Iceland: What to pack for a Cold Winter Trip of a Lifetime
Visiting Iceland in the winter is a breathtaking experience! In January, the cold temperatures can be pretty extreme, but the beauty of the winter landscape makes it all worth it. Iceland offers a unique and captivating winter experience from the snow-capped mountains to the frozen fjords.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Iceland, and it was one of the most unique and unforgettable experiences of my life. Little did I know, however, that I would be visiting during one of the worst snowstorms the country had seen in over 100 years.
The snow was relentless and seemed never to stop, blanketing the entire landscape in a thick and beautiful layer of white. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the snow and how it transformed the natural landscape of Iceland.
Before my trip, I did a lot of research on what clothing I should bring; I feel cold half the time in California so Iceland in the dead of winter somewhat terrified me. I have always wanted to go in winter, so everything would be fine if I planned correctly.
My planning proved successful; my North Face parka, and all my layers kept me warm and cozy during the trip.
Layering is the key to staying warm in Iceland in winter and adjusting your clothing to fit the temperatures. In Iceland, you can experience all four seasons in one day, so it's good to be prepared.
Plus, it's always warm when you go into restaurants to eat, and layering allows you to take some of your outer gear off easily.
First, you'll need a good-quality waterproof and windproof winter coat. Researching this was annoying because many coats say they are water resistant which is different from waterproof, and from my experience, I would go with waterproof.
Look for a coat with a hood and a long length to keep you warm and dry. And you can wear a fleece or down jacket under the coat for extra warmth.
The coat I ended up with was a lifesaver, it kept me warm and dry, and the wind did not get through at all. I can 100% recommend The North Face Women's Arctic Parka.
It comes in various colors and has detachable fur surrounding the hood, and the hood itself is also detachable. Initially, I was going to leave the fur behind, but I'm so glad I didn't; it helped keep the wind and snow off my face.
Wear multiple thin layers of thermal underwear, sweaters, and fleece tops. Make sure the first layer is a moisture-wicking fabric to keep you dry and comfortable.
I purchased my thermals on Amazon for $29, and was not sure if they would work. Wool thermals were selling for $80 just for the tops. They worked perfectly so don't worry about buying the cheaper options.
You'll also need a good pair of waterproof winter boots with thick rubber soles and insulation. Choose a pair with a high ankle which will give more support when hiking and keep your feet dry and warm. I saw some people wearing sneakers, and they looked miserable. You really do need hiking boots.
I purchased Merrell hiking boots, and didn't have time to break them in before I left, which I was worried about. It worked out fine as they were incredibly comfortable from day one. I can't imagine doing a trip like that without them. With some thick snow socks and toe warmers I was happy, comfortable and warm!
Next you'll need a pair of waterproof and windproof snow pants are also a must. Look for a pair with a warm fleece lining to keep your legs warm and dry. It's warm when you wear fleece-lined snow pants over fleece-lined thermal leggings.
Finally, make sure to pack a hat, scarf, and gloves. Wool materials are best for keeping your head and hands warm. I also ordered rechargeable hand warmers from Amazon that worked wonders. I could slip them inside either my mittens or coat pockets. They are small enough that they won't bother you but do the job well. Also, they charge easily via a USB port.
One thing I didn't bring that I didn't think about was something to cover my face. I pulled my scarf over my face, but it wasn't great. When looking, go for a Gaither that you can pull over your nose and mouth instead of a scarf. If you opt for a scarf, buy one that is compact so you can use it and keep it out of the way under your coat.
By following this guide, you'll be sure to stay warm and dry on your winter trip to Iceland. With the right clothing, you'll be able to explore stunning winter landscapes with ease. So, pack smart and enjoy your trip
We did an 8-day tour around Iceland and could only bring a 24″ suitcase each. Two pairs of thermals and two pairs of snow pants worked perfectly for our tour. If you wear a t-shirt under your thermals, they last quite a while.
The North Face Women’s Arctic Parka
This coat was amazing. Even though I live in California, I am always cold, so I figured I would die in Iceland in Winter.
However, I was very cozy with all the proper layers in place and this coat to top it all off. I 100% can recommend this coat if you are traveling to a winter destination.
Water & Wind Proof | 600 fill goose down | Removable, three-piece hood.
Merrell Women's Thermo Rhea Mid Waterproof Snow Boot
Incredibly comfortable and cozy, these boots fit perfectly from day one. With snow socks and these toe heaters being out in the snow all day was no bother.
Dafengea Women's Fleece lined Snow Ski Pants
Incredibly comfortable and cozy, these hiking pants are made of 92% polyester and 8% spandex, which are waterproof, windproof, warm, abrasion resistant, and have no pilling.
The pants are slim fitting, with multiple zipped pockets, adjustable elastic waistband, and a belt.
Aran Crafts Women's Soft Irish Wool Knitted Cable Cardigan.
Made in Ireland, this traditional Irish cardigan is made with super soft merino wool and is great for cooler temperatures because it acts as an insulator.
With your fleece thermal base layers and the North Face coat to top it off, this will keep you very warm.
How to Get There
& When to Go
There are two ways of getting to Iceland; by airplane or by ferry. Around 20 airlines offer regular flights from destinations in Europe and North America to Keflavik airport all year round. Those who prefer to bring their own car can take the Norröna ferry instead from Denmark.
Best Time to Visit
September through to May are the best times for HSPs. The summer months are usually incredibly busy with tourists in Iceland.
Icelandic and English
Cash | Cards
Credit cards are accepted everywhere, but it's always advisable to have some cash on hand if needed.
The standard voltage is 230 V; buy a travel adapter before leaving.
112 is the single emergency number in Iceland, representing all the response parties to accidents, fire, crime, search and rescue.
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