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What to wear in Iceland in winter: Packing List

by Kosha Admin 18 Jul 2024

Iceland in winter is truly a magical place. The snow-capped mountains, frozen waterfalls, and sparkling glaciers create a landscape that is both breathtaking and otherworldly. But while the scenery is stunning, it's important to remember that Iceland is also a very cold country. That's why proper winter clothing is essential for any winter trip to Iceland.

Winter in Iceland

Iceland is a Nordic island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is known for its dramatic landscapes, including volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls. In winter, Iceland experiences cold temperatures, short days, and long nights. But despite the cold weather, Iceland is still a popular tourist destination during the winter months.

There are many reasons why people visit Iceland in winter. Some of the most popular activities include:

  • Seeing the Northern Lights: Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. This natural light display is caused by the collision of charged particles from the sun with the Earth's atmosphere.
  • Visiting ice caves: Iceland is home to many ice caves, which are formed when glaciers melt and leave behind tunnels in the ice. Ice cave tours are a popular winter activity in Iceland, and they offer a unique opportunity to see the inside of a glacier.
  • Bathing in hot springs: Iceland is also home to many hot springs, which are heated by geothermal activity. Bathing in a hot spring is a great way to relax and warm up on a cold winter day.

Why proper winter clothing is essential

Icelandic winters are cold, with average temperatures ranging from 0°C (32°F) to -5°C (23°F). However, temperatures can drop much lower, especially at night and in the highlands. That's why it's important to pack proper winter clothing when visiting Iceland in the winter.

Iceland Winter 

Iceland probably is one of the places that face the darkest times between the months of November and March. 

The shortest day of the year takes place just before Christmas and experiences only 4-5 hours of sunlight. But we humans have plenty of ways to deal with problems and situations, so the citizens of Iceland make sure that each and every street during these times is covered with beautiful fairy lights just so that the occasion does not lose its charm and its absolute solace to watch the place during the winters. 

For this reason, people really find it extremely cozy and apt to spend their winters even with such cold weather. There is usually a lot of snow in Iceland in February so it is the perfect month to experience the Nordic winter. Iceland in winters could be really troublesome when it's about driving on the snow-covered roads.

Sometimes the roads are totally covered in snow with a complete whiteout. February could be responsible for increasing the difficulties, since it faces a lot of snowfall and blizzards, especially in the remote regions of Iceland.

#iceland-in-winter

Exploring Iceland in Winter

While most travelers associate Iceland with the summer months, the winter season transforms this Nordic gem into a snowy paradise, offering a completely different but equally enchanting perspective of the country. In this guide, we'll highlight some of the most popular winter activities and suggest must-visit places to make the most of your Icelandic winter adventure.

Popular Winter Activities:

  1. Chasing the Northern Lights: Witnessing the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, is often at the top of the bucket list for winter travelers to Iceland. The country's remote locations, minimal light pollution, and high latitude make it an ideal place to catch this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. The best time to see the lights is from late September to early April.
  2. Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon: Soothe your senses in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, a world-renowned spa surrounded by a snow-covered lava field. The contrast between the warm waters and the crisp winter air creates a surreal experience.
  3. Exploring Ice Caves and Glacier Tours: Iceland's glaciers and ice caves are accessible during the winter months. Join a guided tour to explore these breathtaking icy wonders, where you'll witness the stunning blue hues and intricate formations hidden beneath the surface.
  4. Hiking in Vatnajokull National Park: Vatnajokull, Europe's largest national park, boasts a dramatic winter landscape of glaciers, volcanoes, and frozen waterfalls. Guided hikes and glacier walks offer unique opportunities to immerse yourself in this frozen wilderness.
  5. Snowmobiling and Winter Sports: For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Iceland offers thrilling activities like snowmobiling across glaciers or snowshoeing through pristine snowscapes.

