What to Pack for Iceland in the Winter

Surprisingly, my Iceland packing list for winter isn’t too dissimilar from my Iceland summer packing list — but there are some important differences. Boy Scouts should do will in Iceland because it is important to be prepared. After visiting Iceland in winter and summer, I’ve put some thought into what to wear in Iceland in winter and what other gear you need to bring on your trip. Don’t be caught unprepared!

The first thing to keep in mind is that “winter” in Iceland technically September – May.  The average temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the Southern Lowlands, but gets down to about 14 degrees in the Highlands. This may not feel that cold when the sun is shining but since weather in Iceland is so unpredictable, this can quickly change to wind, snow or sleet.

Iceland in winter

What to Wear in Iceland in Winter

  1. Since layering is critical, start off with a good base layer. Columbia is one of my favorite brands with their good heavyweight or Omniheat base layers. The Under Armour ColdGear mock turtleneck is also a great choice.
  2. You will then want a good fleece or sweatshirt to layer on top. You can always find some warm and fashionable options from Athleta or Columbia.
  3.  Cold weather leggings are great for layering. You definitely don’t want to wear jeans, because if those get wet they are so cold and take forever to dry. The Polartec Power Stretch pant from Athleta is nice and warm, or you could try the Under Armour ColdGear Infrared leggings are also great at trapping the heat.
  4. You will also want also want some good water resistant pants to layer on top. Columbia’s Titan Peak pant is perfect for outdoor activity and the Omni Shield technology keeps you dry. Mountain Hardwear’s stretch Ozone pants are also great for hiking and outdoor adventures of all sorts.
  5. I’d also recommend a good pair of waterproof / windproof rain pants.  You never know when it might start raining or snowing, or when you want to get up close to a waterfall. Our whole family has made good use of our Columbia rain pants.
  6. Of course you can’t forget a warm, waterproof or water resistant coat like the Snow Eclipse jacket from Columbia. I love my Columbia ski jacket too…that OmniHeat technology keeps me so warm. We are also big fans of the Arc’teryx jackets.
  7. An absolute requirement is a really good pair of insulated, waterproof hiking boots. Get something sturdy, durable, with great grip for ice and most of all warm like the La Sportiva Gore-Tex Nepal Evo mountaineering boots. You may also want to invest in some strap on crampons if your boots don’t have really good grip for ice because near the waterfalls it is pure ice in the winter.
  8. Just don’t forget a really warm hat and gloves (especially ones with touchscreen-friendly finger tips so you don’t freeze your hands off taking pictures.) And most of all, warm socks! So many of my podcast guests love Darn Tough socks.
  9. Oh, and don’t forget the bathing suit and flip flops! It sounds crazy but chances are, you are going to either stop at the Blue Lagoon or at least take a dip in a hot spring or hot tub at some point on the trip.

If you do forget anything, just head over to 66° North in Reykjavik or in the airport. I have a really warm hat, socks and thin micro fleece gloves from them that I bought in Iceland, plus I brought Hannah back a pair of fleece lined leggings of theirs that she loves.

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Iceland Packing List for Winter

Now you know what to wear in Iceland in winter, but there are other things that need to go on your Iceland packing list. Remember, stores are few and far between so you will want to bring along some basic supplies including:

  1. Moisturizing lip balm (we love EOS in our house.)
  2. A good facial moisturizer with sun protection
  3. Protection for your cheeks from the wind and cold, like Aquaphor.
  4. Tissue packs for your pockets.
  5. Foot and hand warmers to pop into your boots or gloves.
  6. Back up power packs and a car charger for your phone. Remember, the cold drains batteries so quickly. I found that even when I warmed my phone back up it didn’t turn back on unless I plugged it into a charge.
  7. While phones take amazing pictures, Iceland is one place where you’ll want a good camera because the scenery is amazing! Consider a weatherproof camera or a good travel camera.
  8. Make sure you bring a wide angle lens, tripod, a remote/shutter release (to avoid shaking your camera) and tons of extra camera extra batteries (because of that cold.)
  9. Day pack or backpack for your camera, extra batteries/chargers, and any extra gear you might need.
  10. Refillable water bottle — all the water from faucets is clean so don’t worry about buying bottled water.
  11. Protein bars for when you are out doing activities and need a snack or you just can’t find a place to eat.
  12. Electric outlet adapter (if you want to use a hair dryer, flattening iron, etc then you will also need a converter — but don’t worry about your hair in Iceland ;)) I like the ones that have built-in USB ports so I don’t need to bring as many (just keep in mind that they take longer to charge though this way.)

What to wear in Iceland in the winter

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Iceland Packing List for visiting Iceland in winter | What to wear in Iceland in winter

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2 Comments on “What to Pack for Iceland in the Winter

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  1. Such a great list when you are planning to visit Iceland in winter. I would not have thought about gloves that I could wear while taking pictures and probably would have forgot a bathing suit – thinking I wouldn’t need one in winter! I liked the second list as well and the tips to remember things like lip balm and Aquaphor. for my cheeks. I could see wishing I had those things when I was there! Thanks for a very comprehensive list!

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