You've booked a winter getaway to Scandinavia. You can’t wait to see the Northern Lights, explore the wilderness on a snowmobile and get up-close and personal with huskies but now it’s time to get ready. Packing for such a far-flung adventure is no easy task. What should you pack? How cold will it be? Luckily, we are on hand to help. We’ve put together a handy guide to get you ready for your winter adventure…
Choose something that has insulation, ventilation and is weather-resistant. Gore-Tex material is ideal and a down-filled jacket is highly recommended – it’ll keep you warm while having the added benefit of being exceptionally light to pack.
Waterproof trousers are lightweight and fold into nothing. Keep a pair in your rucksack and they may just come in handy if a snow shower hits.
In the coldest of climates, having a base layer of clothing (or two) is crucial for keeping in your body warmth.
A great winter holiday investment – waterproof and good grip are essential qualities and Gore-Tex is a good choice of material. Make sure to break them in before you arrive at your destination – the last thing that you want is discomfort while you’re out there enjoying yourself. Removable ice grips are also worth an investment to save you from slipping on those icy city streets that you will be likely to come across in any Scandinavian city. Tromso in Norway can be particularly slippery come winter but don’t let that put you off, stick on your ice grips and you will be good to go.
Toes get chilly quickly, so good socks are a must – a thermal rating of (four or five) is needed for sub-zero temperatures.
While it's actually a myth that you lose more than 40% of your body heat through your head, it is true that if your head is cold, your body will soon get cold too. A hat that is lined for that extra layer of warmth and covers your ears is ideal.
An essential piece of kit for protecting your extremities. Light, breathable and waterproof is the way to go. Mittens are a good call; they tend to be warmer and can be easily layered up. Thinner gloves that are designed to allow you to use mobile phones would be a good idea as a base layer. Look for a thermal rating of four or five if travelling in sub-zero climes.
No, you’re not a mistaken, that heading really does say swimwear! The Scandinavians love their saunas, hot tubs and thermal pools, especially in the winter, and you don't want to miss out if you've forgotten your bathers. Flip-flops to go to and from any water will also save the inside of your boots from getting wet (and uncomfortable!).
If you want share your adventures when you get home, your phone’s camera just won’t do it justice. Invest in a good quality DSLR or mirrorless camera to capture the true beauty of the Scandinavian scenery. A GoPro is ideal for all of those adventures on the move. But remember to purchase the necessary accessories for it too: a tripod, selfie-stick and chest/head-strap are the most handy.
Technology has a terrible habit of dying when exposed to extreme temperatures so, whenever you’re cold, remember that your phone’s battery will be dying faster than usual. Keep a portable charger handy to make sure that you are always able to bring it back to life.
Don’t get left in the dark when on a search for the Northern Lights. A handy pocket or head torch will be a reliable source of light on even the darkest of nights.
In case you haven’t yet noticed, practicality tends to take precedence over style when visiting Scandinavia in winter. A rucksack will be an invaluable accessory on any day trips in order to store all of those extra layers. Plus, you’ll need somewhere to put your camera when on the move for those countless photo opportunities. Invest in a rain cover to ensure that all your valuables are protected if you get caught in a snow shower.
For skin that isn’t used to sub-degree temperatures, packing a heavy-duty moisturiser is highly recommended. Apply approximately an hour before heading outside for the best level of protection, and again afterwards once you’ve gotten home and showered.
While there won’t be much sunlight, ultraviolet (UV) light increases 4 to 5% for every 1,000 feet you ascend, so you'll want to protect your skin, especially if you're up in the mountains. Factor 50+ is best – there are no sun tan worries to bring into the equation here.
UV light reflects four times more off snow, so you’ll want to protect your eyes. Just don't wear them when you're watching the Northern Lights!
Enjoying the sights of the Scandinavia – even in winter – shouldn't be uncomfortable. The essentials we recommend will keep you warm down to -30ºC. Just be smart with your materials, pile on the layers and you'll stay snug in the snow.
Now that you’re all set, take a look at our expert guide on how to photograph the Northern Lights...