In the next few days I will be leaving for the Baltics and Scandinavia. Here’s what I'm bringing with me and what you should consider packing if you will be traveling in sub-freezing temperatures.
If you want a full synopsis of my trip check out my Winter in Scandinavia Article. A quick rundown is I'll be starting in the Baltics for about five days, heading up to Swedish Lapland for at least a week (maybe crossing over to Norway for a day or two), and then coming down to Helsinki for a little over ten days. The main focus of my trip is Swedish Lapland, specifically, the small town of Abisko. Abisko, Sweden lies over 250 kilometers above the Arctic Circle and is supposedly the best place in the world to view the Aurora Borealis. While I'll be in cities for a decent portion of my trip, for me this adventure will be a chance to experience nature and my first European winter. With that in mind, here’s what I'll be bringing and what you may want to bring on any similar trips.
Obviously when visiting any winter destination (much less the Arctic), the name of the game is staying warm. While not going overboard, my bag is full of thermals and other under-layers to keep the heat inside. Of course I'm also bringing ski shirts, pants, pullovers, and trying to avoid hoods as to not crowd the hood of my jacket.
For my jacket, I went with North Face's Chakal Insulated Ski Jacket. With dry-vent technology, 100g of torso insulation, 80g of sleeve insulation, and many other winter technologies; I'm hoping this jacket will be up for the task of keeping me alive in temperatures that are known to drop to -40 degrees.
On top of a new jacket, I needed some snow boots that were warm enough to avoid frost bite. Coincidentally, I ended up getting North Face boots (I'm not affiliated with North Face in any way) with the Chilkat 400 II. With heavy waterproofing, insulation, and more; these boots are also rated to handle temperatures as low as -40 degrees.
Some other important things I'm bringing and that you should keep in mind are hats, gloves, scarves, balaclavas, socks, and maybe even ski goggles.
I am no expert photographer but I have been trying to get back into the hobby recently. What better place to start some real travel photography than under the Northern Lights? I'll be bringing my Canon Rebel T6. While it isn't nearly the best Canon has to offer, I am a beginner so why spend a ton of money on an expensive camera when I'm still practicing? But to help balance out the camera model; I have a new lens hood, shutter remote, battery grip, and more. I'll be bringing three lenses including an 18-55mm, 75-300mm, and a 50mm f/1.8 lens (best for Aurora and sky photography).
While I'm excited to start using the traditional photography equipment that I haven’t used in so long, I'm equally excited to use my action cameras. While I haven’t done much photography recently, I don't usually forget my GoPro and I think this trip could be one of the most exciting uses for it. On top of the GoPro (plus a knockoff version I found at Goodwill) for the holidays, I got myself a DJI Osmo Handheld Action 4k Camera. From what I've seen and the reviews I've read, it is an amazing camera that is mounted on a gimbal and control my either the stick or your phone.
Even though I'll be bringing a lot of camera gear, don't expect mountains of content of me walking down the street talking into the camera. First and foremost, I'm traveling to experience these places. But in some instances, I think photography and videography can help you get the most out of your experience and I'll only use the gear when I feel it will be part of the experience.
Other Travel Essentials
While packing for Arctic weather is the main challenge of preparing for this trip, you always have to remember the essentials of packing for backpacking. This time; that includes a sleeping bag, thermos and Eno given that I’ll be outside quite a lot. Here are some other backpacking essentials that I bring with me no matter where I'm traveling:
Sleep Sheet/Sleeping Bag Liner
Reusable Grocery Bag
Daypack (Is also my carry on)
Chargers & Outlet Converters
Rain Covers for Bags
Ready to Go
Of course I'll probably add or decide I don't need in the next few days leading up to my trip, but in general, I feel prepared. My passport is good to go, I got my vaccines, I've been practicing my Swedish, and I'm ready to see a new part of the world. Vi ses! Jag lämnar för att se världen.