the cabin we have an assortment of warmer items including an MEC down hoodie and additional fleeces, socks, hats and underwear to keep things cozy.

Our sleeping bags are our final defence against the cold and we’ve chosen the MEC Phoenix Hybrid -20C for the job. This is a mix of 40% down and 60% synthetic fill giving a perfect balance of weight and water robustness that this mix provides. To fully combat the moisture that builds up in our cabin we slip our sleeping bags into a Helsport sleeping bag cover that is waterproof on the underside and water resistant – breathable on the top. Helsport bag liners add additional warmth and comfort to the mix.

We aren’t carrying much us on this adventure but the things we do have are carefully considered, robust and effective.