Suggested Places to Visit:

  1. Reykjavik: Start your Icelandic winter journey in the capital city, Reykjavik. Explore its charming streets, visit the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, and enjoy cozy cafes and restaurants offering Icelandic delicacies like lamb soup and skyr.
  2. The Golden Circle: This famous route encompasses three remarkable sites: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall. Witness geysers erupting amidst the snow and the powerful Gullfoss waterfall partially frozen.
  3. Blue Lagoon: Located near Reykjavik, a visit to the Blue Lagoon is a must. The contrast of the milky-blue waters against the snowy landscape creates a surreal atmosphere.
  4. Northern Lights Viewing Spots: Venture to remote areas like Thingvellir National Park, or book a guided Northern Lights tour to increase your chances of seeing this natural light show.
  5. Vatnajokull National Park: Explore the icy wonderland of Vatnajokull, where glaciers, ice caves, and frozen waterfalls await your discovery.
  6. South Coast Waterfalls: Journey along Iceland's South Coast to witness enchanting waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, often partially frozen in winter.
  7. Akureyri and North Iceland: Head north to Akureyri, Iceland's second-largest city. In this tranquil region, you can enjoy winter sports and explore picturesque landscapes.

Iceland in winter offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience, where you can marvel at the raw beauty of nature in its most pristine and untouched form. The snow-covered landscapes, coupled with the chance to witness the Northern Lights, make it a winter wonderland that beckons adventurers from around the world. Embrace the magic of Iceland in winter and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Choosing the Right Winter Apparel

Iceland in winter is a land of enchantment, where snow-covered landscapes and the dancing Northern Lights create a mesmerizing spectacle. However, to fully enjoy this winter wonderland, it's essential to choose the right winter apparel. In this guide, we'll delve into the key aspects of dressing for Iceland in winter, focusing on layering for warmth and comfort, as well as the importance of sustainable and technical materials in your winter clothing.

Outer Layer for Iceland in winter for men

Sustainable Winter Wear and Technical Winter Apparel

Iceland is not only known for its natural beauty but also for its commitment to sustainability. To align with the Icelandic ethos, consider incorporating sustainable and technical winter apparel into your wardrobe. Here's why it matters:

  1. Environmental Responsibility: Choosing sustainable winter wear means opting for clothing made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled polyester or organic cotton. Look for brands that prioritize ethical production processes and fair labor practices.
  2. Durability: Technical winter apparel is designed with performance in mind. These garments often feature advanced insulation and weather-resistant technologies, ensuring they can withstand the harsh Icelandic elements. Investing in durable clothing reduces the need for frequent replacements.
  3. Versatility: Many technical winter apparel pieces are versatile and can be used for various outdoor activities. Whether you're exploring glaciers, hiking, or simply strolling around Reykjavik, having gear that adapts to different situations is invaluable.
  4. Temperature Regulation: Technical winter wear often incorporates features like adjustable vents and breathable materials, allowing you to regulate your body temperature effectively. This is especially useful during physically demanding activities.

Incorporate these sustainable and technical winter apparel options to enhance your Iceland in winter experience. When searching for gear, don't forget to use keywords like 'sustainable winter wear' or 'technical winter apparel' to find brands and products that align with your preferences

Iceland Winter Packing List

When you think of “The Iceland packing list” or “The Winter Iceland Packing”, it directly becomes necessary for you to understand and educate yourself about the various kinds of layering and different sorts of garments that are essential for specific times and situations. 

What to wear in Iceland in Winter 

When it's about travelling to someplace extremely chilly, especially when you are visiting Iceland or someplace similar to it, and that would definitely throw cruel challenges at you with its unpredictable temperature and weather, it always becomes essential to put a lot of effort and awareness while packing your luggage for the needful. 

Staying warm and dry is undoubtedly the most essential thing you need to always keep in mind while you are in Iceland. You have to be prepared for all kinds of circumstances and conditions, so do not risk that just to save your time and effort but rather start planning way before so that you have sufficient time to select and plan properly for the trip. 

If you are concerned about the packing and clothing for the Iceland winter trip, then Kosha has got you all covered with your packing doubts and problems and also with warm clothes like winter jackets and many more options, that would keep you warm and dry without any hindrance. 

