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Scandinavia tour Mid-May- packing for possible rain/cold

I find myself feeling anxious about being too cold or wet because I don’t have the proper rain gear or warm clothing. I believe Scandinavia at this time of spring has quite variable weather.
For those of you who have been on this tour, what was your experience? I’m planning to visit my local REI store to shop for a warm goretex jacket and rain pants. I read that parts of Norway have 80 days of sun which means rain or drizzle is likely.

Posted by
1005 posts

Judy have fun. Our Scandinavian tour is July 24 to Aug 6.

We leave in 7 weeks for Iceland, Glasgow, Orkney, Shetland and Edinburgh.

I have those cities on my weather map and watching their temps.

I was in Shetland in 2010. So I pretty much know what to take. I was not prepared in june 2010.

Have fun


Posted by
134 posts

I have found that in those places where the weather can change a lot a light pair of polar fleece gloves can make a huge difference. Just having your hands warm make you feel warm all over. They don’t take up much room in your bag so if you don’t use them no problem. Just think about more layers than something heavy. Sometimes a polar fleece jacket with a waterproof shell will keep you warm because the waterproof shell acts like a windbreaker. I took that tour in mid June. You will have a fabulous time it’s an incredible tour!

Posted by
5318 posts

I haven’t been on the tour, but I lived in Sweden for a couple of years. I’d bring layers … a raincoat and a fleece jacket that you could wear under the raincoat.

I think rain pants would be overkill unless you are planning to go on an extended hike.

Posted by
26 posts

I’m wondering if you are in my group. I am also going mid-May. I’m struggling a little to know what to pack also since I am just using a carryon and a backpack, plus adding a couple days to the trip. I tend to always be warm so I’m taking mostly short sleeve tops with a few long sleeve ones that can be even warmer with a Cuddle Duds shirt underneath. Then I have a windbreaker, a packable raincoat, and a lightweight puffer (which may be overkill but it squishes down pretty small. Might be good on the fjords!). I want to add a fleece jacket to the mix so I can be warm outdoors but able to be cooler indoors. The temps average between 45 to maybe 60 or 65, and the 45 is in the middle of the night. I am bringing a pair of gloves but probably won’t wear them. But I’m from Iowa, so used to cold weather. I’m happiest when it’s about 65. 🙂

Posted by
25602 posts

What I used in Scotland below the waist was a pair of lightweight merino-wool long johns under a pair of 97% nylon slacks of the type sold by PrAna, Eddie Bauer, etc. The slacks weren't waterproof, but they shed water pretty well. The combination kept me from feeling soaked-to-the-skin cold. Granted, my trip was to Scotland in July rather than Scandinavia in mid-May. Rain pants are rather heavy and bulky and probably something you wouldn't use often. How do you feel about dragging them around with you for the entire length of you trip?

Posted by
3134 posts

I have not been on that tour. I made a solo trip to Sweden in 2015, about May 21st thru the first week in June. I was hoping it would be cold, as that is my preference. It was not, but was lovely if a little warm some days. I traveled between Vasterbotten (northern) to Småland (south central?). I packed a light packable jacket from Lands-end, a quilted reversible vest (Chicos), and long sleeve modal tees (Lands-end). I might have had one short sleeve modal tee. The only rain I had was in Northern Sweden and it was a day of downpour. I am an umbrella girl and used it. I think that was the only day I wore the vest and jacket together. The rest of the time it was one or the other. My slacks were black jeans, NYDJ. My jacket was just rain resistant. I do have a plastic poncho I travel with, which is about 1” square folded, but I have never needed it. I can’t imagine ever needing waterproof pants anywhere on a RS tour.

But I am a New Englander so you need to factor that in to your wardrobe, perhaps. I hope it is OKI answered this one having not been on a tour there. On the other hand, if you are cold you can buy a beautiful Scandinavian sweater! I hope RS reminds you to buy an eye mask…a comfy one!

And as Anne said, bring gloves just in case. I never travel without leather gloves.

Posted by
2445 posts

There is a Pam on my tour roster and the tour is May 22-June 4. Is this you? If so, it’s nice to meet you.

I already have a Marmot jacket with hood that has an inner fleece layer that can be zipped out. I am going to REI and find a Goretex raincoat that can be worn over this jacket, don’t know if this jacket is Gore tex.

