This Arctic Circle Packing List will make sure that you stay warm in one of the coldest places on earth.
Packing for the arctic circle is tricky, it is a remote area so you can’t just run to the store to buy anything you forgot. I did a bunch of research before we headed to northern Lapland to make sure that we packed everything we needed. Here is a comprehensive arctic circle packing list.
My Arctic Circle Packing List
A Canada Goose Parka
Oh my goodness are these jackets amazing! It truly kept me warm even in the coldest conditions. If you live in a cold area (like Chicago!) these coats are game changers. I love that the jackets have inside pockets that are big enough for your phone (even my iPhone Plus). Charles and I both packed our Canada Goose parkas for this trip. We each have the Trillium Parka and we recommend it because it has big pockets that snap closed to hold your wallet, etc. Plus there are two super warm fleece line pockets at the chest, these pockets magically warm up your hands.
Warm Comfortable Boots
You will be wearing these all day everyday, so bring a pair that you have broken in.
A Trapper Hat
You know those goofy looking hats with the ear flaps? You are going to want one of those. The ear flaps that buckle under your chin keeps your ears extra warm.
You want to pack more socks than you think you need. Invest in at least a few good pairs of sweater socks (I love JCrew’s) and bring thinner socks to layer under them.
Gloves and Mittens
You want the type of gloves that you would wear for skiing. You might want to pack tech friendly gloves to wear inside mittens. My hands got cold instantly when I took them out of my gloves to take photos with my phone.
Hand and Toe Warmers
Your hotel will most likely sell these, but you will save money if you bring them with you. I will admit that our toes got very very cold when we were dog sledding (and we are accustomed to colder temps). Boot and glove warmers take up minimal space in a suitcase and you won’t regret having them.
I love JCrew’s tissue turtlenecks because they are so perfect for layering.
Thick warm wooly sweaters are a must. I packed one for each day we were in the arctic.
Leggings/Yoga Pants/Long Underwear
You are going to want to wear as much clothing as possible. Think of Joey in the episode of Friends when he puts on layers and layers of Chandler’s clothing. It is a bit like that. Leggings, yoga pants, and long underwear are all great options for a first layer. If you want to be super warm, get fleece lined leggings – they are amazing!
To wear over the leggings. The goal is to wear as many layers as possible. I got some pretty cute sweatpants from Lucy (which is now a part of North Face). Since leggings and sweatpants both stretch, I still felt like I could move.
Camera and Charger
The extreme cold will drain your battery. I only charge my battery every month or so, but it drained in a day in the cold! You definitely want to pack an extra battery (or extra camera) if you want to take photos of the Northern Lights. I had my camera around my neck when we were dogsledding and it was nearly fully charged, but still, it stopped working after about 45 minutes in the cold. I highly recommend keeping your camera inside your zipped up jacket so that your body heat can keep it warm. If you are serious about taking photos of the Northern Lights, you will want to pack a tripod too.
It’s cold, and daylight is limited in the arctic, so I highly recommend bringing a book, a laptop with Netflix, and loading some games on your phone. We played scrabble on our iPhones and watched Netflix while we laid in bed searching for the northern lights. I should also mention that our room didn’t have a tv (which is fine!) but we were glad to have a laptop and Netflix.
Moisturizer and Lip Balm
Your skin will get dry! I am very loyal to Kiehls and especially love their wrinkle reducing cream. You will want to pack two moisturizers, one for your face and another for your hands.
A Typical Outfit
I thought it would be fun to give you an example of how this arctic circle packing list comes together to create an outfit. To give you an idea of how cold it is, and how much you need to wear, let me describe what I wore for 2 hours of dogsledding. When we went dogsledding I wore a long sleeved shirt, a wool sweater, yoga pants, sweatpants, two pairs of socks, winter boots, a snowsuit, a parka on top of the snowsuit, a trapper hat, and mittens with gloves inside. We were there during a stretch of warmer weather it was -9C but it can be as cold as -30C. We still got cold dogsledding and regretted not using boot warmers.
What Not to Pack
Snow Suits/Snow Pants
Resorts usually have snowsuits that you can rent or borrow. Resorts may also have boots, but we brought our own since we needed them in Estonia and Helsinki – where it was also very cold.
You don’t want tight jeans you want jeans that you can wear over long underwear or leggings. Honestly though, jeans aren’t very practical for extreme cold. They just aren’t comfortable when you need to put a layer under them. Plus, sweatpants are warmer.
The sun never came above the horizon line when we were in Lapland!
Your parka is going everywhere with you and it has plenty of pockets. I used my purse in Helsinki (and the other cities on our trip) but once we were in Lapland it didn’t leave the room. Also – if you keep your phone and camera in a bag they will get too cold to work when you are outside. You want to keep your camera around your neck and zipped up under your jacket, and you want to keep your phone in the inside pocket of your jacket. Other than my phone and camera, I just threw my room key, lip balm, cash, and credit card in my many jacket pockets and I was good to go!
If you are going to a remote area, your hotel might not be close to a store. This means you want to make sure you pack little and easy to forget things like contact lens solution, medicine, tampons, etc. You don’t want to forget something and to not be near a store where you can buy it.
Plus, I always bring a little bag of medicine with me when I travel (it seems like we always need it)! You can read more about that here.
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Have you been to the Arctic Circle? Would you add anything to my arctic circle packing list?