Outerwear like puffer jackets and parkas

Icelandic winters generally do not face a temperature decrease below freezing point but a Parka or a Puffer Jacket would help you to sustain the Northerly winds. 

 

Parka for outer comfort 

A Parka from Kosha is a perfect fit for a winter vacation in Iceland since it comes with High-quality insulation and is long in size, which also includes both zip and button closure. The design of the Parka comes with a snow shield and poly fleece lining. This jacket comes very handy in snow, rain, or wind. 

A Puffer Jacket also becomes a good choice when you plan to keep your luggage and your packing list winter preparation on the lighter side so as to face the least number of difficulties while travelling. This jacket is cool looking which is most suitable for winter sports, adventures, and for any kind of rough use. It might be lightweight in design but comes with innumerable characteristics such as water repellent, filled with spacious pockets and vents at the end of the arms.   

These options become extremely suitable and worthy when you are planning to be involved in a lot of outdoor activities, adventures, and winter sports. These garments will definitely keep you warm and would help you in any kind of weather condition for which you need not have to change your garments every time the weather conditions change. 

The hassle and commotion caused during unpacking your backpacks or suitcases randomly during weather changes are completely diminished with the help of the above-mentioned garments.  

Sweaters and Pullovers

Woolen clothes and garments always become a constant necessity while planning to a place like Iceland or any other chilly place which will keep you in awe with their beauty and paradise-like experiences but also would challenge you every now and then with their random weather changes and conditions. 

All experienced travelers and tourists would tell you the same thing every now and then, that you always have to expect the unexpected and the worst so as to be prepared for any kind of weather conditions or even calamities, for which you do not have to end up your lovely planned trip or even bring any kind of changes to it. 

For this reason, sweaters and pullovers become a priority element that you have to include no matter when you are planning to visit Nordic Island. But few issues and questions arrive quite frequently whenever these kinds of garments are picked as suggestions. 

Few being, would they itch severely if you wear it for a long time, are they lightweight or would take a huge amount of space from your rucksack or trolley, and the last being are they of an easily breathable material or not. 

Kosha Pullovers for men and women

But you seriously do not have to worry about anything or any kind of questions which are of the above-mentioned kind if you just go through Kosha’s journals which covers all kinds of topics regarding trips to various places all over the world and also covering suggestions and answers to various kinds of doubts and questions. 

Kosha’s products would also have a few of the answers included in them, just as the sweater they produce guarantees for an itchless experience no matter for how long you wear it since it is made of merino wool and bamboo that itself ensure the least chances of itching and other kinds of irritations while you wear the sweater. 

The sweater is made of soft and skin-friendly merino wool, with inbuilt moisture wicking and odour resistant properties. The regular fit allows it to be worn over a shirt or t-shirt and can level up as a mid layer for extra warmth. 

Whereas, the pullovers are all-weather Supima Cotton Pullovers that will keep you effortlessly warm and even stylish so you do not have to compromise on your style preferences for the weather conditions.    

More Europe Packing Lists for winter: Finland | Switzerland

Wear thermals

Thermals are always the ones that need to be included in your packing list right at first without any hesitance. Thermal layers are mostly worn in all kinds of situations and temperatures no matter where you are planning to spend your vacation. 

 

Warm Base Layers

Base-layers for women

Thermal layers are basically the first stage of a foundation in a building without which the building would not be durable and strong. Just like that, base layers help you to keep the warmth right in your body. During warmer temperatures, it can be just women as a single layer and still give you the exact warmth your body requires without any hindrance. 

Even during moderate and chilly temperatures, it can be worn as a base layer and the initial layer covering your body. Thermals are mostly referred to as base layers and Kosha has thermals of both half sleeve and full sleeve for maximum preference satisfaction and also wearing it at a vast stretch of occasions. 

The thermal tee from Kosha is actually designed with the primary motive to keep the style intact plus to be extra light and of breathable material. Its temperature-regulating properties diminish the risk of catching a cold when suddenly stepping out of the central heating. 

The Merino wool and bamboo is extremely soft on the skin and it also comes with odor free characteristics. 