What kind of outerwear did you bring for the Shetland Islands? I imagine the weather is very changeable there. Glad you are finally going to Scandinavia in July, we have to compare notes. I know your trip to Scotland will be wonderful.

I have fleece gloves and will bring them, you are right about warm hands.

Thanks for your comment about rain pants. We will be in Norway for several days in the mountains and on the fjords.

I think you have a good idea about lightweight merino wool long John’s. Where do you buy these? I live in the South! Then layer nylon pants from Eddie Bauer, etc. I didn’t know rain pants would be heavy.

Once I figure out what to bring, I will feel some relief.

I do love to travel 🧳✈️ and feel my angst is worth it.

Posted by
1005 posts

Judy - it can be very windy in Shetland. I unfortunately took just a sweat shirt type jacket in 2010. I am very warm nature but that did not matter. I bought knitted fingerless gloves, hand made knitted scarf and hand made wool sweater. Borrowed a wind breaker pull over jacket from my cousin. My outer layers this year will be a water resistant wind breaker, hooded Columbia jacket. Puffy vest, my Shetland sweater, gloves, hand band to cover ears, and scarf this year. I will probably take a pair of leggings to wear under my jeans, pants, Nike workout pants, if it gets cold.


Posted by
25602 posts

Judy, I'm not absolutely certain, but I think I got my merino wool items from Mountain Warehouse. It's not considered a really high-quality source, but I figured I didn't need anything fabulous. I just Googled something like merino wool under layer, followed a few links and bought the cheapest option. You might find something on sale from a website like Eddie Bauer, REI or Sierra Trading Post.

Since merino wool is a bit expensive, you probably don't need to worry that what you order will be too large, so if in doubt you might want to choose the larger of the two sizes you're considering.

Another source of mostly-nylon slacks is Columbia, which is usually a bit less expensive than PrAna and Eddie Bauer. I found the fabric used for the Columbia pants to be a bit thinner (not necessarily what you want for May in Scandinavia), and I think they're 96% nylon rather than 97%--not sure that matters. The Columbias seem to run a bit smaller than the other two brands. On close inspection you can see they aren't as well made, but all my nylon slacks are wearing very well. However, I didn't take the Columbias to Europe, so they haven't been rain-tested, with or without a merino under layer.

Posted by
495 posts

Layers are the key, I think, and I wanted to share that I love the Woolx brand, short and long sleeve wool shirts. You can wear them over and over and they don’t smell. I got the wool sweat pants for my trip to Sicily this month, and they were cozy to sleep in and hangout in my room.

Posted by
26 posts

Yes, I think we are on the same trip. There are actually two Pam’s.

I found this on the web:


Average spring temperatures in Stockholm range between just 3-5 °C (around 40°F) in early March to 16°C (just over 60°F) in May. Your wardrobe might vary quite a bit, depending on when you’re planning to visit, in other words. While early spring might be a good time to bring a warm jacket and scarf, a light jacket or sweater is good enough in balmy May.”

I hope I’m not packing too light but I’m always hot. My pants are going to be a couple pair of Columbia anytime pants, pretty lightweight water resistant, but I’m also bringing a pair of cuddleduds to wear under on fjord days. Several short sleeve tops so I can be comfortable with indoor activities, even if I have to wear my fleece jacket over them outdoors. But be aware that if I’m moving, I’m hot when it’s sixty degrees! I have a packable raincoat I’ve never used, I don’t think it is great quality but it should work. While Norway and Sweden are certainly cooler in the spring than your neck of the woods, it is nothing like Iceland’s variable weather either.

Looking forward to meeting everyone!

Posted by
1259 posts

You can always obtain an additional layer or two when you arrive in country. You can bin them or donate them upon leaving or, if you have the room, just tote them home. On an RS tour, you can often safely store an extra bag (not necessarily luggage) on the bus so you should have plenty of room for extra clothing items purchased locally. There is a similar thread from a few days ago, something about giving yourself some "slack when packing light", especially in early spring when the weather is going to be seriously unpredictable.

