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What to Wear in Lapland: A Winter Family Packing List

I’ve packed for my fair share of trips before, but when we decided to go to Finland for a weekend I instantly panicked; I had no idea what to wear in Lapland. First of all, it’s freaking (literally) freezing up there. And second, I had three kids, a husband, and my mom to pack for and had no idea what was essential.

Packing for a trip to Finland may sound impossible, but this mom of three breaks down exactly what to wear in Lapland + tips for your trip.

Thankfully I pulled myself together and made a plan. And now I’m sharing our Lapland packing list with you to make your trip to Finland or Sweden a little easier. Seeing as how we didn’t freeze while were there, I’d say all the things I packed for Lapland worked pretty well for us!

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Quick Tips for Your Lapland Packing List

  • Layer, layer, and then layer some more. This is the key to staying warm and dry in freezing temperatures. If you get too warm you can always unzip and shed top layers.
  • Less is more. If you’re layering correctly, your outer layers will rarely—if ever—get “dirty,” because they won’t be touching your body and they’ll be covered by your jacket. So you can re-wear those second and third layers. It won’t save a lot of space, but it will help a little bit.
  • Add compression bags to your packing list for Lapland. You won’t save on weight allowance, but it will have you some decent space in your luggage.
  • Staying for more than a couple of days? I highly suggest finding accommodation with a washing machine or taking soap to wash your base layers.

Where is Lapland?

Chances are, if you’re reading this you already have plans to visit Lapland. But just in case you’re like me and had no idea where Lapland actually is, here’s some info for you:

Lapland is a region comprised of the northernmost parts of Scandanavia. So, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Kola Peninsula, a small part of Russia make up the area known as Lapland.

However, Lapland covers more than a third of Finland’s total area, which is why many people head to Finland when they’re “going to Lapland.”

A popular destination within Finland’s Lapland is a city called Rovaniemi (with direct flights). It’s well-liked because of all the activities you can do while you’re there, the ability to see the Northern Lights since you’re so far north, and because Rovaniemi is the official home of Santa Claus.

We visited Rovaniemi in the fall of 2022 — you can read all about our adventure here.

How Cold Does it Actually Get in Lapland?

Since you’ll be in the arctic (sounds so crazy to say!), be prepared for some pretty chilly weather.

The temperature ranges from highs around -16 °C (3 °F) to 3 °C (37 °F) depending on location, and the lows are around -30 °C (-22 °F). Of course, this isn’t the “feels like” temperature depending on wind chill.

Our Lapland Packing List

Thankfully, everything we packed for Lapland worked really well for us. The one and only time any of the kids complained of being cold (myself included), was on our reindeer sleigh ride where we weren’t physically moving for about an hour, and it was only our feet that were cold.

This was my basic rule of thumb when packing for everyone and figuring out what to wear in Lapland:

Base layer x2 (a moisture-wicking material)
Cotton-layer x1 (for the extra cold days)
Mid-layer x1-2 (something to help trap and keep that warmth)
Outer layer (waterproof)

For the Lower Body

For the Upper Body

For the Head, Face, and Hands

  • Socks (wool is best)
  • Scarf
  • Beanie or headwrap
  • Ear muffs
  • Gloves (mittens for kids; it keeps their fingers closer together, which makes them stay warmer)
  • Ski gloves (the kids preferred to wear these when they played in the snow)

Where To Get Your Winter Gear

This was seriously my biggest stress when it came to packing for our Lapland trip. We’re not big on winter sports, so I knew we most likely wouldn’t wear these high-priced items again.

We did a mixture of buying, borrowing, and renting our garb for our winter trip to Lapland.

Borrow From Friends

Ask around and see if you can borrow outer layers, especially for kids since they grow so fast, for your winter trip to Lapland.

Buy Them

We bought a decent amount from Decathalon (in Germany/Netherlands), and on Amazon. In America, you can also check out REI and I found a lot of recommendations to buy things from Mountain Warehouse.

And believe it or not, we found great deals for our things on our Lapland packing list from Aldi.

Not only that, but they worked out really well. We got a pack of top and bottoms thermals and some snow boots at a fantastic price. Will they last forever and were they top quality? No. But did they keep my kids warm and dry? Yes.

Rent Gear

If you book activities in Lapland, most places mention that they include all of the winter gear. However, that’s only while you’re doing that activity.

I called several places and asked around about renting weather gear for the duration of our trip, and struck out. Every place I contacted said they didn’t do it anymore.

How to Actually Pack for Lapland

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Packing for a winter trip to Lapland ended up with a lot more clothes than we usually bring with us on a trip simply because of all the extra snow pants, gloves, and bulky jackets.

