ARCTIC WINTER PACKING LIST
Arctic winter is no joke! It can get really cold, and if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors you need to be well prepared. Some lodges do lend their guests outerwear, boots and mittens for activities but you should still take the right winter gear for all the times you will not be doing activities. Like a walk in the town or if you go out in the evening to watch the Aurora close to your lodge.
First and foremost find a parka or jacket that is waterproof, windproof, well insulated (ideally goose down), zips up high and has a hood. The length of the jacket can also make a difference so try and find something that is at least up to the mid-thighs. In Arctic weather expect temperatures to go down to up to -35 Celsius especially at night when you will be hunting for Auroras, so the right outerwear is essential. Also bear in in mind that you will need to have space underneath your parka to layer (I wore 4 layers under my parka one night) so don't buy a parka that is too fitted.
THERMAL BASE LAYERS:
A Smartwool or Merino wool base layer (top and bottom) is essential. You will need to pack at least 4 or 5 base layer tops and at least 3 base-layer bottoms with you. For colder days you may want to wear an extra base layer or two to ensure you don't get cold.
If you have a wool allergy you may want to try a synthetic alternative like polyester. Northface and Columbia both have polyester thermal ranges for skiers and those could work.
I layered my thermals under a pair of slim ski pants. My group was provided with extra outerwear for activities (so one additional softshell ski pant). I found the extra layer over my thermals and ski pants kept me much warmer. So a Smartwool thermal - fleece lined slim ski pant + looser softshell ski pant worked really well together.
FLEECE MID LAYER:
A fleece mid-layer is definitely recommended, or you can replace this with a wool jumper. On one night I wore two fleece jumpers over my two Smartwool base-layers.
BALACLAVA AND BEANIE;
When the weather gets really cold your extremities feel it first and I find my nose and teeth really feel the biting cold. That's why I couldn't be happier to have my balaclava on. Unlike looser fabric the balaclava is really close to the skin and prevents air from getting in. Mine came up over my nose too so it really helped my nose stay warm.
Put on a warm wool or fleece lined beanie and your head will be warm and toastie too.
A nice versatile wool scarf keeps you especially warm. It adds a layer of warmth when wrapped up in front of your neck and chest.
GLOVES AND MITTENS:
I spent a lot of time researching the best way to keep your hands warm in snowy Lapland, since I would be doing a lot of photography and spending a lot of time in the freezing weather. The best combination in my opinion are a pair of well insulated mittens and a fleece lined glove liner with touch screen capability. I also ordered a pair of mittens from 'The Heat Company' that are ideal for photographers as it comes attached to a pair of inner glove liners. The gloves are cleverly designed to allow you to free up the fingertips of the mittens by unzipping the tips only and pulling back. The inner liner has touch screen capability, and this will allow you to take photos and keep the rest of your hands warm at the same time. The Heat Company have also created a pocket in the gloves for hand warmers which worked really well.
I cannot stress how important it is to keep your feet warm. I would wear two pairs of merino wool or smart wool socks on each foot, despite my boots being well insulated and also inserted toe warmers into my boots. You are walking in -15 to -30 °C and the feet get cold fast, especially when you're standing in one place. Merino wool also allows breathability and will not smell.
GOGGLES AND SUNGLASSES:
Sunglasses are a must on a bright sunny day in winter wonderland. I also took a pair of ski goggles, which came in handy while dog sledding and tobogganing