Sunday, 22 November 2015

What should I wear in Iceland?

My first question, after booking my flights and accommodation was what should I wear in Iceland.  I've never been on a ski or snow holiday before and my experience of cold climates was moving further up North, when I went to University (i.e. not very much).

So I went online on the hunt for some tips on what I should be buying and what I should be packing.  Baring in mind, that I was only bringing hand luggage with me for 5 days, just a few degrees south of the arctic circle.

In my search I found tonnes of amazing tips on where to go and what to do, but not a lot on what to wear...  Getting worried, I asked a few friends, but most had been to Iceland in the Summer - so they weren't sure how cold it was going to be for us.

At this point I was totally stuck and starting to look at Ski clothing, which seemed the most sensible thing to do and I got a few good tips from a guy in my local Snow and Rock store.  He was also going to Iceland the day before me on a huge trek around the Island - but as he hadn't been before either, he wasn't entirely sure what I should and should be packing.  He did however, give me the following tips:

  1. Make sure you buy 80-100% wool products 
  2. Don't buy anything cotton
  3. Make sure you have a few good pairs of thermals
  4. Buy waterproof snow boots (Sorel are the best)
  5. Make sure you have good socks
This was a good start and really helpful, however, it wasn't until I went to The Ski Show in London, that I was completely clued up.

By this point, I had bought my Windproof Down jacket recommended by a friend and a new fleece lined bobble hat.  On arriving at the show, I was greeted by Uniqlo who had a thermal mapping tool, which photographed you to demonstrate where you were losing heat from your body.  

As you can see my jacket was doing a pretty good job.  But I needed thermals for both my body and legs, as those were the 'hot spots' letting all of my body heat out.

As you can see from the picture above, I was pretty much wrapped up like a snow man at all times.  However, there are many hidden layers you can't see under my clothes.  Here is what I would recommend putting on your shopping list, from head to toe:
  1. A good hat that is fleece lined 
  2. Wool Scarf
  3. Windproof down jacket
  4. Silk gloves or glove liners
  5. Thick apr├Ęs ski gloves (I loved this pair because they attached around my wrists - so I could take them on and off to take pictures easily)
  6. Thermal tops - I would recommend Uniqlo's and Decathlon's
  7. Turtleneck jumpers (preferably wool)
  8. Thermal leggings
  9. Wool socks
  10. Snow boots

In all honesty, what I wore each day didn't look too different and as much as I love fashion, I wouldn't worry too much about what you are wearing.  You will be too cold to care in the end - especially when it is minus 7 and you've just jumped into ice cold water and gone snorkelling.  But more about that next time.

When it comes to packing for 5 days, I would take:
  • Two hats (in case one gets rained on or muddy)
  • One scarf
  • One jacket
  • Gloves and glove liner
  • 3 pairs of thermals (minimum)
  • 5 pairs of wool socks (they make a HUGE difference and always bring a spare pair with you in case you get a pair wet or you're really cold)
  • A pair of trainers (for driving in - snow boots aren't very practical)
  • Backpack for any day trips 
  • Sunglasses for the low sunlight when you are driving - also handy to keep the wind off of your face too
  • Any toiletries, cameras, etc... that you would normally bring on your holiday

I hope this helps anyone else looking, my biggest tip would be to bring extras with you when you go out each day, as the weather is unpredictable and you can then add or peel layers off depending on how you find the climate that day.  On some days I was wearing all three layers of my clothes and would recommend doing so, especially if you are off to go and see the Northern Lights.

Being overly prepared is definitely the aim of that game in Iceland, as once you are out you are unlikely to come across your local supermarket en route anywhere.  (We always had a stash of chocolate and drinks for this reason too - but don't tell my PT)

If anyone has any questions though, feel free to comment below, Tweet me or check out my Instagram posts and I will do my best to help!

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