Winter travel packing list: what to wear in cold weather?

by Hélène

Of all the trips I have made, Finnish Lapland is one of the first destinations where the temperatures were so cold. And in this type of extreme conditions, it’s important to organize and prepare well in advance. With the right equipment, you’ll be able to wander outdoors without any worries, even at -30 degrees celsius! This article is therefore valid for a trip to Lapland, but not only… You can also use this travel packing list as an inspiration for trips to other destinations such as Canada or Iceland, where weather conditions can be quite unusual.

Please note: this article only reflects my own opinion, I’m not a “cold weather” expert. I’m only sharing what worked for me during my trip in Finnish Lapland.

Is it a good idea to invest in cold weather clothing?

It all depends on you, your budget and whether you really want to invest in a complete equipment.

Before you start your travel packing list, ask yourself the following questions: will you use these clothes again later? Don’t you already have two/three pieces in your closet that you can use instead of buying new ones?

I personally already had a complete ski outfit at home (gloves, jacket, pants, socks…) that I re-used for my trip to Lapland. So I mainly bought thermal underwear and waterproof boots. I didn’t buy a special “extreme cold weather” jacket because it’s a huge investment that I wasn’t ready to make at the moment.

You should also know that in Finnish Lapland, most hotels/providers offer to equip you from head to toe (jacket, trousers, shoes etc.), so only bring the essentials with you 🙂

Thermal underwear: an essential to cope with the cold.

If there’s one thing I understood during my trip to Lapland, it’s the power of thermal underwear. In fact, it’s mainly what helped me stay warm even when it was -25 degrees celsius outside.

Before I left, I invested in HeatTech Extra Warm and Ultra Warm thermal underwear from Uniqlo. For 12 days of travel, I packed 4 leggings, 1 pair of pants, 4 long-sleeved t-shirts and 6 pairs of thermal socks.

Count between 15 and 25 € per item of clothing.

I can only recommend this line, as they are the only thermal underwear I bought for this trip. Not only is it affordable, but really effective against the cold! I recommend it 100%.

And if you can afford it, I can recommend merino wool underwear. It’s not cheap, but it’s an investment that will last you many years.

Be careful : avoid cotton clothing or underwear. This material is not suitable for cold weather because it makes you sweat, which creates moisture and can therefore make you feel cold faster.

For your feet:

Feet and hands are the first parts to suffer from the cold. Protecting them is therefore essential for survival in extreme temperatures. That’s why it’s very important to get the right items!

Shoes:

Be sure to wear good shoes, waterproof and able to withstand the cold. I strongly recommend the shoes from Sorel (the Caribou line), but also those from Kimberfeel and Bionica. Remember to choose one or two sizes above your normal size, because you will probably have to wear thick socks.

Socks:

In addition to shoes, you’ll need good socks. Thick, warm pairs are recommended. As an example in Lapland, I wore at least 3 pairs of socks: a first thermal layer + merino wool to avoid humidity, and then a classic pair of socks.

lapland

For your hands:

To protect your hands from the cold in the most effective way possible, it’s best to wear mittens. In fact, if your fingers are together in the same space, they will generate more heat.

As I personally don’t like this type of gloves, I opted for under-gloves, then my heated gloves on top (handy to take pictures without freezing my hands). Oh yes, you’re not dreaming: heated gloves! Mine come from Thermic, a French brand specialized in heating equipment. They are MY favorite gloves, I love them so much that I use them very often in the winter! Not only did I bring them with me to Lapland, but they are also my faithful companions on the ski slopes for example.

 

For your head:

Hats and beanies:

A hat is a must to protect your head, ideally lined, windproof with wool padding on the inside. The beanies from Barts are the ones I preferred to wear during this stay, but you can also look for other brands such as Asos, Décathlon etc.

Scarves and neck warmers:

Something also really important: don’t neglect your neck! A neck warmer and/or a thick scarf are enough, but absolutely necessary against the cold. I brought the scarves that I usually wear in France during the winter, and it did the trick for my 12 days stay in Lapland. I also enjoyed having my neck warmers, especially this one from Heat Holders which is very soft and keeps me super warm.

Note: while not sexy at all, the hood can be very useful in a lot of situations. Especially for activities like snowmobiling or dog sledding!

Goggles to protect your eyes:

An essential that we don’t immediately think of is the ski goggles. It will indeed be very useful for many activities, such as dog sled rides, snowmobiling, or even… skiing, of course! This precious ally will act as a windshield and protect your eyes at all times : it’s a really useful item to add to your travel packing list.

Which jacket to choose and to put on the list?

It’ s of course unthinkable to go to such a cold country without a good jacket, parka, or down jacket. So be careful to choose it carefully!

As I ski in France, I simply brought my ski jacket with me. It’ s designed for the cold, windproof, waterproof and quite thick. With several thermal underwear, and wrapped up from head to toe, I didn’t feel cold with this one. I also used it when we skied in Levi.

I also brought in my suitcase a North Face down jacket that’s perfect for the cold. Uniqlo also makes very cool ones that don’t make you look like the Michelin man.

Basically, you’ll need a jacket:

    • That is water-resistant and therefore waterproof…
    • If possible windproof
    • Don’t hesitate to invest if you don’t have a ski jacket, because it’s the essential protection you need to keep from getting cold!

Pants:

The easiest solution is to wear ski pants with legging/thermal tights underneath.

For my trip to Lapland, I went for Dope Snow ski pants, but any other ski pants like Roxy, North Face, Decathlon, Billabong will do the job. Make sure your pants are thick enough, windproof and waterproof.

Hand and feet warmers: an essential accessory to fight the cold.

Although I’m not particularly sensitive to the cold, I can assure you that hand and feet warmers are an essential accessory for me! These are definitely on top of my winter travel packing list.

They are small bags that heat up in contact with the air, and last between 4 and 8 hours. You can easily slip them into a pair of socks or gloves, so they are very practical.

There are versions for the feet and for the hands. Count between 15 and 25 € for 20 warmers.

For your feet I can recommend you the ones from “Heat Company”, the link is here “THE HEAT COMPANY Foot Warmer”

As for hands, I tested the SuperChamp hand warmers, which are really effective: link here “Supchamp Hand Warmers”

northern lights lapland aurora

Other useful accessories to add to your travel packing list:

– Remember to take an portable charger with you for your phones, as they drain very quickly in the cold. Mine comes from Angker and it’s really good because it’s very small and can charge my phone at least twice. “Batterie externe Anker PowerCore II 10000mAh”

– A tripod, a must for photographing the Northern Lights during your trip to Lapland. Indeed, without a tripod it’s almost impossible to take pictures of the Northern Lights: you can only capture them by making a long exposure… So unless you have superhuman strength, think about a tripod!

I can recommend :

  • Amazon Basics – 1m52 tripod for 28 € Link here 
  • Neewer – 177cm monopod with included bag for 40 € Link here

– A headlamp to allow you to walk around safely at night while you hunt for the Northern Lights. This will also allow you to adjust your camera in the dark. The one from Energizer is effective for 13 €. The one from Energizer is really effective, for only 13 €.

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