Visiting Iceland in the winter provides some of the most beautiful scenery and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. That being said, winter in Iceland can also be notoriously unpredictable and weather can change quicker than you can say, “wow, I should’ve brought that face mask.” During my recent trip to Iceland, I can honestly say that for the most part, I was prepared. But there were definitely a couple of items I wish I had thought about purchasing, that would’ve saved me from some missteps along the way.
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1. A Portable Charger
- I’m personally super biased towards the EVOTech Labs 3-Port Charger. Not only does this charger hold 3-5 charges depending on the type of phone or device that you have, but since I was traveling with a group of six, being able to charge three phones at once was a huge time saver. I’d charge our EVOTech each night and by the next morning we were good to go on charge for most of our day. And since cold weather is the kryptonite of iPhones, this was one of the best items we purchased for our trip.
2. A Wireless Travel Router
- A Wireless Travel Router is a definite must-have – whether you’re a die-hard Instagrammer trying to not to use up a week’s worth of data in an hour, or you’re lost and in need of some Google maps. We had actually purchased a portable hotspot with our car rental, but ended up carrying the little pod in one of our pocket’s everywhere where we went, giving us access to wi-fi for the entirety of our trip.
3. A Balaclava
- During high winds in Iceland, which you’ll most definitely experience especially if you head up north in the winter time, you’ll have to deal with what feels like a slap in the face from the wind if you don’t make an effort to keep it covered. On our day exploring most of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, my Self Pro Balaclava saved me from crazy wind burn and helped me power through the harsh weather. Since I frequently try to persuade those around me to visit cooler regions, I’m definitely going to put this to good use.
- Let me start off by saying that I chose not to purchase crampons or shoe chains before my winter trip to Iceland. Let me follow up by saying that I was about a foot from falling off of the Londrangar cliffs after slipping on black ice that I was unable to see. We laughed it off later, but it was actually a scary experience knowing that I could’ve ended up in the rough, freezing oceans below. For something so cheap and so potentially useful – be sure to purchase these before you go. Check out these OuterStar Traction Grips, at recommendation from the friend who stopped me from falling over the side of a cliff.
5. Under Layer Clothing
- I did a decent size shopping at Uniqlo and Under Armour prior to our trip, and I’d definitely recommend these two brands for under-clothing when visiting any highly cold region. Uniqlo has some awesome thin but warm leggings for both men and women, that can fit under your pants without discomfort. I also grabbed some long sleeve shirts from both spots that were thin enough to go under all the sweaters I had packed without causing overheating. Since my go-to outwear in cold weather are my North Face Fleece and Spyder Jacket, I wanted something warm, but that was thin enough to put over my shirts – but would also fit comfortably under both jackets. I ended up coming across spotting the Under Armour Women’s Tech 1/2 Zip and ordered it in Carbon Heather. Pro Tip: Packing for Iceland is all about the layers.
6. Tech Gloves
- Aside from your face and ears, exposing your fingers for even a few seconds can be unnecessarily painful. A couple of my friends experienced agony every time they took off their gloves to take photos on their phone. To avoid this, tech gloves are a great purchase. They allow you to use any touch screen as they’re designed with touch pads on the tip of each finger. Having had less-than-expected experiences with tech gloves in the past, I was a bit wary when ordering a new pair, but the OZERO Touchscreen Gloves worked like a charm. They’re listed as for men, but gloves are gloves and these had better reviews than some of the unisex pairs I had seen. Though, a guy friend of mine who purchased the same gloves suggests men order a size up.
7. Hot Hands
- When you forget your gloves or when you need something warm to stick in your pockets, HotHands are the perfect little sack of warmth. Growing up in New York, it wasn’t uncommon for our parents to purchase value packs of HotHands for us to carry on cold winter mornings, and naturally I had to bring some with me. Plus, I was able to be the hero for any of my friends who forgot their tech gloves.
8. Winter Boots
- Please do not try to manage the winter snow of Iceland in a pair of Nike sneakers or leather boots that are made for appearance rather than practicality. If you only wear one pair of shoes your entire trip, and I actually did, you’ll want a pair of winter boots that are warm and that keep your feet dry. While the streets of Reykjavik weren’t much of a problem when we visited in February, we battled some semi-deep snow when hiking through Thingvellir National Park. My boots of choice were SOREL Women’s Winter Carnival Snow Boots, which managed to water out even when I was walking through slush puddles.
9. Hand Lotion
In general, I cannot stand when my hands are too dry, and this only worsens in winter time. Combine that with the cold, dry air of Iceland and I’d have been complaining non-stop if it weren’t for J.R. Watkins Hand Cream. For starters, ingredients include cocoa butters, aloe, and green tea which from experience, are some of the best ingredients when it comes to natural beauty products. But unlike many other hand creams, this one also doesn’t leave that semi-greasy residue that can be more irritating than dry hands.
10. Protein Bars
- You’ll find that when traveling Iceland, more commonly when you leave Reykjavik and the surrounding area, that many restaurants are closed for the winter. While we were able to find a couple of spots that kept their doors open, having a box of protein bars in my bag was a huge savior especially during those long stretches of road. At one point, when we had to pull over due to a sudden close-to-zero-visibility snowstorm for a couple of hours, everyone was glad I had some Special K Meal bars to go around. Plus, if we’re being honest, food in Iceland isn’t cheap. Some protein bars and a pack of Skyr can you a decent amount on breakfasts.
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