Wondering what to pack for Norway in winter with the best Norway winter clothing to survive the Scandinavian cold? Like, what do you actually wear so you don’t freeze to death and still be able to walk and not roll on the snow overloaded with clothes? Below I share with you my winter packing list for Norway based on me living in Norway, travelling and surviving two long (the third one is coming) winters in the country of the frozen land.
Packing for Norway in winter might be hard at the beginning, but it will be fun once you’ve done it! The type of Norway winter clothing you choose to pack for Norway in winter will depend on the type of activities and places you visit. With proper winter clothes, you can go through even the very cold weather and enjoy this beautiful time of year in the Nordics.
Winter in Norway is a fun season. By now you should know that I love Norway in winter. It’s a perfect time for a little Norway winter travel, with tons of activities around the country. You can find plenty of things to do in Oslo in winter, as well as outside of the capital, like during the tour Norway in the Nutshell in winter.
In Svalbard, you can look for polar bears on the snowmobile arctic adventure, chase the Northern Lights in Northern Norway and activities like dog sledding or skiing are a lot of fun. Even the Norwegian west coast offers a lot to do with plenty of choices in Bergen in winter.
Yet, many people are a bit skeptical about visiting Norway in winter. Yes, it is cold, and you need to dress for the weather, which, many struggle with. In Norway, we have a saying – “there is never bad weather – it’s only bad clothes”. And it’s, most of the time, true!
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NORWAY WINTER CLOTHING – TIPS ON WHAT TO WEAR IN NORWAY IN WINTER
Before I share with you my winter packing list for Norway, I want to give you a few tips on what to wear in Scandinavia in winter. With proper clothing, you can be sure to enjoy even the cold frosty weather in Norway. Winter in Norway lasts from November to March/April.
The winter packing list can help you to find what to wear in Norway in February as well as in December. It can also help you to pack for winter in Scandinavia in general. The weather in winter in Finland or Sweden is not that much different, and there are fun things to do, too like winter in Helsinki.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t just blindly look at the Norway weather forecast for the whole country (it varies greatly from place to place), just focus on the region you plan to go to and decide based on that.
If you want to do any organized outdoor activities, it is highly probable that your guide will provide you with proper arctic clothing. It is advisable to inquire in advance.
What to pack for winter in Norway is especially important when you want to travel light and not carry too heavy luggage. Even with limited clothes, you can still make a pretty cute Norway outfit!
#1 Norway clothes in winter = Practicality over fashion
When deciding on what to pack for winter in Norway put practicality over fashion. Of course, you can very often combine the two but always think about the comfort and warmth first. Norway’s clothing style is simple and often based on sports clothes. The locals in Norway prefer to wear sports clothes all year round and usually flat shoes in winter. A popular choice for Norway winter jackets is a parka jacket or sport down jacket – you will see them all over the streets in Oslo in winter. By following that rule, you can easily blend in with casual clothes.
Parka jacket for him:
#2 Layers are the secret for Norwegian winter
Layers (or “onion wear” in Polish) is the ultimate answer to all your questions regarding how to dress in Norway in winter. The deal is, that the pockets of air captured in between layers of clothes keep the warmth around the body. It’s the same technology they use in the jackets or sleeping bags filled with the dawn.
Another advantage of layering up is the ability to take some stuff off when you get too warm. I often struggle with this when entering the cafes bustling with fireplace from the freezing air outside. It works great in hiking and other outdoor activities and then when you come inside the toasty Norwegian cabin, you don’t want to sweat in this one piece of woolen sweater you took with nothing underneath.
How to dress in Norway:
Outer layer – waterproof and windproof outer layers. For the top, I always recommend a Goretex jacket and for the bottom, the waterproof pants for hiking, or ski pants for skiing. If the weather is cold and dry, in winter it’s good to have a down winter coat. The thick ones are great for less active days, or to put on top after the hike. The thinner ones can even be used as a mid-layer.
#3 Wool is the answer on what to wear in Norway in winter
Wool is the ultimate answer to all your questions regarding what to wear in Norway in winter. Did I say that about layering before? Well, the wool is up there, too. It should be the main part of your clothes for Norway. Wool is the favorite material for winter clothing in Norway, and there is a reason for that.
Do you know the famous Norwegian sweaters, like the one below? Yes, they are all made from wool. And yes, all the locals wear them all the time. Norwegian wool is like wearing nature, ha. Dale of Norway is the best known Norwegian brand producing Norwegian sweaters of very high quality. Although they can be a bit expensive, they are durable, warm, cozy and will last you for years.
Note: You can buy a woolen sweater as a Norwegian gift, but they are quite pricey. So unless you plan to bring one back home as a souvenir, you might want to buy it before your trip.
Merino wool is even a better answer for winter activities in Norway
For sports activities, and if you have sensitive skin and don’t like the itching, you can do even better and choose merino wool. Norwegians are crazy about it and I decided to try it for myself when I moved to Norway. You can find merino wool sportswear in every shop or find some good deals online, like here. The base layers of merino wool are a must. I can recommend getting a merino wool top and merino wool bottoms.
If you are concerned about the wellbeing of the animals used for wool, make sure you choose the brands that care for the animals. The ethical shaving is possible. You can find clothes made from ethically sourced merino wool by Smartwool.
Read more: Fun & Unique Things to do in Oslo in winter
#4 Waterproof and windproof for varying weather forecast
It would be perfect if the winter in Norway meant only frost and clear blue skies. Unfortunately, Norway weather is changeable and this is not always the case. It can get windy and snowy and even rainy on the west coast. Wind can make you feel like it is much colder than the thermometer shows.
You can choose the reliable membrane of Goretex or other membranes made by outdoor companies like Marmot Precip, North Face (they have a great choice of colours), or Columbia. They are all good brands to go for. I’ve been using Marmot for years.
