Iqaluit Dress Guide for n00bs

One of the hardest things to account for when we came up here was the weather. Suzanne had done tons of research but the weather in Iqaluit is something you have to experience in order to really know about it. We simply heard “arctic” and “-30°c” and went right to Le Baron and stocked up on gear that could be used up in Grise Fiord. We experienced -30°c a few times in Waterloo and did not like it in the least. You’ll hear the term “dry cold” all too often when speaking with people who live in the north. It’s a difficult concept to explain to those who have only known “humid cold” all their lives. There’ve been many times I’d post on Facebook delighting about certain sub zero temperatures to the chagrin of my parents and southern friends. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t suddenly developed frost armor since coming to Iqaluit. Being chilled to the bones is not a feeling I enjoy. There are days when it’s so miserably cold here that it makes you question your sanity for staying.

In the end though it all comes down to how you dress for the weather. Most homes are well suited for the northern temperatures so you only really have to concern yourself with how you dress outside more than anything else. You’ll encounter a thousand different tidbits of advice across the Net about how to dress for the cold up here. It’s all based on personal preferences, protection from the elements and duration outside. While it is wise to have gear for extreme weather conditions the truth is you really don’t have to dress much different than you would down south most of the time. If you’re not a fan of the cold in general (a) you should live here and (b) your personal arrangement of clothes will more than likely be increased.

To understand Iqaluit weather you have to be aware of two things:

  • It’s cold. Dry or humid, cold is cold nonetheless
  • Wind means EVERYTHING.

For me, I’m a person who has always preferred being cooler than warmer. I find it easier to make myself warm in cold conditions than it is to cool down with oppressive heat. The fact that I’m a big dude probably plays a big factor in that. I’m built like a young polar bear so it just figures that I’d be more acclimated to the north. The following gear guide is just a reference for how I dress any given day in this city. You’ll notice that wind conditions affect what I wear tremendously. I base my gear selections on the higher side of the numbers listed. People have different body types and tolerances for cold so keep that in mind as well. You also gain a bit of conditioning once you’ve been here for over a year. You’ll know it when you head down south and normally nice weather (like 20c) is unbearably warm for you. Anyway I hope it provides a better understanding of what to expect should you choose to come up here.

The Go To (Basic)-5°c to -14°c (no wind)
Description: Gorgeous day. Typically near the end of winter and end of Sall. Sall is what I call summer here. We really don’t get a hot summer (although as we slip further into a Maritime Climate that can change). I find them to be on the cool side of nice so we have a mix of summer and fall – Sall. Cold enough for no bugs but warm enough to frolic without much layering. The lower end of the spectrum you can wear far less. I can recall being out in just a t-shirt, football jersey and jeans on -5°c days last year. Of course as you get into the double digits I employ a bit more clothing.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), spring jacket. Ball cap or beanie (optional), Runners or hiking boots


The Go To (Extended)-5°c to -14°c (light winds w/wind chill of -19°c or so)
Description: Still a nice day but the winds make the cold a bit more noticeable. It also affects your amount of time outside. For day long excursions you will want to dress in more layers so you can add or remove as your activity level goes up and down. If you’re just doing basic treks then it’s fine to dress lighter.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood, spring or fall jacket, beanie, insulated gloves (optional), hiking or rain boots


The Go To (Deluxe)-15°c to -23°c (no wind)
Description: Very similar to the weather above but the lack of wind makes it very tolerable to be out for much longer. The air is crisp but doesn’t bite and you can feel a tingle in your thighs if you don’t have light pants on and are out for a long time. However if you layer too much you can certainly start overheating with minimal activity. You encounter days like this typically in October, November, early December and the tail end of winter.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner, fall jacket, beanie, insulated gloves, winter boots


The Light Rogue (Basic)-15°c to -23°c (medium winds w/wind chill of -30°c or so)
Description: A lot days in Iqaluit are like this during early and late winter. The wind chill is very noticeable. This is where gentlemen start experiencing Santa beards and moustachsicles and ladies can cut through glass (giggidy). You will have the uncontrollable runny nose no matter what you wear. Your length of time outside dictates how you should layer. Again you do run the possibility of overheating if you layer too much.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis (Thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner, winter jacket, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf (optional depending on blowing snow conditions), insulated winter boots


