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Cold Weather and Arctic Skills Course - Sweden


Northern lights - P.CowernExcavating quinze in SwedenExpedition goup shot outside quinze



On this Cold Weather course we are providing much more than just an "Arctic Experience" - the emphasis is on education, realistic survival skills and training from an instructor who is permanently based in the Sweden, with many years of Arctic knowledge. The course is also great fun! We believe our course is the most comprehensive Cold weather Arctic skills course on the market and exceptional value for money! Although our new training area is just outside the Arctic Circle we have many of the same conditions found further north. Furthermore improved logistics afford you a better value course (our previous offering was £1200 with similar content). If you are specifically looking for a course or expedition within the Arctic Circle then please see our Arctic Adventurer Expedition.

This cold weather course teaches you survival skills in one of the world's most extreme environments. In winter this region is transformed by thick ice and snow, the polar night is long and temperatures can plummet to -30°C. The region may be challenging but it is also extremely beautiful with incredible landscapes frequently illuminated by the 'northern lights'. It is the home of impressive large mammals such as reindeer, moose, wolverine, and wolves. As with many environments the secret to thriving here is working with the conditions rather than against them.

We will start our survival training from a well equipped accommodation centre in Robertfors area, then move to the field where we will progressively use heated tents and then snow shelters. We have an exciting, vibrant forest site adjacent to a partially frozen river. This beautiful setting leads to frequent sightings of otters, reindeer, moose in the area and also, due to the premium nature of the site a huge amount of skills can be covered in a short time as many of the travel distances associated with arctic courses are reduced, meaning more time training, less time travelling.

Cost and inclusions

795 (You may reserve a place by paying a deposit of 300, with the balance due two calendar months before the course). Group discounts are available - ask us for details.

The price includes transport between Umea Airport and the field site, all accommodation, all food, training, equipment used on the course and Certificate of attendance. It does not include personal kit such as outdoor clothing and sleeping bags, though there will be some hire options available for sleeping systems (bivvy bag, mat and Arctic-rated sleeping bag). Flights are not included.

Bespoke Arctic Training for Professionals

In addition to our core public course we offer a unique service of bespoke and specialised training for professionals working in the arctic and adventurers and atheletes training for Arctic challenges. Here is a recent testimonial from ITOPF - a group that advises on oil spills:

"Leon and Toby both very clearly explained all of the skills and drills on the course, with a great balance of practical hands-on training and talks on equipment and survival tips. Really the ultimate endorsement is that I feel that I can remember all of the key information they delivered during the entire course, which is saying something considering everything we learnt! Leon and Toby are two of the most friendly and approachable chaps we could have hoped to have been training us in the wilderness for a week!

I loved the fact that the practical survival skills we learned on the course were all so much fun that we wanted to practise them non-stop. The Arctic Survival Training was incredibly good fun, and a great way to get to know your team mates at work. The location was ideal - with the perfect balance between remoteness (with blissful silence) but also a ski-able distance from Porjus! The cabin was also perfect for the course - offering a good balance between wilderness living and a cosy shelter for some of the evenings. There was nothing that you could have done to improve on the course in my opinion. It may have been improved by having colder conditions, but obviously that is completely out of anyone's control! It's so difficult to choose the best part of the course since there were so many great elements to it, but I particularly enjoyed selecting and contructing our snow trench, and living out in the trench over the two day period at the end of the course. The Arctic Survival Course offers a great opportunity to learn from two of the most experienced bushcraft and survival trainers in the wildnerness while learning a lot about your own skills and instincts." (Private Winter Arctic Survival Expedition) - A. Hunt (March 2014) Technical Team Manager, The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd.

"Both Leon and Toby are obviously extremely experienced and passionate experts, and did an excellent job of sharing their knowledge and skills. A perfect mix of theory and practical sessions, which worked really well for the experience we were after. A really good balance between remoteness and practicality for getting there (and away if anything had gone wrong). As we had the opportunity to tailor the course to what we expected our requirements to be, I don't think there would be anything to change. We didn't know for certain exactly what we needed to cover beforehand, but in hindsight I think it was spot on and for future groups I think the same format would be ideal. The relaxed approach of the instructors was great as it allowed us to ease into the course and gain confidence as the week went on. A very well-organised and relevant course, I learnt a lot but had a lot of fun too". - Dr Nicola Beer (March 2013) Technical Adviser, The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd.

If bespoke training is of interest please get in touch with us to discuss your requirement

(01687 470415).

Course content

You will learn some key survival skills for the winter Arctic environment with the focus being on hands on experience:

  • Cross country skiing
  • Ice fishing
  • Dog sledding
  • Introduction to snow mobiling
  • Emergency Snow shelters (e.g. snow trench)
  • Use of heated tents
  • Tool use: Axe, knife and saw
  • Fire lighting in the cold using matches and primitive techniques such as sparks and fire by friction
  • Avoidance and management of cold injuries
  • Flora and fauna identification and plant uses
  • Hygiene routines
  • Water acquisition
  • Survival Equipment Selection
  • Emergency Signalling
  • Emergency Aid
  • Correct clothing
  • Snow shoe tour
  • Assessing the snow pack
  • Lecture on Sami (indigenous people) History

These represent a unique range of essential skills that make this course both comprehensive and phenominal value!

N.B. All activities will run at the instructor's discretion, based on local weather conditions at the time and safety constraints.


The Survival training will be led by Toby Cowern, our guest instructor who lives in the Arctic. Wildwood's chief instructor, ecologist, Leon Durbin will also be instructing in some bushcraft techniques on the course.


