Winter Photography in Iceland : Clothing Guide
The Icelandic winter is relatively mild for its latitude.At the southerly lowlands of the island the average temperature is around 0 °C (32 °F) in winter, while at the highlands it is about −10 °C (14 °F). The lowest temperatures in the northern part of the island range from around −25 to −30 °C (−13 to −22 °F). The lowest temperature recorded is −39.7 °C (−39.5 °F). This guide will provide you the basic information on how to dress properly in the various conditions of the tour in Iceland.
An insulating jacket will be your most important piece of clothing in Iceland and this is where I advise you to invest your money. There are two main types of insulating jackets; synthetic and down. Down is better, but much more expensive. If you don’t like cold and you’re not willing to spend avoid it.
A rain jacket is a must have, but if it starts raining heavily you’d better head to a shelter.
If you have a decent rain jacket, bring it along. If not, don’t spend too much on it. A rain jacket will keep you warm by insulating you from windchill.
Keeping your legs warm is something that a lot of people, especially men, tend to neglect.I recommend getting waterproof/ski trousers. Please don’t consider jeans an adequate solution in this situation. You will be standing in the waves at the ice-beach and at Vik and there might be situations where you have to step into the water at a glacial lagoon to get the right composition. With the right trousers and shoes you can go knee-deep without even knowing you’re in water.
You may need to jump over rivers, walk behind waterfalls, get lost on some mountains. Your cute city boots and running shoes won’t do. Actually Iceland will probably use it’s forces to destroy them. Invest in a nice pair of hiking boots and thank me later.
I highly recommend the North Face® Men’s Storm Winter GTX. Gore-Tex®membrane technology which makes the boot completely waterproof in the harshest of conditions. Primaloft® insulation adds extra warmth. A Vibram® rubber outsole ensures excellent grip on slick or hard winter ground.
Wear winter socks
Warm winter socks are important in keeping your feet warm and dry. Wool is best, although good synthetic “fleece” socks are often quite good. You can layer socks, but be careful that your feet are comfortable and the circulation isn’t shut down.
The black Men’s Stretch Thinsulate Gloves from Freehands are designed to be used when photographing outdoors in cold weather. The gloves have a waterproof and windproof backing and are lined with Thinsulate to keep you warm in the winter while being lightweight enough to wear in milder weather.
When photographing in cold weather you can open the finger tips so that you can more easily access small buttons on your camera, which might be difficult to access if you were wearing normal gloves. When you need to access buttons on your camera, simply pull back the thumb and forefinger tips of the gloves to reveal your fingers. The tips are secured in place by magnets until you are ready to cover your fingers again. The palm patch features a silicon grip to prevent your camera from slipping. The gloves are designed to fit snugly so you can hold and operate your camera easily.
Handwarmers are probably my favorite piece of winter gear. Once they heat up, handwarmers provide real warmth and can be so comforting on a cold hand or nose. They can also be helpful for melting ice off of a filter or warming up a frozen tripod. Smaller versions are made to serve as foot warmers and you can slip those in your boots to keep your toes warm, as well.
This is what you should put on when the wind begins to blow down your neck and a hat is not enough. I recommend a fleece balaclava. For milder temperature, a neck BUFF (wool) is sufficient, it protects your neck and can be pulled over your head if you need a bit more protection.
Iceland is the land of hot water in abundance and you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not plunge into one of our thermal pools, the Blue Lagoon or warm springs and rivers around the country. If you want to dive into the hot river in Reykjadalur for example clothing is completely optional but on contrary to what some people have heard they are not optional in the swimming pools. You shower naked but swim in a swimsuit. Doing it the other way around will not go well for you.
And then finally…
So I highly recommend a small 4X4, because if you get off the Ring Road, you will have to have a 4X4, to do so legitimately. DO NOT try to bend the rules, and take a non-4X4 on any F-road. Trust me, the car company will find out everything, -and I mean everything wrong with the car, – and you will have to pay for it. So I recommend a small 4×4 like a Toyota Rav4, or a Dacia Duster.