Dogsled patrolling with Sirius in -40°C

Dogsled patrolling with Sirius in -40°C

Founded in 1950, the dogsled patrol is a small Danish special unit attached to the Navy, guarding the area of Northeast Greenland. Its purpose is to enforce Danish sovereignty and monitor the 16.000 km of uninhabited coastline. These patrols are carried out by 12 men ("fupper"), with each tour of duty lasting 2 years, and the only break from this tough, but rewarding duty being a dental examination in Iceland.

Written by: Jens Bonde former Sirius Patrol

I worked in the wilds of north-eastern Greenland for over 3 years in total, both in summer and winter. In the beautiful but unforgiving Arctic climate, suitable clothes can literally mean the difference between life and death. 

Nature has the answer

Over the course of my stay in Northeast Greenland, I experimented with different combinations of outfits in order to discover the perfect match. The one thing I have always been sure of is that the inner and mid-layers needed to be woollen, whether the outer layer is Goretex, cotton or down.

During a typical day’s 30 km trip, your body’s heat regulation is pushed to its absolute limit. With morning temperatures often dropping as low as -40°C, the penetrating cold poses a constant danger. Fortunately, as in many things, nature has supplied the answer, with wool as an inner and mid-layer, my body is effectively insulated from the biting conditions.

Insulation is only half the battle

Once I’ve got the sled moving, perspiration caused by exertion can prove as dangerous as the artic conditions themselves. Sometimes however, it cannot be avoided, especially when you have to go in front of the dogs and make a track in the meter-high snow to allow us to continue our journey. Again, wool is the ideal material for the task, not only does it allow your body to ‘breathe’, effectively evaporating sweat, but wool, unlike most materials, still exerts and insulating effect even when wet.

Another reason that my choice of material is wool, is that even if people do not get a shower for up to three months and the clothes are not washed, the odor is not a big issue when wearing wool.

Back in Denmark

Of course, wool isn’t only for Arctic explorers and Danish sled patrolmen. The unparalleled warmth, comfort and practicality make it the ideal fabric for everyday use too. A good-quality woollen garment will both keep you warm, and allow your body to breathe, keeping you comfortable whatever the conditions. 

Written by: Jens Bonde, former Sirius Patrol