In about a week I’ll be heading to Iceland and I’m very excited about this trip and the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights. Since it’s still winter in Iceland I need to make sure that I pack appropriately to ensure that I stay sufficiently warm and dry when out exploring the land of fire and ice. I’ve done a lot of research on how to pack for a trip to Iceland in the winter and I think I’ve just about finalized my packing list. I even had a chance to put these items to the test during the arctic freeze that hovered over New York City for about two weeks in late December. Doing several trial runs has allowed me to perfect my layering technique and get it down to a science. So, without further ado, here’s my packing list for my trip to Iceland.
Wool Base Layer Tights
I bought these Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer bottoms, the warmest base layer the brand offers, to wear under my pants. When I tried them on for the first time I was impressed with how soft and non-itchy they were, and when I put them to the test here in NYC they were impressively warm. I’m packing two pair of these and an additional pair of black fleece lined tights that can do double duty under a skirt I may pack.
One of my go to cold weather staples are my fleece lined pants and leggings. I had an old pair from Athlete and recently purchased their updated version and the cut is even better. When the weather dips below freezing here I just throw them on and I don’t have to worry about being cold. If it gets extra cold in Iceland I’ll add a base layer underneath and I should be all set.
Base Layer Tops
I’m packing four base layer tops for extra warmth. I have two mid-weight 100% wool tops from Icebreaker which are not only practical but also stylish. Even though they are 100% wool they are itchy at all. The other layering tops I'm bringing are the synthetic Heattech tops from Uniglo. I was skeptical at first about their ability to keep me warm but they came in clutch during my weekend trip to Washington D.C. last month.
As my mid-layer I plan to pack two of my warmest cashmere sweaters. The great thing about cashmere is that they offer unparalleled warmth in my opinion, without the bulk. I plan to wear another wool sweater for the flight and plan to leave room for the purchase of an authentic Icelandic sweater while I’m there.
There’s nothing worse than having cold feet which is why I’m packing all of the wool socks I can while still managing to fit everything into a carry-on bag. I’ve been a fan of SmartWool socks for travel and everything in between since my trip to Tanzania. I’m packing four pairs of their thickest crew wool socks and several other lighter pairs in various lengths. Even though I’ll only be there for six days the plan is to pack several extra pairs of socks
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a scarf person.I practically have a closet full of scarves and while I will still pack a couple of scarves I’m going to supplement things with a neck gaiter. I’m hoping the gaiter will prevent my face from literally freezing off.
A headlamp will come in handy when I’m out in the middle of nowhere hunting for the the northern lights. What could possibly be worse than seeing the northern lights but not having enough light to see the dials on my camera to capture a treasured photograph.
Winter CoatA warm winter coat is a must and this convertible number from The North Face is perfect for temperamental Icelandic weather. This jacket has a waterproof outer and a lightweight liner. Each component can be worn separately or all together to protect from all of the elements.
I don’t think these really need any explanation. Just in case, I’m bringing a pair of snow boots in case I encounter any snowy terrain and want to avoid my feet getting cold and wet.
I bought these to slip over my shoes for extra traction on icy terrains. I may not need them while I’m there but the odds of my needing them would increase to 100% if I didn’t bring them.
As it can be quite rainy and windy in Iceland I’m bringing a pair of waterproof pants to throw on top of whatever I’m wearing in case it starts to rain or in case I decide to get too close to a waterfall. This pair that I purchased from Marmot, while not the most fashion forward, are pretty practical because of the full side zip meaning that I can get in and out of them in a jiffy before the fashion police come and haul me away.
Hand and Feet Warmers
Cold hands can’t work a camera and cold feet can’t walk to the location of a good photo opportunity. So I purchased these guys to tuck into my boots and in my pockets for a little extra warmth.
Be sure to check out my blog posts here and here for some general packing tips.