Packing List for Women Hiking & Camping Solo in Norway
Norway is probably one of the best destinations for women who love hiking and camping by themselves. The land is breath-taking beautiful, you can wild camp almost anywhere, and there is a wonderful net of mountains shelters and well-maintained trails. Scandinavia is generally considered a very safe destination for women, also when hiking and camping solo.
When you hike alone you rely completely on yourself and what is in your pack. That is why you have to make sure you have all you need with you - and not much-unneeded extras, so you don't schlep any unnecessary load around the hard terrain.
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I was hiking in Norway in July during an unusual dry spell. I had some drizzling now and then and only one day of serious rainfall and even a thunderstorm (scared the beejeezus out of me!). There were some seriously hot days that surprised me and a few when I moved around the camp wearing gloves and a down sweater. All of it means that you need to prepare for quite a variety of weather situations.
I am happy to say that there was only one night when I felt somewhat chilly - to save on space and weight I grabbed a summer sleeping bag instead of a thick 3-season one. But when I put a down jacket on, a second pair of socks and a fleece around my legs, I felt nice and warm. I was well prepared for the weather and am happy to share what I had in my pack.
Below each section, I share what are my pieces of clothes or gear - and if I can't find the exact same ones, I suggest others that are very similar. There are some affiliate links below to help you with the gear choices. It means that if you buy anything through those links, I receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!
Summer Norway Packing List: the base layer
First of all, let's talk fabrics. Don't even think about wearing cotton!
Wet cotton (and it will get wet from sweating or possible rain) is not only unpleasant cold wet compress against your skin, in Icelandic conditions it can actually be dangerous and bring hypothermia.
Wear merino wool - the safest, as wool keeps on you even, when wet. It also doesn't get stinky for quite a while, which is highly important when you have no access to a washing machine (or warm water).
Alternatively, wear a high-quality synthetic base layer made for sports activities.
Underwear - depends on the length of your stay, at least 3 pairs. There are limited options as to washing your clothes when hiking in Norway. Although there is a lot of access to fresh water, you shouldn't use any detergents in the pristine nature. Mountain shelters do not have bathrooms but you could do a simple wash up there. The problem might be drying though, depending on the weather.
Swimming suit - this is an option when hiking in Norway! There are a lot of smaller and bigger lakes in the mountains. Some of them were icy cold, some a bit warmer. I didn't bring any swimming suit but if you like swimming in natural waters - why not? Of course, you can also go skinny dipping and save a few ounces ;-)
Socks - To save your feet and prevent blisters, I highly recommend wearing two pairs. First pair - thin, synthetic liner and second - a nice, thick merino blend sock. 2 pairs of liners, 3 pairs of wool socks. You want one clean pair for the night. I started using injinji liner socks with separate toes and it's been a blessing for me. I haven't had any blisters all summer!
Top - Two or three merino and/or synthetic long-sleeved shirts plus one or two short-sleeved. Remember, that you need one to sleep in.
Leggins/long johns/tights - perfect to sleep in and as an alternative to regular pants if you like to hike in leggings. This time I had two pairs of hiking pants and used one pair for sleeping.
Again - no cotton! Grab either a nice pair of merino or light synthetic.
Bra - find a good merino or synthetic bra that is dedicated for backpacking. Regular sports bras have thick straps that might rub painfully under your backpack. Find one which straps go close to your neck and are pretty thin.
You don't need a high impact bra for hiking - most of the time you are just walking gently.
Pants - One pair of hiking pants might be enough unless you can't stand hiking in dirty ones! I had two pairs - one for sleeping.
If you want, you might grab a pair of softshell pants for additional protection from cold and the wind. They might be good on some days but too warm (to me) on sunny days.
You can also have a pair of shorts or zip-off long pants. I prefer to hike in long ones so don't care about the zippers. That's a personal preference.
Summer Norway Packing List: mid-layer
Here you're starting to get more options. I like to have two (sometimes three) different kinds of the mid-layer and sometimes I wore two at once.
Fleece - a thin zippered or pullover Polartec fleece is just the perfect second layer. It's good to have a chance to mix and match depending on conditions. It's often very chilly in the morning but gets warm later on. Have something you can easily put on.
Thin, insulated jacket and/or down sweater - this is my favorite one. I have a thin synthetic jacket by Haglofs that I love (it's Barrier III, I couldn't find it on Amazon). It's light, can be packed easily and adds just a bit of warmth without feeling like walking in a winter jacket. I used it on cold mornings and evenings, during breaks or to sleep in.
They are very popular (quite understandably!) and you have a huge variety of styles, materials (synthetic or down) and weight. Choose whichever you like - you won't be disappointed!
In addition to the synthetic Haglofs one, I also grabbed a thin but very warm down jacket with a hood by Rab. This was my go-to when it got really cold. It's pretty roomy so it fit well over the smaller synthetic jacket. I used it only a few times but I was really happy to have it then!
