Iceland: Winter Wardrobe Essentials

Iceland: Winter Wardrobe Essentials

Winter in Iceland is cold, scrap that, it is freezing. Even in November when we visited once out of Reykjavik, which was relatively mild, the coldness was often unbearable and we had to take shelter in the car with the heater on full blast just to escape the conditions outside. Even when the sun was shining brightly, which it did a lot of the time, we still struggled to feel our fingers. So many people had told us that layers, layers and more layers was the way to go and boy where they right. Luckily for us, our airfare included a 20kg bag each, of which every kg was used. I initially thought I had over packed as I looked at my case bursting with everything from vests to thick woolen jumpers, but I hadn’t, as everything that had been stuffed in there got worn, sometimes all at the same time. So apart from the layers we found that there are some essential items that you must take which may keep you that extra bit warmer and here they are:-

Winter coat/ski jacket (waterproof) – pictured above

This may seem like an obvious one but I seriously saw people wearing little bomber jackets and thin parka coats and thinking they must be frozen to the bone. With temperatures dipping below freezing most days no number of layers was going to keep us warm without he most important layer – our coats. Mr ESLT opted for a K100 Karrimor coat and I my trusty Trespass ski jacket which I bought last winter and saw me through similar conditions in Sweden. I also plan to take it on our upcoming trip to New York at the end of the month. I would also recommend a waterproof coat/jacket as even if it is not snowing or raining, standing close to any of the numerous waterfalls in Iceland can leave you pretty damp.

Thick/long Scarf – pictured above

I love scarves and have quite a collection – some that look nice and some that are practical. The one I decided to take to Iceland was I feel, both. I only actually bought the scarf I took a week before we flew, I hadn’t intended on taking one originally. I am definitely pleased I changed my mind. Even though my jacket has a high neck and I always zipped it all the way up, the scarf added that extra layer of warmth. I also used it to wrap around my ears when I had forgotten my hat to keep them warm and also my shoulders and across my back when a chill took hold there. Mine was £16 from Miss Selfridge and was perfect for what I needed it for and again will accompany me to New York at the end of the month.

Hat – pictured above

I have a LOT of hair, it’s long and it’s thick and I’ll be honest, my head very rarely gets cold. So even though I took my hat to Iceland, I only wore it a couple of times and that was more to keep my ears warm more than anything else. Mr ESLT on the other hand has a closely shaved head therefore is susceptible to the elements more than most. This means a hat is a must when the weather is cold even during the mild(ish) winter we are currently having in England. He dug out his grey Ralph Lauren one he had received as a gift last Christmas, which kept his head protected from the bracing wind and chill in the air nicely.

Snow boots

Sorel Snow Boots, Iceland

Even though it wasn’t snowing when we visited Iceland my Sorel snow boots where perfect for the temperature, the damp ground and the amount of walking we did. Mr ESLT bought his pair full price last winter for our trip to Gothenburg and raved how great and comfortable they were, I had to invest in a pair myself and I am so glad I did. I bought mine for £42 (RRP £129) from Amazon in June because who needs snow boots in summer? They were warm and waterproof which was very welcome. I also forgot to break them in before we went and I did not get one blister and ALL shoes give me blisters. I’d say one in three people had a pair of Sorel boots on proving they are extremely popular for such conditions.

Walking socks

Bridgedale Socks

Even though we had the car and were driving from place to place, once at our destination we did quite a lot of walking, therefore I would highly recommend if you plan to do the same that you get some proper walking socks. We both loved wearing our Bridgedale Trekker socks. These added a much needed extra layer of warmth and cushioning, they also have mesh panels meaning our feet were comfortable and well ventilated all day long. They are made from Merino wool which is the finest wool used in socks, giving excellent insulation and next to the skin softness. Plus mine are pink and I am a magpie to anything pink 🙂 I just wish I had had more than one pair for my trip and they were the best socks I had with me as they kept my feet warm, dry and feeling healthy.

