After recently photographing the northern lights in staggeringly chilly -43C (plus significant wind chill) conditions in Finland, I thought I’d share the clothing I took to survive - and thrive! - in such extreme cold:
THE KIT I WORE FOR PROLONGED NIGHT SHOOTING IN -43C
Feet: silk socks, heat holder socks, very loose woollen socks, *foot warmers, snowboots, Yak Traks / snowshoes
Legs: thermals, lined ski pants, ski suit
Top: 3 thermal layers - one thin thermal base layer, one thin merino hoodie, one thick merino hoodie, 800fill hydrophobic down jacket, snow suit
Head: silk balaclava, thin merino hood, thick merino hood, snood with hood, down jacket hood, ski suit hood...yes, all at once - snug!
Hands: silk liner gloves, *hand warmers, thermal Gore Tex outer mittens. I favour over-mittens instead of finger-gloves – inside the mittens my fingers keep each other warm and I can nestle a handwarmer inside so all digits, including my thumb, can access it as necessary. Silk finger-glove liners worn inside the mittens allow me to fiddle with camera settings without having to get my finger tips naked.
*normally I wouldn't advocate these, as they are not eco-friendly, but I did find them essential to being able to continue to work in these extremely low temperatures.
KIT I WISH I'D HAD
A down gilet – Berghaus kindly sent me a Scafell 600+ HyroDown gilet to test when I got back. Along with the silk inner gloves, it’s become my favourite bit of winter kit - snug, comfy, light and gives epic core warmth… it's never off my back and definitely coming next time!
Really it's just a case of going well equipped and recognising your own limits of exposure, as they will inevitably be different to other people's. Then you'll be safe to marvel at, and capture, the beauty that a big freeze brings :)
View a sample of my Finland images at in the By Night and People Plus galleries.