Photo: Daan van Lierop
Fjord Tours Articles / 11 Nov 2019

How to plan for a glacier hike in Norway

Out of all the exciting things to do in Norway, perhaps the most widely known activity is glacier hiking. This is because Norway is located far enough North that it contains hundreds of spectacular glaciers, including Jostedalsbreen, which is the largest glacier in mainland Europe.

In addition to offering some truly spectacular glacier hiking in Norway, these giant ice mountains also allow people to participate in a variety of other fun-filled activities, such as summer skiing.

6 Foto Folgefonna Langrennscamp.jpg
Photo: Summer ski at Folgefonna Glacier - Folgefonna Langrennscamp

With all of the exciting opportunities being offered by glaciers, it is no surprise that seeing one is on many people's bucket lists. But before people begin to book their round trips to Norway, they should first learn how to properly plan for a glacier hike so that they do not get caught off guard when they arrive at their glacier of choice. Here is everything that you will need in order to ensure that you are properly prepared for your life-changing glacier hike in Norway.

Photo: Ruben Briksdal

Stay Within Your Skill Level

It can be tempting to want to participate in some of the tougher hikes throughout the Norway glaciers because they often offer the best views at the top. However, getting onto a trail that is far above your skill level is only going to put your wellbeing at risk.

There are plenty of sources where visitors can find detailed information about every major glacier hike available. These will have accurate information regarding the type of terrain involved in the hike, the elevation it reaches, the length of time that it should take to complete the walk.

It is important to never be more ambitious than what your skill level permits. So if you do not live a particularly active lifestyle and have not gone on a hike in several years, then it is likely not the best idea to choose a hike that is rated as being difficult. It is always a good idea to start with a lower rating and work your way up from there. 

Photo: Thomas T. Kleiven / VisitNorway.com

Bring Layers of Clothing

Depending on what time of the year you visit Norway, you could likely be facing freezing temperatures. That is why it is so important that visitors make sure to check the weather forecast beforehand and pack clothes that are going to be capable of keeping them warm during their glacier hike. Even if you happen to travel to Norway outside of the winter season, there is still a chance that you could face some potentially cold weather if you happen to go on a glacier hike that has a high altitude. That is why it is recommended that everyone wear a minimum of three layers of clothing when participating in glacier hiking in Norway.

The first layer that you should be wearing is called a base layer and is meant to be able to keep the skin free of any excess moisture in order to help with insulation. This means that you should pick a piece of clothing that covers as much of your body as possible and is made out of a fast-drying material or at least any other material besides cotton. From there, you should then put on an insulation layer, which can slightly change depending on what season it is. A thin sweater should be good enough for the warmer seasons, while a thicker jacket might be needed during the cold winter temperatures. You also might want to consider having a layer insulated softshell pants as well. Whatever you end up choosing, it is important that you make sure that it is not too heavy because excessively heavy clothing will end up causing additional fatigue and will likely cause more perspiration as well.

The third and final layer that should be worn is the shell layer, which is mostly meant to protect the other layers from any external factors. Therefore, the clothes that should be worn on the outside are ones that are able to effectively deal with rain, snow, and wind. As long as it is made up of breathable material and not a basic plastic raincoat, then you should be fine on your hike

DSC 0171 4089906 Foto Briksdal Adventure
Photo: Briksdalsbre glacier - Briksdalsbre Adventure

Inform Others of Your Plans

It is important that before you go off on the hike, that you first notify someone else about where you are going, when you are going, and when you should be back. This will give other people an idea of how long you should be gone on a hike and when to start worrying if you have not come back yet.

Most hikes are well marked and completely safe. However, there is no way of knowing when disaster might strike, which is why it is always a good idea to inform others of your plans or even purchase a personal locator beacon before going off hiking.

Photo: Thomas Rasmus Skaug / VisitNorway.com

Bring a Fully Charged Camera or Phone

The last thing anyone wants to have to deal with is putting in all of the time and effort to get to the top of the glacier only to discover that they forgot their camera back at one of the hotels in Oslo or that they did remember to bring it but it only has a small percentage of battery left.

There are a seemingly endless amount of spectacular views along most of the hiking trails in Norway. Therefore, the inability to take a bunch of photos of the surrounding nature to show to friends and family back home will be a crushing blow. That is why it is so important that you make sure to charge your camera or phone the night before and then bring it along with you during your glacier hike the next day so that you can properly document the beauty of your adventure.

By following all of these tips, you should be fully prepared to handle any glacier hiking adventure that you decide to do in Norway, check the glacier hikes by Fjord Tours HERE