The thing about travel is it’s constantly taking you out of your comfort zone. Which is awesome. But it also means that sometimes you have no idea how to best prepare for a situation. For us, that moment came when we were preparing for our trip to Swedish Lapland. We live in San Diego, home of some of the most beautiful and temperate weather in the United States. What did we know about winter travel to the Arctic Circle? Not much. We were not only planning travel to freezing temperatures, but we were also planning to spend much of our time outside enjoying winter outdoor activities. What to wear? It was important to get it right so we weren’t miserable. We put together a winter travel packing list that served us well for enjoying our winter outdoor activities.
The year before we went to Sweden, we took our first winter trip to Madison, Wisconsin. Because of that trip, we had a little bit of knowledge about packing for winter travel, so some of our winter travel packing list was the same. But traveling above the Arctic Circle to experience Swedish Lapland’s winter outdoor activities is a little more extreme.
The key to packing for winter travel is to pack lots of layers and as little cotton as possible. Layers are important because they provide insulation and ventilation and allow you to quickly adjust to changes in temperature and activity level by adding or removing layers. Avoiding cotton is important because cotton retains moisture and will create a chilling effect.
The first layer is the base layer, which goes against your skin. The base layer manages moisture by moving perspiration away from your body to the outdoor layers, allowing it to evaporate. Do not use cotton thermals for your base layer. Your base layer should be made out of wool or synthetic fabrics like polyester. We wore Under Armour, which is made of synthetic fabric, and a popular wool brand is SmartWool.
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