In my previous blog I explained why I have been returning to Venabu for cross-country skiing for 14 years, and how a typical day looks. In this follow-up, I thought it would be useful to list what I take with me.
After years of trying, my current solution for keeping warm and active in the Norwegian spring is as follows:
Merino wool socks plus liner sock. Ski socks have some padding under key areas of the foot, which is not always available in walking socks.
Merino wool long johns.
Winter walking trousers – wind-resistant but not waterproof. Waterproof trousers are too stiff and heavy; not good for active skiing. Remember, snow at -5?C or colder is dry and does not stick to clothing.
A light polyester base layer vest.
Merino wool ‘string vest’ with quarter zip. This is a warm base layer vest with full sleeves and full knit around the waist and hips. (I have to wear the polyester vest as wool irritates my upper body when warm; however on the legs I have no problem).
A light gilet jacket, with full zip.
An outer shell-type jacket with ample pockets – windproof but not necessarily waterproof. It is important to have freedom of movement in the jacket. The jacket has little or no added insulation; warmth is provided by and adjusted by the base layers, which are unzip-able or easily removed.
An extra polyester intermediate layer on top of the merino wool vest (for when temperatures drop below -12C or it is quite windy).
A buff to protect neck, ears or head.
A hat with a peak – the peak must be capable of being raised when going downhill.
The emphasis on merino wool clothing is because it retains its warmth and insulation even when damp and will hold a lot more water than polyester clothing, which can quickly cool down when you stop moving or it is windy.
Zips on inner layer garments are useful when you go uphill; make sure you do them up before you go downhill.
At Venabu, all the West Wing rooms and some of the rooms in the East Wing have a heated floor in the bathroom. This makes for a good drying room and it is quite normal on returning from a skiing trip to remove damp base layer clothing and spread it out on the bathroom floor. Even rinsed out woollen base layers will dry overnight.
It is acceptable to wear ski boots between the bedroom and the ski stall and to take ski boots to the bedroom. This means the boots can be kept warm and if socks are warmed just before you put on your boots, you start the day with warm feet that will all day.
I always carry a small rucksack with spares and supplies, even on short, morning-only trips. The rucksack should contain:
A warm fleece or down jacket, in case of any prolonged stop, which may be caused by you or any other member of the party.
Spare gloves, hat, socks, buff or scarf.
A small flask with warm drink.
Water: either a bottle or papoose-type carrier. Dehydration is a strong risk in cold, dry Norwegian air.
A food snack: muesli bar or fruit and nut mixture or similar. Beware, chocolate gets very hard at -10C and Mars Bars have been known to break teeth!