Guide to dressing in Arctic Climates when on a Northern Lights Holiday

By Kevin Collins | Northern Lights Holidays | Posted 29 Oct 2012

Guide to dressing in Arctic Climates

We regularly get asked by our Weekend a La Carte clients going on a  Northern Lights Holiday with us to Swedish Lapland what they should pack to wear. Guests travelling to Lulea, Abisko and Kiruna, Sweden should ensure that they have suitable clothing to deal with the extreme temperatures that they will experience. Winter temperatures range from -5C to -35C and the wind chill is another factor.

In order to dress right in a cold climate it is important to regulate the body’s exchange of heat with the surroundings. In Lulea, Abisko and Kiruna, they have an inland climate with a dry cold, which means it is easier to dress to stay warm than in wet conditions. We strongly recommend that you listen to the local guides at the time in terms of which clothing to wear for each activity, as they are looking after your health and safety.

We would not advice rushing out to buy lots of expensive clothing. Thermals and fleeces can be purchased from Marks & Spencer, Cotton Traders etc for more affordable prices. In regards to a balaclava and/or ski goggles (if you have sensitive eyes/contact lenses), you would need to try a winter wear shop like Blacks, Millets etc.

Please note the temperature at Abisko Sky Station can be 10 degrees colder than on ground level and therefore you will need to be dressed extra warmly when visiting Abisko Sky Station in search of the Northern Lights.

What You Should bring and Wear

The 3 layer clothing principle outlined below will ensure your comfort.

An inner layer, Thermal base layer in synthetics, wool or a woollen mixture. Pure cotton should be avoided since cotton clothing cools down when it becomes wet.

A middle layer of clothing should strengthen and regulate the heat insulation, isolate air and hold the humidity from the body. For example woollen sweater/shirt, fleece or thermal sweater.

An outer layer of clothing is additional layers of woollen jumpers/sweaters, fleeces or thermal sweaters made of breathable material in order to allow even distribution of body heat, which can be added if required.

Accessories that you need to bring:

  • Good Quality Woollen Socks are invaluable
  • Gloves, hat and scarf for use outdoors is essential
  • Balaclava
  • Sunglasses as the sun can be very bright if travelling later in the season (Feb and March)
  • Ski goggles if you have sensitive eyes
  • Warm Winter Coat
  • Strong Shoes with a grip (ie boots or trainers)


What Weekend a La Carte Provide Free for Your Use:

On your arrival you are provided with free of charge:

·        An arctic jacket

·        Trousers or thermo overalls

·        Warm protective boots

·        Outdoor hat

·        Arctic Gloves

·        Helmet when on the snowmobiles

The only time you will be without the arctic clothing is when you first arrive, when you depart and when you are transferring between hotels in both Kiruna and Abisko . We recommend you bring a warm, winter coat with strong, ideally trekky shoes, with a grip as you will have to step onto the snow and ice when leaving the aircraft. Nothing smart due to the terrain.

A proper hat restricts the great heat losses from the head while giving protection to ears and neck. A balaclava offers excellent additional protection from the elements and can be worn under your Arctic hat. People may find this of help to protect your face from the elements when travelling on snowmobiles in particular.

Comfort and warmth is your priority. At no stage do you need anything smart when visiting Lapland on a Northern Lights Trip

About Kevin Collins

Kevin grew up in the wilds of Africa and with family scattered all over the world was introduced to long haul travel from an early age. This turned into a lifelong passion which he has been fortunate to turn into a successful career.

Having spent 20 years in marketing roles in a variety of business environments Kevin set up Weekend a la Carte to provide the kind of experiential breaks that are increasingly being sought after by clients eager to find enriching ways of spending valuable leisure time.

Kevin has increasingly become fascinated with the Northern Lights, and has built up a wealth of knowledge over the years as to how to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights taking into account weather patterns, moon cycles , solar pulses and daylight hours. Kevin is also a fervent believer in making sure that the break is action packed so you have a fantastic time , even if the Aurora Borealis does not show.

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