IIf you’ve spent any time in Scandinavia in the depths of winter, you’re probably familiar with the repeated adage of hardened locals: there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes. That is, if you know how to dress for the elements, you can be comfortable outdoors all winter long.
Staying warm is about using natural solutions, not fighting them, saysLinn Elise Rlvg, a Norwegian adventurer with previous military experience who currently lives above the Arctic Circle in Troms.
We spoke to Rlvg and three other adventurers from Norway for their tips on staying warm in freezing weather.
1. Start with the three-layer system
Layering is dressing in a way that layers the air between the fabrics of the garment, says Rlvg. It’s a balance where the layers aren’t too loose. They should be snug but not too tight.
There are three main layers to consider.
Merino wool is the preferred material for the layer closest to your skin, says Rlvg, because even if it gets wet (from sweat or the elements), it retains its warmth and insulation properties.
Additionally, your second layer should be a thicker wool sweater or technical layer (like PrimaLoft) followed by a top/outer shell layer with windproof/windproof qualities. (Gore-Tex is always a good bet.)
To layer your legs for extra warmth, long wool underwear under windproof pants should suffice, although extreme conditions may require a third layer.
2. Bring a thin down jacket to quickly adjust your temperature
Instead of wearing a single monster jacket, it’s better to wear several layers that you can remove when needed. Kristin Folsland Olsen, an outdoor photographer and journalist based in northern Norway, recommends packing a thin down jacket to adjust the level of comfort during outdoor winter activities.
When you’re not wearing it, she says, store the jacket in a waterproof bag in your backpack to prevent it from coming into contact with liquids. (Down doesn’t recover from a leaky water bottle as well as wool does.)
3. A good hat is essential
Think of your body as a chimney where heat rises, so you’ll want to cover it effectively, says Rlvg, who recommends choosing a hat that wind doesn’t easily penetrate. (Tight-knit merino wool works fine.)
4. Protect your other extremities too
Cold feet can really ruin your day and no shoe will do. Only well-insulated footwear and good socks should be applied for outdoor winter fun.
Karin Strand, Vice President of Expeditions forHurtigruten, who has traveled to Antarctica more than 100 times, says the wool does the job for the socks.
I mostly wear my own hand-knit socks because I make them how I want, says Strand, who also recommends buying wool insoles for your winter boots to keep the cold at bay.
Folsland recommends going for winter shoes or boots that are a bit larger than your usual size (1.5 or even two sizes larger usually works).
That way you can adjust the number of socks you wear underneath and, more importantly, there’s air around your feet, she says. They will not be crushed and your blood circulation can continue to flow.
5. Think of it as an investment
Quality materials are not cheap, but worth the investment, says Torunn Tronsvang, CEO of the Norwegian travel agencyTo Norway.
Buying high-quality leisurewear is expensive, she says, adding that cotton or synthetic fabrics can keep you warm when you’re dry, but are quickly useless when wet.
It’s more sustainable to invest in quality that’s ethically produced and lasts year after year, says Tronsvang.
7 top Nordic and Scandinavian clothing brands for winter 2022
Taking all these factors into consideration, here are several of ourFavorite Nordic and Scandinavian clothing brands from Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark that make it easy to look stylish while remaining functional for winter fun.
The Norwegian brand that makes everything from sleeping bags to tents is responsible for some of the most colorful and technical men’s and women’s ski wear that looks great on and off the slopes. Shop norrna for Gore-Tex outer layers like the Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Jacket ($699) and Anorak Lofoten Primaloft80 ($399) plusmerino socks ($39) and a quality rangebase layers (from $99) in 100% merino wool.
Norrna ships direct to the US, but you can also find their gear at Countryside. As part of its 1% for Nature initiative, Norrna donates 1% of its total sales to organizations that promote sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives.
More for exploring cities than climbing mountains, the Danish designer Ilse Jacobsenhandmade waterproof boots for women ($190 $230) are functional and look super cool too. Made from natural rubber, they keep your feet warm with a fleece lining and are several lengths, more wide calf versions.
The Ilse Jacobsen website only ships to Europe, but these boots are sold in the United States via Nordström.
The Scandinavian standard for great gloves, Swedish brand Hestra should be on your radar whether you use them for skiing or just to stay warm in wintry conditions. Sleek options that can go from runway to afternoon include the Senja glove in terry wool ($120) and the Helags EcoLeather glove ($125). But there are many other gloves, wool mittens, and liners and undergloves you can choose. Styles are available for men, women and children.
Iceland’s main entrance for stylish, practical and extra warm winter clothing is 66North, offering everything from unisex Oddi down jacket ($575) in cheerful colors and Icelandic wool sweaters ($350) inspired by the traditional Icelandic woolen sweater fashions at shell pants ($400) made with Gore-Tex and comfortable lambswool hats ($55).
While the brand has been around since 1926, it wasn’t until 2020 that it started shipping to the United States. The company has been carbon neutral since 2019.
The Norwegian brand Devold is known for its beautiful sweaters for adults and children inspired by traditional fisherman designs. Designed for the harsh Norwegian coastal winters, beautiful unisex sweaters like the Nordsj ($265) and Nansen ($265) are knitted from 100% pure new wool from Norwegian sheep and are suitable for any winter clothing layering strategy.
You have probably seen Fjllrvenis colored Kanken backpacks (from $70) everywhere. But the Swedish brand does so much more, includingexpedition pack hoodies ($275) to stash in your backpack when you’re too hot to layer, 100% wool sweaters (from $150) in Nordic patterns,technical jackets ($500) and merino wool base layers ($100) for women and men.
Fjllrven is widely available in the United States. In addition to shipping direct from his own website, you can also find his gear at stores likeKINGandNordström.As part of his sustainability initiatives, the company aims to become completely carbon neutral by 2025.
SwedishSkoop quickly became the darling of ski town divas who prefer to look as sporty as possible with a powder bottom. The brand is known for its iconicdown mini skirt ($159), but you can also shop infinity scarves ($89) lightweight down,Scandinavian lambswool sweaters ($160) and wool blend socks ($30) for women.
>> Next: The ultimate packing list for a ski trip
The products we write about are independently reviewed and recommended by our editors. AFAR may earn a commission if you purchase through our links, which helps support our independent publishing.
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