Hurtigruten - Dressing for Norwegian winter - revision-01.jpg

Dressing for Norwegian winter

In winter, Norway becomes a picturesque world of snow and ice. As beautiful as this is, it's also incredibly cold.

In winter, Norway becomes a picturesque world of snow and ice. As beautiful as this is, it's also incredibly cold. Here's how to dress for travel near the arctic during the coldest parts of the year: 


One of the most effective ways to stay warm in cold weather is to invest in a good set of thermal underwear. This bottom layer helps trap the heat your body produces, and effectively uses your own warmth as a radiator.

When it comes to choosing long underwear, you have to give the material serious thought. Most thermal underwear is made of either wool or high-tech yarn. To be truly warm, you'll want to go for something that's designed with channels that trap your heat while also wicking away any moisture you produce. Damp clothes in the arctic is a recipe for disaster, so focus on materials that will keep you warm and dry.

Your long underwear should cover your entire torso, and your arms and legs down to your wrists and ankles. You might also find versions of this layer that include a turtle neck, which gives you an extra protected area.

Indoor layers

These are the layers you'll have exposed when you're out of the elements - basically, this layer is your chance to show off your sense of style. Norwegian fashion is the epitome of form meets function, which means that sweaters and other knitwear make up the popular look during the cold season.

Go for choices that reflect your personality while still keeping you nice and warm. If you're a fan of skirts, make sure you've invested in a good pair of knit leggings that will keep you warm. However, it's a better bet to go for pants if you're really focused on comfort. Fleece-lined jeans are a great choice for the coldest time of year.

It might not be a bad idea to have a fashionable short-sleeved shirt between your bottom layer and this one, just in case you go into a particularly warm location. It's easy to end up overheated when you're wearing multiple insulating layers, so you'll thank yourself if you have an opportunity to shed one in a well-heated store or restaurant.

Outdoor layers

Depending on how far north you're heading, you'll want to be well-stocked in outer layers. For your upper half, wear a water and windproof shell or jacket, and then a full winter coat to wear over that. At least one of these should have a hood, but it's better if they both do.

If you're going to be trekking through lots of snow, or if you're just going to be in freezing weather for an extended period of time, you may also want to bring a layer of waterproof pants. Although you may feel awkward shedding and replacing these pants when you transition from indoors to outdoors, your legs will appreciate the extra protection.

Hands and feet

Your hands and feet are two of the most important parts of your body to protect in cold weather. Along with your ears and nose, these are the parts of your body most likely to end up with frost bite. That's why you need to have good socks, shoes and gloves when you're spending time in or near the arctic.

Wool, moisture-wicking socks are your best bet for keeping your toes warm when walking through snow and sleet. You'll also want to invest in a pair of heavy-duty snow boots. Good waterproof boots will keep your feet from getting soaked, and help you keep traction on slippery surfaces.

When it comes to your hands, you have a couple of good options. Your best bet for warmth is insulated mittens, as these trap the heat from your fingers. However, mittens aren't particularly functional. A good alternative that won't limit dexterity is a good pair of knit gloves. If you can, find a pair that will work with a touch screen. This way, you won't have to partially remove your glove if you need to make a phone call.


In addition to your coat and pants, you're going to want to pack plenty of warm accessories. Knit scarves and hats will help you protect your face and head from the chill. You'll also want to bring a warm pair of ear muffs to keep this sensitive area covered. Remember, your nose and ears are particularly at risk for developing frost bite, so you'll want to take extra care to make sure they're safe and warm.

Other Packing Tips

Consider getting a waterproof lining for your suitcase, since you'll probably be carrying it through snowy or wet conditions. If you have any electronics in your bag, these should absolutely be kept in a waterproof container for protection.

It's a good idea to bring an extra hat, scarf and piece of ear protection when you're out and about. These pieces are easy to drop - you'll appreciate having a spare on hand if your hat ends up covered in snow.

Although for most trips it's best to bring as little as possible, it's not a bad idea to err on the side of bringing too much when it comes to the arctic. You can always remove layers, but you can't add what you don't have.