After the initial thrill of confirming that we were going to Iceland (said moments of thrill include doing a whoop-whoop dance among many other silly things), I was faced with the inevitable question:
What on earth do I pack for a place like Iceland?
I’m a true-blue warm blooded made-for-the-tropics kind of woman. So just the thought of temperatures of -1 to 5 is enough to make me shiver to the bone. I wanted to pack my entire comforter and electric blanket and walk around with those wrapped around me!
Well someone wise once said that “There is no such thing as cold weather; just inappropriate clothing”
So on this trip, I did my research like crazy and made 100% sure I had all the proper clothing and equipment so that the cold does not get in the way of fun.
These were the staples of my clothing in Iceland. I will break them down for you to explain why each clothing is integral and where I wore/used it.
These are the most basic essentials you need for cold weather. Kathmandu had a buy 1 take 1 special on their thermals so I managed to get a top and bottom for just AUD 30 something. Score! It’s amazing what thermals can do. In Iceland, it is necessary to wear it underneath any outerwear. When I was in Paris a week later, I sometimes wore it alone.
Next are hiking socks from Mountain Designs. It was again a buy 1 take 1 promo and I love the Voyager style. It was the right amount of thickness, and fits the toe and heel very well (doesn’t budge!). I wore this not just in Iceland but throughout Europe and I did a whole lot of walking. No blisters or chaffing whatsoever!
2.) Down Jacket
If I could have one Holy Grail product for this entire Iceland trip, it would be this Kathmandu Hooded Down Jacket V4 Women. It’s so versatile, you can use it for outerwear or underneath a waterproof shell for extra protection. This is very dense and thick with down feather inside.
Remember my ambition to carry my comforter around me wherever I go? Well wearing this is akin to just that!
Where I wore it:
Ok the question is, where haven’t I worn it? I was inseparable from it! Clockwise from top left: When I went dogsledding, it kept me warm underneath a waterproof shell; I wore it solo at the beginning of our whale watching tour; it proved to be the perfect active wear too as I wore it ice-climbing and glacier hiking!; kept me extra warm inside a seafood restarant in Reykjavik.
My favourite part is the versatility of this jacket. While it is packed with down to keep you warm, it is also breathable enough to wear on outdoor activities. And it’s not too puffy either. You can perfectly wear in underneath a hard/waterproof shell as worn above.
*Kathmandu is not available outside of Australia and New Zealand, but this North Face Jacket is quite identical
3.) Weatherproof Pants
I knew that I was going to do a LOT of outdoor sports and activities so I wanted not just weatherproof pants but ones that I can run hike jump and roll around in. Pretty much an all-around kind of pants. This pair of Nabesna Pants for Women by Kathmandu was my best buddy on all outdoor activities.
Where I wore it:
From rough-housing with Greenland huskies to climbing glaciers, the Nabesna Pants were remarkable. The hem of each pant leg had hooks to strap on boots so as not to let snow in (or the cold in) and this was really handy. I sat on snow, ice, rain-soaked grass, and I was fine and dry.
The pants were stretchable too, as proven when I wore it ice-climbing. Definitely a good investment as I see myself wearing this over and over again on my next adventures.
I’m quite annoyed that Kathamndu has discontinued the Nabesna Pants for women ( I wanted to stock up and get an extra pair). But I scoured online and these pants are the closest I can find
In Iceland, it’s all about clever layering. When your thermals are not enough to keep you warm, I suggest layering a fleece pullover on top of it. It makes a whole world of difference. I wore this Kathmandu Faro Pullover v2 Women’s fleece during days I wasn’t so active. If you wear this while being active, you will sweat and because this material is not as breathable (it’s purpose is to keep you extra warm), you may be in trouble later when the cold sweat dries. I suggest wearing this for simple activities like light walking, sightseeing, etc.
5.) Hiking Boots
If you are not doing any outdoor sports or activities, just any pair of warm boots will do. But surely, when you are visiting Iceland, you’d want to engage in all the fun outdoor stuff to do?
A good pair of waterproof hiking boots will take you very far. I suggest going to a mid-length to high cut. This will help support your ankles when you go hiking (or in my case, glacier hiking)
Waterproof is also important as you will be sloshing in and out of ice , snow and rain.
I took with me the Columbia Women’s Plus Hiking Boots and they are my ONLY pair of shoes for the entire Iceland trip.
Where I wore it:
I wore them every single day in Iceland. Whether or not we were doing something or just strolling in the city, they kept my feet warm and protected. I love the versatile look of these boots. While they provided support for hiking and was also waterproof, it didn’t look too bulky and can pass off as regular everyday walking shoes.
6.) Faux Fur Ear Muffs
Keeping the upper body warm during the cold is SO crucial. The ears specifically, need to be covered as heat from the body escapes through our ears as well. If you are going for the fur style, PLEASE go with faux fur only. Though my ears are important, it’s not worth an animal’s life.
Where I wore it:
I wore this on casual days out. This is obviously not worn during sporting activities. And the biggest question is, “Can you hear with that?” Yes, you will be able to hear. Not very clearly of course, but you are able to carry out a conversation.
7.) Trapper Hat
You need to keep your head warm on particularly cold and windy days. You may laugh now at the thought of wearing this, but believe me, when you are in negative temperature weather, you’d want this wrapped around your head all the time.
When I am wearing this, I feel like the warm hands of an angel is cupping my head. Very comforting.
Where I wore it:
There were many occassions when I needed to wear this women’s SoHo Trapper Hat, but one particularly windy day was on board Elding Whale Watching tours. Being out at sea in the middle of the Arctic chill? I needed the full enchillada. I think in these 2 photos , I am wearing ALL gear mentioned in this list, except for the ear muffs.
Another essential worth mentioning are gloves. A lot of sporting activities will provide, but it’s better to bring your own.
What is your favourite winter clothing/accessory?
A big thanks to Kathmandu for sending over a Hooded Down Jacket for me to take on this trip. The rest of the items were purchased on my own. This post contains some affiliate links.