#5 Regions of Norway have different weather
It’s true that the temperatures in Norway in winter can go down to -25°C or even -40°C in Svalbard or higher in the mountains. However, it’s not like this everywhere.
On the west coast, for example in Stavanger or Bergen in winter, the temperatures often stay around zero. That’s thanks to the warm Gulf Stream, which brings the milder weather to that part of Norway.
Therefore, if you travel to several different regions in Norway, be prepared for warmer days, rain as well as frost, ice, and snow. The weather can also quickly change with the blue skies in the morning and the blizzards in the afternoon.
#6 Catch the grip – the best boots for Norway winter
Winter in Norway is a slippery time. Even in the capital, the pavements can quickly become a skating rink and you’d need good balance skills to not fall on the ice without proper shoes.
The Norwegian way of dealing with ice and snow is to cover it with a lot of gravel. Sometimes it helps a bit, sometimes, the gravel moves to one part of the pavement, sometimes, it gets covered with a new sheet of snow and ice, which just makes things worse.
The solutions are two – good winter boots with grippy soles or walking crampons. Not all the Norwegian winter boots have soles good for winter walking, but Sorel winter boots go up the standards. Any sturdy shoe with a grippy sole will work. I often use my hiking shoes in winter with warm socks.
The walking crampons (snow spikes, stabilisers) are very popular in the cities and they definitely help with balancing on the slippery surfaces. You can find the ones that cover just part of a shoe (usually enough), or the whole one. If you decide to wear some, make sure they are easy to put on and off, as you would need to remove them when going indoors.
#7 Stay safe
During the winter months in Norway, the night is longer than the day. The darkness falls quickly and the sun doesn’t rise until the late morning hours.
To safely walk in the dark, many Norwegians wear the reflective bands, that they place on the bags, arms, legs or shoes. Safety first, so get one yourself and feel like a Norwegian in the wintertime.
What to pack for Norway in winter – a full packing list
Based on the above tips about what to pack for winter in Norway, here you can find the example of the packing list for a Norway winter trip. Those are the items, that I always take with me when I travel around Norway in winter.
The basic Norwegian clothing and travel essential for Norway in winter:
- The base layer – thermal underwear like merino wool top and merino wool bottoms.
- Mid-layer – fleece or woolen sweater, Norwegian sweaters are the best!
- Top layer – try top Norwegian winter jackets like parka jackets or Goretex jacket
- Warm hat covering ears – a woolen hat or a hat with fleece lining is the best for the weather in the Nordics in winter.
- A scarf
- Gloves – I usually have thin thermal glove liners that I put underneath the bigger woolen mittens. I love the ones with Norwegian design one them, like those.
- Wool socks – I prefer merino wool, so they are not itchy, keep me warm or cool me down when needed. Here are similar ones to the ones I have.
#Norway outdoor gear
If you planning to go hiking in winter, skiing, dog sledding, see Northern Lights or doing any other fun winter activities, consider packing the items below.
- Down jacket
- Snow pants – if you have ski pants from your skiing gear, those would work as well.
- Trekking poles – very helpful in the ice and snow.
- Head torch – I use Petzl head torch since forever.
- Hiking crampons I also have Petzl ones here.
- Ice axe for more serious hiking or ice-climbing.
- Snowshoes for hiking
#Boots for Norway in winter
- Warm and waterproof boots, with solid soles with a grip, that will not be slippery on the ice. Make sure they have a good sole even for cities! You can look into the Soler winter boots. Or, instead of buying winter boots specifically for Norway you can go around with hiking shoes with woolen socks.
- Walking crampons
- Reflective bands
- Additional batteries + chargers – in the cold the batteries lose power much quicker
- Power bank
- Hand warmers/ feet warmers – if you get really cold or going skiing for hours. They are not normally needed in the city.
- Good backpack – carrying a rolling trolley on the paths full of ice and snow is not much fun. And remember to leave plenty of space for Norwegian gifts!
- Travel adapter – I have this worldwide all in one travel adapter, that I can take everywhere
- Toiletries & Medicines
- Water bottle – Tap water in Norway is free and tasty, so help the environment and save some money – bring your own water bottle instead of buying. Remember to choose a BPA-free bottle.
- Flask to carry around warm tea or coffee – Norway is expensive. The budget trick is to make coffee/tea in your hostel and take it with you to always have something warm around. You can find tons of colours of flasks here.
- Sunglasses – during sunny days, the snow reflects the sun rays and can even result in serious eye injury. Especially recommended if you are planning to go skiing.
- An oily face cream/oil for frost and UV filter for skiing/hiking
- Travel insurance
What to pack for Oslo in winter (and other cities in Norway)
Ok, maybe you don’t need five layers of wool and insulated trouser when you only plan to stay in Oslo and jump from the flat to a tram to train and to museums without much walking.
If you are wondering what to wear in Tromso in December, the above will also apply, but when you plan to chase the Northern Lights, make sure to pack warmer layers.
The casual wear, that I described above would go almost anywhere in Norway, so with a good set of sports clothes, you will be fine in almost any place. However, if you are planning to attend fancy dinners or parties, then maybe bring a nicer piece or two.
Read more about Norway:
- Best Norwegian gifts and souvenirs to bring back from your trip
- Norway in a budget – Local tips for cheap Norway travel
- 13+ Best things to do in Svalbard
- Svalbard snowmobile tour to the East Coast
- Norway in a Nutshell in winter
- Dog sledding in Norway
- The best things to do in Oslo in winter
- The most interesting things to do in Bergen in winter (indoors and outdoors)
Do you know what to pack for Norway in winter? Would you add anything to the winter Norway packing list? Let me know in the comments!
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