Iceland: Winter Packing List

It's kind of miraculous how well my cram-packing for Iceland turned out, considering how it was practically an afterthought with all the wedding insanity.

For reference we were there for seven days, not including flight days, in the beginning of January. The average daytime temperature in Reykjavik was zero degrees, but as we ventured out into different parts of the country it went as low as -20C. Apparently this was quite warm for winter, but I get chills at 25C so just keep that in mind when deciding whether you need as many layers as I do.





Outerwear

  • Uniqlo Ultra Warm Down Military Coat
  • Sorrel Conquest Carly Boots
  • The North Face Waterproof Pants
  • The North Face E-tip Gloves
  • Forever21 hat (from the men's section!)

WHAT WORKED
  • The coat and the boots were the "investment pieces" so to speak, but I was careful not to go overboard with the spending seeing as I live in perpetual sunshine (with the occasional rain), and I think I did pretty well. The Uniqlo jacket was warm enough for Reykjavik, with a surprisingly functional hood as well. And then when we had to go out at night, which was when the temperature turned from cold to insane, I just load up on the layers.
  • The Sorrel boots were not the warmest, admittedly, but I wanted something I could take to fall and spring travel as well. They did provide decent traction, and with two layers of socks my feet have survived unscathed. As an aside, they were a bitch to remove the first couple of days (so. many. laces) and I needed Abe's help to pry them off my feet (as part of his husbandly duties, no doubt). I did not, and would not recommend, wearing them to the airport where you may be asked to remove them in the security check.
  • The waterproof pants were a last-minute purchase, and only because I found them on sale, but they proved to be indispensable (read: I wore them everyday). I especially love that they're skinny, so I was able to tuck them into my boots. They fit really well too, and if not for the obnoxious branding I might still be wearing them out on weekends, even.
  • I've never found a bonnet that did not make me cringe, but this was not half-bad and was only 12 dollars. The visor thing also served to keep my jacket's hood from falling into my face, which was kind of genius if it was a deliberate choice (it wasn't; I just discovered it by accident).

WHAT DIDN'T
  • The North Face gloves were useless. In fact my hands actually felt colder when I wore them. In the end I had to buy another pair from a random petrol station in Iceland; they were at a couple of sizes too big but were at least functional. I definitely regret not getting proper gloves for this trip.

Clothing

  • Uniqlo Fleece Turtleneck Sweater [3]
  • Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater [2]
  • Muji Chambray Button-down
  • Skinny Jeans [3]
  • Lululemon Yoga Pants [2]
  • Flannel Pajamas
  • Swimsuit (for the Blue Lagoon!)



WHAT WORKED
  • I love Uniqlo fleece things - they're warm and snuggly and really cheap as well. I got them in a couple of different colors but if I were to do it all over again I'd probably just buy five black fleece turtlenecks. I realize it's a bit Steve Jobs-ish, but I've always felt I look best in black plus it's just the easiest color to wear because I spill things.
  • Lululemon yoga pants are a godsend for long-haul flights - super comfy (and no cameltoe)! They're also thick and sturdy and provide more coverage than most jeggings, so I don't feel especially self conscious when wearing them outside.

WHAT DIDN'T
  • I don't know why I wore a button-down on the flight - it was wrinkled even before I reached the airport. Definitely going back to the tee + giant cardigan slash blanket combination.
  • I also brought too many jeans. A single pair would probably be enough.

Layering Pieces

  • Scarf [2]
  • The North Face Fleece Jacket
  • Uniqlo Packable Down Vest [1]
  • Uniqlo Ultra Warm Heattech Leggings [1]
  • Uniqlo Heattech Leggings [3]
  • Uniqlo Ultra Warm Heattech Shirt [1]
  • Uniqlo Heattech Shirt [3]
  • Wool Socks [4]

WHAT WORKED
  • Uniqlo heat tech is kind of a no-brainer when it comes to layering on a budget. The key is you have to wear them underneath something else; they aren't really warm on their own, but under fleece? So so very toasty. I didn't want to accumulate too many pieces, because goodness knows when I'll ever get to wear them again, so I bought only three and just did laundry a couple of times (they do dry really quickly). They now come in three types - ultra warm, extra warm, and the normal heat tech. I liked the ultra warm ones best, but I was only able to get a pair because they had very limited stocks in Singapore and I may have over-procrastinated. Tsk.
  • I've never really understood vests until I realized how great they were for layering because they don't add bulk to the arms, which is what usually restricts the amount of clothing you can pile on. Uniqlo's packable down vest is not the warmest thing in the world but it occupies next to no space so I always bring it along as an extra insurance.
  • On the coldest of cold days, I literally just wore all the layers I could:
    Normal Heattech Shirt + Ultra Warm Heattech Shirt + Fleece Turtleneck + Fleece Jacket + Down Vest + Coat.
    I looked (and felt) like a mascot but hey, I was warm.

WHAT DIDN'T
  • I wish I brought more socks, because I often doubled up when it got too cold, so I had to wash them more often than I would have liked.
  • Also, one scarf was enough for me, really; in fact I completely forgot about the existence of the other one after like a day.

