Fjällräven Polar has always held a mystical allure, a dreamlike adventure that seemed beyond reach since I first learned of it many years ago. Little did I know, I would find myself participating in a mini-version of this epic journey. Riding approximately 100 km, about one third of the main event, it still felt like a complete immersion, an experience etched into memory for a lifetime.

The Fjällräven Polar is a grueling 300 km dog sledding expedition across Arctic Scandinavia, an annual event where thousands apply, but only 20 are chosen. Participants have the opportunity to master the essential skills of driving a dog sled through the unforgiving wilderness—across barren tundra, frozen lakes, and mountain forests, enduring temperatures plummeting below minus 30 degrees Celsius.

Fjällräven's mission to inspire people to embrace nature and believe in their potential as Arctic explorers holds true. Firstly, there's the wonder of venturing into the wilderness, reconnecting with nature amidst the absence of phone signals and urban noise. Instead of green pastures, you're surrounded by nature blanketed in white snow. Secondly, driving a dog sled isn't as daunting as it may seem. Despite the bitter cold, Fjällräven provided all the necessary gear to keep participants warm and dry throughout the expedition.

Even for this condensed 3-day, 2-night version of the event, everything was meticulously organized. We gathered at Stockholm airport and flew to Kiruna in the morning. Upon arrival at the welcome center, we received briefings and changed into our gear. Without delay, we embarked on a 4-hour dog sled journey! The first night, we pitched our tents on the snow—an entirely new experience for me. The second day was filled with a lengthy dog sled ride, about 7 hours, ending at a picturesque cabin. However, it wasn't quite the end; we still had to sled back to the welcome center the next day.

Let's talk about the dogs. Each of us was paired with five Alaskan Huskies, trained to run fast and eager to hit the trail once harnessed. We fed them, petted them, and assisted in harnessing them. Watching them bury their heads in the snow and bark in unison was a sight to behold.

Though I've engaged in high-intensity activities like hiking and mountaineering, driving the sled required a different kind of attention. While flat terrain doesn't demand much, navigating bumpy roads calls for careful braking and pushing uphill. Personally, I found downhill runs and turns exhilarating, feeling the rush of speed and adrenaline.

I am not sure if we are lucky or not, but it certainly wasn't as cold as I had anticipated. Just a week prior, temperatures plummeted to minus 20 degrees. I was looking forward to experiencing that extreme chill, especially since we had prepared so thoroughly. However, in my excitement, I forgot to cover my nose with the neck warmer and ended up catching a bit of a cold after hours of breathing in the freezing wind. Despite that setback, I still managed to partake in the thrilling activity of ice water dipping, which was an absolute blast.

Overall, it’s an unforgettable experience, an adventure like no other.

May 07, 2024