Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Eric Larsen
Image by Sam Bricker.

Eric Larsen

Polar adventurer, expedition guide

Posted in adventurer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Eric Larsen, and I'm a polar adventurer and expedition guide. I've spent the past 20 years traveling in some of the most remote and extreme environments on the planet and have completed more polar expeditions than any other American in history. Included in that list are the first ever summer expedition to the North Pole as well as a world record expedition to the South Pole, North Pole and top of Mt. Everest all within a 365-day period.

In May of 2014, my team mate, Ryan Waters and I set the American unsupported North Pole expedition 'speed' record, traveling from northern Ellesmere Island to the Geographic North Pole in 53 days. Called Last North, this expedition may quite possibly be the last of its kind in history to reach the North Pole and was featured in a self-shot documentary on Animal Planet in December 2015. Ryan and I also completed a first ascent of the 6,000 meter peak Jabou Ri in the Rolwaling region of Nepal.

I've done a couple of bicycle expeditions in Antarctica, was a dog musher back in the day and get into the mountains every now and again on various climbing expeditions around the world. At one point in my life I was a back country ranger in Alaska and a white water guide in Colorado.

I consider myself a story teller more than anything, and my ultimate goal is to connect people to the last great frozen wildernesses on the planet and show them how they are changing. My current no shower record is 72 days.

What hardware do you use?

My expeditions are very gear intensive and I rely heavily on my equipment for my safety as well as survival. Equally important to me is to 'document' my adventures in real time so I carry a lot of electronics as well.


DeLorme inReach Explorer - a two way satellite communication GPS device, SOS beacon and tracking device. I can even use it to send out tweets! It's easily one of my most important pieces of gear.

Enerplex Jumpr Stack 6 battery and Kickr IV solar panel - a flexible, super-durable, and lightweight 6.5 watt portable solar charger, powerful enough to charge mobile electronics at the same rate as a wall outlet.

Citizen watch - on my adventures, we adhere to a very strict schedule to maximize our travel time. Having a reliable watch is paramount and with Citizen's eco-drive, I don't even need batteries! I use the Promaster Altichron which combines Eco-Drive technology with an altimeter and electronic compass. It's got a light-weight titanium dial which is also important because weight is always a factor!

Sony Action Cam - I've used every single POV cam on the market and I feel that this has the best quality, user interface and overall usability. Much of my Animal Planet TV special 'Melting: Last Race to the Pole' was filmed with a Sony Action Cam.

Trek Farley 9.8 - I recently returned from guiding a 'last degree' Fat Bike expedition to the South Pole. Fat bike technology has evolved by leaps and bounds over the past few years and the Farley is leading the pack, as far as I'm concerned. On a Fat Bike expedition, weight is everything and the Farley 9.8 is a feather that floats on the snow!

Expedition Gear

MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes - Snowshoes spread our weight out on thin ice and provide the maneuverability and traction that skis can't. I like the Lightning Ascent because it offers a lot of traction. The snowshoes' two cross beams are positioned perfectly underfoot and the burly crampons give me the stability I need while clawing my way north. Strapping my feet into these is like engaging four-wheel drive.

MSR XGK EX stove - This is the most bomber stove ever made. Simply put, the XGK always works. It's never given me any problems, and I've never had to clean it on an expedition. It cranks the BTUs, has sturdy legs and solid pot supports. It's also totally field-repairable (if a problem were to suddenly occur). It sounds like a jet engine, but that only helps our team dynamics - Ryan doesn't have to listen to my bad jokes in the tent.

Granite Gear Lutsen pack - A great 'all around' pack for the backcountry or anything else you can throw at it (or in it for that matter). It's super adjustable and has just the right amount of features and clean lines that make for an overall comfortable 'carry'.

Stanley - Insulated flasks. Hot water. Hot soup. Even at 40 below. Any questions?

Madshus Glittertind skis - My go-to expedition skis!

UCO Stormproof Matches - In such extreme environments, at some point, everything is going to be difficult. Starting our stoves can mean the difference between life and death. UCO matches are exactly what they say - storm-proof!

And what software?

Anything from Helly Hansen - I've been using Helly Hansen gear on my expeditions for several years now. Their base layer is easily the best on the market today and they're outer layers are both tough and light. They also make some killer insulated clothing that integrates sustainably sourced down from Allied Feather and Down.

Therm-A-Rest - sleeping bags, sleeping pads (and more). I use a variety of sleeping bags and pads depending on the adventure and season. Therm-A-Rest has me covered figuratively and literally.

ExOfficio sports mesh underwear - In 2014, I wore a single pair for 55 days straight during my 2014 North Pole expedition. If that's not a testimonial, then I don't know what is.

Wigwam Ice Sock - Warm feet. Always.

What would be your dream setup?

Most of my expeditions are long suffer-fests where gear and comfort are at a minimum, so my dream is always to have a comfortable base camp set up. The MSR Hubba tent with Therm-A-Rest treo chairs, a table... in some remote area of the Himalayas, Baffin Island or Svalabard. Each day we'd take off on another adventure - skis, snowshoes, fat bike, climbing gear and A LOT of camera gear!