Summer Norway Packing List: rainproof layer
Rain jacket - You absolutely must have a good, rainproof jacket. I can recommend ones with pit zippers for better air circulation. Make sure you jacket has a good hood regulation so you can adjust it to your needs.
Rain pants - these are not optional for Norway. Getting soaking wet when the temperature is about 3°-7°C with icy cold winds is no fun and can be even dangerous. I used them only once and put them on already wet pants but thanks to it I felt warm and comfy. Hypothermia is a serious thing when hiking in the mountains. I also fell twice or so on wet slippery leaves and mud so they also protected my regular pants from all the mud!
My rain pants have zippers all the way down the legs so I can put them on without the need to sit down and take the boots off. I can highly recommend that style!
Waterproof mittens/gloves - this might feel like an overkill but I took them with me. I actually didn't need them - but as I said, I was really lucky with the dry weather. When I was hiking in Iceland, I used them over thin gloves and was really happy to have them for hiking in the icy cold rain.
Check out more tips and tricks for hiking in the rain and loving it in my recent post!
Summer Norway Packing List: Smaller items
A warm hat - either grab a separate woolen or fleece hat or use merino buff to make one.
A buff - for neck protection and general use. I used it as an eye mask as well - it doesn't get dark in Norway until late!
Thin running gloves - the winds can get really cold and I was happy to wear my gloves! Especially in the morning or evening, I was happy to have them.
Sunglasses - you will hike in wide open spaces with no shade whatsoever. There are also many snow patches to cross and water to reflect sun rays.
Baseball hat - I love those as they protect not only from the sunshine but also from the rain. I hate to have raindrops on my face and the hat keeps them off. If it's also cold, I just put a buff over the hat. Classy, I know. But it works!
Summer Norway Packing List: Footwear
Hiking boots - You need a pair of good, sturdy boots. No need for the alpine hard shell, but have a solid boot. You will go through snow, wet boulders, sharp rocks, streams...
Don't wear low hiking shoes or trail runners unless you are highly experienced ultra-light hiker (but then, you probably wouldn't be reading this post!). Make sure you break them in first - buy a new pair a few months before hitting the trails to prepare them.
Hiking in Norway means a lot of rock walking. Some of it is very steep or you need to jump from boulder to boulder. Make sure your boots have a very good grip on rocks or you can have a nasty accident. I had Hoka One One with me and although they proved poor in rain, they were superb on a rock. I felt like I was wearing geckos' feet.
Summer Norway Packing List: Hiking Gear
Backpack - If you are planning on camping (as opposed to staying at the huts) you will need a bit bigger backpack but don't take anything bigger than 50-60 l.
You need to carry food but you don't want to carry too much load. You might probably fit into <50 L if you have a light/small tent and a small sleeping bag. You can buy some food at the mountain shelters - dried soups, canned food, bread spreads, pasta, etc.
If you plan on hiking hut-to-hut, you need an even smaller backpack. In the Norwegian shelters you can't sleep in your sleeping bag but rather you need a sleeping bag insert.
Go light to limit the load you are carrying! I was carrying not only my tent and all the gear but also a lot of food, as I'm on a gluten-free diet so it's hard for me to find suitable food everywhere. I was surprised I could find GF hard-bread at the shelters.
I was using Deuter AirContact which is an amazingly well fitting bag for women. It is on a heavier side but I can still recommend it, especially if you are carrying rather heavier gear.
Trekking poles - I absolutely love hiking with trekking poles and I think they are a must for Norway. They helped me so many times when climbing tricky slopes or crossing snow patches. Trails in Norway are filled with stream crossings and a lot of balancing from rock to rock - grab a pair of them, you won't be sorry!
Dry bags - You must assume it will rain in Norway, so take care of your stuff and pack it into dry bags. Have them in many sizes and colors to help you organize.
Make sure your sleeping bag is well protected from water - especially if you have a down bag! I found that the eVent bags are amazing for things you can squeeze - like sleeping bags.
Seat pad - This one is a nice extra but I highly recommend it. It's light and does not take much room but it's nice to have something to sit on. The ground will often be hard, cold and/or wet so this tiny piece of luxury is highly recommended!
First Aid Kit - In addition to the regular hiking first aid items like band-aids and bandages, don't forget to carry the "space blanket" which helps to protect from hypothermia in emergency situations. I strained my ankle when hiking in Norway and was happy to have an elastic bandage with me.
Summer Norway Packing List: Camping Gear
Tent - Take as light as you can afford. If you are on a budget I can recommend this lovely Vango which weighs only 2kg.
