Eric Larsen’s Winter Favorites
The pro traveler needs cutting-edge survival gear as he explorers the farthest reaches of the planet. And his favorite place to play might surprise you. (Hint: It’s in the Midwest.)
Polar explorer Eric Larsen's trek to the North Pole in March was one of his toughest expeditions yet. Huge ice formations impeded his progress throughout the journey. “When we were traveling eight or nine hours a day and making less than a mile each time, we realized we wouldn't hit our goal time,” says Larsen. To watch his struggles up close, check out Larsen's self-shot documentary of the experience, which will air as a two-hour special on Animal Planet in 2015.
Next up: an expedition to the southern Patagonia ice pack. “It's one of the largest sheets left on the planet,” says Larsen. “Patagonia is a backdrop to massive ice caps and brutal windy, wet conditions. Plus, you're dealing with mind-numbing expanses of space and time. Luckily, long, boring travel in extreme cold is my forte.”
Favorite Destination: Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota
“I cut my teeth on winter trips in northern Minnesota, so it's easily one of my favorite places on the planet. Traveling lake to lake in the winter is both serene and challenging. It's where I did a lot of training and testing equipment for my first North Pole expedition, and where I faced the coldest day I've ever experienced, close to negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In summer, it's a busy area, but in winter it empties out except for wolves, moose, the northern lights, and lake after lake of icy boreal-forest awesomeness.”
Favorite Gear: Nemo Canon -40 Sleeping Bag
“Several years ago, I tried to talk an old sponsor into making a longer draft tube in their bag to help insulate the face. They thought I was crazy. Looks like I wasn't (for the most part). Nemo has hit a home run with that feature and others in the Canon. On the most recent North Pole expedition, I slept in it every day for 53 days. It's the warmest and most comfortable sleeping bag ever and surprisingly light, too. It says something when you can sleep on ice and always be warm.”