Master your Lapland packing list with our essential guide on what to wear and bring for a magical Arctic adventure!

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Girl's head facing sideways with balaclava and fur-lined hood covered in ice and snow with frozen eyelashes.

We know the real reason Santa’s making his list and checking it twice!  With the extreme cold weather and outdoor activities quite a departure from normal life, packing for a trip to Lapland requires quite a bit of planning. 

So, here’s our Lapland Packing List lowdown. 

With several winter Lapland trips under my belt, I’ve got a pretty good idea what you need (and what you don’t!) and what to wear to protect yourself from the cold. 

As well as tips on what clothes to bring and how to dress in the arctic, I’ll share how much luggage you’ll need and how to keep costs down when kitting out your Lapland wardrobe.

Be sure to download our free printable Lapland packing list too for an easy checklist of everything to take.

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How Cold Are We Talking?

Winter in Lapland is seriously cold.  Average temperatures range from -16C to 3C but can be as low as -40C.  I’ve experienced -24C in Finnish Lapland in February and -35C in Swedish Lapland in December.  Add wind chill to those temperatures and you’ve got some serious brrrrrr! 

That said, one time we had ‘just’ -8C in December in Finland so you can never be sure.  And between going in and out of buildings, teepees and even igloos, spending hours out in the cold, and excursions at nighttime (e.g. to look for the Northern Lights), the temperature fluctuations can be huge. 

The key to Lapland clothing is LAYERS.

Tall snow-capped red pillar with thermometer reading -21C standing in a snowy square with illuminated snow covered trees behind.

Thermometer in February in Lapland’s Santa Claus Village

Lapland Clothes

Think of your winter Lapland clothes in three parts:

  1. inner layer: underwear and thermal base layer
  2. middle layer: long-sleeved top, fleece, and joggers
  3. outer layer: weatherproof trousers and jacket, or all-in-one, and snow boots

Generally, the inner and outer layers are always worn.  The middle layer is adjusted depending on activities and temperature that day.

Top Tips For Keeping Warm In Lapland

Here’s our top tips when it comes to choosing your Lapland clothes:

  1. Wear layers: keep warm air trapped and for easy adjustment as you move between cooler and warmer environments.
  2. Use boots one size too big: to fit thicker socks and trap warm air. A good test is whether you can wriggle your toes comfortably.
  3. Ensure outer layers are oversized: again, to fit layers beneath and trap the warm air.
  4. Re-wear outer layers: with so many under layers, you should be able to wear outer layers repeatedly without the need for washing.
  5. Mittens are better than gloves: mittens allow your fingers to move around together inside, trapping warm air and keeping fingers warmer. Gloves have a separate compartment for each finger so, whilst they are better for snow play, they allow more cold air to circulate.  Irrespective, you’ll likely want a glove liner underneath.
  6. Wool is best: for breathable warmth and moisture-wicking properties. Use wool base layers and socks if possible.  Merino wool is ideal.
  7. Avoid cotton: it loses its insulating power as it absorbs moisture (sweat), trapping cold air against the skin. Great for summer but potentially dangerous in the extreme cold.
  8. Use a balaclava: under your hat to keep your face, neck, and ears protected from the harsh, cold conditions. We love these Buff polar neck warmers.
  9. Choose a bright hat: with everyone dressed in similar outer layers and the dark environment, a brightly coloured hat can help to spot travelling companions, especially children.
  10. Bring spare accessories: gloves, hats and balaclavas are easily lost, or they get wet and dirty from use and condensation.
  11. No need for smart clothes: You may want one nicer top (or Christmas jumper!) for dinnertime but that’s as far as you’ll need to go with smart clothes.  The focus is firmly on keeping warm – for you and all other guests.  
Boy in Lapland at wintertime with red fleece hat, black balaclava, red snood, weatherproof jacket facing sideways with open fire and kettle visible in the snow by a wooden shelter in the background.

Dressed In Lapland Layers For Cold Weather

Complete Packing List For Lapland

Below you’ll find the complete list of everything we recommend packing for a trip to Lapland in winter.  Scroll down for a printable checklist to help you prepare.

Clothes

This should be sufficient clothing for around a 4-day break.  Depending on whether you have access to washing facilities, you may need to add some extra base and middle layers for longer trips.

  • Underwear (pants and bras)
  • Thin liner socks (not cotton)
  • 1-2 sets of thermal wool base layers (top and bottom)
  • 2 pairs woollen socks
  • 1-2 balaclava / buff
  • Woolly hat (I love my fleece-lined Sabbot bobble hat, not an affiliate!) 
  • 2 pairs liner gloves
  • Fingerless gloves^
  • Thick weatherproof mittens*
  • Thick waterproof gloves for playing in the snow
  • 1-2 fleece tops
  • Joggers
  • Weatherproof jacket*
  • Weatherproof trousers (e.g. ski pants)*
  • Snow boots*
  • Pyjamas
  • Slippers (always appreciated at the end of a day in boots!)
  • Swim shorts/suit (for the sauna / hot tub)
  • Flip-flops (depending on where the sauna is, these may be handy)
  • One set of regular clothes for indoors (e.g. jeans, t-shirt & jumper)
  • [Regular shoes – depending on where you’re staying]
  • [Regular coat for travel if not taking a weatherproof jacket]

*Consider wearing to travel if not renting upon arrival.

^I often switched my liner gloves inside my mittens for fingerless gloves so that I could take photos without having to take all my gloves off. 

Food

It can be useful to bring some basic treats with you for your trip, especially as food is pricey.  (Obviously be mindful of any customs restrictions.) 