Last year I upgraded to Double Rainbow by TarpTent (read my review) - it's just 1kg! I loved it. Choosing the type of tent is your personal thing but I advise getting a bigger one so you can have all your things inside, protected from the elements. I don't know how people can fit into single-person tents, I have so much stuff with me ;-)
My tent is a 2 person one, so I can fit myself and my backpack and all my crap and don't feel cramped.
Forget about a hammock - there are no trees ;-)
If you are in the market for a new 2-person lightweight tent, take a look at some of your options below:
Sleeping mat - You might want to take a simple foam mat but I advise against it. Most of the time you will sleep on a rocky and hard surface and you want to have something thicker.
You can grab a self-inflating mat or one of the ultralight mattresses. I upgraded to Therm-a-Rest NeoAir for Women (read my in-depth review here) and it's just amazing!
It's tiny, weighs only 350 g and is 6 cm thick. It also has a very good insulation factor (RV of 3,9) - quite important in such a cold country.
Sleeping bag - First of all, you have to decide if you want to go with a down or a synthetic one. Read my post that describes in details all the differences and helps you choose the right down sleeping bag.
It is true, that Norway can get wet but if you take a proper care you don't have to worry. I have two different kinds of down sleeping bags, one very warm (800g of high quality down) and a second one for summer - only 350g of down. Last year in Iceland I had the warmer one and it was heavenly. But Norway isn't as cold as Iceland and decided on taking the summer one - as I wrote already, only one night I felt a bit chilly, so it was a good decision.
Pot - You don’t need a whole set of pots and pans. If you use the Jetboil style of cookers, then you don't need a separate pot. If you opt for a regular gas cooker, grab one pot, max. 1L - you really don't need anything bigger than that when you hike solo.
I boil water for a cup of coffee/tea and the rest is for oatmeal or instant soup. I don’t take any additional plates – I eat my breakfast or dinner straight from the pot.
Grab a titanium one or a light aluminum one – just stay away from steel, it’s heavy. If you want to learn more about all the wonderful variety of camping cookware jump over to this post!
Water bottles - Norway is a great destination for many reasons but one that I appreciated much was the abundance of water sources. There is hardly an hour passed without crossing a stream or a pond. Snow patches are melting all around you, providing clean and fresh water. Make sure you have some kind of filtration system and you don't need to carry much on you.
This time I decided to give a water bladder a go and I really liked it. I definitely drunk much more than when I had just water bottles. For a backup I had Platypus bottles - they are light and easily packable when empty.
Utensils - at least one spoon plus a knife. I don't bother with a fork or sporks. I have one long titanium spoon and it's good for anything.
Coffe/tea mug - I use this GSI light thing. It’s awesome, I even use it at work all the time.
Coffee drip brewer - I love my coffee and there is simply nothing like a freshly brewed coffee with a fantastic view and a book :) Obviously that's not a required item but I'm happy to carry the extra weight for the comfort it gives!
Firelighter - even though the Jetboil I use has a piezzo lighter, I was glad to have an extra source of fire as it was not reliable.
Water filtration system - Mini-Sawyer water filter - I highly recommend it. Carrying it with you means you don’t have to take as much water, so a lighter bag.
Summer Norway Packing List: tech gear
Camera - You do want to have a camera on you! This year I upgraded to Sony a6300 from Sony rx100 m3 I used for a few years. I also was taking photos with my phone camera when it was raining - it's waterproof.
Power bank - I hate running out of juice and there are no options to charge your stuff along the trails I hiked. Mountain shelters have no electricity, so make sure you power bank is a powerful one.
Adapter - you might need it depending on your country of origin.
Kindle - I know, it's not a must but I find it necessary. Not only to relax after a long day (and you can read with no light on because it's light so long in Norway!) but also store important information - documents with your insurance, trail guides and descriptions, flight info, bus schedules etc.
Headlight - you always have to have it when hiking. Needed less than in other countries because of the late sunset but what if you needed to pee in the middle of the night? I actually didn't use it at all this year but still - it's a think you just have to have.
Selfie stick or a small tripod - I didn't have one, used rocks and other natural supports but you might want to take one.
Phone with useful apps (like View Ranger) and GPS
Summer Norway Packing List: Other things
Spare shoelaces - I admit, I didn't have any even though I know they are good to have.
Whistle - some backpacks have them built in the sternum belt, if not- attach it with an elastic band (like hair band) somewhere close by to use in an emergency.
Bags for your trash, toilet paper
Notebook and a pen - if you like to take notes on your hikes
Personal hygiene items - toothbrush/toothpaste, face cream, face cleanser (I use Cetaphil and think it’s the absolute best product for sensitive skin, I don’t even consider not taking it), biodegradable soap, menstrual cup/tampons, sunscreen (for real - I got sunburn in Norway!), lip balm, hand cream.
This list is obviously quite subjective. You might add some things or consider some useless.
I hope this list helps you figure out your own - and that you will have a fantastic time hiking and camping in Norway!