My Attempt to Stay Warm in Scandinavia

Would you believe that when I moved to New York from Arizona at age 22, I had never once worn a scarf? I didn’t really own a warm coat, so I got my first wool pea coat right before coming. I felt so…east coast.  haha.

But over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to stay warm in NY. The key for winter warmth is down, down, down coats. Nothing else will do. Pea coats are a joke.

Though when I think about Scandinavia – I feel as naive as I did when I moved to NYC. My friend from Finland says layers, layers, layers (I’ll be taking every bit of warmth that I have.) She also recommends something warm to cover your ears and a scarf you can wrap around your face. Another friend recommends we take hand warmers. (Anything else?)

Here are a few other items I got for the trip. I always love hearing people’s recommendations so I thought I’d share my own here…


I feel so darn spoiled that I just got these Sorel Joan of Arctic boots (they just arrived today!) They’re as amazing as you can imagine a snow boot could be. I think they’re totally worth the investment as they seem they’ll last forever. If you want a pair this year, I would hurry! Stock is low on boots all over the country due to the polar vortex. Some brands have completely sold out their entire websites, though luckily Sorel restocked some – you can see here. I would also call Sorel to see when their next restocking might be (that’s what I did, and it worked.)

I (finally) got one of those must haves that has become quite a popular piece in New York – the Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Coat (they’re on sale right now). It comes in tons of colors and lengths and everyday I see New Yorkers wearing these. I’m obsessed with this coat. You can’t even imagine how light weight it is and yet it is still WARM. I especially love that it comes with a tiny bag that the coat can be folded and rolled into for traveling. Since this particular one is the “light” down, I’ll be wearing this as an extra mid layer under my larger, heavier, Canadian down coat – and hopefully I’ll have an Icelandic Lopapeysa sweater underneath as well.  🙂


Danny and I both got some HEATTECH long johns from Uniqlo. (And holy smokes, Danny looks dang good in them. 🙂 EVERY MAN NEEDS A PAIR OF THESE!!! Danny calls them “johnnies.” And since I’m completely nostalgic about New Yorkers right now, I loved this video – Uniqlo outfitted NYC Water Taxi with HEATTECH. 
Hope you all stay warm for the rest of winter. We are having a snow storm today in NYC! 6-10 inches. Unfortunately, our flight today to Alt Summit got cancelled. We are the FIRST presenters at the conference tomorrow so we’re hoping we’ll still make it.

XO, Mara

P.S. We got asked to speak to a group of single people in ICELAND! We are so, so thrilled to be able to meet and connect with some people there. The date will likely be Feb. 10 and anyone is invited, just let us know. We’d be happy to speak or meet up with readers in Norway or Denmark, as well. If anyone is reading this and would like to reach out to us, feel free. We truly love meeting blog readers in person. It’s really so fun for us.

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  1. Emily January 21, 2014 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    This is my first winter in Minnesota and it has been really really cold! I recommend SmartWool socks. They are lightweight, but really really warm!

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      I have heard TONS about SmartWool socks!! Thanks for adding another thumbs up.
      We were so crazed prior to leaving and I didn't have time to get them shipped.
      But I still really, really want to try these socks. I need some for hiking in the Andes, too!

  2. Katie January 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply is having a sale on Sorel boots today … many different styles and sizes still available and priced below $100!

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      thanks for this! I took a look. SO COOL that people could get some for a decent price. They are such, such good boots and I've been so, so happy with mine -they were lifesavers in NYC recently.

  3. Linnea Castro January 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I think you'll be well prepared, having lived in New York 🙂 I lived in Copenhagen for my first two years in high school and didn't find the winters very rough (though it's probably one of the mildest climates in Scandinavia). P.S. Those Sorel boots are beauties!

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      Linnea – it's good to hear. Several others told us the same. I was surprised as I always envisioned it just FREEZING NON STOP. Turns out here in Iceland, so far it's felt much, much more pleasant than NYC. We've been quite comfortable.

  4. Anonymous January 22, 2014 at 2:26 am - Reply

    Please reconsider buying so much down or at least not promoting it to thousands of people on your website. Down comes from ripping feathers out of alive birds. And then they shiver and suffer in countless other ways without their own insulation. You can find videos online from PETA and the Humane Society if you'd like to see the proof yourself. It's good to educate yourself about what you're unintentionally supporting.

    Synthetics are amazing these days. I have a comforter and a coat (and other items) made of imitation down, and it's just as luxurious and warm. There's the added benefit of fewer allergens, too.

