Lapland region in Finland was the furthest north I had ever been. It was also the first time I had flown to a destination purposely for the winter activities. Since I don’t usually travel to places that go below zero degrees, I had very few clothes or gear that would prepare me for Finland. So I went on a shopping spree for winter gear. Some of it saved my life and other things I could have done without. Here’s what I learned and what you should pack.
I would not have survived Finland if it weren’t for my water-proof boots. The snow piles on high in Finland and the streets gets slippery. Regular shoes won’t cut it. I bought them only a few days before leaving for Finland too. I didn’t even occur to me that I needed them.
Make sure you purchase about one size larger than your normal shoe size. You’ll be wearing thicker socks and your feet will swell when you’re walking around a lot.
This is as important as the boots. Any pair of water-proof gloves will do but keep in mind that the bulky gloves can be a pain to put on and off. The tricky part about Finland is that outside will be cold and indoors will be generally warm. Mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves but it’s harder to do things with them. I had a hard time taking pictures because my gloves were too thick and I couldn’t properly touch the buttons on the camera.
Wool Socks and Scarf
Bring a couple pairs of wool socks. Since your feet have direct contact with the cold ground, you’ll want to keep your feet warm.
I stupidly forgot to bring a scarf and I regret it. My hoodie luckily fit well with my neck and closed up any cold air from entering through. I still would had preferred a scarf though to cover up.
Hand and Footer Warmers
I may have went overboard and bought a pack of 40. About two packets for each day is a good idea. I usually put them in my gloves or in my pockets. Mine lasted up to 10 hours once they were activated. They were very useful but I don’t think a lot of these are necessary.
I only had one pair of long-johns for the week I was in Finland. Two or three would have been better. I’ve never owned a pair and they were surprisingly comfortable. Not very fashionable but who cares about fashion when you’re freezing.
Hoodies, Fleeces, and Jackets
I took my Triple Aught Design Ranger Hoodie and it kept me warm for my entire trip. On top I usually wore my REI Centre Peak Jacket. These two items took up a lot of room in my backpack but I was left with no choice.
Your forehead is one of the most important parts of your body to be keeping warm. You’ll lose a lot of body heat unless you cover up your head. Your body sends more heat to your head than any other part of your body. Keeping this warm is crucial to keeping the rest of your body warm.
I took one regular winter hat and a ski-mask. The ski-mask ended up being useful for snowmobiling and sleeping in a snowcastle.
Batteries run out faster in extreme temperatures. Bring extra batteries. I bought a few off-brand batteries to save money.
This might sound crazy but you actually don’t want to overdress when you’re doing outdoor activities. Your body will naturally produce heat when your active. Sweating too much can lead to hypothermia and dehydration. When you sweat, you produce water and the water will make you cold.
I had to carry a bigger backpack (70L) because my winter clothes were heavy and big. Keep this in mind when traveling to winter destinations.
It’s easier to know when you feel thirsty in the summer when you sweat. Unfortunately it’s more difficult in the cold and you’ll be dehydrated before you feel thirsty. Drink lots of water. Hot Berry Juice is a popular drink in the Lapland region. It’s a quick sugar rush and very hot. I always felt amazing after drinking it.
There’s also Finnish sauna’s in almost every hotel, hostel, and many homes.
I was invited by Visit Finland and Visit Kemi on a press trip as part of a Navigate Media Group project. All opinions are my own.