The course does not require any survival or Arctic experience, and although this is an advantage the course is suitable for beginners.

You must:

  • be over 18 years old;
  • have some outdoor experience (e.g. hill walking, camping, adventure sports, bushcraft etc.)
  • have a reasonable level of physical fitness
  • have a sense of humour!

Client quotes (though a new venue these are comments from our similar previous course):

"This is the first time I've been to the Arctic and I'm already looking forward to going again, on both the (Summer) Nomad & (Winter) Intermediate courses! A great deal of thought, experience & planning has gone into this course, not only to ensure that all the skills necessary to survive in the Arctic are covered and taught in a clear, logical & enjoyable fashion, with students gaining proper, hands-on experience - but also to ensure that unplanned events are accommodated easily (E.g. temporary (?24?-hour) loss of luggage by the airline, atypical temperatures, accident requiring A&E visit). I particularly appreciated the pre-course support, too: Leon & Toby's willingness to give advice & answer queries, on kit & clothing; & Patricia's help with, & booking of, pre- & post-course accommodation.Outdoor, practical sessions complemented nicely by indoor sessions. For me, the course was pitched at the right level, delivered at the right pace & with the right amount of humour! I really liked the transition from the Accommodation Centre (*), through the Cabin (*), to the 24-hour session outdoors (+ extra nights in the snow trench), which took us progressively closer to a situation that we'd likely experience in a genuine survival situation, with the requisite skills being introduced in a logical sequence. The return, on the penultimate day, to the Accommodation Centre, with the shooting & the end-of-course meal, together with dog sledding on the final day, rounded off the course perfectly. I wouldn't make any significant changes to the course content or order (I was going to suggest adding a session on making snow shoes but I've since read that that's on the Intermediate course!) (*) Both the Accommodation Centre & the Cabin were of a standard that exceeded my expectations! The Cabin is just the right distance away from civilisation for it to feel sufficiently wild but not too far away from medical help, should it be needed. Proximity to resources wood, water (river) & food (fish) - also perfect." R. Manning

"For an introductory course there were so many interesting and valuable lessons as to how to make the best use of the resources available enjoyment. It was good to be in a genuine wilderness. I enjoyed all of it (I wasn't convinced about the merits of 'feather sticks') but sleeping outside was a great experience. Very professional and well run." - R. Munro Ferguson

"I feel I have come away not only knowing more about bushcraft and survival in the Arctic, but also more about how the country works and how people live. I found all the info given was clear and concise and we always had opportunity to ask questions or go over something if didn't understand first time around. I never felt like it might have been an inconvenience and nothing was too much trouble. You were never forced to do something you weren't happy with either. A good all round spectrum of subjects was covered. I liked the fact that we had a say what subjects we particularly wanted to do and how far we could take them. Would of liked longer as by end of first week you are just beginning to get into your routines and getting a feel for the environment and then you have to tear yourself away :(( It was set in a very good and beautiful location. Accessible, and close enough to help if required but remote enough to feel that Arctic wilderness experience and I have to say being in the Taiga forest is quite cool :)) Skiing down the frozen river to the cabin is also a great touch. It provides yet another new experience. I thought the dog sledding was a fantastic start to the experience and a real welcome surprise. It breaks people in gently with a genuine Arctic experience. I also loved having the opportunity to sleep outside and how amazing that would be if the Northern lights were on form. The ice fishing was also indeed a great joy, dare I say it but, particularly when we caught fish. Being able to master the Pike scissors was also memorable for me. Although I didn't have the sauna, I did think that was a great idea for the end of the trip teamed with a traditional meal, which was delicious and viewing the Northern lights slide show and photographs. A perfect end to a perfect trip. An all round fantastic experience. I felt I learnt a lot about a lot. Very well organised and I'm sure this will continue to be a very successful course. A very huge thank you. " - L. Pick

"I booked this little excursion about six weeks before the leaving date. Being honest, I just found the website and paid my fare. Being honest, as it came to the final days, I mentioned it to my partner that I did not really know anything about the company etc. She put a bit of doubt in my head thinking that I would get off the flight and there I would stand, for a week, in minus thirty, waiting for a bus to pick me up with a Nigerian swindler drinking Pina Coladas and telling his friends about his new Internet scam. The fact that there were a few referenced to BBC programmes in which Leon was involved with gave me a bit of solace and the fact that there were newspaper articles about it (even though they were Scottish!) Anyway, I arrived, and they arrived, and we went to the Arctic and there we spent a week in a little cabin, with 10-15 people ( I mean 10-15 men) at temperatures down to the thirties. (They told as at the beginning that they never prefix the weather with the word minus as, in the arctic, it is always minus!! In the week that we were there, we mixed lectures, with practical and life skills and through it all, we had a great laugh. It was tough for some of the guys, this sort of thing is not easy. If you have not done it before, making the the leap to surviving in the arctic is a pretty big mental jump. But the support structure was there, as too was the experience and the risk management. We were lucky, we got the best and the worst of the weather and by the end of it, we were spending 24 hours a day, staying in our own little makeshift campsite, comfy with fire & tarp over us. Who would have thought it a week before. By the end of it, we had learned a bit of everything, a bit of camp-craft, a bit of survival, a bit of skiing and a bit about ourselves. And, my partner was happy when I came home with all my fingers and toes". - D. Keenan

For bookings or further information contact us or phone 01687 470415

friction - P.Cowernskiing - P.Cowerndog sledding - Wildwood

All photos on this page are either © Patricia Cowern or Wildwood Bushcraft

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