We each took a carry-on backpack (except my mom who carried on a small suitcase) in addition to one extra carry-on bag (see below), and we checked in one suitcase that had our extra winter gear in it.

We did a few things worth noting to save on space:

Save Space With Space Saver Bags

To save space within your luggage, add compression bags to your Lapland packing list. Not packing cubes (although, those will help, too), but actual air-sucking compression bags.

It’ll still be the same weight, but all of those winter clothes have so much air in them that sucking out all the air will save space in your suitcase/bag. Roll your clothes up as tight as you can and then play Tetris to see how you can get the most to fit in the bag.

We’re usually fans of only packing backpacks, but we took an actual suitcase since our compressed bags fit better inside.

Note: We ordered ours from Amazon.de and they didn’t have any of the roll-up compression bags, so ours came with a pump. The pump worked totally fine. We ordered a three-pack of medium size.

Pack Your Jackets in a Carryon

A lot of people will suggest wearing all of your layers and bulky clothes on the airplane. Honestly, that’s a hard pass for me.

I hate being hot on a plane, so I’m definitely not going to actually wear it; I don’t want to sit on my huge winter jacket, and I’d have a panic attack if there wasn’t room in the overhead section for me to put stuff my jacket in there.

So our solution was to add one piece of luggage to one person’s ticket (we flew RyanAir). We took our large backpack and stuffed the adults’ jackets inside right before we got on the plane. Then, that backpack went up in the overhead (since we paid for the space).

We didn’t need the jackets immediately after landing, so we walked off the plane and didn’t get our jackets on until we were just about to leave the terminal.

Wear Your Shoes

We did wear our big, bulky snow boots/shoes on the plane. I didn’t love it, but there was no way I was wasting all that space.

What to Wear in Lapland When You’re Not Outside

I was really worried about the logistics of what to wear in Lapland when we went out to eat.

Almost every place we visited had a coat closet or hangers to hang up your outer layer.

Thankfully, it’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere and everyone—literally everyone—is in the same freezing boat as you. Rest assured that even if you’re at a “fancier” place for dinner, you’ll see people stripped down to their thermal layer without even batting a frozen eyelash.

If we were still too warm after shedding our coats then we’d take a layer off.

Additional Things for Your Lapland Packing List

These aren’t deal breakers, but they’re on the nice-to-have list when you’re figuring out what to bring to Lapland.

  • Sunglasses.
    It may stay dark for more hours than it’s light outside, but the stark white snow can be pretty bright when the limited sun reflects on it.
  • A headlamp or two.
    Super handy for finding your way in the dark while Northern Light hunting.
  • Stuff for s’mores.
    We packed chocolate, marshmallows, and our s’mores sticks.
  • Swimsuits
    Now, hear me out. Our accommodation had a sauna, as most places have in Finland. The traditional way to use a sauna is in your birthday suit, but since we had all the kids with us and wanted to enjoy it, we brought swimsuits along.
  • Hand warmers.
    We didn’t take these and we were all fine, but if you’re prone to freezing hands, they could be useful.
  • Lotion and chapstick.
    It was extra cold and dry and we found ourselves lathering up more than usual.
  • A tripod.
    If you want shots of the Northern Lights, a tripod will be your best friend. My hands/fingers were so cold when I’d try to take a picture that I was thankful for the tripod stand with a remote. *NOTE: in extreme cold, your phone will lose battery a lot faster, and it may run much slower.
  • Upgraded phone.
    I didn’t do this and wish I did. My phone (currently an iPhone 11Pro Max is fine, but not great in low light. I’ve heard that the iPhone 13 and 14 are remarkably better, and I wish I upgraded before the trip.

Where to Stay in Lapland

Our family of six (my mom was with us) stayed outside of Rovaniemi at the Holiday Home Villa Vihtori. The pictures in the listing don’t do this place justice. It was perfect for us.

Not only was it comfy and cozy for our Lapland weekend adventure, but it would be spectacular in any season. We loved the location (basically in the middle of nowhere, but a beautiful nowhere), we loved the enclosed sun deck, and we really loved the 360º hut with a fireplace outside.

A lot of people love staying at the Apukka Resort in glass “igloos,” and while it would’ve been really cool to do that, I loved that we were far from the city lights and in our own little winter wonderland. But if staying in one of the glass igloos is on your bucket list, then go for it!

What’s on Your Lapland Packing List?

Have you been to Finland before? Am I missing anything that you would add to a Lapland packing list? Let me know in the comments! And if this helped you with what to wear in Lapland for your trip, I’d love to hear about it!


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Spending a weekend in Lapland? There's so much to do and so little time, but this post has all the fun things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland

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