How Norwegians Prepare for Cross Country Skiing
After skiing in Norway for the first time this past winter, I thought it would be fun to share some essentials I learned from seasoned locals.
More specifically, I’ll talk about what Norwegians wear and what they bring when they go skiing.
Let’s take a look.
What to wear
Wool. Wool. Wool. Wool.
Wool in Norway is unlike any wool I have experienced in the USA. Atle told me the norm when skiing was to wear woolen long underwear with a wool sweater, wool socks, and a wool hat. I had been mentally preparing myself for being itchy and mildly uncomfortable my entire trip. I couldn’t help imagining those thin, wire-like woolen fibers scratching and tickling at my skin for hours on end. Luckily, unlike many sweaters I’ve had in the USA, Norway’s wool was much thinner and softer–like cotton.
They don’t have to be the big bulky ones either. Wool socks can be as thin as tights and every bit as warm. I wore thin wool socks my first ski trip and, to my pleasant surprise, my feet were never cold.
Wool long underwear (Norwegians call it super underwear)
These base layers are not only perfect for skiing. They are also essential for everyday comfort and warmth in Norway’s winter months. They are especially nice for those chilly cabin evenings and frosty early mornings. Wool long underwear provides the warmth of a thick sweater and snow pants concentrated into the size of a normal shirt and leggings.
Cozy wool sweater
The more Norwegian the better. Although the woolen long underwear is mighty warm, it’s nice to have another layer depending on the weather outside. During the snowy winter months, a sweater is necessary for extra warmth and insulation. Sunnier times, however, like Easter, it is common to see Norwegians out in nothing but their long underwear.
Water- and snow resistant outer layers
Snow pants and a hard-shell jacket are a must. Especially for windy days on the mountain. They are also important for those who are less experienced on skis, and who want to stay dry and warm despite falling over repeatedly (ahem, me).
Warm gloves or mittens
You. Do. Not. Want. Your. Hands. To. Get. Cold. This is not a drill. Make sure you have something warm to cover your hands, and none of that thin-knit dollar-bin glove stuff. There is no escape for cold hands when you are out, so you want to make sure you plan accordingly. For beginner skiers, such as myself, invest in some water-resistant gloves to reduce the chances of them getting wet after multiple falls into the snow.
We lose A LOT of body heat through our heads if uncovered. Hats are important for temperature regulation as well. Sometimes, on the mountain, when you are working hard and starting to sweat, you may want to take off your hat to let off some steam (literally). Other times, it may feel chillier and you will want to have a proper hat with a tight knit to keep out the cold.
You don’t want to be blinded on a sunny day. Take a pair of sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun in the sky as well as the rays that reflect off of the snow around you.
What to bring
Pack a small backpack
It may seem like a hassle, but you want to be prepared for anything that may happen. Especially if you are in a remote, or unfamiliar area.
Food must-haves: Kvikk Lunsj, oranges, and Solo
The Norwegian skiing triple treat. Kvikk lunsj (the Norwegian Kit Kat) provides a boost of energy during their ski trip, and so do the oranges. And Solo (the Norwegian orange soda) is a nice treat for any occasion. Most Norwegians wouldn’t dream of going out for a ski trip without these staples. It’s also common to bring water, hot cocoa, coffee, tea, or any other snack items you might want, too, in addition to these staples.
Other survival essentials
Some other items that are important to have include: cell phone and battery bank, dry socks, extra mittens/gloves, first aid basics, a map of the area, and money for snacks along the way.
A few more words to the wise
Eat a proper meal before you leave.
Learn the skiing basics before you start. Especially how to brake when skiing downhill. (I didn’t learn how to stop until after I had unceremoniously tumbled down the first hill of our journey).
Snow may be well up to your thighs, or in my case, my waist, so dress for the occasion.
Greet people you meet along the way, as this is the Norwegian custom.
Plan your trip with plenty of time to enjoy the nature around you.