What To Wear In Iceland In January (2024) Tips From An Icelander

If you’re planning on coming to Iceland in January, prepare for the cold!

Getting ready for the Icelandic winter can be daunting.

In this post, I’ll quickly go over the main things to pack for Iceland in January.

I’ll touch on;

  • What to expect from the weather in January
  • What to pack for Iceland in January

Make sure to read until the end so you can make an informed decision and stay warm in Iceland!

So let’s jump into it!

The Weather In Iceland In January

As a local, even I don’t know what’s going on with the weather sometimes

It changes fast and you can expect a lot of different ‘seasons’ in a single day.

The average temperature ranges from -1°C (30°F) – +1°C (33°F)

So it’s not THAT cold…or is it?

You see, what makes Iceland cold is the wind and then the ever-present possibility of rain.

In January, you have about a 50% chance of getting a rainy day. Which is why you’ll need good waterproof gear.

Then there’s the wind…

The wind is quite strong in January. We get more storms during the winter months and it somehow always blows in your face (it’s like this island hates us).

But because you’re reading this you’ll be safe! I’ll tell you how to handle that pesky wind in the next section.

We’re starting to get longer days (but they’re still quite short).

As annoying as that is, it’s also quite magical. Waking up in the darkness and seeing the sunrise at around 10 am is a weird experience. 

Now that you know what to expect, how can you prepare for it?

The Main Things To Pack For Iceland In January

Now we’re ready to go over what to pack for your trip to Iceland!

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.

Socks

You want warm, thick socks. 

Preferably ones that dry quickly, should your feet become wet. 

Wool, running socks, and so forth are good choices. 

If you have water-resistant socks, then all the better! Though not necessary. 

Outdoor Boots

Outdoor boots in January are. a. must.

As I´ve mentioned, it’s cold, windy, and rainy. 

And a surefire way to have a bad time in Iceland is walking around with cold and wet feet.

You’ll want boots that are breathable and waterproof…kind of like these ones!

Outdoor pants

Water-resistant and windproof pants are vital in January. 

You’ll be exploring some wet places (Like Seljalandsfoss and Reynisfjara).

The pants will keep you warm and ready to explore by keeping the wind and rain away from you. 

I’d not come to Iceland without a pair…or rent them!

Thermal underwear

Having a thin but warm baselayer is very important for Icelandic temperature. 

Something that breathes and dries fast. Because you’ll be sweating under all of those layers. 

Moving on to the upper body…

A thick sweater

A sweater is great to have as a layer.

But you’ll want thermal underwear underneath. 

You might want to bring two, in case one gets wet. 

A Hoddie

A Hoddie is a great item to bring to Iceland.

It’ll help protect your ears, which they deserve!

Scarf

I have mixed feelings about a scarf in Iceland.

If you’ve layered yourself up properly and are wearing a good outer layer, you really can’t fit a scarf on your neck.

Or maybe I just don’t like wearing scarves. 

My point is, a scarf can help, but you shouldn’t rely on it to protect your neck. And I would recommend bringing a small scarf.

This leads me to…

Parka

This is the main item of clothing you should be wearing in Iceland. 

The big boy himself…The parka

We here at IcelandCover absolutely adore this jacket for Iceland (which is why we rent it out!)

It’s waterproof, breathable, and made for extreme conditions.

You won’t need as many layers as you normally would and it’s an item that every single Icelander owns and uses all winter long.

We’ve written a blog specifically about the parka and WHY it’s the best garment for Iceland, check it out!

Windbreaker/Raincoat

I won’t lie, I’m not a fan of this combo during January.

In the summer you can get away with it but in winter, you’ll need a lot of layers to stay warm.

The windbreaker isn’t waterproof and the raincoat won’t keep you warm. 

So you’ll need a lot of layers in order to protect yourself from the elements.

If that’s the only option for you, then, of course, go for it, however, a parka is simply better in every aspect when it comes to winter.

Gloves and beanies

Bring gloves. 

They don’t need to be waterproof, just something to keep your fingers warm.

The gloves don’t need to be super thick. 

Something similar to this one;

But not this one.

And regarding hats…bring one, 100%.

That’s it!

If you follow my list then you’ll be just fine.

I’ve gone over what to expect from Icelandic winter and how to pack for Iceland in January.

And if you want to save some space in the bag, check out our selection of outdoor clothes 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top