Clothing & Shoes
No matter their age or background, Norwegians are masters of dressing down while still looking good. Most of all, since weather in Norway can shift unexpectedly, most of the recommended clothing items for winter will be equally useful in summer too.
Plan on packing versatile clothing that can be worn in layers, including middle layers for insulation—sweatshirts, zip-up fleeces, or the famed, thick, patterned wool sweaters that are a hallmark of Norway. (Bonus: Buy one as a souvenir on your trip and you’ll be the envy of your friends in winter for years to come!) Once you get to the outer layers, think loose but windproof and waterproof, roomy enough to move around in, with enough aeration to release extra heat and moisture. Many Norwegians will have one main coat for winter, but enough middle layers to be able to fully customize their insulation levels for any activity in any temperature.
Hats, gloves, and scarves are equally important and may also need to be layered in particularly harsh weather. Loop scarves are better than normal ones as they provide more coverage and can be doubled or tripled up; hats should have some amount of wool in them for extra coverage. Wearing one set of synthetic gloves or wool mittens inside a thicker pair of windproof mittens is not uncommon.
For trekkers, the Norwegian Trekking Association recommends wool for anything that will touch your skin directly, since it absorbs moisture much better than cotton, thereby keeping you dry. If you’ll be doing longer treks, pack enough socks that you can wear two pairs at once to reduce friction and avoid blisters; also keep in mind that you may be switching them out more than once a day if you encounter wet terrain. Hiking boots should have treads for a good grip, laces to adjust tightness, enough support for heels and ankles, and be thoroughly broken in before attempting a long trek.
Even if Norway is pretty far north, don’t think you can get away with leaving your sunblock behind. Especially in winter, the sun’s rays can reflect off of white snow and be just as damaging as in warmer climes. A good pair of sunglasses that stay firmly on your face and provide UV protection and wind resistance are also essential.
Make sure to bring your camera to document your Norwegian adventure, along with any accessories you need to operate it at peak performance. This may mean a tripod and a remote, or it may just mean keeping an extra battery and memory card stashed away somewhere. Even if the camera has its own case, make sure to enclose it in a Ziploc plastic bag for extra protection in rainy weather. Phone service may prove spotty if you’re really out in the wild, but a mobile phone for extra safety is still a good idea; a normal charger is useless if you’re in the wilderness with nowhere to plug in, so solar phone chargers are the way to go.
Day & Overnight Packs
If you’ll be journeying outside of city limits at all, you’re going to need a backpack. How far you’re going and for how long will largely determine its size, but you should look for sturdy, well-built, lightweight packs that have multiple flaps and pockets, the better to hold all your gear while also making it easily accessible.
When it comes to daypacks, you should have room for some layers of clothing, a camera, a water bottle, and a lunchbox. Smaller outside flaps make handy storage spaces for a wallet and keys, and you should have somewhere to hold electronics that is particularly waterproof.
Once you graduate to overnight, however, there’s no limit to how big these packs can get. If you’re of medium build, try to limit yourself to medium-sized ones, or you’ll really be struggling on strenuous hikes. Packs with frames can be the best option if you’re out on the trail for several days at a time, and some even have a bouncy mesh layer that keeps the full weight of the pack off your back, thereby reducing excess sweating. Absolutely essential, though, is a thick and supportive waist strap that keeps most of the weight off your shoulders and squarely on your hips.
Food & Drink
If you have food restrictions—such as Celiac disease—you’ll find health food stores are plentiful in big cities, but can be pricey. If your favorite dry snacks pack well, there’s no harm in bringing some from home.
Trekkers will want to bring stackable, tightly sealable containers for storing snacks and meals on the go. Pack reusable utensils that can be washed instead of thrown away to cut down on your trash haul (remember, anything you bring in you’ll be taking out; there won’t be trash cans to throw away your waste), and bring a lightweight, easily refillable water bottle. What’s more, water you collect on your trek should be boiled or chemically treated with giardia tablets; no matter how pristine the environment, not all water from streams and lakes will be safe to drink.
Optional Hiking Gear
There are a number of other types of hiking accessories that aren’t purely essential, but nevertheless may make your life a lot easier and your trip a lot smoother. Norwegians swear by hiking poles, which can provide a much-needed steadying force on steep climbs, as well as a forward propelled motion that gets the arms into the swing of things and can create a particularly pleasing rhythm on longer hikes.
A Camelbak or other water bladder may seem like overkill, but if you’re hiking in summer you’ll drink much more water than you expect to. These can be strapped to your body or pack, are incredibly lightweight, store more water than even the largest bottles, and provide a straw to allow you to drink without stopping.
While they may seem old school, a map and a compass can be your best hope if you get lost, and take up little space. Remember to keep them together in a Ziploc plastic bag to protect against the elements and prevent them from separating in a large pack, where you may have trouble finding one or the other when you really need them both.
Although pharmacies in Norway will most certainly carry the medicines you need, it’s better to travel with your own supply of prescriptions you take regularly. Even though doctors will be largely English-speaking and helpful, you don’t want to have to find a doctor and then a pharmacy to get a medication you could just as easily have packed.
If you wear contacts, bring along a few extra pairs and any supplies you use. If you travel with a guide, he or she should have First Aid supplies on hand, but there’s no harm in bringing along your own basic travel supplies such as bandages or NuSkin, antiseptics, probiotics, and anti-histamines.
For those travelers with medical conditions that impair speech or cause life-threatening symptoms, you are strongly advised to wear a medical alert bracelet that clearly states your condition and an emergency contact number.
Have more questions about your trip to Norway? Take a look at our comprehensive FAQ.