Notes for Nordkalottleden / Nordkalottruta / Kalottireitti / Arctic Trail
When I started planning for my hike there was no comprehensive guide available online that I could find, hence I decided to write this up. Some have appeared since, but I am keeping this available.
The route is alternatively referred as Nordkalottruta or Nordkalottleden depending on which country the section in question is in.
Not including the recently (2015 or so) opened Nordkapp - Kautokeino section.
- STF = Svenska Turistforeningen
- DNT = Den Norske Turistforening
Conversion rates as of June 2017.
- 1€ = ~9.8SEK
- 1€ = ~9.5NOK
DNT huts require a key. 100NOK deposit. When starting from North, the closest place for key pickup is customs station in Kilpisjärvi, followed by Abisko. DNT possibly can also mail it internationally.
150-250NOK per night in the huts, more for non-DNT/STF members. There are several methods for paying for the hut stays. This seemed to differ by county or the managing DNT subsection. Generally three methods for payment: bank giro, once time cash withdrawal authorization for DNT, or direct cash payment. The first one seemed to be widely used, whereas withdrawal authorization and cash payment seemed to be in the process of deprecation.
If finishing the hike in Sweden, likely need to return the key by mail. Receiving back your deposit unlikely in this case.
Note for Suomen Latu members: Even though the price lists in the huts generally do not mention Suomen Latu membership as being eligible for discounts, it actually is, so the discounts of STF/DNT membership are also available to you. Confirmed by email with DNT customer service.
STF huts are often staffed (no key needed) and few have resupply options, lodging around 350SEK, 100-150SEK if camping on their yard. Membership of outdoor association (one of the Nordic ones, perhaps Youth Hostelling International also) gives a 100SEK discount. Daytime use (cooking, drying clothes) apparently 60SEK, though I usually was not charged. I generally did not sleep in the huts due to high price for what one receives. On bad weather they are a boon however.
All STF huts along the Kungsleden section allowed card payment whereas cash only outside of it.
Finnish huts are nearly always free to use (though in the vicinity there are often private huts for larger groups). Note that some are meant for daytime use only (no sleeping facilities), but none of these are along the Nordkalottruta.
Many things below unchecked, don't count of them (I will, though).
Primus compatible gas canisters generally available in STF huts with stores. Other hikers sometimes leave their unexhausted canisters in the huts, check for those if you are running short. Norwegian sections of the trail are generally the ones where you may have to be more aware about running out since there are no kiosks for resupplying.
Assuming three uses per day, 30 gram spending a day would give 15 days of use for 450 gram canister.
Full stove takes around 60ml. Expect 100-120ml+ spending a day. 1 litre would give 8 to 10 days of use, if properly windshielded and moderate use.
Remove soot from kettle bottom as it increases time needed to reach boiling point.
Consider carrying the stove separately from pots to avoid contamination.
Expect 12-15 minutes to reach boiling point depending water temperature and wind.
"I've used the Trangia burners for years.Depending on your stove type, a good average to boil 500mls of water from cold on a cold day requires 20ml. meths. I've found their model 25 to be the best,although I generally use my own make of stove.I do like the ability to seal the burner after use when not all the meths. have been burned off."
Below from http://www.diamondspirit.net/adunk/trangia.html
"To determine the fuel efficiency of the Trangia burner, I placed measured amounts of metho in it, lit it, and timed how long it burned for. The results are graphed below:
I then weighed 250 ml of metho, and got a result of 175g. So, a litre of metho weighs about 700g. By my calculations (using the above results and the results from section 1), a litre of metho is enough to boil between 20 and 30 litres of water.
So, if you're on an extended bushwalk, how much fuel will you need to carry ? Lets say you're sharing meals with a friend and you cook a meal each night (2 pots of food + a hot drink), and a cup of coffee for breakfast. (NB: A cup is 250 ml). Lets assume that's equivalent to boiling 3 litres of water per day. Lets also assume you can boil a litre of water with 40ml of fuel (My tests showed this amount of fuel will give you enough time to boil a litre of water. Trangia's documentation is more conservative, stating that 50ml is required). The fuel consumption per day will be about 40ml * 3 = 120 ml. So with 1 litre of fuel between 2 people, you should be able to go away on an 8 day trip.
If you're more conservative, lets say you'll need to boil 4 litres of water a day, and you're going to use 50ml to boil each litre. That means you'll consume 200ml of metho a day, and if you have 1 litre of metho you can go away for 5 days.
Interestingly, if you run the burner with the simmer ring always in place the stove is remarkably fuel efficient. We found this out by accident on a trip many years ago when we borrowed a friend's Trangia but we didn't ask him how to use it. We ended up running the stove for many night's meals with the simmer ring on all the time. Sure, it took a long time to cook dinner, but we used only half the fuel our friend recommended we'd need!
Conclusions: Trangia stoves consume about 32g of fuel to boil a litre of water. On an extended camping trip, you will need to carry about a litre of methylated spirits between 2 people for each week you wish to camp out. A litre of metho weighs about 700g."
I believe the conclusion underestimates fuel consumption. For one person, 1 litre would give 6 days for three meals and three cups of tea (300ml of boiled water) a day.
Towns / supplies / lodging / miscellaneous
Everything below listed approximately in order of arrival when traversing from North to South.
Supply packages recommended as prices are inflated and selection generally rather limited.
Many hikers have recently had problems on their supply boxes getting stuck in customs (apparently Swedish) for indefinite amount of time.
Best resupply options in Kilpisjärvi.
