Rob's Russian Blog: What to pack
Rob's Russian Wardrobe by Boris SV
Rob Lee, about to set off on his year abroad to Russia, gives useful advice regarding packing for colder climates...Russian Wardrobe packing
In the last weeks of my preparation to head abroad, I’ve put a lot of thought into what I’ll be wearing. Obviously one of the things I’ll miss about the UK will be our temperate, if often infuriating, weather system. Despite its penchant for turning August ice-cream soggy with incessant drizzle, on the whole we experience a mild climate, and needn’t worry about fur-lined boots, high wool content and wearing bits of rabbit on our heads (recent winters are an exception).
In September, I’m heading to Petrozavodsk, a city north of St Petersburg in Russia’s Karelia region, I should expect a ‘sub-arctic’ climate. What this means exactly is something I’ll have to get back to you about…
As I’m unable to give any concrete advice until I’ve actually tested out my wardrobe on the Russian seasons, I figure the most useful thing I can do is simply jot down the things I held in mind when constructing my wardrobe.
Cold outside, warm inside
Surprisingly Russia is famous for having very cold winters, across the country. As a result, Russian buildings should be very well heated and you’ll go from freezing to boiling in no time. Wearing multiple, removable layers is key. This way, you maintain a degree of control over how warm or cool you are. Although they are a bit of an oddity in the UK, long-johns and thermal underwear are amazing for Russia. They are tight-fitting and stretchy enough to lie under any outfit without ruining a style or look.
Keep extremities warm
Serious problems aside, if your extremities feel cold, you will too. Gloves and hats and scarves are all obvious, but perhaps you should consider buying a neckwarmer from a hiking shop. It can be slid up over the mouth creating a tunnel of warmth. Oh and there’s less chance of it blowing away too...
Read the label
“They don’t make ‘em like they used to” certainly applies to clothes. Get used to reading the labels on jumpers and coats to see what they are made of, before buying. Natural materials, especially wool, keep you warm, but are sadly being replaced by artificial materials in modern clothing that merely look like them. Although not a concrete rule, these man-made alternatives may fail to live up to their natural counterparts. A good option is to scour charity and vintage shops for second-hand jumpers and coats – besides, retro is in right?
You have to carry a lot of documentation in Russia. A coat with inside pockets gives enough space for this, while offering an extra level of security. It’s also easy to access as you won’t be vulnerable to other problems when rummaging through your satchel or rucksack.
Ask other people
The fact you’re reading this says a lot already. Head over to forums or simple ask around your uni or college for advice on what others have worn. Advice is free unless you have miserable friends!
Find out more about Russian prep by following Rob's blog.