A couple of days ago I posted a few snowy pictures from a particularly beautiful day here in Reykjavík and like always when people see snow, I got some questions regarding how cold it gets in Reykjavík and what to pack for a trip to Iceland. When I’ve been asked this question before I usually tell people to dress in layers and then leave it at that because every person is different. The boyfriend, for example, goes everywhere in any weather in Teva sandals and Lopapeysa (I know, I’ve been trying to train him not to wear socks and sandals but he’s just so damn stubborn) while I on the other hand don’t leave the house without my parka and mittens and headband in my backpack just in case.
Contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t get all that cold in Reykjavík, not even in the height of winter. For example, the average temperature in January from the year 1931 to 2000 was a mere -0,4°C. The reason people keep complaining about the weather is not so much the cold but the wind and rain that seems to come from every direction possible. So the weather is more nasty than it is cold.
Anyway, in attempt to help you decide what to pack, here are a few things I can’t live without during winter in Iceland.
1. My Cintamani Merino Wool Underwear
If you are ever going to buy anything to use in cold weather, this should be on top of your list. Obviously it doesn’t have to be Cintamani but we love this particular set and the whole family has a pair. We don’t just use them in winter, we also use them in summer, for example when we go camping. They are thin enough to be worn underneath other clothes, like jeans, and keep you warm without you feeling hot and stuffy. Plus they really last.
2. My 66°North Vík base layer fleece duo
Because I normally wear my Cintamani wool underwear as a base layer I don’t need a big and thick fleece sweater on top of that. However, sometimes it’s just that cold that you feel like you need just a little bit more and then it’s good to have thin fleece sweater like the Vík base layer sweater from 66°North. I have the Vík pants too but because they are so smooth on the outside I often use them as leggings underneath my skirts and dresses.
In my experience, these are a little bit too warm if you are somewhere inside where it’s already warm. Our apartment is often quite cold so I sometimes wear the pants when lounging around at home but I only use the sweater outside. Both this duo and the Cintamani pair is something I wear if I’m going to be outside for a while, I probably wouldn’t bother with it if I was only walking to the bus stop and planning on staying inside most of the day.
3. Woolen socks
Woolen socks or ullarsokkar as they are called in Icelandic are essential in winter. I use them in my shoes, when lounging around at home and I even sleep in them when it’s extra cold out. I could not live with out my Ullasokkar.
When I went out that day I mentioned at the beginning of this post I was wearing a pair of ullasokkar, my cintamani top, Vík trousers and Parka and it was just perfect. Not too warm and not too cold.
4. My parka and raincoat
I have a cheap parka that I bought in H&M in Copenhagen last year and unfortunately it doesn’t hold rain very well. Because of that I bought a raincoat too that has saved my life many times this winter. The fantastic thing about a good parka is the fact that you can be practically naked underneath it and still feel warm. Someday I will have enough money to buy one of those big 66°North parkas but until then I’ll make do with the cheap stuff.
I haven’t had a proper rain coat since I was a little girl and really like wearing it. I have one of those three layer shell jackets too that I use a lot in the summer and one my bike but it just doesn’t work when I’m wearing my little skirts and dresses. It’s also good to have a long raincoat in the Icelandic rain that attacks you sideways.
5. My lopapeysa
I actually have a few lopapeysur that I use for different occasions. I have one that is thin and long that is perfect underneath my parka and raincoat. I have another that is quite thick so I mostly use it at home or when I go camping. Most people use them much more than I do and the boyfriend and the princess practically live in theirs. If I was making a list of things they couldn’t live without in winter, their lopapeysa would probably be the only thing on the list.
6. All kinds of woolen accessories
I don’t know if this is Icelanders in general or just me because I like to knit and crochet but I have mountains of woolen accessories that I use almost every day during winter. Scarfs, hats, headbands and mittens – all wool and all very important. Actually, I almost never leave the house without having mittens in my bag because you never know when the weather might turn. I prefer mittens over gloves because I just think they are warmer (sometimes I wear two pairs, one of the other) but again it might also just be because I love to knit them and feel like I have to wear what I make myself.