3 Warming Tricks to Watch The Northern Lights

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© Sarah Engler and Christa Rüegsegger


Going to the north, resisting the icy temperatures and taking pictures of the Aurora Borealis is an adventure. I love adventures, but honestly, I don’t like to have cold feet. Does that sound like you? I tell you the 3 tricks that kept me warm.

Sarah and I decided to spend our few holidays over new years eve in Finnish Lapland. We did a lot of research to find a bus, train or other public transportation to travel between the airport, Inari and Äkäslompolo. But there was only one connection, once a week and this train station was a 3 hours ride away from the village. 


1. Rent a Car

So we rented a car. And we were glad we did because it kept us warm. In the evening we drove to a nice spot and got out to install our cameras. Whenever our toes were freezing off, we could hop into our vehicle and warm up. Or we just waited inside until the light appeared. I could name this post also the Sissi’s-Guide-to-catch-the-Northern-Lights. But with this tactic, even without running engine, we could wait in a well-tempered room, and the camera's batteries didn’t discharge quickly. Don't forget warm gloves for scratching the windows and remember that most rental cars have electric parking heaters.


© Sarah Engler and Christa Rüegsegger


2. Hold a Cup of Hot Tea

Yeah, this one is a classic, but it is really effective. We both filled our thermos flask with hot tea before heading off to the stakeout. You don’t have to drink a lot, just grasp your finger around the warm cup. There are situations where it seems you can’t rewarm again. Then it’s time for the PET-bottle: Fill hot water into an empty PET-bottle and place it wherever you need it, take off your shoes and put it between your feet for a while. But be careful not to burn yourself! Never hold the hot-water bottle directly to your skin and never for a long time. You could also put the bottle in a sock.


3. Stay on an Insulated Mat

The first night we stood outside for a long time, because we were not sure, if we really saw the lights or if we were just staring at a cloud. The following night we've spent a long time in the cold because we were amazed by the spectacular beauty of dancing, almost sparkling light. Well, in both nights we were standing on ice or snow. Even with our winter boots on, the cold was creeping inside. I always carry a small insulated mat with me. I put it on the icy floor and stood on it, while I took my pictures. The insulating effect was noticeable.
(In case you’re wondering why I carry this mat around; It is the reinforcing back part inside of my daily backpack. It saved me from many chills)


© Sarah Engler and Christa Rüegsegger


And Some More Tips

And of course, you know the saying: There is no bad weather, only inadequate clothing. I am always wearing several different layers. But it's essential to have some space between the layers. Never wear winter gear too tight. Same goes for the shoes; I feel warmer when I have space around my toes so I can move them. I wear natural wool and fleece inside, and a wind-stopping outer layer to keep warm. So the inner layer warms me up, and the outer layer is preventing the heat to disappear.

Always wear a hat, we lose most of our body heat from our head. And there is another thing I learned on several occasions; never get cold in the first place. As soon as I'm starting feeling a little bit cold, I put on another layer, pair of socks or whatever. When I am freezing outside and stay like this for too long, there is no chance to warm up again, even if I put on more clothing. The only thing which helps then is a hot shower.

Oh, don't shower before you leave the house in Nordic winter, do it before you go to bed. And the last tip: Put some Vaseline on your exposed skin to protect it from the cold temperatures. Just don't forget to wash it off in the evening.


There is more to see in Finnish Lapland than catching the Northern Light. 


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