Arctic Surfing: Chasing Thrills in Arctic Swells

Text by: Kelsey Begg

Norrona. Arctic Surfing: Chasing Thrills in Arctic Swells

Adventure seekers go to great limits in search of new thrills and the next adrenaline pumping activity because what’s life without a little danger and a side of fear? From skiing down jagged peaks in avalanche-susceptible terrain to swimming with sharks, everyone finds adrenaline in different ways and new ways. When the thrill begins to dwindle, it’s time to amp up the adrenaline factor, like adding sub-zero temperatures to an already radical sport like surfing.

Recently the popularity of Arctic surfing has exploded and brands like Norrøna are recognizing the need for gear that works. While surfing in warm water is exhilarating on its own, surfing in the Arctic adds to the experience. The water is obviously much colder, the scenery is unreal and the challenge to stay warm is faced after every swell but that’s all part of the thrill.

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arctic surfing in norway

What is Arctic Surfing?

As captured in Chris Burkard’s film, Arctic Swell – Surfing the End of the Earth and RC Cone’s short film, The Accord, Arctic surfing is as it sounds, the act of surfing swells in the Arctic. Unlike surfing in the tropical temperatures of Hawaii or Australia, Arctic surfing means throwing on your 6/5 hooded wetsuit, 8mm booties, and 3mm gloves and diving into the bone-chillingly frigid water. The water is icy cold so if you want to last out in the swell, you need all the insulation you can get. 

How to Enjoy Arctic Surfing

If possible, it’s ideal to have a fire burning on the beach, readily warm blankets or clothing or all of the above so you can keep as warm as possible in between sets. If parking is reasonably closeby, having the car running for a few minutes with the heat blasting will also help warm you up but keep in mind the consequences of idling for extended periods of time. A thermos of hot cocoa, soup or tea also keeps you warm from the inside out so don’t forget to bring one along. 

arctic surfing in unstad, norway

Where to Go Arctic Surfing

Whether you live in an ocean village and roll out of bed into your wetsuit or you travel great distances in planes, sailboats and vans, the thrill of catching unreal swells with breathtaking landscapes as your backdrop is priceless. As the popularity of Arctic surfing has bloomed, Arctic surf tours can now be booked for Iceland locations with Arctic Surfers and northern Norway holds some hidden gems. If you plan to do a self-supported tour, it’s is highly recommended that you do extensive research and find a local who knows the area very well and can share any crucial information so that you create a memorable experience safely. 

Lying north of the Arctic Circle is the Lofoten Islands of Norway which is home to the Unstad Arctic Surf School. The town of Unstad used to be a surf destination for extreme surfers but now, even families are dropping in to catch some Arctic swells. This town is also the inspiration for Norrøna’s Arctic surf collection, the Unstad collection, which includes wetsuits, booties, gloves and other surf-inspired apparel. 

Rather than taking the family on a tropical Christmas holiday to Mexico this year, why not head to Norway for some Arctic surfing? Maybe in a few years. But for those adrenaline fanatics who love a good set, Unstad, Norway has waves ideal for beginners during the summer months and for those more experienced, the winter months are sure to provide some Arctic thrills!

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