Going to Northern Europe (Iceland/Denmark/Norway/Finland/Sweden) in winter need serious winter gear shopping especially for South East Asian people who do not have 4 seasons. You need to invest in serious winter gears as you want to be warm and dry instead of cold and sorry. Whether you are hiking in Iceland or just taking a road trip, packing the proper clothes for your trip is essential. When it comes to packing for Iceland in winter, understand that you should be going for comfort over style.
Winter in Iceland is between November and March. These are the darkest months of the year, with little sunlight. The year’s shortest day happens just before the Christmas holidays, on the 21st of December. On that day, there are only 4-5 hours of daylight. March is the longest day with sunlight during winter and is the last month to see natural ice cave and northern light. Winter is Iceland’s most unpredictable season when it comes to the weather. Tours depend on weather and visibility so they can be canceled with just a few hours’ notice. The same with access to road. We went to Iceland in March which was supposed to be the the last month of winter but surprisingly there was a lot of snow and it was snowing almost everyday when we were there. Iceland is not as cold as what people think but the wind is very chilly and strong.
There are what I pack for Iceland
- Solid winter jacket/down jacket which can stand for below zero Celcius and have waterproof shells. I got mine from Columbia. North face also has a very good selection with higher price Vs Columbia.
- Winter waterproof boots. These are my life saviours especially when we did the ice caving tour. These boots along with wool socks keep my toes dry and warm. Got mine from Columbia also.
- Merino wool thermal underwear. Got mine from Coldwear and the boys from Marks and Spencer. I also got Ultra thermal from Uniqlo which is also warm and I actually prefer this one over Merino wool because when my eczema flared up from the cold my skin can no longer directly touch anything from wool.
- Waterproof pants. Bought from Decathlon
- Fleece lined pants. Got them from Uniqlo
- Wool thick socks. Bought online from Aliexpress
- Wool knit hats as you want your ears to be warm
- Wool shawl
- swimsuit. Yes believe it or not, you do need one when you are traveling to Iceland in winter! Hot springs in Iceland are warm all year round, so you want to make sure you have a swimsuit so you can take a dip.
- Waterproof Gloves
- Spike/Cleats. The walks to the waterfall can be very slippery and having crampons on your shoes are super helpful and safe too. If you can’t buy it online you can get them in supermarket in Iceland.
- Hot hands. These are life saviors when we were chasing northern light as we had to stand outdoor for a long period of time. You can buy this in Iceland too. But I got mine from online marketplace
- insulated bottle and coffee or ginger sachet. It is always nice to keep hot drinks in the car whenever is needed after outdoor walk
- Small rice cooker. To be honest this is the first trip I actually carry a rice cooker with me. I was never bothered to being one before because you can usually find a Chinese or asian restaurant whenever you crave for rice. But as we are going to do road trip in Iceland and we may not be able to find a restaurant for dinner we will need to be ready to cook.
The key is to dress in layers. I always wear my merino underwear and then wear 1-2 layers of sweaters and top it up with my winter jacket. when it was really cold I also double my wool socks.