Posted by
7845 posts

Hello from the Pacific Northwest where layering is a way of life! First of all, don't pay big, big bucks for a gore-tex rain jacket if you are going to only wear it this one tour. You can still get a waterproof jacket without going completely gore-tex or REI. Columbia has some great waterproof jackets that you can usually find at a semi-reasonable price. Make sure your jacket has a hood. I am sure that you will be bringing a sunhat, but did you know that you can put your sunhat to double duty? Place it under your hood in the rain and it will help give your hood some structure and make it a bit easier to wear.

Under that raincoat you will want either a fleece sweater/jacket or a puffy vest. It depends on what you already own and just how cold you are worried about getting. Base layer is a long sleeve shirt.

I only bring rain pants if I expect to be walking outside for more than 20 minutes. They pack quite small and if you want to hike in the rain can be a life saver.

Posted by
2037 posts

Layers are going to be your friend.

32 Degrees makes wonderful base layer thermals that are super lightweight and on sale for $5-6 now.

This fleece jacket from Amazon is great - large interior pocket, zippered exterior pockets and a hood.

Amazon Essentials Women's...

Add a lightweight rain jacket/waterproof jacket and you’ll be set for rain. I would also bring gloves and an ear warmer headband. If my ears get cold I’m miserable, but hats make my head too hot. This was a lifesaver in Paris in Nov. 2019.

Whaline 5 Pieces Knit Headbands Winter Ear Warmers, 4 Elastic Turban Head Wraps and 1 Pearl Crochet Hair Band, Hair Scrunchies Scarves for Women Girls (Autumn&Winter Colors)

I live in Oregon and have never worn rain pants.

Posted by
2257 posts

We have Marmot rain pants. They weigh next to nothing. We are taking them to Scotland and Ireland in August/September. They kept us dry in Iceland when it was very rainy and windy. We wore them over our jeans.

Posted by
5579 posts

Average spring temperatures in Stockholm range between just 3-5 °C
(around 40°F) in early March to 16°C (just over 60°F) in May. Your
wardrobe might vary quite a bit, depending on when you’re planning to
visit, in other words. While early spring might be a good time to
bring a warm jacket and scarf, a light jacket or sweater is good
enough in balmy May.

Sounds reasonable, but remember that averages are averages. The actual weather can vary and spring can be unpredictable. In May you can have a sunny 25° day followed by 15° and rain the next day. and it will get a bit colder in the evening. Also note that Bergen is one of the rainiest cities in Europe.

Posted by
25602 posts

Yeah. Bergen. I checked, and it gets about twice as much rain as Glasgow, which is notorious for being rainy. Bergen averages 95" of rain each year, spread over 196 days.

I think monthly averages are pretty decent for evaluating precipitation. I always compare them to my hometown to get a feel for how intrusive rain might be. For temperatures, averages don't tell me what I need to know, which is: How likely is it that I'll be too hot or too cold? For that information I go to, which provides actual, historical, day-by-day temperature graphs.

I doubt that Bergen will be your coldest stop (west coast often means comparatively warmer as well as wetter), but here are the weather statistics for June [<<corrected] in Bergen in recent years:

June 2021

June 2020

June 2019

June 2018

June 2017

Posted by
26 posts

I’ll be checking the ten day forecast before leaving. I hope to be ready for average weather swings and will shop if I need to when there. I don’t see a need for wool anything (except socks!), but I can walk in 40-50 degree weather with my coat unzipped. For rain gear, I was in Boston once in March, and we had every kind of weather possible, snow, sleet, rain. I wore a cheap rain poncho over everything else, and it kept me (and my camera! ) dry. I don’t think I’m taking that this time though. I also have a pair of rain pants which I used to drag with me on trips but the only time I really needed them was during an unpredicted cloud burst on one trip so I wouldn’t have had them on anyway. They are staying home, I think.

Posted by
2445 posts

Acraven and Badger,
I read somewhere that Bergen has only 80 days of sun a year meaning 80% of the year Bergen experiences rain, snow, drizzle and every variety of inclement weather. This fact is why I’m concerned but I like your term “balmy” May. So I will lean towards a light jacket or sweater. I do tend to be warm natured especially when doing a lot of walking.

Thanks to everyone for your detailed responses. I’m researching Columbia light weight pants some of which can be converted to capris if needed. Just what I love. Also, light weight wool base layers, top and bottom. The bottom line is I can shop in Stockholm if I need anything.