What to Wear in Finland in Winter

Truth be told, when I was asked to speak at the MATKA Nordic Bloggers’ Experience in Helsinki this past January, I was very excited, but a little apprehensive about what type of weather I was going to encounter during my trip. I was heading to Finland, a post-trip in Latvia and then finally to Ireland for project with Guinness. But Finnish winters are notoriously freezing, so I had to prepare. Below you’ll find a guide on what to wear in Finland in winter.

After researching the average temperatures in winter at each destination, I knew I had to pack smart so that I wouldn’t get hit with excess baggage fees. I needed the right clothes to withstand -25o Celsius in Ruka and Kuusamo, but also be comfortable in Helsinki, which was averaging around 2o Celsius during that time. In order to be prepared, layering in KEY!

Here’s a breakdown of the layers you’ll need:

  • Thermal Underwear
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Sweater
  • Jacket
  • Scarf
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Snow Pants
  • Wool socks
  • Boots

Thermal Underwear

If you’re planning on being outdoors in –Co weather then you have to wear thermals. I would suggest bringing two tops and two bottoms (they aren’t always sold as sets so be sure to buy two of each if they are sold separately). Your thermals are crucial for wicking moisture off your body to keep you warm. Thermals are usually made of a cotton/ polyester blend. It seems the synthetic fibers help keep you warm without the itchiness of wool on your skin. The ones I used were the crew cut shirt and double layer thermal Duofold pants by Champion.

Long Sleeve Shirt

This is what you’ll wear over your thermals. I like to pack at least one for every day of the trip unless I know I’ll be able to wash clothes (in that case, I’ll pack half the amount i.e. 8 shirts for 16 days). I like to wear cotton long sleeve shirts from the Gap but for those of you who are extra sensitive to the cold I would suggest taking along wool blend shirts like these by Woolrich.

Sweater

The next layer to survive a Finnish winter is of course, a sweater. To be safe I packed three sweaters – two that are 100% wool and a thinner wool-blend cardigan that would work for my speaking engagement and dressing up for dinner. Roots Canada makes awesome sweaters, cardigans and hoodies made to withstand freezing winter temperatures. If you find that wool is too itchy for you, sweaters made of fleece and polar fleece works just as well. Columbia has several styles to choose from.

Jacket

Your jacket is your first and most important layer of defense against the cold, so don’t go cheap on this layer. A good winter jacket will keep you warm and dry, but also allow for some breathability. I brought along two jackets by Nobis, the Maverick and the Johan. The Maverick is a bit sportier and was perfect for all the outdoor activities I did in Kuusamo. The Johan is a bit more of a city look. Both are waterproof, windproof and made of Sympatex and Embrace membranes, which minimize heat loss while maintaining breathability.

They are a bit heavy, but the 100% Canadian origin white duck down kept me super warm day and night. The hoods are lined with coyote fur to give an added layer of protection around the face.

Scarf and Hat

Keep your neck warm! A thin wool-blend scarf is the best option. With so many layers on you probably won’t want to have a bulky scarf around your neck. Same thing goes with the hat – a thin wool (or fleece) beanie should do the trick. I took along the Black Sheep and Staple hats by Nobis.

Gloves

Keeping your hands warm is very important, especially since winter temperatures in Finland can drop well below freezing. Wool gloves will wick moisture better than cotton ones. If you need to operate a camera or an iPhone, choose a glove with removable fingertips.

Pants

Jeans are okay for when you’re in transit or walking around on a warmer day, but your pants need to be waterproof and windproof like your jacket. This is especially important if you plan on skiing, hiking, dog sledding or spending significant time outdoors. I took two pairs of Arctix Men’s Essential Snow Pants and they were perfect!

Socks

Your everyday socks probably won’t fair well in Finnish winter. You’ll want to pack polyester-blend socks to keep your feet warm (but not boiling).

Boots

Choosing a durable, waterproof and comfortable boot is an essential part of surviving a Finnish winter. The Hannen boots by UGG are built to withstand blizzards. I loved how comfortable they were. They are made of premium waterproof leather with sealed seams and wool in the interior to keep your feet warm no matter how cold it is.

Extras

  • Lip balm to keep your lips from drying out.
  • Moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Sauna attire: it may seem odd to pack a bathing suit for winter in Finland, but the Finnish are serious about their saunas and experiencing sauna culture for yourself is a must! Many Finnish go nude, but you are welcome to wear your bathing suit if you’re not feeling that free.

I hope you like tour guide to what to wear in Finland in winter. If you’ve traveled to Finland during winter we would love to hear about how you dress correctly and your favorite winter clothing suggestions. Leave us a comment below!

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