The Light Rogue (Extended)-24°c to -30°c (light or no winds)
Description: It’s cold but nice. Perfect example of the difference between dry and humid cold. Equivalent (in my opinion) of about -15° or so in the south. If the sun is out it’s gorgeous to just go trooping around or hop on a skidoo. Bear in mind that if you’re snowmobiling treat your wardrobe as if you’re dealing with a serious wind chill because going at moderate to high speeds will generate bitter conditions for exposed skin.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis (w/thermal underwear underneath optional) or snow pants, wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner (optional if wearing just a parka), winter jacket or light parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf (optional depending on blowing snow conditions), insulated winter boots


The Bear (Basic)-24°c to -30°c (medium to strong winds w/wind chill of -45°c or so)
Description: Okay. Here’s where you start respecting and fearing the cold. Once the wind kicks in at these base temperatures it totally changes the playful wardrobe choices. Now your start bundling to prevent as much wind from touching your skin as possible without turning yourself into an oven. Doesn’t matter if you’re making short treks or long, time to start dressing for the north.

Selected Gear: Snow pants (w/thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner (optional if wearing just a light parka), light or heavy parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles (optional)


The Bear (Basic)-30°c and higher (light winds w/wind chill of about -40°c or so)
Description: Once it’s past -30°c in base temperature it’s generally accompanied by SOME kind of wind. Even the slightest winds change the dynamics of the base so much. Not much change in what you should be wearing.

Selected Gear: Snow pants (w/thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner (optional if wearing just a light parka), light or heavy parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles (optional)


The Bear (Ho-Lee-Shit)-30°c and higher (strong winds w/wind chill of holy shit)
Description: No. Seriously. No. Unless you’re stuck outside already there’s no reason you should be on foot for any long periods of time in weather like this. When the wind chill is so cold that Fahrenheit and Celsius don’t matter anymore it’s brutal. People can and have died in weather like this so don’t play around with fate too much. If you have to go out, dress as if you might get lost. Better safe than sorry. These are very real temperature you might encounter on a skidoo so be very prepared.

Selected Gear: Snow pants w/thermal underwear underneath, wool socks (possibly doubled based on footwear), t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner, heavy parka, beanie, polar mitts, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles.


The moral of this post is, yes buying artic clothing and gear is highly advisable but no you probably won’t have to use it ALL the time. As you adapt up here you will develop your own style of layering. To each his (or her) own.

It’s hilarious waking down the street on those brutally cold and windy days and not recognizing your closest friends. Everyone is super bundled and looks the same. We’re all united in the freezing cold. I’m sure it’s a neat analogy on life up here if I chose to dig deeper into it.

Maybe another post…

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Bargains, Traffic and the Great Countdown

Geez. These days are scraping by faster than I like. It’s already Wednesday. No matter though. I’m back once again with a costing edition of the Nunavut updates. We headed to the GTA this past Monday to start our hunt for our outdoor gear. We had priced out some of the apparel a couple weeks ago at a store called Adventure Guide, but Suzanne ended up finding better deals at a wickedly cool outfitter called LeBaron. They have store locations in the GTA  so we figured we’d hit the closer of the two and headed to Mississauga first.

Beware. Here comes the shameless plugging. Their store is insane. If you’re an outdoorsy kinda person this is the place for you. They cover the full gamut from hunting weapons and equipment to outdoor apparel and supplies. They also ship anywhere in the world, except locally (meaning that if you live in an area where they have a store you have to go to the store). We went in with the intention of getting some Expedition style Canada Goose parkas. They came highly recommended by folks who actually live up there and we had tried them on at Adventure Guide so we were pretty much set on what we wanted. Unfortunately available sizes in the Expedition style were lacking so we ended up taking a look at another recommended style called the Resolute. Personally I liked the fit, feel and look of the Resolute more then the Expedition. It’s lighter than the encumbering Snow Mantra style but offers more features then the Expedition (inner & outer pockets, waist tapers, etc). The XXL was far too large for me so I went with an XL. Unfortunately it was the last one left of that size left in black or navy and that size just so happens to be what she wanted as well.  Neither of us were too partial to the attention grabbing red ones available so we were forced to face one another Gladiator style for possession of the last XL.