Woolen bottoms - Snow Pants

Iceland would surely give you a great taste of its sudden snow and rain, so you have to keep waterproof garments for ensuring that your body remains dry, no matter what. Bottom Wears which are water repellent are ideal for various situations. 

One being during various kinds of adventure sports especially skiing. The second, during extreme snowfall, blizzards, and even rain. You should make sure that you remain totally dry so as to stay away from any kind of physical disturbance. 

Snow pants for winter

Kosha’s ski pants have broken all kinds of stereotypes where ski pants mean they will look ugly, would be far away from the right fit to your body, would look ugly, and whatnot. 

The ski pants are hardshell in nature, which means it is highly durable and holds the strength to endure all kinds of weather and temperature changes. It is made of 100% Nylon with PU breathable coating. 

Extreme rough use can be handled without any hindrance with the help of its built in features such as the thigh vents for maximum breathability and the gaiters to stop the snow from entering through the pants. 

The perfect fitting for all kinds of size preferences also made it more suitable and ideal for making its own place in your rucksack.  

Warm accessories

While all the above-mentioned clothing and garments are taken care of, accessories also become a necessity just as proper garnishing is required to successfully complete a delicacy or a delicious dish. It is that final touch that makes you feel good about yourself and the decisions you have made during the perfect and successful packing for a trip to Iceland. 

Pink & Crimson Acrylic Wool Rainbow Pom Pom Beanie 

There are various kinds of winter accessories covering various parts of your body and fulfilling or taking care of various kinds of needs. 

Mentioned below are the different kinds of accessories and their requirements: 

  • Scarf or Stole: This particular accessory becomes very useful and necessary during the presence of extreme gushing of wind, blizzard, etc, where it works as an extra layer that you could cover all-around your neck. The scarf gives you an opportunity to enhance the styling sense in you and match it with your clothes, for indoor occasions or even while strolling down the beautifully lit streets of Iceland. It can be worn with western or Indian or any existing genre, does not matter. It can be worn anytime and anywhere irrespective of the occasion or the visiting clothing you are already in. 
  • Beanie: A lot of people have always put up this topic where they say that their ears get really cold very quickly and also get heated up in seconds after covering it with some sort of a muffler or a beanie. So for them, the beanie by Kosha is the apt choice. It can be worn and would work perfectly within the temperature range of 8 degrees Celsius to 15 degrees Celsius. Made with soft wool, the beanie remains comfortable even after wearing it for a long time and also does not overheat the ears. You can match it with your gloves or beanie for that perfect look you would want while in Iceland. 
  • Gloves: In the modern days, the first problem or grievance that travellers face while wearing a pair of gloves is that every time they wish to check their phone or use it for capturing photos, they have to open their gloves, otherwise it will not respond to the touch. But guess what, the Merino wool gloves by Kosha consist of touch sensors on both the gloves, in the index and thumb fingers. Now, you do not even have to think about opening your gloves and exposing your fingers in the cold just to access your phone, tab, or camera. This pair of gloves is ideal and perfect for dry winters with a temperature ranging between -5 degrees Celsius to 15 degrees Celsius.    

Warm shoes or boots

There are few body parts that become cold most quickly, which includes mainly the exposed areas such as the ears, nose, neck, hands, and feet. And amongst them, the feet become extremely cold even just within a few seconds and in places like Iceland, within a blink of an eye, you can have your feet totally frozen which causes terrible difficulties to you and hinders the trip badly. 

Sometimes, these little calamities, If not taken seriously, can also lead to severe damage to a concerned part of your body. So as to avoid such problems you need to carry proper trekking shoes, hiking boots or winter boots if you have already decided to be involved in a lot of adventurous activities and sports. 

Otherwise, you should carry any shoes or boots which would work as snow boots or also as waterproof winter boots which have a great gripping in the sole and also are high ankle in nature so that there is zero chance of getting the snow inside the shoes or boots. 

Warm socks 

Just as mentioned right above that it’s extremely necessary to keep your feet warm, you have to carry proper woolen socks for enhancing this particular job. 

