Outer Banks: Arctic Winglife

Immediate thoughts when someone mentions winging in the Arctic? Bone-aching cold, relentless blizzards, polar bears waiting for you on the shore and year-round thick neoprene, right? Well, wrong – except for the neoprene. And vanlife queen Kari Schibevaag knows this only too well.

Words: Kari Schibevaag
Photos: Kari Schibevaag, Jeanette Alfheim, Oddbjorn Dreier


The mountains are tall and steep, the beaches are covered with white sand and surrounded by crystal-clear water. The mountains are covered with some of the last snow of the season. There are no people around and most of the time you’ll be wing foiling completely alone within this crazy beautiful place. On the water, the wing soars along with the crispy northern wind and you have the breath-taking view all to yourself. This time of year when the tourists are not here yet… I have to say, I love it.

Lofoten is an archipelago of islands with a huge amount of wing foil potential, in every direction you look. When kiteboarding, we always have to figure out where the best spot is based on the conditions, but with wing foiling it’s easy to jump in pretty much anywhere in Lofoten. There are many fjords and open ocean spots where there is always a good chance you’ll find some wind. This is what makes it so nice. If you feel the wind, you just unpack your gear and change into your wetsuit and jump in. Oh, and yes… all year round you need the winter suit. This is the question I get asked the most.

 

I’m very aware of why I am so in love with this place. The mountains, the beaches and all the weather we get. Every day is a surprise. You never know what’s coming next. Even if the forecast says something, you can never trust it. You can plan as much as you like, but in the end, the weather will do what it will do. You just have to put on the right clothes and decide to do it anyway.

“I’m very aware of why I am so in love with this place. The mountains, the beaches and all the weather we get. Every day is a surprise. You never know what’s coming next. Even if the forecast says something, you can never trust it.”

The tourists who visit are in love with the nature and it’s cool to share this place with them.  People ask me when to go, but this is just a question about what you want from the place. We have four seasons, and they are all super nice and all have something special about them. But remember to expect the unexpected.

We’ll get winter storms in the summer or beautiful, quiet days in the winter. It’s always a surprise. Summer has the midnight sun and beautiful colors all night long. At this time of year, you can camp and wingfoil 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all over Lofoten.

Autumn has nice days and there are less people around. It has beautiful colours, and the northern lights dance through the sky. You still have long days, but it is getting darker quickly in the evenings. You can hike, and find berries, and the water temperature is still relatively warm.

In winter, the midday light is like a long sunset. At night, the northern lights put on a magical show. To wing foil in these conditions is just a crazy experience. Normally winter comes with good winds as well as the snow. It is a pretty special feeling to stay in the water and wing foil when the snow is falling around you.

With spring comes longer days and more time back on the water. The colors are a bit brown after the winter, but it is a beautiful and quiet time in Lofoten. In fact, it’s springtime in the pictures you see in this article. The water is cold and it’s important to dress right when you are entering the water.

Returning back to that question I’m asked the most, my winter suit, hood, boots and gloves are always on. If you’ve ever tried to wingfoil in this gear, it’s hard, and you’re gonna get far more tired wingfoiling in all this gear compared to a bikini. But the time spent in the water and the experience of the place is so nice that you will accept and even love it. Actually, when you are in there it’s pretty hot if you have the right gear… It’s just the changing part that can be tough. But that’s why I have a campervan, which takes all the pain out of it!

But really the best thing about Lofoten and the north of Norway is the sheer amount of potential places to wing. You can drive around and find spots on the other side of the mountain you did not know existed and they will be perfect for winging. If you are lucky, you’ll find a secluded lagoon with the perfect breeze. New spots, new views and new experiences. It is what I love about the wing life in the Arctic.

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