Just kidding.

Suzanne was actually looking forward to a brown or green parka so she called their other local store to ask if they had any of that style in stock. Thankfully they had quite a variety of colors and sizes at the other store so she asked that they set the brown one aside and we would head to Markham next to pick it up. We signed up with their membership program which gives a 20% discount on everything except the coats (which receive a 10% final sale discount). Either way it’s an awesome deal considering how much all this gear costs so we decided to take advantage of it and purchase some other necessities while we were there.


Suzanne and I tried on some Baffin Impact -100c boots. They’re just about the most moon booty boots I’ve ever seen. You clunk around like Robocop and they add at least another couple inches onto your height. It’s almost like walking in platform shoes. Remarkably though they’re not too heavy so I can’t see getting too worn out having to tromp around in them for extended periods of time. She ended up going for it and snagging a pair up. I on the other hand had fell in love with a pair of -60c Sorel Alpha Pac boots that I scouted at Mark’s Work Wearhouse last week. We were advised to get at least -40c rated boots so these fell well into the target range. Having 100’s would be cool but I think I’ll do just fine with the 60’s. Besides with the 60’s I can make use of my rockin’ wool socks that Nana gave me for Christmas oh so many years ago. It’s as though she knew I’d be needing them. We went with Baffin Polar Mitts for the both of us. Mitts are recommended over fingered gloves primarily because you’re trying to keep your digits as warm as possible and the best way to do that is keeping them close together. She ended up getting plain AuClair glove liners while I went with their HotTips style. We also tacked on Polartec Windstopper Balaclavas (aka face warmers) as well. They rock. Makes you sorta look like an arctic ninja.

After a 20 -25 minute cross town drive to Markham we picked up Suzanne’s jacket and were set to come back home with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately we caught sight of the notorious Ikea sign on the way back and somehow ended up there. An hour later we found ourselves stuck in in Toronto rush hour traffic. Damn you Ikea! For those of you who know about Toronto rush hour traffic, I needn’t say more. However if you don’t know what that means, try to imagine then worst traffic you’ve ever been in… then magnify that by like 100. I swear… that region is like the most congested, convoluted, confusing and frustrating stretch of roads I’ve ever seen. I have no idea how people navigate that zoo on a daily basis. Anyway, rant over. Once the sun was long gone and we were back in the Kitchener region I snagged up my boots. I was lucky enough to have caught them while they were on sale (20% off). Matched with a discount we received from having purchased some thermals the previous week it ended up being a cosmic alignment deal. While it would have been nice to get some pants and goggles as well, finances dictated that we can hold off on that for a bit. Besides the weather isn’t that awful up there just yet according to our inside sources so we can manage without them for the time being. Once the weather takes a turn for the worse then we can get that gear while we’re up there. The word around town is that if you can get your jacket and boots in the South, do it. It’s not so much that it’s super expensive to get them up there (something like maybe $100 more) but the fact that there’s not much of a selection. So if you’re coming up for long term do yourself a favor and get those two key pieces of apparel locally and get the rest (if need be) when you come up.

Let me tell you something, this stuff adds up after a while. Unlike Southern Ontario where you can get away with wearing Gortex jackets and toques, up there it’s a different story. There’s really no option to skimp or go budget on anything so it’s up to you to find the best deals possible. Don’t think in any way, shape or form that we’re trying to flaunt what we got by listing these labels and prices. Truth be told if it wasn’t for the generosity of some family members we wouldn’t have been able to purchase half of this. Our intention is to help others out who have little or no information about the equipment needed for the up there. We were lucky enough to have people who live in the territory (thanks Mark, Andrew & Milissa) who give us first hand information regarding what to and what not to get. We’re simply paying it forward to whoever else may be doing research like we were and looking to make such a trek.

