“We come from the land of ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow. Hammer of the gods, will drive our ships to new lands …”

That’s the pounding soundtrack I hear in my head each time I rip down a perfect run in my Norwegian ski wear. It’s my mountain theme, Immigrant Song, Led Zeppelin’s heavy metal Viking hymn.

As a ski fashion junkie prone to living out his hibernal dress-up fantasies on snow, the style gods of my winter universe have always been the heroes of Norway: Vikings, polar explorers, ski champions. And so it was I traveled to this country of white mountains and majestic fjords on a fashion quest. My goal: to discover why its iconic ski apparel brands — Dale of Norway, Helly Hansen, Norrøna and more — are so adept at crafting ski wear worthy of the gods.

My Norse tour began with a visit to Oslo, Norway’s capital city, where ancient buildings and modern architectural masterpieces live in aesthetic harmony. The city itself sits like a pearl in the innermost point of the Oslo Fjord, with the frigid waters “We come from the land of ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.

Hammer of the gods, will drive our ships to new lands …” of the North Sea lapping at its shores. Walking past the medieval Akershus Castle and the ultra-modern Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, breathing in the same briny ocean air Vikings inhaled 1,000 years ago, I had an epiphany: it’s the blending of tradition and innovation that’s the key element of Norwegian design, whether it’s architecture or fashion.

“I like the Viking collection,” says Lund Svindal. “It’s a cool image and Dale is a solid traditional Norwegian brand. The last few years Dale has combined vintage style with innovation. It gives the traditional look a tech aspect.”

One of the strongest believers of this philosophy is Oslo’s Amundsen Sports, Norwegian fashion’s new kid on the block and the undisputed champion of the anorak pullover ski jacket, one of this season’s hottest pieces. The anorak was introduced to the West by legendary polar explorer Roald Amundsen after time spent with the Inuit at the turn of the 20th century.

Descendent Jørgen Amundsen and Erik Friis now have several anoraks in their Amundsen Sports collection this year, including the waterproof and breathable Peak, and the waxed linen/cotton Heroes. The latter is a head turner, one that actually looks like a museum piece; it’s like time traveling on the slopes each time you wear it.

Also for the “fanorak”: Dale of Norway’s Fjellanorakk, made with weatherproof wool and featuring pewter buttons and a fur-trimmed hood in gray or navy blue. In Norrøna’s Svalbard, made from blending organic cotton with recycled polyester, you’ll score green points for reducing your environmental footprint.

“The last few years Dale has combined vintage style with innovation.”
— Aksel Lund Svindal

The next leg of my adventure was aboard the famed Bergensbanen from Oslo to Bergen, a journey that rolls through the heart of
Viking country — forests, rivers, mountains, glaciers, and fjords; ice and snow as far as the eye can see.

It made me think: Norway’s savage ruggedness and ethereal beauty has to have inspirational bearing on its design of ski wear.

I stopped in the seaside town of Bergen, known to many as the “gateway to the fjords”. Bergen is a city bursting with color. From the technicolor historic wooden buildings to the red and blue cruise ships parked in the harbor, everything in this town is bright.

It’s no wonder the Norwegian National Ski Team’s colors are aqua blue and orange. Look no farther than the orange glow of a Norwegian sunset over the aqua blue waters of the North Sea.

Dale of Norway

Helly Hansen Ski

Bright hues have been the trademark of brands like Helly Hansen, Bergans of Norway, and Norrøna forever, but this year it seems they’re bolder than ever.

Case in point: Orange is a big color this winter. Helly Hansen’s Elevation shell jacket and pant in neon orange and winter aqua will be sought after, as will Stuben and Ridge shell jackets in white, winter aqua, and neon orange.

Norrøna’s magma orange one-piece lofoten Gore-Tex ski suit and its half and half magma/mellow yellow Gore-Tex lofoten Pro Jacket are right off a French Impressionist color palette.

Bergans of Norway’s koi orange hooded Norefjell and Kongsberg jackets and Gautefall ocean blue ski pants are also bold and beautiful — a North Sea sunset you can buy off the rack.

From Bergen I took a short train ride to a little town called Dale (pronounced DAHL-ay). It is an early 20th-century factory mill town perched on the rocky highlands that overlook the North Sea. Dale, with its brightly painted homes and large factory building looks frozen in time.

It’s not. Inside the Dale of Norway factory, designers are pushing tradition and innovation limits to new levels.

Motivated by owner Hilde Midthjell’s desire to take Dale of Norway beyond its iconic ski sweater, the company has embraced marrying tradition and innovation. Its new Viking Collection of ski jackets, insulators, sweaters, and hats is inspired by Vikings, the steamy television drama based on the sagas of Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok. It’s worn by Norway’s alpine ski team: Aksel Lund Svindal, Kjetil Jansrud, Ragnhild Mowinckel, and Nina Løseth, who call themselves the Attacking Vikings. “I like the Viking collection,” says Lund Svindal. “It’s a cool image and Dale is a solid traditional Norwegian brand. The last few years Dale has combined vintage style with innovation. It gives the traditional look a tech aspect.”

Dale of Norway Aksel Lund Svindal

The standout piece from Dale’s new collection is a sexy, body‑hugging Merino wool sweater with a Viking knit design on the chest. Arrows accent the half-zip collar, and the two ancient runic symbols for victory and success adorn the back. A matching “next to skin” dual-purpose insulator-type sweater can be worn with it or simply on its own.

Also riveting: a black woolen knit shell weatherproof hoodie that looks like it came from the wardrobe department of Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film The Seventh Seal. Think: Grim Reaper. The look is killer. “Neo Viking” is one last trend coming out of this region. Norrøna’s limited edition, black camouflage Tamok shell jacket matched with caviar black Tamok shell pants is so badass! Bergans of Norway’s Fonna jacket is ocean blue with koi orange lining and an asymmetrical zipper that gives it that biker jacket / heavy metal Viking shredder vibe.

All of it works so well together within the Norwegian landscape, or any ski landscape. Led Zeppelin would be proud, especially when you’re trying to be the hammer of the gods conquering pistes in the land of ice and snow.