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Judy with dogs in Finland

Packing Tips For A Visit to Lapland - It's Time To Layer Up!

Judy Freedman
by Judy Freedman

January 09, 2019

6 minute read

Judy in Lapland 

You've booked your trip to see the Northern Lights of Finland tour. You're so excited to go in search of the Aurora Borealis. You've downloaded Lapland on your weather app and check it daily. For sure it's going to be chilly with temperatures in the single digits and below in this part of the Arctic Circle.

Soon it will be time to pack your suitcase. You're getting anxious - what should I bring, how will I fit all this bulky clothing in one suitcase, and my boots too? Don't worry, I've got you covered. I'm going to share details about what to pack for an arctic travel exploration.

Also, keep in mind that the team at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, where you will be staying in Lapland, provides snowsuits when needed for dog sledding and reindeer sleigh rides.

Staying warm from head to toe

One of the keys to packing is to layer your clothing. You need base layers and a good insulating and protective layer. My garments with Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining kept me comfortable. You can find these type of garments (tops, jackets, vests, pants, hats, gloves) at Columbia sporting goods stores as well as on its website. I went to the Columbia Factory Outlet Store in my local area where the prices were quite reduced. I also recommend REI Co-op for outdoor gear and clothing. They have experts who know the best products for your adventure.

Let's start with your head and face. You'll want to keep your head and ears warm. I packed an insulated hat. I also brought a face mask, which I would recommend for those cold, cold nights. For sunny days, pack your sunscreen and a lip balm with SPF as well.

Judy with winter gear 

Next comes your neck. I brought a long wool scarf that wrapped around my neck several times.

Layering-up your body. I wore my The North Face knee-length water resistant down jacket (which has a hood) and waterproof thermal-lined pants every day in Lapland. I can't emphasize knee-length enough. Having the extra insulation around the upper portion of my legs kept me warm, as did the thermal underwear and leggings under my pants. (Note: Wear leggings when you go to purchase your waterproof pants - I needed a larger size to fit over my leggings.)

I brought a pullover sweatshirt with a front pouch-style pocket (which worked out great to hold my phone and my camera); a pullover fleece, two wool jumpers, and several thermal long-sleeve tops. In addition, an insulated vest came in handy for extra padding. Don't overpack, you don't need a new jumper for each day. I only wore my jeans when we visited Helsinki. Most of the time I didn't change my outfits for the evening. (Note: Keep in mind that most days it is very cold in Helsinki too.)

Keeping the frost off your fingers. Should you bring gloves or mittens? Here's what I found useful: I brought thin gloves that worked with my touch screen and waterproof mittens to go over them. You can also find mitten/glove combinations, where the two are attached. These accessories can be expensive but are worth packing for this type of adventure.


Toes need to be toasty too. You definitely need waterproof boots with good gripper soles for the snow and ice. My Merrell Thermo-Chill hiking boots were very warm. My four pairs of wool socks with fleece linings worked perfect under my boots. Whilst I packed toe warmers to slip inside my boots and hand warmers for my mittens, I didn't end up using them for this trip. However, warmers are inexpensive adds and always good to have.

Get a good night's sleep. I couldn't resist a reindeer-themed pair of cosy pyjamas. The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort cabins are kept very comfortable and the igloos are heated too. I highly recommend checking out the individual saunas in your cabin - they provide a mindful break after an active afternoon in the outdoors.


What other gear should you bring?

A camera for taking pictures of The Northern Lights and all the other beautiful surroundings. You'll want to practice setting up your camera for the correct nighttime settings. Be sure to do this in advance. Maybe go out and shoot the moon and stars at home before your trip. Practice, practice, practice. (Note: Collette Travel will send you details for setting up your camera to shoot the Northern Lights. Read this sheet in advance.)

My new Sony DSC-HX80 Digital Still Camera was excellent for a novice photographer. To complete my picture-taking gear, I bought a camera case that hung around my neck, an extra battery, and a tripod. Three more tips - when you purchase the case check that it is designed for your specific model. Remember to charge your extra battery. As for the tripod, practice attaching your camera to the tripod in the daytime when you can see clearly. It's more challenging at nighttime when you're out in the cold.

If you are just going to rely on your mobile phone for picture-taking bring a portable charger. I was surprised how quickly my battery ran down in the Arctic cold.

Don't forget your flashlight. It gets pretty dark beginning late afternoon. With snow and ice under foot, it's wise to have a flashlight with you when walking to and from your cabin or venturing out on evening activities.

Stay hydrated. The water in Lapland is so fresh. I brought a Hydra-Flask bottle which kept my water cold and my coffee and tea very hot.

Are you feeling more relaxed about packing for your Northern Lights of Finland Tour? Here is my list of key items. You can supplement as you see fit:

  • Insulated hat
  • Face mask
  • Wool scarf
  • Water-resistant down jacket (knee-length for extra warmth)
  • Waterproof thermal lined pants
  • Two pairs of thermal/insulated leggings
  • Pullover sweatshirt
  • Pullover fleece
  • Two wool sweaters
  • Thermal long-sleeve tops (I brought four)
  • Insulated vest
  • Jeans or corduroy pants (for Helsinki days)
  • Waterproof mitten and touch screen gloves
  • Waterproof winter hiking boots
  • Winter boots (for Helsinki days)
  • Four pairs of wool socks
  • Toe and hand warmers
  • Thermal pyjamas
  • Digital camera, camera case, tripod, extra battery
  • Mobile phone portable charger
  • Flashlight
  • Hydra-Flask water bottle
  • Sunscreen

You can do it. Go get your large suitcase, your backpack for carry-on, and for the ladies, maybe a small cross-body bag for storing your passport, wallet, and any other incidentals. A few Eagle Creek compression cubes are worthwhile too.

Hope you have an amazing trip! If you forget anything, you can always ask Santa and his elves to share their stash.




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