Eight essential packing tips for a winter trip to Tromso

Deep within the Arctic circle, magical Tromso is an adventure lover’s paradise. Buried under mounds of snow in winter, it attracts those in search of the Northern lights and winter adventure sports such as showshoeing, cross country skiing, husky sledding and snowmobiling. As the world’s most Northernmost University city, Tromso is also buzzing with nightlife and home to a vast array of bustling restaurants. Surrounded by stunning scenery and showcasing the Norwegian’s indefatigable spirit, it is a fantastic destination for a winter break. Note however, for the uninformed there may be a few surprises in store. Check out these packing tips for a winter trip to Tromso to help you stay safe and comfortable during your trip.

a snowy mountain with a city and water
Views of Tromso from the top of the cable car

Four Tips for clothing

Check what clothing your tour company provides

Nothing stops a Norwegian from enjoying winter life. Tourist activities go ahead come snow, wind or rain so visitors must dress for the occasion. We travelled with Pukka Travels and they provided clothing for every type of activity including water flotation suits and winter thermal suits. The latter slip on over your outerwear and add a valuable thermal layer for cold nights.

a man and woman in snow gear holding cups around a campfire
Hanging out around a campfire in Finland waiting for the Northern lights to appear

When you book activities, you might want to check to see what clothing options the company offers. These suits can make the difference between an enjoyable trip and a downright miserable outing. Chasing the Northern lights in Finland in the depths of winter would be utterly horrid without the extra warmth of the thermal suit! Likewise, sailing on a catamaran in the snow without waterproof over suits would be a freezing horror show.

a couple of people in snow
Wrapped up warm for winter sailing in Tromso

Bring layers

Even with the suits, you should bring plenty of warm layers that you can easily add or remove. If you book activities such as snowshoeing, you can soon build up a sweat and may want to quickly remove items. It is best to bring non wicking thermal layers that are lightweight but effective at keeping you warm.

Find your Tromso clothing

a man on snow skis in Norway
Exploring the area around Tromso on snowshoes (note, jeans are not appropriate attire for snowshoeing!!)

Bring heated socks and gloves

Heated gloves and socks are a wise addition to your luggage as they can enhance your comfort in the Arctic. Tromso’s winter temperatures can plummet, and the combination of cold air, wind chill, and moisture can make it a challenge to keep your hands and feet warm. Heated gloves and socks ensure you remain comfortable during extended outdoor activities. Your hunts for the Northern Lights, or dog sledding and snowshoeing activities will be much more enjoyable if you have warm hands and feet.

Many heated gloves and socks come with adjustable temperature settings that allow you to customize the level of warmth to your taste. This flexibility means you can adapt to changing temperatures throughout the day.

Shop heated gloves and socks now

a snowy landscape with mountains and clouds
Exploring Norway on snowshoes

Practical Considerations

Make sure you fully charge your batteries before your activities to ensure they last. You may even wish to carry spare batteries or a portable charging option as battery life dwindles fast in the cold.

Bring shoe spikes

Spikes are essential for a wintertime visit to Tromso. Although pavements are groomed and some are even heated, roads and pavements are often very icy. Without spikes, it becomes seriously hazardous.

Once you venture beyond the city centre, only one side of the road (or neither) may be groomed for pedestrians. You may need to walk in the road and despite the best efforts of Norway’s army of winter workers, ice is widespread. A pair of spikes will give you much more purchase on the ice and will allow you to fully enjoy your trip without fear of falling. You simply pull them on over your boots and walk as normal.

two people on a snowy mountain in snowshoes

Four tips for other items you may wish to pack

Bring a water bladder

A water bladder is an extremely useful item for outdoor activities. When you’re bundled up in layers of winter clothing, it can be cumbersome to access a water bottle in your backpack. A water bladder allows you to drink without the need to remove your gloves to dig through your pack. The drinking hose can be easily threaded through your jacket to make it readily accessible.

