This article is Part 2 of our 4 part series on planning the ultimate trip to Lapland, Finland
Read Part 1 The Ultimate Itinerary for Finnish Lapland (opens in a new tab)
Read Part 3 The Ultimate Guide to Lapland Safaris (opens in a new tab)
Read Part 4 Staring at the Northern Lights in Saariselka (opens in a new tab)
I feel the need to reiterate my favourite Scandinavian proverb “There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing” every time I write an article on dressing up for extremely low temperatures. Never has a truer word been said. Winter vacations are no fun if you look for every opportunity to head indoors or you need to spend 10 seconds contemplating whether or not to plunge headlong into a pile of fresh snow (the answer is always YES 🙂 )
It’s easy to conquer extreme temperatures, -5°C to – 30°C in this case, with the right clothes. If I had to summarise the ‘right clothes’ in a sentence, I’d say – leave your pretties behind! A holiday to Lapland isn’t one where you get to pirouette in skirts or slip on your favourite shoes. You will, at most times, look a li’l something like this and you need to be ok with it 😉
Just dress up in layers and you’ll be warm enough to play on ice-slides, make snowmen, dine in snow castles, and sleep on a bed of ice without ever needing a break. Here’s a packing checklist for your trip to the Arctic Circle – you can screenshot it and use it while packing for your trip
PACKING CHECKLIST FOR A TRIP TO FINNISH LAPLAND
- 1 55l-75l backpack as luggage- don’t bother with a suitcase. Dragging it through snow-laden alleys is no fun. If you’re going on a cruise or staying just in one hotel, then suitcases work well.
- Full body thermals: 2-3 sets of thermal t-shirts and long johns. You will be wearing these at all times, so take extra sets for rotation
- Outerwear: 1-2 good-quality down jackets or parkas that are warm and weather-proof. Some good brands are Jack Wolfskin, North Face, Columbia, Kosha (India based), Icewear (Iceland based)
- A small waterproof backpack for all your essentials – computers, cameras etc
- 1-2 pairs of warm waterproof ski pants
- 1-2 smart evening outfits for dinners
- Chunky knits and jumpers for layering. Try to stick to pure wool & synthetic fabrics because even the tiniest bit of cotton can absorb moisture and make you feel cold
- 1 pair of sturdy, good quality snow boots
- 1 pair of Sneakers for flights and walking around in cities
- 1 pair of smart shoes or loafers for dinners (flats, don’t even think about heels)
- Torchlight – you never know when you might need it
- Swimwear – make sure you pack your bikinis and swim shorts because Finnish people love their hot tubs 🙂
- Don’t forget your sports bras for winter sports.
- 1-2 woollen scarves
- Waterproof thermal gloves
- Thick ski socks or woollen socks
- Warm hats – beanies are my favourite but pack any that protect your ears and head
- Ski goggles or mirrored sunglasses as the snow can be blinding at times
- Sunscreen & Lip balm (lots of it!) – sub-zero temperatures cause extreme dryness.
As for us, here’s what we wore during our time in Finnish Lapland :-
1) AIRPORT & HELSINKI
A stop-over in Helsinki is unavoidable if you’re flying to Finnish Lapland. Pack a couple of smart outfits if you intend to get out of the airport and explore Helsinki. We spent just a couple of hours in Helsinki. So I put a bit more thought into what I wore on the flight, instead of my default flying uniform (oversized knit and tracks!). I wore a floaty smock dress, a fringed bag, and a basic coat embellished with a fur collar. Vid opted for basic blue jeans and a bohemian tie & dye sweatshirt with his Adidas Gazelles.
2) THE GO-TO OUTFIT(S)
Our go-to-outfit, on most days, comprised of 2 layers of thermals (top and bottom), a warm jumper, ski pants, and cosy waterproof down jackets. We made sure we wore woollen socks and sturdy snow boots at all times. A word of caution about shoes :- you might be tempted to take your waterproof hiking boots or your fur-lined Uggs with you on your trip to Lapland but DON’T DO IT. You’ll be cold in no time. Good-quality ski/snow boots are a must – you can pick a pair for as less as £30. You can also rent them at most resorts in Lapland if you don’t own a pair or they take up too much space in your luggage. Just make sure you check with your hotel before leaving.
Make sure you carry a waterproof bag for your belongings (cameras, computers etc). We picked up a basic backpack from Cabin Max and it served us well. It’s easy to be blinded by vast expanses of white snow, so it’s best to have ski goggles at hand at all times. At night, we’d change into our loafers – after all, who wants to wear clunky boots to dinner 🙂
3) ONE FOR THE SAFARIS
The highlight of any trip to Finnish Lapland are the safaris and we definitely didn’t want to feel cold while we witnessed the Northern Lights in their full glory or went snow-mobiling on a frozen river. Luckily for us, all safari operators provide appropriate woollen clothing – everything from balaclavas and thermal mittens to Arctic overalls and thermal socks are provided. They ensure complete warmth. In fact, I felt a bit too snug at times, which is never a bad thing in Lapland.
But as a conscientious purveyor of travel fashion from around the world, I feel it’s my duty to tell you that the two of us did resemble stuffed piggies once we were clad in thermals, sweaters, and Arctic overalls. Don’t believe me? Take a look 🙂
4) SOMETIMES YOU NEED A BREAK 🙂
Dressing warmly for Arctic safaris is all well and good. But by the end, I got bored of feeling like a stuffed piggie. So I dug out my maxi dresses (what else!) to enjoy a couple of relaxed days by the fireplace at our rustic log cabin in the Arctic Wilderness. A palette of opulent colours like burgundy, rusty reds, and charcoal is perfect for a getaway to a cabin in the woods 🙂
I stuck to my maxi dresses but threw on a scarf and a few woollies to spend a lazy day catching snowflakes and counting stars on our last day in Finnish Lapland. What better than an all white ensemble for an ethereal ivory land, riddled with storybook landscapes. I felt like I needed to celebrate our trip to this far away land with a jaunt in snow. Besides there’s nothing like mellow snowflakes brushing against bare skin but that’s just me. Try this at your own risk 😉
Want more? Take a look at our travel fashion snippet from Finnish Lapland here 🙂
Check out our vlog from Finnish Lapland here :
Don’t forget to leave us a comment below – we love hearing from you 🙂