What to wear in Lapland
In terms of footwear, wellies/gum boots/rubber boots are a definite no-no. They don’t keep feet warm (regardless of how many socks you may wear underneath) and can even become very rigid and dangerously slippery in sub-zero temperatures. The best thing to bring are snow boots, however, if this is the only time you may be subject to serious sub-zero temperatures then hiking or walking boots are best as snow boots can be quite pricey. A top tip here is to buy some that are a size above your regular foot size so you can fit two toasty pairs of woollen socks on your feet first. Thermal or fleece insoles are very good to add as well. Ski socks work just as well as they are usually mainly made out of wool with Merino wool the best. A definite avoidance here should be cotton socks (actually cotton anything) – cotton contains air pockets and when you perspire these air pockets absorb this moisture which in turn stops providing any insulation.
Thermal long underwear/long johns are great for your first layer – make sure these items of clothing are either wool or polyester. A good and economical second layer is jogging bottoms/sweat pants, again, made from polyester. Your top layer should ideally be ski pants and, unsurprisingly, the famous ski brands produce the best ones. Waterproof trousers can work as a cheaper alternative but aren’t really worth it if the temperature gets below -15 degrees.
The key here is layers. Like with your legs, a thermal underwear/base layer is essential. Stick with polyester and wool and once again, avoid cotton. A warm fleece shirt is perfect for your second layer (although it is optional) ideally underneath a 100% wool jumper (essential). Fleece shirts can be quite cheap to buy so it doesn’t hurt having one with you even if you don’t wear it. Once again be sure to check they are 100% polyester – there are some out there masquerading as ‘fleece’ but which actually contain a cotton mix which should be avoided. Lastly a fleece coat/jacket is perfect for the penultimate layer ideally with a 300 weight/ 300 GSM.
Now this is probably the item of clothing you should spend the most on and certainly one that you should look at the better brands for. Your jacket is essentially on the front line of the weather assault and should be able to withstand the coldest of weather that Lapland may have in store for you. Jackets known as ‘Down Parkas’ are definitely the thoroughbreds of the jacket arena here. Unsurprisingly these are the most expensive but these are the types of jacket used in expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. The ‘Down’ aspect of the jacket refers to the insulation made up of goose feathers, quite possibly the best insulation there is. If this isn’t within your budget don’t panic - you can also pick up a down shell jacket or similar insulated jackets for a lot less money. But obviously the cheaper, lesser insulated jacket you go for the less effective the jacket is likely to be.
It goes without saying that a hat and gloves are more than necessary in Lapland. Having your head or hands uncovered is a simple no-no. It is actually worth taking two pairs of gloves - one thinner pair for wearing when you need to take photos whilst outside as well as a bigger pair of gloves or mittens (gloves that have one section for the thumb and one for the other four fingers together) to wear at other times. Good ski gloves are ideal as they are windproof, however, these don’t always come cheap. For your head the most popular type of gear to wear is a fur trapper/deer stalker/Russian style hat with ear flaps. These flaps are a God-send if it is really cold or windy as they act like built-in ear muffs. When it is seriously cold a balaclava can be really useful under a hat but this isn’t essential. Scarves or neck gaiters/snoods are also a great way to keep extra toasty when in Lapland.
Saunas are a big part of the Finland and Lapland experience. You'll find them in most hotels, cottages and even private homes. It is estimated that there could be as many as 2 million saunas in Finland - and for a country of just 5.4 million people that's pretty impressive. So with that in mind it is worth packing your bathers as the opportunity to try a sauna is almost guaranteed.