Clothing and Gear in the Arctic Environment

Why freeze when you can stay warm? Get a better Aurora Chase experience by following GuideGunnar's advice on how to keep warm in the cold north. Please wear the Arctic-proof warm suits and thermo boots on offer!

Aurora guests by the camp fire at a frozen lake with dancing Northern Lights on the sky

If you travel the Arctic in the autumn and winter, you need to pack lots of warm clothing before you leave!
It's smart to wear long underwear under your trousers, and it's good to have wind- and waterproof trousers and jacket, a hat, scarf and MITTEN gloves. Wearing wool finger gloves inside the mitten gloves is the best.

If you are traveling with young children, be extra careful to make sure they are warm at all times. When it's too cold outside, you should not leave your hotel with the kids! Do you want to find out how to keep your kids warm with the right clothing? Please check this >>

What you Need on GuideGunnar's Snowshoe and Ice Fishing Tours

  • In your backpack: extra fleece or jumper / sweater (warm layer for break), extra socks, extra gloves, water bottle, fruit / snacks, camera
  • On your body: long underwear (wool), wind- and waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece or jumper / sweater, gloves (mitten gloves are best), gaitors, scarves, cap or hat, and sunglasses. The first layer you wear closest to your body should be wool.

Norway spans more types of climate than many first-time visitors realize (coastal/temperate, continental, semi-dry, polar). From South to North, from the lowlands to the highlands, and from the coast to the interior, weather conditions vary considerably. Because of Norway's rugged landscape, its climate differs within short distances. The type of clothes you need to bring depends on what parts of the country you are visiting, the time of year you are traveling, and the kind of activities you will be doing.

During the winter (including late autumn/early spring, which is to say mid-October to early April) conditions vary more. Some parts of the country are in deep winter while other parts may enjoy more pleasant temperatures. For this reason it is difficult to give both precise and general advice for the winter season.

Guests around the camp fire in a frozen mountain landscape

Some Suggestions for Winter Clothing (not Exhaustive)

Wearing layers lets you be more flexible than wearing one big thick jacket. Wearing a woolen sweater or micro-fleece jacket is recommended for the winter season.
Warm, long underwear is more effective in terms of weight and volume than thick top layers.
Your jacket should be windproof and preferably water-repellent, and it should be long enough to cover your behind. Parka-type jackets are good options. If you are interested in wearing more stylish clothing, some long coats are also possibilities, for instance trench coats for cool/humid weather or heavier, thicker coats (like duffel coats) for colder weather.

Many visitors overestimate the need for very heavy snowboots. Good winter boots are ankle-height and sturdy with a rough (non-slip) sole and room for thick socks. Examples include solid hiking boots or light mountaineering boots. In cities, your main challenge will often be to remain dry and clean, and the slushy mixture of snow, salt, and dirt in the streets will ruin delicate shoes.

During mid-winter, wearing warm/long underwear (long johns) made of wool or microfleece is recommended. Products made of cotton are not as effective.
Warm head coverings are often necessary during the winter, particularly in the highlands and the interior. Knit hats or toques (covering the ears) are the most effective.

When the weather is at its coldest, Norwegians use mittens (gloves without separate fingers) because these are notably warmer than ordinary gloves. Knit woolen mittens with decorative designs are also popular souvenirs.
It is a common misconception that snow is cold. Dry snow is not cold, and in fact dry, fluffy snow can be used as an insulant. However, snow is cold when it melts.

Air is the best insulant. Creating volumes of immobile air under the topmost layer is the basic principle of winter clothing.
Cold air can be unpleasent, but is not dangerous while you are in town (except for persons with heart or lung illnesses).

Clothing Advice for Hiking, Mountaineering, Sports, and Outdoor Activities

Layering is essential. Start with the naked body and add layers meticulously. In cold weather, all parts of your body except your face should be covered by underwear, an insulation layer, and a windproof shell.

Cotton is useless as underwear except in consistently hot weather, which is unusual in the high mountains. Wool is a fantastic material because it stays warm even when wet. Use wool base laerys if you stay out in cold weather for long time and vary your activity. Synthetic sports underwear is best for consistently intense activity for shorter periods.

Keep a spare set of dry underwear (wool or microfleece) in your backpack on long trips in cool weather.
It is surprisingly easy to keep warm when you are active, even at very low temperatures. Overdressing will cause unnecessary perspiration and condensation within clothing layers. Covering your head, fingers, and neck is more important than wearing thick layers on your body core.

Except in lowland forests where there is little wind, the windchill effect is the main challenge outdoors and the main cause of hypothermia and frostbite. Wearing a windproof top layer is essential in the mountains.
Frostbite is unlikely at temperatures above -15 degrees Celsius. However, when subject to strong wind (such as if you are driving a snowmobile or doing alpine skiing), bare skin can freeze in 30 minutes at -15 C or less.

Dry snow is warmer than cool rain. Wet clothes (from rain, slush, and prespiration) happen to be the second main cause of hypothermia.
Above the tree line, temperatures can come close to zero Celsius (freezing point) even in summer. Always bring a head covering (beanie/toque), windproof gloves, and a scarf for longer hikes above the tree line.

GuideGunnar with a hat on the plateau of Finnmark in a rainy summer landscape

Some General Advice (for Summer Visits)

Bring a jacket (windproof and water repellant). Northern Europe can be chilly even in the middle of the summer, and the coast and highlands are often windy. The ocean is often cool and windy, so jackets are great for cruise passengers.

Pack only what you can carry. This greatly improves your mobility.
Bring an extra pair of shoes, for instance sturdy (and preferably water-repellant) walking shoes (sneakers or similar). Delicate formal shoes have limited use and can be ruined in bad weather. Some attractions require walking (on rough ground).

A light sweater (wool, microfleece) can help you stay comfortable along the coast and in the highlands.
Bring sunglasses. There can be strong sun, particularly when it is reflected by wet surfaces along the coast and snow. Use UV sunglasses if you walk on snow. The sun sits low in the sky in Norway.

Bring light clothing for the warmest days (up to 30 degrees Celsius). Thin gloves and a scarf can be nice additions to your wardrobe in the spring and early autumn, as well as for outings on or near the sea.


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