I’ve tried to convince you that Tromso is absolutely amazing (see my posts on spotting the Northern Lights while cuddling a load of husky dogs, as well as how to do Tromso on a budget), but say a) you already knew that, or b) my powers of persuasion somehow worked, you’re going to need to know just how and what to pack for your trip.
“I’m just heading to the Arctic” has definitely got an exotic twist to it. It’s exciting and unusual, and filled with more than just a little sprinkle of adventurous vibes.
There’s only one problem: winter in Norway is frickin’ cold. Especially when you’re venturing above the Arctic circle. It’s not ‘cold’ as in ‘a chilly day in London where you have to wear a coat and maybe some gloves’. This level of ‘cold’ is a whole different board game which requires a little bit of forethought.
As the coldest person on this planet at any given moment in time* (*97% sure that is the case), I knew I was going to have to prepare for the worst – I packed so many layers and thermals, I thought I was going to be absolutely boiling.
Turns out, I wasn’t as well prepared as I had anticipated. Based on my freezing cold experience, here’s what I’d definitely recommend you make sure you pack when you head to Tromso. (Scroll right to the bottom for a full list of everything that went in my suitcase!)
1. A GOOD QUALITY JACKET
This is the layer that fits on top of everything that features below, and is one of the most important things to consider. It’ll be the thing that protects you against all the elements, so choose wisely! Of all the things on this list, I’d definitely recommend investing in one that’s designed to keep you snug and dry.
Prior to my trip, Millets very kindly gifted me with this North Face 2-in-1 jacket – the North Face Women’s Evolution II Triclimate Jacket is its official name. It was perfect for the conditions I faced in Tromso, with its waterproof outer shell and cosy fleece for added warmth (which can be zipped out if needed, so it’s ideal for all weather conditions). There’s also elasticated sleeves to stop the cold air riding up, a hood, and a zip which took the jacket up over my mouth when the wind got too unbearable. Also, it has POCKETS, which as any girl knows is the real highlight of any clothes purchase.
While it’s a little on the pricey side, I deliberately chose this particular jacket as it’s designed for use all-year round. It’s a sound investment, and you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. Honestly, I’ve used this jacket so many times over the last few months in snowy London, it’s been priceless!
2. BASE LAYERS
This will be the most important layer you’ll wear because they’ll trap in the warmth and keep the warm air close to your skin. Thermal base layers can be picked up quite cheaply from a number of different places. I got my long leggings and a thermal turtle neck top from Decathlon, and I’d definitely recommend looking there for the majority of the things on this list. For just £8.99, the turtle neck top was a particularly good purchase because it can be worn either way, depending on how cold it is. I constantly wore mine on the ‘extra extra warm’ side, but it’s always nice to have the option!
3. COTTON MID LAYERS
Don’t waste time packing acrylic layers as they’ll provide next-to-no protection against the cold. Now’s the time for your cottons to take centre stage, from wooly knits to cosy fleeces. I will admit, although I packed a jumper for the trip, it wasn’t good enough to tackle that cold! I ended up buying a cheap Norwegian-style jumper from a local clothes shop for around £10.
4. ALL THE THERMALS
I thought that I’d maybe overdone it with my thermal packing but, nope, I was still cold. I opted for some thermal socks (from Heat Holders – 2 lasted me the 4 days), thermal gloves, a thermal hat, and a thermal neck snood. The thermal snood was the real highlight; it’s super soft on the inside so it was a dream to wear. I haven’t really taken it off all winter…
5. SKI TROUSERS
Before I arrived in Tromso, I read conflicting things about whether ski trousers were needed. It’s true that a lot of tour companies will give you all the warm equipment you need to stay snug, but I’m still glad I bought mine along anyway. During the day I found my thermal leggings and jeans were fine, but in the evenings/early mornings I liked to add my ski trousers into the mix for extra warmth.
6. CONSIDER YOUR FACE
One thing I didn’t take with me (but wish I had) was something to cover my face with. As someone who feels the cold even on a warm summer’s day, I should have known to have wrapped up every square inch of flesh – including my cheeks, nose and mouth. The cold was especially unbearable when we were walking over the bridge towards the Arctic Cathedral and the Cable Car, with the ice cold wind bellowing down on my face. Ian’s hat came with a face wrap which fixed over his nose and mouth. It makes talking tricky, but as you breathe the hot air will keep you warm! Sometimes you just have to sacrifice communication in favour of warmth…
7. WARM BOOTS
In addition to your jacket, boots are another thing I’d recommend investing in during your trip. Honestly, warm boots will be your (and your feet’s) BFF on this trip. You’ll want to make sure that the shoes you pick are good for cold temperatures and offer a good grip for walking on all that snow and ice. One thing I’d say is definitely try on your shoes with some thick thermal socks to check for comfort/that your feet aren’t too squished. And pack some plasters with you just in case…
My packing list guide for 4 days in Tromso
- 8x knickers (in case I wanted to shower in the evening before going out on a long Northern Lights tour)
- 1 bra
- Pair of jeans
- 4x t-shirts
- 4x normal pairs of socks
- 1 pair of PJs
- Pair of warm hiking boots
- 2x pairs of thermal socks
- Thermal gloves
- Thermal neck scarf
- Long thermal underwear (top and bottom)
- Thermal hat
- Thermal roll neck top
- Waterproof ski trousers
- 2 jumpers
- Bikini (for the hotel’s hot tub!)