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
I take one camera body and multiple lenses. My Canon 5D Mark iv is especially durable and has a strong body which is useful for extreme arctic temperatures. I make sure I take my lens cover to protect my camera from condensation. I put the lens cover on before going out and usually wait till the camera has cooled down before taking the cover off. The same goes for going indoors after spending time in the extreme cold. This will prevent any condensation that could take some time to clear up.
WIDE ANGLE LENS
My main lens for astrophotography and capturing the Aurora Borealis has to be the 16-35mm f/2:8 wide angle lens. I also use it for most landscape shots. Its easy to capture mountains, tall trees and vast landscapes. It is my main lens on most of my nature trips. Definitely one of the lenses I would recommend for night photography, especially when you want to capture the landcape as well as the night sky.
Although I didn't use my zoom lens on this particular trip (as the activities took so much of our time) I would definitely take it if I intend to go to Finland for the purpose of photography. It is great to capture wildlife and zoom in to a sunset or moon.
II recently bought the Gitzo Mountaineer Series 2 Long 4 Sections. This full carbon fiber tripod and Gitzo ball head are rock solid and really light compared to everything I've used. Love it!
I find the intervalometer is the best option when you want to have control over exposure time. The Aurora can be quite unpredictable and I like to be able to experiment with exposure once I've set my aperture and ISO. I manually controlled the exposure time by holding down the button on the intravlometer and adjusted the exposure time as needed without missing out on shots.
The Lowepro Flipside 300 AW II Camera Backpack is designed to be used as a backpack while on hikes and is able to carry most of my camera gear, spare batteries and drone. On my trip to Lapland it also kept all my equipment safe when it was strapped to the back of the snowmobile on our way to a frozen lake. A good backpack will also be useful to keep the cold out and mine also came with a rain cover, which I used on my toboggan ride down the mountain.
DRONE and FILTERS
I took my Mavic 2 Pro and 3 spare batteries and I think it did pretty well considering the cold. I also took my set of polar pro ND filters which I recommend since it can be quite bright when sun is combined with a white landscape.
I always have my mobile phone with me to shoot video or for quick photos when I don't have time to set up my camera. Whether its for quick Instastory posts or for video edits, most mobile phones can shoot video in 1080 or even 4K making video quality very good.