If you plan to do longer treks, ski tours, or snowshoeing expeditions, bladders often have larger capacity than standard water bottles, which makes it easier to stay hydrated. People often underestimate how much fluid they lose through breathing and perspiration in colder climates so you may need more than you expect.

Furthermore, a water bladder fits comfortably in your backpack and offers better weight distribution, which can improve balance and comfort during hiking, skiing, or climbing activities.

a group of people on skis in the snow
Cross country skiing in Tromso

Practical considerations

To maximize the benefits of a water bladder in Norway’s winter, it is best to select an insulated model and fill it with warm water to prevent freezing. Check out some options here. https://amzn.to/3wm8Pgn

Bring a head torch

A head torch (or headlamp) is an essential item for a Northern Lights tour in Norway. For the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights you will need to head to remote areas in search of clear, dark skies. You may make camp in the wilderness to enjoy the lights and head torch allows you to see where to walk to avoid slipping on ice or in deep snow.

Unlike a traditional flashlight, a head torch is worn on your head. You can keep your hands in your pockets or use walking poles without needing to juggle a handheld light source.

Check out your options on Amazon.

a snowy mountain landscape with a lake
We saw a reindeer whilst dropping down this hillside

Bring your binoculars

Another important piece of kit for your trip is a pair of binoculars. These serve multiple purposes which can significantly enhance your travel experience.

The Arctic landscapes around Tromso are breathtaking with dramatic mountains, fjords, and frozen expanses. Binoculars can help you appreciate the intricate details of these landscapes, such as distant mountain formations, ice structures, and the subtle play of light and shadow that is characteristic of the polar twilight.

Whilst you can view the Northern Lights with the naked eye, binoculars can also bring out the finer details and structures of the aurora. Binoculars may help you to better witness the mesmerising patterns, colours and movements of the lights.

In addition, Tromso’s surrounding areas are rich in wildlife. You can see whales, seals, reindeer, and various bird species. Binoculars allow you to better spot and observe these animals in their natural habitat without disturbing them.

Practical Considerations

When you select a pair of binoculars for your trip, consider size, weight and resistance to cold temperatures. Check out some binocular options here.

snow covered trees in a snowy forest
beautiful winter wonderland scenes of Tromso

Bring snow goggles

As days can be overcast and snowy in winter, sunglasses may be ineffective.

Tromso’s Arctic climate experiences winter conditions in which snow goggles can improve comfort, visibility, and eye protection. Despite shorter days during the Arctic winter, the sun’s UV rays can be strong. Snow goggles with UV protection can shield your eyes from harmful rays and prevent snow blindness.

Furthermore, the Arctic winter in Tromso can be bitterly cold. Strong winds can kick up snow and ice particles, which can be painful if they hit your eyes. Snow goggles protect against these particles, ensuring that you can participate comfortably in outdoor activities, like skiing, snowmobiling.

Practical considerations when choosing the Right Snow Goggles

Consider the following features for optimal performance and comfort:

  • Ensure the goggles offer 100% UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Choose a lens tint that suits the typical winter light conditions in Tromso. For low light or overcast conditions, yellow, gold, amber, or light rose lens tints can help enhance contrast.
  • Look for goggles with anti-fog coatings and adequate ventilation to prevent the lenses from fogging up, which can impair visibility.
  • Make sure the goggles fit well your face and are compatible with your helmets or hats. Comfortable, adjustable straps and soft, form-fitting foam can enhance the wearing experience.
a building with trees in front of it
cool architecture of Tromso

Final thoughts

Tromso in winter is a destination that promises adventure and tranquility deep in the mesmerizing beauty of the Arctic circle. With these tips, you’re set to experience the magic and mystery of Tromso, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s marveling at the Northern Lights, embracing polar adventure, or immersing yourself in rich Norwegian culture, Tromso is a winter wonderland waiting to be discovered.

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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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