In order to dress efficiently in the cold climate for your Northern Lights trip, it is important to regulate the body’s exchange of heat with the surroundings. This ensures you can enjoy the best Northern Lights trips without the temperature interfering with your holiday.
A Northern Lights Iceland holiday means having to pack for all weathers, as in Iceland the climate is very interchangeable and in one day can see all four seasons, so it is therefore recommended that you wear layers, as you can then layer up or down accordingly. As a guide as to what to take think of it as a bad UK winter, but of course any Northern Lights holiday which includes visiting a volcano or glacier high up is likely to feel colder due to the wind chill.
Expect temperatures to be around +7c in autumn and around -5c in winter.
For those embarking on a Northern Lights holiday in the winter months, to ensure your comfort you need to adopt the 3 layer clothing principle:
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.
Good thermals can be purchased inexpensively from shops including Marks & Spencers and any of the regular camping shops. Please do not bring anything smart as this is not suited to the terrain and not necessary in the hotels, as people dress for comfort and warmth.
Walking boots for hiking, caving and ice climbing activities, along with a waterproof jacket and trousers (lined if required), should see you ready for all eventualities on your Northern Lights trip. Other relevant items of clothing we recommend include good quality woollen socks, gloves, hat and scarf and a warm hat. The hat is vital for reducing the heat loss from your head. We also recommend sunglasses as the sun can be very bright (especially February and March time), along with swimming attire if you have access to a hot tub and are visiting Blue Lagoon.
For those who have included a Blue Lagoon visit on their Northern Lights holiday, as the silica can strip your hair of oil, it is advised to take shampoo and conditioner with you and put the conditioner in your hair before you enter the Blue Lagoon, as this will help to protect it.
If you are doing activities like husky sledding in North Iceland, snowmobiling on the glacier, Northern Lights boat tours or ice climbing, then specialist equipment like helmets, crampons and arctic overalls as applicable are provided. If you are walking up to a waterfall we recommend waterproofs (top and bottom) as the spray on some of the powerful waterfalls can be very wetting!
In Norway, the same as Iceland applies, however, if you are taking part in an activity, especially a Northern Lights tour, then arctic clothing will be provided on the boat trips. You will still need your three layers of clothing, but the arctic clothing will be the outerwear. In the Lofoten Islands it is not unusual to have snow in the autumn with the peaks often covered with snow by late October, although the climate is generally warm in the plus degrees.
On a Northern Lights Holiday to Abisko Sweden you will experience a dry cold, so whilst your own outer clothing is generally fine for arriving and departing, arctic clothing is provided for the rest of your Northern Lights trip. This includes:
Please note this clothing must be returned when departing each lodge as it is their property, and this ensures each base has a good stock of arctic wear for everyone.
As well as the above recommended clothing, you may need a balaclava if your Abisko trip includes a visit on the ski chair lift to the Abisko Sky Station to see the Northern Lights and ski goggles if you have sensitive eyes. If your Northern Lights trip includes a night staying at the Ice Hotel, then a hat is very important as your head will be the only part of you outside of your sleeping bag and subject to the constant -5c that maintains the Ice Hotel structure.
All of the Sweden flights go via Stockholm, so it is advised to carry a base layer of thermals in your hand luggage. That way you can change into them at Stockholm as your flight onto Kiruna is noticeably cooler as most of the passengers are wearing more layers for preparing for the plane landing in the snow, (you are likely to be too warm if you wear this on your flight into Stockholm).