If arriving to trailhead from Alta
Flight (Norwegian airline, Oslo - Alta) arriving at 12:40 local time. Airport bus to downtown at 12:55/13:30 (bus 261/061). Alta tourist info in center (perhaps to leave backpack for shopping).
Pick up Norwegian crowns to pay for using DNT huts.
Bus 202 to Kautokeino, 15:00 airport/15:15 from Storbakken along Altaveien (before centrum), arrives at 17:10.
1st section: Kautokeino - Kilpisjärvi
Suggested arrival to trailhead: bus from Alta, Norway (airport)
Section length approx. 190km (about 25km more if doing Halti mountain sidetour).
Kautokeino has grocery, hotel, campground, cottages. Buy food for at least 9 days (assumes 21km/day).
2nd section: Kilpisjärvi - Abisko
Arrival to trailhead: bus from Rovaniemi, Finland (airport)
- Shopping centre with groceries, a range of outdoor gear, post office, hotel, hostel/campground (North side)
- Buy food for about 9 days
- Most services in Southern side of town. Customs building for key pickup in the North side, 5km towards Norwegian border. Trail begins slightly South from customs, so can take the key when resuming the hike.
- Kilpisjärven Retkeilykeskus, has all the basic services, close to trail but far away from the centre. They lend bicycles to alleviate this.
- Hotel Kilpis, 70€ for two person room
- Haltinmaa Cottages, 48€ for small two person room with shared bath. In 2017, no laundry service, bedsheets cost 10€ extra.
- Hiker friendly accommodation according to website (info from 2008) "As you approach the dam from both South and North you’ll find wooden boards with public information. One of the signs there belong to a guest house. I was told (by another hiker I met) the place is friendly and reasonably priced. You’ll find a phone number and they say they’ll come to pick you up and put you back on the trail when you leave but there’s no public telephone so you’d have to use your own."
Björkliden. West from Abisko, near trail, http://www.bjorkliden.com
- As of 2017, groceries available only in the highend Hotel Fjället, bjorkliden.com, +46 980 641 00
- Davvi Dallu, +46 980 410 84, http://vandrarhembjorkliden.com/, around 480SEK for private room, about half for shared one. Bedsheets cost extra, but they allowed using sleeping pad.
- Train station (Narvik - Kiruna)
Abisko, west side
- Northern starting point of Kungsleden (which Nordkalottleden follows for several days)
- Arrival to trailhead: train from Narvik, Norway (airport)
- Abisko STF Turiststation, info, shop, lodging, modern facilities; expensive in peak season (450SEK for bunk bed, around 100SEK for tent)
- Bus station
- Pick up Swedish crowns here for use in huts and kiosks. I carried 400SEK which was enough to use their drying rooms and to buy snacks along the way, but not much more.
Abisko, east side
- Grocery store (Godisfabriken), open 10:00 to 20:00 every day
- Abisko Guesthouse, near Godisfabriken, 48€/night on peak season according to booking.com
- Abisko Fjällturer, rooms, bunkbeds http://www.abisko.net
- Railway Station
3rd section: Abisko - Sälka (along Kungsleden) - Røysvatn - Ritsem / Vaisaluokta
Approx. 400km of route remaining in total (less for Norwegian end). Small Sami settlements along the way. Some huts on the Swedish side of mountains sell groceries, rough info available in Abisko tourist info or hotel and in this note. Supply package for about 14 days might be advisable with non-critical resupplies from huts.
Possible finishing point Nikkaluokta, trail departs from Nordkalottleden/Kungsleden shortly after the Sälka and crosses Kebnekaise on the Southern side.
Alesjaure, 35km from Abisko. Quoting another hiker: "big store with all a hiker might need for a full ressuply [sic]"
Sälka Fjällstuga, 2-3 days from Abisko, approx. 56km. Quoting another hiker: "nice shop, good enough for a full but limited in choices ressuply. Pasta, rice, powder milk, powder instant potatos, tea, coffe, breakfast cereal, nuts, energy bars, cheese plus many other things I wouldn’t take with me like canned stuff (meat and/or vegetable meals, pineapple, etc.). I spent night 2 out of Abisko in Salka. Had a huge dinner with stuff from the shop and got some additional pasta, milk and instant potatos to complement what I already had."
Alternative: Ritsem side tour
Alternatively, instead of hiking to Vaisaluokta via Nordkalottruta, hike to Ritsem from intersecting path near Røysvatn and cross Akkajaure to return to Nordkalottleden. Total distance approx 158km from Sälka, approx 46km from Røysvatn. It has a full service STF tourist station and daily bus connection to Gällivare.
email@example.com, +46-973420 30
Boat crossing schedule from/to Vaisaluokta (along Nordkalottleden), as of 2017. Price 250SEK, one way.
4th section: Vaisaluokta - Sulitjelma (Norwegian end) / Kvikkjokk (Swedish end)
Trail conjuncts with Padjelantaleden for a considerable part, which is an easy and well maintained trail and very popular with novice/short distance hikers.
Resupply points at:
- Pieskehaure (unconfirmed), approx 42km from Staloluokta
Sulitjelma (Norwegian end of trail)
28km from the intersection of the trail main. Grocery store, lodging, bus connection.
Kvikkjokk (Swedish end of trail)
Boat taxi required to reach Kvikkjokk village from trail. Service available from about mid-May to mid-September. 2 to 3 pickups a day. Cost 200SEK as of 2017 (card accepted). Contact info available on site (including a phone).
STF hotel/fjällstation - 450SEK for dorm bed. 175SEK for camping and use of facilities.
Bus connection to Jokkmokk.