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      Thank you for this…
      I'll admit, I haven't thought much about down, but I'm seeing here that I should check into it and maybe reconsider. Thank you!

  5. Aaron January 22, 2014 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Long johns are a must! Get a thermal long sleeve vest too. Your friend is right, layers works a treat. BTW, love the boots. They look killer. Jacket looks toasty too. And yeah, down is the way to go. It's a great isolator. Get down everything from that awesome jacket to your bedding (not pillows though, they suck).

  6. Anonymous January 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    Canadian here… I'm assuming your Canadian jacket fits this description, but your jacket should always cover your butt and I think having a hood is essential. A hood blocks the wind so much more than wearing a hat alone.

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Thank you!! SO true. Hoods are the best. Luckily my coat has one but it's great to have your endorsement, too. 🙂

  7. Anonymous January 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Minneapolis piping in — looks like you're pretty well covered. I'd second the hat with ear covers and SmartWool sock recommendations. One of my favorite cold weather items is the Minne-skirt by Their down mini-skirt is cute and keeps your bum extra warm (wear it over fleece leggings or even jeans!). My sisters-in-law (who I admit are a bit nutty about their running) wore them for a couple of -25 long runs with no complaints. I haven't done that kind of product testing, but think the cute/warm combination is great.

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      ADORABLE. Love the skirt idea. Thank you. Seems like it would be ideal for running.
      And you're not the only one raving about SmartWool socks. I seriously want to get some. I didn't make it before the trip, but hopefully someday.

  8. Mawn January 22, 2014 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    How long will you be in Utah? If you can, you two should come to Provo for the Sacred Gifts exhibit at the BYU Art Museum. You do need to reserve tickets, but it is a fabulous exhibit and my husband and I would love to show you around.

    Stay warm both in New York and in Iceland!

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      Mawn, thanks so much for this suggestion and offer. So kind of you. We didn't have a spare minute in UT, unfortunately. Between Alt and seeing family for a short time, we were so occupied. But the exhibit sounded lovely and we wished we could have visited.

  9. Brittons of Provo January 22, 2014 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    I second the Sacred Gifts! It's really an amazing exhibit, and it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see most of these paintings all together. The painting of "Agony in the Garden" by Franz Schwartz is one that I was not previously familiar with but is now one of my favorites. You should also get the iPad, it has awesome support information, and my favorite parts are the music you can play while looking at the paintings and the AR that lets you navigate between paintings. (This is also a bit of a shameless plug, since my husband made the iPad app, but it really is a beautiful app. If you don't have time to go to the exhibit, you can download it for free from the app store).

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing…
      You guys have convinced me we need to check into this.

  10. Katie Elizabeth Hawkes January 23, 2014 at 5:24 am - Reply

    Since you're going to my dream area of the world and I am, in fact, single, and you are speaking, in fact, the day before my birthday…….it only seems right that I should somehow magically get myself there for this, right???? Right.

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      YES!!! That would have been amazing. I so, so hope you get to visit Iceland someday. It is worth every bit of the hype.

  11. willowday January 29, 2014 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    It was great to meet you at alt this past week and I'm back in Sweden, catching up. I just had a take a second and say "yes" those are the boots I actually wear! I wore heels everywhere until I loved to our house, just outside of Stockholm, and now love my Sorels! And, yes, long underwear…. that being said, I hope you'll see Nordics dressing with a panache! I look forward to following your progress! Happy Travels!

  12. Anonymous January 29, 2014 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    I was thinking about you this morning. The thought popped in my mind if you guys have seen the movie "The Odd Life of Timothy Green". A beautiful message.

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      We haven't seen this movie yet, but thank you so much for the suggestion! We LOVE movie suggestions. One of our favorite things to do is watch a movie on the laptop in bed. 🙂

  13. iLa January 31, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Hi! I am an italian writing from Norway. I agree with layers. A first wool layer against your skin would be perfect. I would also suggest a warm jacket with hood. If the weather is really cold and windy a shell overtrouser will help keep you warm. I also usually wear a wool napal hat with fleece inside, it keeps you warm and wind proof 😉
    Have a nice trip!

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Thank you for these suggestions!! And yes, those hats with fleece inside are the best. Luckily mine has that and it's been great.

  14. freya January 31, 2014 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Not used to such cold weather here and I really hate having to wear lots of layers to keep warm.
    Guess you get used to it.

  15. Anonymous March 28, 2016 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Your name Kofoed is danish and your people are probably from Bornholme (island).

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