Going to see the Northern lights and don’t know what to pack? Here is a list of what to pack for lapland!
Lapland is a unique environment but the extreme weather does make packing an interesting experience. So here is my packing list to provide you with some inspiration!
I went to Abisko in Swedish Lapland and there was only a sweet shop so it is important to make sure you pack accordingly otherwise you will end up buying a lots of stuff at an overinflated price!
Jacket/Trousers: A ski jacket and trousers are essential- waterproof trousers won’t provide enough insulation. Often your accommodation/tour company will provide them (or rent them) but do check beforehand. A snowsuit is better than a top/bottom combination as it traps air providing insulation.
Trousers: You will still need to wear layers under your snowsuit. I wore two layers of thermal leggings- one that was normal and one with a fleece lining. You will also want some trousers for relaxing in the hostel.
Tops: Depending on the activity I wore between 2-4 layers a mixture of thermal tops, normal T-shirts/polo necks and fleece jumpers. Don’t wear cotton as this absorbs moisture which will make you feel cold. You will sweat more than you think so pack enough inner layers.
Socks: A mixture of thick socks and thin socks to wear inside. Also, some fleece socks for inside the accommodation.
Swimwear: Saunas are a big part of Scandinavian life (sometimes naked and sometimes with swimwear) and are a great way to recover after a day exploring the Lapland environment. Take your swimwear with you so you don’t miss out.
Boots: Often the tour companies or hostel will provide boots but check beforehand to see if this is the case. If they don’t provide shoes it is worth investing in some snow boots as without proper grips you will find yourself on the floor more often than you would like. In addition, it will be your feet that feel the chill first and you don’t want to have to cut your Northern Light spotting short due to cold feet.
Indoor Shoes: Some shoes to wear while inside your accommodation.
Fliplops: for moving between the sauna and your accommodation
Hat: A beanie won’t be enough. A thick hat with ear flaps is best as your ears will get cold!
Gloves: You will need some thick gloves such as ski gloves which are water proof. The only problem with thick, ski gloves is you will struggle to work your camera controls so having a pair of thinner, inner gloves can save your fingers while you are taking those precious pictures of the Northern Lights. You can also get gloves that work on touch screens.
Neckwarmer: A scarf is great but you will also need a neckwarmer. It can be pulled up to cover the bottom half of the face which can help as the cold, dry air can irritate the back of the throat. This will keep you warm when snowmobiling and dogsledding.
Shower Gel: Don’t take a shower just before heading out. Wait until you are going to be inside for a few hours. The best time is to take a shower before having a sauna as the sauna dries the skin.
Shampoo/Conditioner: Don’t wash your hair before going out and make sure it is completely dry before going out.
Moisturiser (body and face): the humidity makes the skin dry however you need to be careful when putting moisturise on. Don’t put any moisturiser on in the morning as it will often be water based so will freeze in the cold weather. Put it on at night and then don’t wash your face in the morning and let the natural oils work as a barrier.
Hand Moisturiser: Your hands will suffer but find a moisturiser that isn’t water based such as Norweigen Formula.
Lipsalve: Your lips may dry out but be careful at putting products on before heading outside.
Razor: shaving also dries out the skin so try and avoid it.
Makeup: Makeup will dry and skin out and get all over the many hats, scarfs and neck warmers you have so if you can go without then try and avoid wearing it.
Medicines/plaster: Most places won’t have many pharmacies so stock up on paracetamol etc.
Camera: A camera with a manual mode (letting you adjust exposure time) is needed to get decent pictures of the Northern Lights. It is often advised to have a smaller, action camera for activities such as dogsledding or snowmobiling. Check before you go whether pictures are included in your dogsledding tours ( as they often are) as the instructors would rather you didn’t take your own pictures as this is a distraction and can result in accidents.
Memory Cards: Make sure you have significant capacity as you will want to take a lot of photos!
Battery: The cold and long exposure needed to take pictures of the northern lights wear the batteries down quickly. You will want a spare battery (or a few). Also, be prepared for your phone to stop working- one way to avoid this is to place it in an inside pocket to keep it warm.
Tripod: When you see pictures of the Northern Lights they often look stronger in pictures than in reality. To make sure you can get good non-blurry pictures you need a tripod. If you are doing a Northern Lights tour a tripod may be included but
Adaptors/Chargers/ Battery Pack
Headlamp/torch: It is a lot easier not to slip and fall on ice when you can see where you are going so don’t forget to pack a headlamp to make hunting the Northern Lights easier. Don’t rely on your phone as the battery will drain quickly.
Hand and Feet Handwarmers: These can be a lifesaver while you are waiting to see the Northern Lights. They will be available at local shops/hostel but a premium so buy some before you arrive. When you need to use them, shake them around a bit and they will gradually warm up but be careful don’t to let them touch bear skin as they can burn it. You can also get larger ones that stick on your body. Here is an example of what to buy
Reading Matter/Cards/TV Shows: There will often be a few hours downtime between tours and waiting for the Northern Lights so take something with you to amuse yourself!
Sunglasses: The glare from the snow can be blinding and it is much easier to enjoy your surrounding while wearing a pair of sunglasses.
Food: often the best places to see the Northern Lights are remote so there may not be a large selection at a convenience store or many eating places. Check before to see what is available. At some places you need to cook all your own meals while others provide a restaurant but you may want to take snacks.