How to dress for a Sami & Reindeer experience in winter?
Päivitetty: 26. syys 2018
Our Sami host wearing his traditional Sami clothes made of reindeer skin and fur
Last weekend we had guests from Japan and Italy with whom we went to visit a reindeer stock in the Arctic wilderness when the temperature went down as minus 34 celsius. It was extremely cold for the most of us, but we spent at least 4 hours outdoors every day enjoying our visit and feeding the reindeer, an it was amazing. In the evening we were blessed with spectacular Aurora borealis dancing in the sky.
We managed this very cold weather well because we were well prepared for the weather by using different layers of clothing and wearing traditional Sami clothes made of reindeer fur and skin. And we looked pretty too!Comfort and warmth is top priority when visiting the Arctic in winter months as the winter temperatures can vary anywhere between 0°C and -40°C. There are two things that make you feel cold: air temperature and wind speed. On our tours we move from place to place on snowmobiles when we go to visit the reindeer stock. And when we move on snowmobiles it gets much more cold. The stay with the Sami reindeer herders can turn very unpleasant if one feels cold so we provide (in some experiences we rent) all warm winter clothing for people visiting us.
"There is no such thing as cold weather, only bad clothes"
Remember to protect your extremities well too! Fingers and toes can get very cold very quickly. Mittens are much more warmer than gloves so we recommend wearing them. A warm woolen scarf is a must and warm hat that covers ears.
IT IS ALL ABOUT LAYERS
It is good to remember that the warmest way to dress is by using the system of layers. As a general rule of thumb is to build up layers of clothes that will trap air. You should have three layers when you go out. The base layer (long- thermal underwear), mid layer (pants and sweater) and outer layer (winter pants and jacket which are made of windproof material). Jackets should always have hoods as they protect head from wind. On top of this clothing we also use snowmobile overalls or traditional Sami reindeer fur jackets. It is worth investing on good quality base layer garments like wool. Merino wool is best material for the base layer as it dries quickly and repels odour. Wool and fleece are good materials for mid layer. And if you ask the Sami, the best material is reindeer skin and fur - and we couldn't agree more!
TRADITIONAL SAMI CLOTHES
The Sami people have lived in the Arctic for a long time and their traditional outwear clothing is probably the most warmest as they use reindeer skin and fur for winter clothing. The Sami people develop a very close relationship to their reindeer and always use as much of it as they can. All parts of the animal is used. The reindeer fur is uniquely thermal, keeping the body warm in subzero temperatures. A complete traditional Sami outfit is a considerable expense in terms of materials and time used by making them. The knowledge of reindeer skin preparation for clothing is passed down through the generations.
The Beaska is a traditional heavy coat made of reindeer fur. The Luhkka is a piece of clothing that is a poncho-like hooded cape with the hem coming down to the wearer's elbow or wrist. Luhkka are made from thick wadmal. Luhkka is traditionally worn on top of the beaska fur jacket. The luhkka protected the furcoat from getting wet from melting or falling snow.
Travelers helping each other to pull over the warm Sami luhkka when heading outdoors.
When the temperature is very cold with wind you have to be very careful and take proper dressing seriously to avoid frostbites. Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. First your skin becomes very cold and red, then numb, hard and pale. Frostbite is most common on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. Exposed skin in cold, windy weather is most vulnerable to frostbite. When the weather is very cold as last weekend, it is very important to cover all the face and not to expose any skin to the wind and cold. You can cover your face with a tick woolen scarf or balaclava. When you move around with a snowmobile it is important to wear snow googles so it will protect your eyes and skin form the wind.
Last but not least, pack a flashlight that you can wear on your head because you'll encounter long hours of darkness especially in January and February. Stay warm and enjoy your visit with the Sami reindeer herders!