Toiletries


  • Toner + SK-II + Moisturizer
  • Alterna Shampoo + Conditioner (not in photo)
  • Alterna Caviar CC Cream
  • Toothpaste + Toothbrush (not in photo)
  • Jack Black Lipbalm
  • Percy & Reed Dry Shampoo
  • Nivea Soft Cream
  • Daily Contact Lenses

WHAT WORKED
  • My hair was fried because I had it colored for the wedding (and without treatment as well, to make it easier to style) so I bought this Alterna trial kit from Sephora and it really helped restore a bit of life into my locks. And because it's winter I was able get away with not washing daily but I still had to use dry shampoo on my roots because they get oily very easily.
  • Despite the crazy weather I did not get windburned lips and I have the Jack Black lipbalm to thank for that. I have it in Black Tea and Grapefruit and both smell equally awesome. I still use them everyday.
  • Nivea Soft Cream is my staple for cold (and even not so cold) weather; it just works really well and because it comes in a jar it is less likely to explode in the luggage.
  • I find daily contact lenses prohibitively expensive for regular use, but when traveling I make the exception because it's nice to not have to worry about cleaning and disinfecting.

WHAT DIDN'T
  • I wish I brought an intensive hair mask, because the blue lagoon sucked the life out of my hair and even the Alterna conditioner was powerless to revive it.
  • I also forgot my perfume because it got packed together with all my wedding stuff (like the cord and candle and veil and all that), so I had to sneak a couple of spritzes from my newly-minted husband's bottle (which I bought, and liked wearing, even if it was for men).

Makeup


  • Suqqu Extra Rich Cream Foundation
  • Becca Mineral Powder
  • Anastasia Brow Powder
  • Benefit Rockateur
  • NARS Douceur (look, I hit pan!)
  • Becca Beach Tint
  • Dior Rosy Glow Blush
  • Shu Uemura Painting Liner
  • Happy Skin Liquid Lipstick {Mickey See}
  • Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick {Bitch Perfect}
  • NARS Velvet Lip Glide {Bound}
  • MAC Lip Liner {Edge to Edge}

WHAT WORKED
  • So for some reason I decided to wear a full face of makeup every single day we were in Iceland. Yes, even when we climbed up a glacier. I think it's because the risk of products melting off my face is very minimal. I also re-discovered my love for a cat eye, and for the Shu Uemura cream liner as well. I did decant the Suqqu foundation because that glass jar does not travel well at all.

WHAT DIDN'T
  • I definitely did not need four different blushes and lip products. Maybe two of each, tops. Also the Happy Skin lipstick is not ideal for cold weather because it drained all the moisture from my lips.
  • I also forgot my concealer, and this time my husband didn't have any for me to borrow :p.

Other Things


  • (A crapton of) snacks
  • Xiaomi 20000 mAh Powerbank
  • Kairo Body Warmer packs (from Daiso)
  • Rebecca Minkoff crossbody bag
  • GHD hair straightener

WHAT WORKED
  • First of all, I would not have survived this trip without the heating packs. They feel like nothing when you open them indoors, but at -20 degrees it's like you have a mini-bonfire on your pockets. So so so worth it (I mean, seriously, it's two dollars for eight). Abe didn't have any need for them though. I might have married a polar bear.
  • Batteries drain faster in cold weather, so powerbanks are indispensable. The higher the capacity the better.
    I initially thought I will regret it, but bringing my hair straightener was a good call because it kept my hair from going frizzy as f*ck.
  • Icelandic food gets a lot of flak online, and we were terrified of going hangry, so we brought enough salted egg chips to cause arterial blockage. And even when the food turned out alright we still happily dug into the snacks anyway. No regrets.

WHAT DIDN'T
  • The Rebecca Minkoff mini-MAC used to be my staple travel bag but now it's simply too small for all my stuff. I actually ended up buying a Fjallraven Kanken backpack in Reykjavik because I needed something functional.
  • I also wish we brought cup noodles, so we'd have something warm to eat when we're too lazy to leave the hotel.
    A thermos would've also been nice to transport coffee or hot chocolate, especially for Northern Lights tours.
  • Last but not least, a water bottle. Iceland boasts of the yummiest tap water, and I'm inclined to agree. In fact when we bought bottled water to bring to one of the tours, the lady at the cashier said, "you know that's just the same water from the tap, right?"

2 comments

  1. Thanks for this. Been googling for Iceland packing lists from Filipinos and this was a big help!

    I'll be going there early next year pa but I want to start buying clothes now so I don't settle on stuff because I couldn't find anything better.

    The Uniqlo coat looks nice, is that a recent purchase?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mel! I'm glad you found it helpful :)
      I got it early December last year but it's currently no longer available. Sine you're not leaving until next year I'm sure Uniqlo will release something similar for next winter. Just make sure you get one from the "ultra warm" range with tech fabric. Enjoy your trip! ^^
      Link to the coat: http://www.uniqlo.com/sg/store/women-ultra-warm-down-coat-1789360013.html

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