4 more days before the insanity gets cranked up a notch. Can’t wait!

Gear totals:

Resolute Parkas (x2): $1215.00 (before taxes & w/discount)
Baffin Mitts (x2): $95.90 (before taxes & w/discount)
Glove liners (x2): $24.68 (before taxes & w/discount)
Balaclavas (x2): $ 50.32 (before taxes & w/discount)
Baffin -100c rated boots: $136.04 (before taxes & w/discount)
Sorel -60c rated boots: $107.99 (before taxes & w/discounts)
__________________________
Total: $1629.93 (before taxes)
(Roughly $1750 – $1800 with taxes)

When Cats Can Fly

We’ve been doing a lot of gearing up in the past couple of days.  Purchased a lot of items to ensure that we will be able to withstand the extreme frigid conditions that we’re likely to face in the coming months.

But, there were some other pieces of equipment that are very important for us to remember – and those are the cat carriers.  Since Sophie will be staying with my brother until either we get down to Ontario again to bring her back to Nunavut, or someone else is able to bring her up to us, we purchased two carriers for the kittens (who really are no longer kittens).

We had really hoped that they would take to the carriers well – so to prepare them, we’ve been leaving them open in the living room so that they can try them out.

We think they’ve taken to them quite well…don’t you?

Jemaine knocked out

Brit getting comfortable...

Jemaine with his posing arm...

Everything must go!

We were visited by a rep from the moving company on Monday. We gave her a walk-through of the house and let her know what we were taking with us (on the plane) and what we wanted shipped up. In the end she was surprised at how little we had to actually bring (despite the mountains of clutter she bore witness to). We’re allotted something like 6000 lbs (that includes packing materials) but we fell way under that at barely a guesstimated 1400lbs. We were also astonished at how much they’d actually pack themselves. She suggested that we let them do it because then our stuff will be covered under their insurance as opposed to if we packed it up ourselves. We’d only be covered if there was visible damage to the boxes themselves (and even then it would be a minimum) so that was kind of a no-brainer.

With the load of having to do heavy duty packing off our shoulders we were forced to deal with an old but persistent problem – the crap we’re supposed to get rid of. I spent the past couple of weeks boxing, bagging and tagging a good portion of the stuff we’ll be putting into storage. That was the easy part. Seven bags of garbage and four mega loads of recycling later we still have tons of crap to get rid of. Our ultimate plan was to either pitch a good portion of it or bring it down to the local goodwill & second hand stores.

But then I had an idea… albeit a bit late…

Virtual Online Garage Sale

Why give things away or dump them when you can make a buck off them? It’s the North American way. Sure charity and goodwill are good for the soul but it won’t pay the bills or keep us warm up there. There is an online classifieds site I use often to get rid of things locally. It’s called Kijiji. It’s similar to Craigslist in a lot of ways. Since we have so many things to offload and I didn’t feel like making individual ads for each thing I decided to employ my web design know-how to make a bare bones web page with all the  for sale items on and and use Kijiji as our starting referral point. There was a small fee involved with posting a link from there to our site but it was a worthwhile investment. Hopefully we’ll get some bites and get some of this stuff offloaded during Hell Week.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Did you know that if you have stacks and stacks of paper, that it is almost impossible to burn the entire stack in any reasonable amount of time?

Yeah…neither did I.  At least until yesterday, when Ian and I decided that we wouldn’t need anymore shredded paper for packing – and in fact, require none now since the movers will literally come in and pack all of our belongings themselves.  So what to do with all the extra papers that we had to shred for confidentiality reasons?  No question – Ian, the king of campfires built a small fire pit in the backyard over the summer.  I suppose it may have had something to do with the fact that we were both a little jealous of every neighbour in our block having campfires on a weekly basis, despite the fact that I wasn’t sure that it was even allowed in the area.  Regardless, no one has every had any issues with the fire department over the small fires on any of the surrounding properties, so we decided that we would carefully and very safely have a small “camp”fire with our private documents.  And it was wonderful.  But goodness me, if you have lots of paper in your home and are afraid of the fire hazards, just make sure that all the paper is in large piles.  This was the slowest fire I’ve ever seen with so much paper.  Amazing.  I must admit it even felt a little liberating…

Too bad we didn’t have any marshmallows…

8 Days Later…

Can you spot the helper in the picture?

