If you are planning to visit Iceland, you may be expecting a land of perpetual snow and ice. But don’t let the island’s name mislead you. While the sub-Arctic island is not the best place to choose if you’re planning a beach vacation, the weather here is not as extreme as you might think. In summer the average temperatures fall in the range of 13-15C (55-60F), and in winter the average temperatures hover just within a few degrees of freezing point.

The trick to dressing for Icelandic climate is to be prepared for quick weather changes. In Iceland, we have a saying: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Temperatures can fluctuate rapidly, and a snowstorm can seem to come out of nowhere. If you are not familiar with the island’s natural elements, it can be easy to underestimate their power and overestimate the human body’s ability to withstand the forces of nature. It is not uncommon in Iceland for wanderers to be caught unprepared and getting lost in bad weather can result in exposure. This kind of misfortune is avoidable if you prepare well by letting friends know where you are going and dressing appropriately.

What Clothes to Pack for a Trip in Iceland?

What you wear in Iceland depends on the activities you want to do. If you are planning to stay in hotels and travel by rental car or tour bus, you won’t need to prepare for extreme conditions. In summer, a pair of lightweight hiking shoes, comfortable pants, and a windbreaker should keep you covered. Be prepared for rain at all times. Jeans are uncomfortable when wet and slow to dry, so quick-drying pants are a better option. Light hiking pants are ideal. Don’t forget to bring some waterproof rainwear too. It is never a good idea to walk into the highlands wearing jeans and light shoes. And remember, even if travelling by car on a lovely sunny day, you’ll be glad to have a windproof and water-resistant jacket as you watch the geysers erupt at Geysir Field or view the Gullfoss waterfall.

For more adventurous activities, you will definitely want to invest in some quality clothing to guard against cold and wet. Say you are going on a hiking adventure, such as trekking along the Laugavegur trail from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. You’ll need to think not only about the clothes you wear, but also the type of overnight camping gear you’ll need. For activities like camping or multi-day hiking, you’ll need appropriate gear that includes a moisture wicking inner layer, an insulating middle layer, and a wind- and water- resistant outer layer. A waterproof hardshell jacket and pants should be part of any kit, as well as a tent, mat, and sleeping bag with a water column of at least 5,000 mm. Clothing should be quick drying and capable of transporting moisture away from the body. And beware: although we think of jeans and cotton t-shirts as comfy clothing, both of these options are bad at moisture control and can make for an uncomfortable or possibly unhealthy or even dangerous trekking experience. Wool, by contrast is able to keep you warm even when wet, and its breathability helps to regulate your body temperature and control perspiration.

If you don’t already own this gear, why not spare yourself the uncertainty and buy it while you’re in Iceland. Icewear has many shops throughout the island. Our staff can help you choose the best options for whatever activities you have planned, and in the end you have the perfect souvenir of your Iceland adventure.

Conclusion:

  • Iceland is not as cold as you might think
  • Which season are you visiting Iceland?
  • Watch out for those quick weather changes
  • Pack for the occasion
  • Ask for local help