A winter holiday to Lapland is a magical trip of a lifetime for children and adults alike. Whether you are going full tourist and staying at the Santa Claus Village as we did or heading a little bit further into the wilderness, you’ll need to think about what to pack to keep warm and dry in the Arctic Circle.
We visited Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland at the end of October for 3 nights and 5 days. We got the night train up to Lapland from Helsinki so had a full day at the beginning and end of our stay. We were there for the first snowfall of the winter and most days the temperature was around 0 or 1 degrees. If you are going later in the winter, or further north then you’ll need at least these items and possible extra or thicker layers of wool or fleece.
Here’s my packing list for a trip to the Lapland!
1 – Thermal Base Layers
These are essential! Try to get merino or merino wool mix if you can as these have the best heat retention properties. We had 2 x pair of bottoms and 2 x tops each.
2 – Fleece lined walking trousers
These trousers are double layered – inside is a microfibre fleece and outside a synthetic and cotton mix shell. Not particularly stylish but great for trapping extra layers of air and keeping you warm. 1 pair each
3 – Lightweight mid layer.
I had 2 x merino wool jumpers already and bought a third one for this trip. Daughter had cotton shirts and long sleeved tee-shirts. You only really need a couple for a short trip to Lapland but I packed for the 3 days in Helsinki that made up the rest of our trip.
4 – Fleece layer
I had a mid-weight hooded fleece from Tresspass and a super floofy loungewear fleece from Next – guess which was warmest, if bulkiest! Daughter had a lightweight fleece cardi from H&M. The idea is that you wear lots of layers that trap lots of warm air and insulates you from the cold of the Arctic Circle.
5 – Highest specification ski jacket you can afford.
I went for thermal properties and waterproof for both of us. Although the pictures of snowy Laplan look beautiful, if you get snowed on you will get wet. You do not want to be wet when the temperature is below freezing!
6 – Merino wool socks
I’d read advice to get thin merino wool socks and then layer with boot socks, but took the chance on a thick merino walking sock being enough before the main winter hit. My feet were fine, but I know if it had been colder I would have needed more sockage. Daughter was fine in normal synthetic socks, but would have needed proper boot socks later in the winter.
7 – Gloves, scarfs or snoods, hats
Get thin hats that can fit under the hood of your ski jacket. You will want something to cover your ears, furry hats with earflaps could also be a good option.
We managed with wooly gloves and lined leather gloves – if we’d been in the snowy season I’d have invested in proper ski-gloves or mittens and thin liners.
8 – Snow boots
I opted for waterproof and thermal – but most of the time I wore hiking shoes instead, only opting for the snow boots on the night we did an adventure tour to look for the Aroura Borealis. Daughter had waterproof fabric ones and was very toasty in them. I followed the advice to go a size up on mine to allow for two pairs of socks, but probably would have been fine with my normal size – but I ordered online and didn’t want the faff of returning them. I’d say it is definitely worth trying boots on if you can.
9 – Salopettes / ski-trousers
We took salopettes but didn’t wear them, had it been a few degrees colder we would have done. Again make sure they are waterproof if you are going later in the Lapland Winter to keep you dry in the snow.
10 – Undies & PJs
Of course – but I didn’t bother with a bra and took a sports top instead because who wants to be faffing about with underwires in the arctic circle! You’re going to look like a big old bundle of fleece anyway, so unless you really really can’t live without a bra, I wouldn’t bother.
Super cosy PJs came from Next – I bought fleece ones that could double up as trousers if needed.
Where I shopped:
Sports Direct – fleece lined trousers for me, merino socks for me
Mountain Warehouse – fleece lined trousers for daughter, merino base layers, snow boots for both of us. Beware the instore 2 – for – 1 offers, I saw the same items half price on the website and it was cheaper to buy at half price than in store.
Tresspass – Coats, salopettes, fleece. Lots of great technical information about the coats – I thought better than Mountain Warehouse.
Amazon – merino base layer for me.
H&M (while we were in Rovaneimi) – daughter’s fleece cardi and replacement hat and matching snood as we left hers on a bus.
Next – fleecy PJs, wooly gloves and hat for daughter
TKMaxx – Merino wool jumper for me
Scope charity shop – new thermal tights, wooly hat and earmuffs.
Tips for a bargain:
Shop around, compare prices and shop at the end of season sales. I used a 0% credit card just for the clothes shopping so I could take advantage of discounts when I saw them. Only do this if you know you can budget for the repayments – otherwise save up and buy a bit at a time.
This meant that I could afford higher quality gear than I would otherwise have been able to. And as someone who feels the cold, I really really really wanted the best and warmest kit for our Lapland adventure.
Sports Direct, Mountain Warehouse and Tresspass all have cashback at Quidco (referral link) – even in the sales these things all added up so to get 8-10% back on purchases was a big help.
If you’re planning a family holiday to Lapland, I’d advise doing as much planning and kit buying in advance as possible and try to have a bit of cash tucked away to snap up a bargain. Don’t leave the big stuff to the last minute – Finland is an expensive place to visit so you’ll want as much of your spending money as possible for the actual trip.
If you’ve been or are planning a tripi to Finland and have found some great bargains or have some helpful packign tips, please add them to the comments.