So we’re a little over a week into packing and I’ve hit the wall regarding what to do next. We’re in an interesting conundrum where we want to pack the stuff we’re taking up with us initially, but we don’t want to pack the things that will be shipped up because if we leave that in the hands of the movers, it’s insured by them. I’ve been stuck in the Basement of Doom sorting, chucking and packing for the past 7 days. I was granted a day of release for our anniversary Sunday but for the most part that was my world. The children tried their best to help out in their own special way but that only resulted in the eating of and playing in boxes. I swear… I don’t know what Jemaine’s fascination with eating tape is but that’s apparently his thing. They do help break up the monotony though. I find it amusing how they don’t care about anything down there until I go and start working. Then it’s the bee’s knees.

 

Anyway, at the top of the week the basement looked like a bomb hit it. I was in my own personal 20′ x 10′ post apocalyptic wasteland. I evaded booby traps, solved riddles, slayed some beasts and eventually got the basement sorted…

Not everything is as it seems...

I know. It doesn’t look like anything has been done, but wait! Through the magic wonders of Photoshop I shall reveal to you how much was actually done…

We're actually not keeping much.

Behold. Everything that isn’t highlighted is either getting sold, tossed or given away leaving us with not much to fuss over. Even the stuff that’s highlighted has be to sub sorted into what we’re bringing (be it shipping or taking on the plane) so in the end I think we’re in good shape so far. Mind you it’s just the basement junk. The bedroom, kitchen, living room and storage room is another story and brings me back to my initial quandary. I may dip into the kitchen today and arrange a care package of cookware, utensils and dishes for our initial journey up and let the movers do the rest. Maybe I’ll start sorting my tools in the storage room as well.

Bah… too much to ponder. I’ll play it by ear for today. I need the boss to make some final decisions on a lot of stuff so we can move forward with some more packing. Maybe I’ll start cooking up our supply list. Lord knows we’re gonna need it…

Papers, pApErS, PAPERS!

Holy crap man. Isn’t it amazing how much stuff you find when you’re trying to move? Suzanne is a hoarder of important documents. Bills, pay stubs, notices, medical records… if it’s on paper it’s been saved for the past 7 years. So this weekend was spent sifting through papers. With some pizza and a shredder on hand we took to the task of shredding up the better portion of a decade worth of documents…

There’s a method to my madness though. I’m a seasoned vet when it comes to moving so I’ve been using this handy little tactic whenever we have to pack dedicates. Use the shreddings as padding and filler in the boxes. Works out great. Lord knows we have tons of it. While I don’t expect us to be bringing that many fragile objects up, my recent debacle with UPS has made me consider using it for everything and anything we’re bringing up.

On a side note though I’m quite happy with our progress. I disassembled my universal gym and broke down our Ikea bookshelf over the weekend as well. The weights aren’t coming and we’re still debating if we should bring the bookshelf. We have a LOT of reading material that’s coming with us and will need something to hold it but this is all dependent on if we’re getting a furnished place or not. If not then it’s coming. If so then we’ll chuck it in storage. I also find it disturbing that I managed to condense almost my entire wardrobe into one skinny dresser…

Okay so it doesn’t factor in my button-up shirts, suit and jeans but for the most part I’m about as light as I can possibly go. Mind you this includes spring, summer, fall and winter clothes… well maybe not Nunavut winter clothes. Southern Ontario clothing is more accurate. ;p

I’m pretty sure I’ll probably trim this down even further once d-day draws closer. I’ve never been a slave to fashion so parting with clothes is NOT a painstaking process for me. 😀