Navy & Black Regular Length Cotton Sports Socks | Men

The Merino Wool Socks by Kosha is a perfect choice for insulating your feet and keeping the warmth intact under your shoes. These socks are made of merino wool for which diminishes the chances of getting blisters, cramping toes, and smelly feet. 

These socks have proper cushioned pressure points at the heel and toes and have a breathable body due to the mapped-mesh material and weaving technique. It also has arch support plus a soft ribbed weave at the ankles to avoid any kind of slipping. 

Extras

Goggles and Sunglasses

Icelandic winters are synonymous with unpredictable weather, including strong winds and occasional snowstorms. To shield your eyes from icy gusts and glare from the snow, a good pair of goggles is indispensable.

They provide both protection and visibility, allowing you to explore the stunning landscapes without discomfort. Additionally, polarized sunglasses are essential for when the sun peeks through the clouds, preventing snow blindness and ensuring you can admire the beauty of Iceland safely.

Backpacks and Daypacks

Exploring Iceland's winter wonderland often involves venturing off the beaten path. A reliable backpack or daypack is essential to carry your essentials like extra layers, snacks, and a camera.

Look for backpacks with waterproof or water-resistant features to keep your belongings safe from unexpected snow or rain showers. Adjustable straps and padded compartments can make your adventures more comfortable, especially when tackling challenging terrain.

Travel-Friendly Water Bottles

Staying hydrated is important year-round, and Iceland's winter is no exception. However, keeping liquids from freezing can be a challenge. Opt for insulated travel-friendly water bottles that can keep your drinks at the desired temperature even in freezing conditions.

Some models come with easy-to-use flip-top lids or straws, making sipping on hot tea or cold water a breeze.

FAQ's

What is the weather like in Iceland in winter?

Winter in Iceland is typically cold and dark, with average temperatures ranging from 0.6°C (33.1°F) to 4.9°C (40.8°F) in Reykjavík. Snow is common from October to April, and the sun sets early, with only about 4-5 hours of daylight per day in December. However, the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, and it's not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day.

What should I pack for a winter trip to Iceland?

When packing for a winter trip to Iceland, it's important to pack warm clothes, including a winter coat, hat, gloves, and scarf. It's also a good idea to pack waterproof boots or shoes, as the weather can be wet and snowy. Other items to pack include sunscreen, sunglasses, and a camera to capture the stunning winter scenery.

Is it safe to drive in Iceland in winter?

Driving in Iceland in winter can be challenging, but it's possible if you take extra precautions. It's important to check the road conditions before you go, and to drive slowly and carefully. It's also a good idea to have winter tires on your car.

How expensive is it to travel to Iceland in winter?

Iceland can be an expensive country to visit, but there are ways to save money. For example, you can stay in hostels or guesthouses instead of hotels, and you can cook your own meals instead of eating out every night. You can also take advantage of free activities, such as hiking and visiting museums.

Can you still see the Northern Lights in Iceland in winter?

Yes, the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is during the winter months, when the nights are long and dark. However, it is important to note that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and cannot be guaranteed on any given night.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you need to pack wisely and start planning out for the trip for a very long time so that you do not have to miss out on any kind of thing either it being any particular or an activity. 

With sustainable planning and packing, Iceland, winter, and snowfall can be easily dealt with, leaving just the beauty and serenity present in the country for you to leave yourself in awe and wonder.  

Iceland is a place that has a lot to offer and you would totally regret it if you end up missing out on any bit of it. The star-lit skies, the glowing ice caves, the frozen lakes, the dim-lit streets during winters are really few scenes and moments to die for. So enjoy yours to the fullest and make sure you refer to all the above-mentioned points to experience the best trip of your life or undoubtedly one of the best trips that would take place in your entire lifetime. 

For any queries related to wearing thermals, base layers, or winter wear in general, visit Kosha’s store and get a free consultation! While you’re at it, check out Kosha’s website for the wide range of thermals and jackets available at Kosha.

This blog article is written by Kosha Team Member – Abhimanyu Basu.

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