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…

Movin’ On Up

I’m quite certain that Ian mentioned that we’ve recently passed our six months in Nunavut milestone.  It’s kind of strange, considering it feels like we’ve been here for a year and a half, but not in a bad way.  We miss our families greatly, but have had several Skype events with both sides of the family.  Oh, and if anyone is interested in Skyping with us…or any other video chat you might use…please let us know.  We love seeing friends!

So the six month milestone meant a couple of things.  One, our dental plans have kicked in.  Yay!  And two, if we didn’t have the good fortune of subletting from a contractor without an employee to fill the apartment, we would have been homeless.  Or living out of a hotel.  Neither of which are good options living in a city such as Iqaluit.

We wanted to hold back on releasing this exciting news until the ink dried on the lease, but the lease isn’t ready yet.  And since we’ve already seen the unit, and have several pieces of e-mail correspondence confirming it’s ours, we feel we can make the announcement.

We finally have a permanent apartment of our own to rent!  No one will kick us out at a moment’s notice.  No more subletting.  It’s ours!

Yup. After so many years of apartment living, we finally have the top floor!

So, Ian’s already been making preparations by starting to take furniture down, pack items into crates that we have, and assemble new cardboard boxes so we can pack up more.  Best part about the new place?  It’s in the same building!  The implication there?  Well, remember I already live in the same building I work in?  Yup…the door partially obscured by the minivan is the main door to my office.  Sweet!  I may just install that fire pole after all.

Now we just have to move up one floor to the other side of the elevator/stairwell.  Should be a pretty sweet move, and we’re hoping to make it pretty casual.  Still, if anyone up here is interesting in helping out, we wouldn’t turn it down.  And thanks to Missy’s most recent trip down south, we now have some chocolate and cheese for a wicked fondue party once we’ve settled in.

 

Speaking of settling in, Jemaine's already made a bed of one of the moving boxes. Hope that one's packed already. We likely won't get it back anytime soon...

 So in honour of our grand move, I thought I’d analyze a very familiar theme song for us all.  Sing along if you know the words.  And since I’m posting the lyrics for the analysis…you will.  😉

Well we’re movin on up to the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.

Technically true.  We’re sort of on the southwest side right now.  We’re moving to the sort of northeast side.  I’m probably wrong.  Yeah, I know…I’m a geographer so I should probably figure it out.  I just haven’t really attempted to orient myself with the way our building is situated.

Movin on up to the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

A piece of the real estate pie?  Yes please!

Fish don’t fry in the kitchen, beans don’t burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin’ just to get up that hill.

Well, we haven’t fried much fish in the kitchen…though there is a large arctic char in the freezer still.  And we never did fire up the grill on the balcony – didn’t have much faith in the fuel source.  But sure did take a whole lotta tryin…

Now we’re up in the big leagues gettin’ our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it’s you and me baby, there ain’t nothin wrong with that.

Yup yup.  And happy to be here.

Well we’re movin on up to the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up to the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

Or fondue.  🙂

An Early Christmas Present

We have a home!  We are moving into a new apartment in about 10 hours, and while it may still be a temporary residence, it is a home nonetheless.  Things are starting to feel a wee bit more permanent as the days go by.

We have a PO Box now (thanks Jordan!).

We shall soon have a phone number and internet service.  Which is sort of why I’m bringing this up here.  Ian and I will be offline for a few days from home.  I may be able to provide some updates, but since it’s doubtful as we’ll have lots to do, we may not be updating the blog for the next little while.  We have loads of pictures to upload, so hopefully those will hit the Photobucket album before we move so you can all have some new stuff to look at in the meantime.  We hope to be back for Christmas, but just in case we’re not…

We wish all our friends, family and random readers that pop by the happiest of holidays – whatever you celebrate.  Be safe out there – we want to see you all when we get back!