Hand warmers

Trespass Hand Warmers

These little beauties were lifesavers most days. I picked up a pair in the Trespass sale just before we flew to Iceland for £3.99. I asked Mr ESLT if he would like a pair to which he said no. Needless to say he was jealous when I had toasty warm hands and he had to blow on his through his gloves to keep them warm. Basically, they are filled with a liquid which when activated, by flipping the small silver disk in them, turn into a hard wax and heat up. You simply then place them in your gloves and they make your hands nice and warm. They are reusable; simply boil them in water for 15 minutes. However, as I only had one pair with me, I had to choose the perfect time each day to activate them. For me, I usually held on until midafternoon.


Just like my always cold feet, I always have cold hands too – but like the saying goes – cold hands, warm heart. Therefore a good thick pair of thermal gloves would have been perfect. Unfortunately, I do not own a good thick pair of thermal gloves and in a bid to save a bit of money before my trip I bought a standard £3 pair from a well-known supermarket, big mistake! It was a good job I had my hand warmers with me! Mr ESLT only paid a couple of pounds more and picked up a pair of black Thinsulate gloves which were great for his needs for the most part. But I think we both need to splash a bit of cash and invest in some hardcore gloves from our next winter trip, maybe wait until then end of winter and pick some up in the sales.

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  1. January 5, 2017 / 8:38 am

    Good information!

  2. Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad
    January 5, 2017 / 10:49 am

    Useful info. I was in Iceland in May when it wasn’t super cold, but I would still agree with everything you wrote. Layers, hat, scarf, water- and windproof clothes are essential.

    • January 6, 2017 / 12:34 pm

      Thank you. How cold was it in May please? We are heading back next July and wondered if Icelandic summers are actually summers, or if I still need to pack for winter.

      • January 9, 2017 / 12:42 pm

        It wasn’t too bad. If there were no ice-cold wind, it would be very pleasant. I think you need to stick up with the layers. We had all sorts of weather – from nice warm sunshine to the snow-storm.

        • January 10, 2017 / 8:56 pm

          Wow. People do say that Iceland can experience every season in a day – it sounds like you got to see that first hand for yourself. Even in July I think I’ll pack for every eventuality weather wise. Thank you 🙂

  3. January 5, 2017 / 2:23 pm

    LOL buying boots in summer! That’s a fantastic tip.
    And the hand warmers, boy we’ll second you on that! It worked wonders when we were in -27C temperatures in Harbin!

    • January 6, 2017 / 12:32 pm

      Thanks. I’m tempted to pick up another pair this summer if I can get another great deal. They are such sturdy boots, I’m sure they would last me a lifetime – so why not? Wow they even worked in -27c. I’ve never been anywhere that cold! I think I’d stick 20 pair to my body with tape and click them at regular intervals, not just my hands 🙂

  4. January 6, 2017 / 12:57 am

    Great tips! I’m heading to Iceland in just 30 days and I just ordered the waterproof -20 jacket. Now all I need is the hand warmers! I’m definitely going to pick up some of those! Would you recommend getting more than one set of those or was it okay with just one? And how long did they stay warm?

    • January 6, 2017 / 12:30 pm

      Thanks Paige! The jacket will be needed! 🙂 If you can pick them up for a few quid, I’d personally recommend getting a couple of pairs. Then you could use a pair in the morning and one in the afternoon(?) They give off heat for around 10 minutes but then the results last a few hours. A friend read the post and commented to me that she also used handwarmers in her shoes to warm her feet when they were cold in Iceland! Stay warm!!!

      • January 6, 2017 / 1:07 pm

        Awesome! Thanks for the info! I definitely want to stay warm so it’s still enjoyable. I can be a bit of a baby when it comes to cold. (So, of course, I go to Iceland in winter, right?) 😉

        • January 10, 2017 / 9:04 pm

          Oh god me too. Mr ESLT gets set holidays so we had to go away in November, originally I was looking at the Caribbean or the Middle East for some lovely sunshine while the weather was rubbish in England but nope we booked Iceland too 🙂 You’ve got it right just wrap up warm and I’m sure you will still love it, I’ll be honest – it’s hard not to!