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Winter Wear: Tips From Our Icelandic Vacation

Winter Wear: Tips From Our Icelandic Vacation

Apparently, the groundhog has indicated six more weeks of winter.  Not to rub it in (wink, wink), but, here in Southern California, our winter wardrobe often includes shorts and flip-flops.  And so, if you’re curious to experience winter in all its glory, how about a getaway to Iceland!

Kaarel & Susan Hamersky at Thingvelliur National Park, Iceland


Prior to our vacation, whenever we mentioned we were going to Iceland in winter, there were only two responses:  1.) “Um…Because??” or 2.) “That’s on my bucket list!”

The “because” for us was to see the northern lights.  And, it’s one of the safest travel destinations these days.Geysir, Iceland


But the Land of Fire and Ice is so much more.  And, in our opinion, there’s no better season to experience the rugged beauty and extremes than winter.

The waterfall Urridafoss in Iceland

You definitely need the right gear, though.  And, after researching and purchasing gear that we don’t normally keep on hand in our Southwest climate, we headed to Iceland well-prepared.  Here are items we loved…and what we didn’t.


thumbs up



Base layers – Turns out, Merino Wool is THE best layer next to your skin.  It’s soft, not scratchy; and it breathes.  The top and pants (boughtSkogarfoss, Iceland separately) were perfect.  I’ve even worn them as base layers now that I’m back home in California.  Because, when I jog in the early mornings, it can be cold.  (Ok, call me a wimp; 40 degrees IS cold!)

dinner in Selfoss Iceland


Turtleneck Sweater – I can’t recommend Merino Wool enough.  This Pendleton version was well worth it.  The turtleneck fit closely enough to keep out cold from the top, but not so snug that it strangled me or was hard to pull on.


Ski Pants – Waterproof and insulated is the way to go.  I had bought a pair of really thick leggings, as an option in case I felt too noisy or squishy in the ski pants.  The leggings were worn once.  After that, it was only the ski pants – every day.


Waterproof Jacket with a Fleece-lined Hood – I didn’t want a coat so bulky that it made me feel like the Michelin Man or one that would need its own airline seat!  So I took a chance on a thinner Columbia jacket with thermal coils that radiate your body heat back to at Kerid Crater, Icelandyou.  This one fit the bill wonderfully.  It came just below the hips, was easy to move around in, and was super warm without all that bulk.  A bonus was the hood…which I loved immediately because of the faux-fur trim. 🙂  And, because it was fleece-lined (rather than nylon-lined) and fit snugly, I didn’t need a beanie or ear muffs, which was great, and the hood could easily be slipped back when not needed..


Waterproof, Insulated Boots – Buying another pair of boots felt like an unnecessary indulgence to me because I already had Bearpaw boots that I loved.  But I knew they weren’t waterproof.  I was so happy with the Apres boots by Lamu that I got…they came to lower-calf, were roomy enough to wear thermal socks, Black Sand Beach in Icelandwere comfortably snug when zipped, and, very importantly, they were a dream to walk around in all day.

Gulfoss in Thingvelliur National Park, Iceland


Ice Cleats – Even boots need extra help when you’re walking on ice or hard-packed snow, which happened a lot.  These STABILicers stretched to slip snugly on.  Wearing these, we felt confident wherever we walked, and neither of us fell even once.


thumbs down

“Smart” Gloves – Knowing we’d be taking a lot of photos on our phones, I bought big-name-brand-spare-no-expense “smart” gloves which supposedly allow you to use the touch screen on your phone without taking the gloves off.  Not.  They didn’t work AT ALL.  And I’ve since heard from others that had the same experience.  Hence, one hand was constantly out of the glove, taking photos.  It was the only part of the body that got cold, and, I mean, really cold.  What saved the day, though, was Hot Hands hand warmer packets, which we kept inside the glove and allowed that hand to thaw and warm up.

aurora borealis in Iceland


…And did we get to see the Aurora Borealis?  You bet!  On our last night. And it was awesome!



Following are pictures of all the items we took and loved.  Although women’s items are shown below, there are men’s equivalents available.  If you have other items you love for cold weather gear, leave a note in the comments!

And, if you’d like us to help plan or book your winter getaway, let us know!  Check out our Virtual Assistant Services.

We’re all about taking care of “the home front” so you can enjoy the life you’re working hard for. So, take a load off your shoulders and put it on ours–join California Concierge today! Contact us at (818) 883-8550 or

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