Traveling to Iceland? Good on you!
There’s plenty of stuff to do around our little island, and you can find countless guides and blogs about what to see and do. BUT! That’s not what I wanted to tell you about. You see, there is this very open ‘secret’ that Icelandic weather is quite terrible. People come woefully unprepared for the climate, despite it being pretty well advertised. Walking on the beaches in Nikes or only bringing a light down jacket that they bought ages ago and decided to go hiking in the highlands.
That is what I’m here to warn you about. To make you realize that Icelandic weather is nothing to scoff at and tell you the no-nonsense clothing you need. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest a mountain of things you need for your trip to Iceland. In fact, you can rent the few items you really need, but more on that later.
So, first things first,
What am I talking about when I say that the weather here is harsh? Is it cold? Perhaps it’s the rain? Or could it be the wind? Well, how about all of the above…at the same time.
Icelandic weather isn’t extreme. That is to say, you don’t have to worry about
-25C° (-13 F°) or 40 C° (104 F°). What you do have to be prepared for is four different climates in an hour. It’s not unusual to experience a sunny day that is cut short by thick clouds and you realize that it’s actually quite windy. Then a few minutes later it starts raining and before you know it, it’s snowing. Then you rewind and the circle of life begins anew!
Because of the variety of climates that you can expect in a day, having wind and waterproof clothing is essential.
If you’re thinking about taking the chance and saying to yourself, “I’ll be there for a week, it can’t possibly rain for the entire time”. You’ve already made the mistake of underestimating Iceland.
When I try to explain to people about the weather, I like to tell them about the summer of 2018, the worst summer in recorded history. It. Was. Terrible.
In June 2018 the rain was measured at 88,4mm, only six times since we started recording have we had as much rain. Only once have we had as little sunshine in June, and that was in 1914.
Also, in July 2018, the rain in Akureyri (which is the biggest town up north) was measured two times higher than the average. Only three times since we began recording the weather has it been as rainy.
Back in Reykjavík, the sun came out from behind the clouds for a grand total of 89,9 hours (about three and a half days), which hasn’t happened since 1989.
Then comes, August 2018, which was quite nice. It was the closest we came to an actual summer and we got more sunny days than on average, and If you ask me, we deserved it.
What do you need?
So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what you need.
- Good shoes
- A beanie
- Nice warm socks
- A scarf
- Water-resistant hiking pants
- Water and wind-resistant jacket/parka
Simple right! I could add a mountain on top of this list, but honestly, it’s not necessary. If you’re traveling in Iceland and you bring these items, you’ll be good to go for almost anything Iceland can throw your way. Because as I mentioned above Iceland isn’t all that cold, so that’s not what you have to worry about. It’s the low temperatures combined with the wind and rain that are the issue. So, if you have water and windproof clothing, you’re good to go!
You can purchase the clothing you need either before you come to Iceland but that will fill up the bag and you might have to add check-in luggage or wear a lot of clothing on the airplane.
You can also purchase the clothing once you arrive, but Iceland isn’t known for being cheap, so it’s definitely going to cost more. We recommend Ellingsen, 66 North, and Zo-On. Ellingsen is the cheapest option of the three.
A great idea
Lastly, you can opt to rent the clothing while you’re in the country. IcelandCover offers the no-nonsense clothing that you need in Iceland. Whether it’s raining in the summer or freezing and windy in the winter. Also, since you don’t have to bring the big items, you can bring a carry-on and save on check-in luggage.
Well, that is about everything I have to say! Come on over to our lovely country, explore the entire island and I promise you, if you don’t underestimate the weather, you’ll have the time of your life.