I'm a big fan of travelling light and whenever i pack for winter travel, that becomes a challenge. It's so much easier to pack light when you are heading to a summer destination! But i think i did a pretty good job at packing everything i needed into a medium sized haversack and a small trolley luggage.
Ever since i started hearing horror stories from friends who lost their luggage, i always ensure i have the bare essentials packed in my hand carry bag. So, even if i were to lose my check-in luggage, i can still survive the trip smelling good, looking presentable and most importantly, not freeze in the cold!
Before you start packing proper, prepare a "pack list" and make sure to consider the follows:
1. The Art of Layering
Given my low tolerance for cold temperatures, i was determined to be well protected from the cold, head to toe and travel around in comfort! That's why i wore 4 layers in total plus the generous amount of winter accessories.
1st layer: Good set of thermals - Go for a turtle neck thermal top. Works well at keeping your neck area warm.
2nd layer: Wool or Fleece Sweater
3rd layer: Windproof Jacket
4th layer: Knee Length, waterproof Hooded Parka. Both the hood and pockets were lined with heat tech fleece.
Winter accessories: I wore a wool beanie, 2 sets of wool gloves, 2 sets of hiking socks and a thick wool scarf.
If it gets too warm, i just have to remove the necessary number of outer layers till i feel good! As you can already tell, i rather feel too warm than too cold!
2. Winter Footwear, Good Socks & Ice Cleats
As much as i wanted to look très chic in my winter gear, i knew i had to get a good set of functional boots for winter travel. The kind that keeps my feet warm all day, doesn't give me blisters and has a good anti-slip base when walking on melting ice!
In the end, i got myself a pair of Keen Mid Hiking Boots (SGD 130: Sale Price). This one's waterproof and gave me ample flexibility and breathability throughout the day! It also has toe guards that protects the feet from impacts and abrasions. They were so comfortable to walk in!
In Iceland, there are plenty of opportunities for short hikes and i think it's essential to bring along a good set of hiking boots with you. I put mine to the test when we went for a short hike towards Glymur waterfall. My Keen boots passed with flying colours except for 1 annoying issue! Since it was winter, we encountered melting ice quite often during our walks and especially, during our visits to the waterfalls. And yes, i did slip and fall twice! We also saw plenty of hilarious falls during our visit to Skogafoss (one of the many gorgeous waterfalls in Iceland) !
Important lesson that we picked up from some of the locals: Buy a set of Ice Cleats (you have to attach these to the soles of your boots) from the petrol stations or supermarkets in Iceland. If you can buy them cheaper in your home country, then buy them beforehand! It's a lifesaver when traveling in winter!
A quick note on socks. They matter! On the night we saw the aurora borealis, the temperature dipped to -12 °C. My toes froze and it was a painful experience. (This happened even when i had doubled up on socks!) Make sure you invest in a good set of socks that will keep your feet warm. If you feel miserable in your socks, go and purchase Icelandic thermal woolen socks when you are there!
3. Wi-Fi connection on the go
Since we were going to be on the road mostly and needed to check work emails regularly, having a good Wi-Fi connection was crucial for us. Having our own "pocket Wi-Fi" meant that we didn't need to rent the GPS unit from the car rental company. We used the Google Maps App in our iPhones to navigate around Iceland's roads.
If you are living in Singapore, you can book your "pocket Wi-Fi" with "Changi Recommends" located at Singapore Changi Airport. It costs about SGD 20 a day. Alternatively, you can rent the pocket Wi-Fi device when you reach Reykjavik. The cost of rental there is about the same but we chose to pick it up at Changi Airport for convenience sake.
4. Emergency Food
We were thinking of scenarios where we get stuck on Iceland's Ring Road due to sudden harsh weather conditions and wait for rescue to arrive, haha! In such scenarios, we need to make sure that we are well equipped with water and food!
Tap water in Iceland is free and we always ensured that we had enough water with us. You can refill your bottle at water coolers, from the taps in the public washrooms or just bring enough with you before you leave your accommodation. Then, you don't have to worry about when to top it up next.
As for food, we knew Iceland was going to be expensive. So we brought along some dried food with us from Singapore. We packed a few healthy packs of nuts, raisins, cereal bars and a number of sinful cup noodles into our suitcases. This brought down our average daily meal expenses by a huge margin! Yay!
Here's the list of items i packed for my FEB 2016 winter travel to Iceland.
- Trip Duration: 9 days.
- Average Temperate range: 2°C to -5°C (It dropped to -12 °C on 1 night only, thankfully!)
For the fashion conscious, your clothing list would probably be longer. I think if you want variety when dressing up, you can focus on bringing with you, more outer winter accessory options rather than bringing along a variety of fancy inner layers that you won't get a chance to show off. Unless of course, you are looking for that Instagram worthy shot and are prepared to peel off layers in the freezing cold! :))