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How to dress for the cold in Iceland 2019

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

As someone from tropical land, I really don't like cold. Despite living in the UK for quite some years by now, I still hate the cold and prefer staying at home, curling in a warm blanket to going out during the winter.

Wonder what to wear in Iceland?

The key is layers

To keep warm, it's best to wear many thin layers than a big thick layer. The reason is multiple layers trap warms air close you body and allows you to easily adjust to the changing environment. If you get in the car, go for a coffee or go anywhere heated, you can just shed a layer to cool you down.



So make sure you dress in layers. If you travel during winter, you should dress in at least 3 layers. And I'd bring extra layers in case you need them (I dressed in at least 4 layers the whole time I was there and still couldn't stand outside for more than half an hour :( but I generally have very low tolerance to the cold ). Below is some guide to help you choose your clothes:

  • Your first layer (undergarment) should not be cotton because the material absorbs moisture and doesn't dry fast so it stays moist and cools your body down, which is not what you want when in Iceland. Go for fast drying and breathable fabric like merino wool.

  • Your middle layer should retain heat to keep your body warm. A fleece or wool jumper are good options.

  • The outer layer should be waterproof and windproof as it's very rainy and windy (even stormy) during winter season in Iceland

In addition to clothes, there are some essential items that you will need to bring with you:

  • Sturdy and waterproof boots: if you go to Iceland during winter time, it's better to wear hiking or snow boots. Trainers won't do the cut as it's too cold.

  • Sunglasses: bring them in the winter as well as the reflection of the sunlight can dazzle you

  • Pocket warmers: take some with you especially if you plan to chase northern lights as you'll be standing in the dark with little activity. Whilst waiting for Northern Light outside the car, I could feel the cold gradually sneak inside my clothes and I wish I had brought a heat pad…

  • Hat, scarf and gloves: don't forget to bring these. You won't believe how much heat you could lose from your head, neck and hands. When I was visiting the great Gullfoss waterfall, I left one of my gloves in the car (yeah.. don't ask why...) and was too lazy to go get it. My hand went so cold and numb that I could barely feel it and cried inside every time the wind blew (which was almost all the time)

  • Bathing suit: for the blue lagoon of course. A trip to Iceland is not complete if you don't bathe yourself in the blue lagoon when the temperature is like 0 degree and the cold wind blows on your head.

  • Softshell trousers: if you go during winter, these will keep you warm and protect you from light snow and rain.

  • Lip balm, hand cream: Not essential items but it's a good idea to bring these with you, especially if you have dry skin as it is very dry in Iceland. My skin type is not dry and I was perfectly okay without them in November.

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