  • Hot chocolate powder (lots – it’s the Lapland fuel of choice!)
  • Snacks (non-perishable high-energy snacks are best)
  • Marshmallows and wooden skewers (for any open fires you come upon!)
  • Teabags (if you’re an avid tea drinker like me! There’s no Tetleys in Lapland!)
  • Flask / water bottle (just be sure it’s weatherproof)
  • Wine / spirits (alcohol is expensive in Scandinavia)

Tech

You are sure to want to capture this once-in-a-lifetime experience so the right tech is very important.  The cold weather drains batteries in no time so come prepared with power banks and spare batteries.

  • Power banks 
  • Tripod (particularly if hoping to get shots of the Northern Lights) 
  • Camera with spare batteries
  • Waterproof camera case with neck strap*
  • Go Pro or equivalent camera with mounts

*It may sound like a silly addition, but holding your camera in the freezing cold and whilst moving on husky dog sleds etc is tricky so a protective case with neck strap comes in surprisingly handy.

Other Lapland Specific Travel Items

The Lapland winter is a unique environment: bitterly cold and surprisingly dry with long dark days interspersed by bright sun reflecting on the white landscape.  So, it’s worth adding the following to your packing list:

  • Torch / headlamp 
  • Handwarmers
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip salve
  • Face / hand cream
  • Travel washing line (to hang gloves and socks to dry) 
  • Day bag – a rucksack is easiest although you may find you have sufficient pockets to avoid one!
  • Foldaway tote bag – to carry coats etc through the airport
  • Bubble mix / balloons / food colouring for cold weather science fun!

*A quick word about handwarmers. We haven’t had success with the boil-to-reuse ones.  And I found the chargeable ones were easily triggered in my pocket.  So, frustrating as it is to need one-use products, the disposable air-activated handwarmers are the ones we’ve found work best.

Woman smiling with balaclava on with reindeer 'photobombing' in background set against a snowy winter forest background.

Hannah with a reindeer in Finnish Lapland

For Travel Before Christmas

If you’re heading to Lapland before Christmas, don’t forget these extra magical items:

General Travel Items

As with any other trip, there are the usual packing items to include:

  • Passport
  • Insurance information
  • Travel documents
  • Travel health card
  • Medicines and medical information
  • Copies of important documents
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Travel wash / washing capsules (for longer trips, with washing facilities)
  • Travel weighing scale
  • Adapters and charging cables
  • Money and bank/credit cards
  • Wallet and/or money belt
  • Pack of cards
  • Book / magazine / e-reader
  • Headphones / Bluetooth speaker
  • Towel (if not provided)
Boy lying in snow making snow angels

Hannah’s Son Playing Snow Angels

Free Printable Lapland Packing List

Make sure you don’t forget anything with our free printable checklist.  Download below and use as you pack for your Lapland adventure.

Rent, Buy or Borrow

Warm, weatherproof clothing is an absolute must for a Lapland winter break.  But that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank for it.

Check What Will Be Provided

Some hotels and many activity companies provide outer layer clothing so do check what might be included.

For example, at the time of writing, Lapland Safaris provide clothing and boots for each excursion booked, or complimentary for the duration of your stay if you book 3+ activities. 

Borrow From Family & Friends

Reach out to family and friends to see what they can lend you.  Think outside the box on who to ask:

  • Skiers might have weatherproof trousers, jackets, and snow boots.
  • Sporty friends may be able to lend inner base layers.
  • Walkers may have thick woollen socks.
  • Everyone for gloves, hats, and balaclavas!

Renting Clothes For Lapland Trip

Many companies offer clothing rental services with outer layers and boots provided for a daily fee.  This is a great option for short stays, particularly for growing children or non-skiers who are unlikely to make use of the clothes again.  As well as potentially saving on cost, it could save on luggage and associated cost too.

We used Winterent for our recent stay in Rovaniemi who provided outer trousers, jackets, boots, and gloves delivered to, and collected from, our accommodation.   

Where To Buy Arctic Winter Clothes

Any outdoor clothing shop is sure to be able to help.  Decathlon, Mountain Warehouse and even Lidl/Aldi are all great value options to explore for winter clothes, both inner and outer layers.

And don’t forget to check second hand options on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Vinted, etc.  Especially if you’re planning your trip well in advance, take advantage of people selling at the end of the ski season prior.

Man with suitcase walking away from camera down snowy path in winter wonderland forest with setting sun in sky overhead.

Walking with Suitcase to Santa Claus Village from the Airport

How Much Luggage Will I Need?

With so much winter clothing to transport, it can be hard to know how much luggage you’ll need for a trip to Lapland.

On our most recent trip, we paid to check one large suitcase (23kg) between our family of four, plus a carry-one daysack each.  We each wore our coats and heaviest winter shoes/boots we had at home for the flight and rented our arctic outer layers when we arrived.

Packing Tips:

  • Wearing your outer layers and boots will minimise the need to pay for checked luggage, and ensure you are ready for the weather as you get off the plane.
  • Take a foldable tote in your carry-on to put coats in as you go around the airport and once you’ve boarded to save overheating! 
  • If you’ll be walking to your accommodation, consider a rucksack rather than a suitcase as it can be hard to push through the snow.
  • As many of the clothes are bulky rather than heavy, consider using vacuum bags to make items fit better in your luggage.

Looking for more inspiration?

And be sure to check out our Top Christmas Holiday Destinations – whether you’re looking to lean into the festivities or escape from them entirely, we’ve got a magical Christmas vacation idea for everyone!

We do hope this Lapland packing guide is useful in answering your queries about preparing for a trip to the Arctic at winter.  Don’t forget to download our handy printable packing list to tick off your essentials.

Have you been to Lapland recently, or are you planning a trip?  Share your packing tips or ask questions in the comments below—we love hearing from our readers and helping you make your travel as magical as the destination itself!  Check out our ideas for a 4-day trip to Rovaniemi.  And be sure to explore our tips for exploring Lapland on a budget

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