Eric Larsen lives for extreme adventures. His past excursions include fat tire biking across Antarctica, traversing the Arctic Ocean from Northern Ellesmere Island to the North Pole and most recently, an expedition in Norway. Larsen wrote a book about his close to 500 mile journey across the melting Arctic Ocean called, On Thin Ice. Larsen partnered with Ryan Waters to document and take photos during this intense trip. The team used skis, snowshoes and even swam to get across the melting seas. They each packed 320 pounds of gear for the expedition, and we had to know what that included.
Here are just a few pieces of gear Larsen packs on his intense treks — specifically for the coldest of cold places. For his North Pole trek specifically, he packed over 66 different items, and this is just a smattering of what he brought.
Eric Larsen’s Gear
This backcountry-specific ski is built to help you pull sleds behind you. The edges are solid steel, and the narrowness of the design helps to carve your tracks or stay on someone else’s. Roald Amundsen was an explorer like Larsen and was the first person to reach both the South and North pole. It’s no wonder Larsen reaches for these skis.
MSR Lightning Ascent 25-Inch Snowshoes
Tackle anything the land throws at you with these ultralight snowshoes. The dual-component posilock AT bindings are incredibly secure and durable. Technical terrain is no match for these shoes thanks to steel crossmembers and the adaptable modular flotation tails. You can go uphill and downhill without a concern.
MSR Responder Shovel
A packable snow shovel is necessary for emergency situations. Larsen’s choice is this hard-anodized aluminum shovel complete with an ergonomic handle. There’s no time to worry about a sore back in the middle of a frigid situation. While the shovel has a slightly smaller blade than other MSR options, the serrated edge cracks at the ice and packed snow to help you get to where you need to go.
MSR XGK EX Stove
Larsen makes sure to pack two of these high-powered stoves from MSR. The built-for-expeditions XGK EX stove works with white gas, kerosene, diesel, jet fuel, aviation gas and unleaded auto gas, providing you with lots of options for all scenarios. Beyond being multifaceted with its spark, it’ll boil water in just 2.8 minutes. Cooking is easy with a 1.5-liter MSR pot, which is compatible with the stove.
For such a long excursion — Larsen’s North Pole journey was 49 days — you’re going to need a solid sleeping pad. The RidgeRest Solar comes along to aid in comfort. This pad is doused with an aluminized coating to help radiate body heat back to the sleeper, making it warmer than previous models, yet simultaneously lighter at just 538 grams.
Helly Hansen Dry 3/4 Pant
With flatlock stitching and lightweight fabric, these Capri-like leggings won’t leave any abrasions on your body, which is essential when you’re being active in cold temperatures. The shorter length of these makes them great for layering with heavy-duty socks and boots.
Bergans Arctic Expedition Jacket
If there’s one jacket you picture wearing to the Arctic, this is it. The bright color-blocked design means you’ll be seen for miles in case there’s anyone else out there. The three-layers of Dermizax fabric mean you’re protected from wind and water. No winter jacket is complete without underarm zippers, and this one comes through. While the jacket isn’t form-fitting, you need it to be long and slightly boxy due to all the other layers you’re putting on first.
Zeal Optics Slate Goggles
When wind speeds are generally between nine and 13 miles per hour (at minimum), and up to 56 miles per hour in severe conditions, you can’t just rely on sunglasses. Goggles are the best way to insulate the skin around your eyes and keep your sight line. These goggles feature anti-fog lenses with plenty of range for your peripheral vision. The frames are impact resistant so if you happen to slip and hit something or something smacks you in the face, you’re protected.
Suunto MC-2 World Balanced Compass
A compass is an old-school necessity for any expedition. This one doesn’t need any batteries, is simple to use and has a clean design.