Let’s start from the most important rule when dressing for hiking in Iceland. During the spring and summer, three layers will be enough. During the winter you will need to add one more. We are big fans of dressing in layers as it makes your life easier and your trip more comfortable. You simply take off the layer that you do not need when you already warmed up but always have it with you in case weather conditions get worse. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable so it is better to be prepared for everything. Especially that you are planning a trip to Landmannalaugar.
1. Base layer
This is a real base and is the most important one. When your body heats up, you can take off the top layers but the base will always stay on. It serves two purposes. The first one is to retain your body heat and the second one is to drain sweat and moisture away from the skin. Here you should go for a synthetic fabric specially designed for this function like polypropylene. Cotton is not the best choice here because it absorbs moisture and keeps it on the skin, cooling your body at the same time.
2. Mid layer
The mid layer is similar to the base one because it has a similar function. It is also responsible for keeping us warm and removing moisture. The fabrics like fleece and natural fabrics like wool will be perfect to choose for this base. Flannel lining is highly recommended here as well. Remember also that everything should match your thermal underwear and upper layer. Rather go for not very tightly fitting clothes here for better comfort.
3. Insulation layer
This one will be your best friend during your trip in Iceland. This layer is responsible for keeping in heat and keeping your body warm. Synthetic materials will be a good choice for the insulation layer. Many people use down here, but we do not recommend it much as it loses its heat very quickly. Additionally, it is not waterproof, so it will get wet in case of rain. And you need to remember that it usually rains in Iceland. If you decide to go for one though, make sure it has a waterproof outer layer as well.
4. Shell layer
The last the four layers is the outer layer which usually is a waterproof jacket or coat. We do recommend to check if your jacket is as well wind proof additionally to being waterproof. You will feel much warmer in one of those but will keep you dry and comfortable as well. The top layer is really important and should be adequate to all kind of atmospheric phenomena.
What to wear on a hike in Iceland in summer
You already know everything about layering when dressing for your tours in Iceland. Now let’s have a look at what to wear depending on the time of the year. The system of dressing will be similar both in summer as in winter, However, during the summer you will dress a bit lighter.
These are the things you will definitely need for your Icelandic journey:
Waterproof hiking boots. This is not something you should scrimp on. We do recommend choosing good ones as whether or not your travel will be comfortable or a constant pain depends on this. Make sure you go for the right height of the shoes; ankle support is very important to avoid any injuries when stepping wrong. Your shoes have to be prepared for all day hikes so these have to be very comfortable. If you just bought them, use them at least to walk at home to make sure your feet will adopt to the shoes.
Thermoactive underwear. This is your base layer and the most important one. Make sure you get it made from the right fabric.
Waterproof and windproof jacket. Iceland is a rainy and windy little island. You need the jacket which will keep you warm and dry. Imagine the glacier hike in wet jacket being terribly cold. You should avoid that and get a good jacket at the start.
Waterproof pants. This is very important to get the right sort of pants. Try to avoid jeans and fabrics that can soak up water quickly. During the summer you should instead go for light pair of trekking pants. During long hours of trekking it is important that the fabric lets your body breathe and evaporates excess moisture accumulating on the surface of our legs and transports it outside the pants.
Water bottle. Water in Iceland is drinkable and very tasty, you do not need to buy bottled water every time. Make sure you bring a water bottle with you and refill it when it is empty.
Trekking poles. These can make your trip and hiking in Iceland much more comfortable. By moving some weight on your arms, we relieve the spine and joints of the lower limbs. Poles are two additional support points which significantly affects our balance and sense of stability. You will put the steps more confidently and decrease the risk of possible fall.
The backpack. You might think that this is a minor problem but you could not be more wrong. You should adapt it to your body so it adheres properly and does not make it uncomfortable to walk on long distances. Remember that it has to be made of light fabric so when you put some food, water and other necessary stuff you can still walk. You should go for the one that has a lap belt as well which carries 70% of the weight of the backpack.
A mask to cover your eyes. If you are coming to Iceland in summer in the season for the Midnight Sun, be prepared for lots of light even during the night. For those who are not used to that, we do recommend bringing a mask for your eyes so you can sleep well.
What to wear on a hike in iceland in winter
Winter is becoming a very popular season of the year for travelling around Iceland.As the tourism in Iceland is booming, more and more people are thinking about visiting this small, Scandinavian island. While the peak season lasts from May till September, a large number of people decide to visit Icelandic winter.
By saying winter I mean all the months between October to April. Then the country experiences temperatures comparable to those that you have during winter in other part of Europe. Iceland is winter though is not that cold as one might think and there is no need to dress like you were going to the North Pole. The right choice of fabric makes a huge difference and you should focus on that. We know that all of the travellers like savings, but you should not do it if it goes about your hiking clothes.
A good pair of shoes and a jacket will definitely pay off and will be worth spending a few extra pennies on it. So what that should be packed for your winter hike in Iceland?
The clothes you will wear during the winter in Iceland will be pretty much similar to what you will bring with you on summer / spring. There are few other things that we should add here:
Sleeping bag. Especially if you will be travelling in a rented RV or you are planning to stay for the night in a mountain hut. You can also use it for cold nights where you will be waiting for the Northern Lights to light up the sky. You can use it as an extra cover.
Warm clothes. The mid layer here needs to be thicker during a winter hike in Iceland. A good idea here would be to get a well known lopapeysa made of wool which is warm and cosy.
Wearing waterproof jacket is necessary for the top layer here. Down will do but remember it has to be waterproof so you are prepared for rain and snow.
Swimsuit. This should be packed in your suitcase both in winter and in summer. Hiking in Iceland would not be such a fun if you cannot finish it with a nice swim in warm hot springs right? Do not forget about the flip flops to use in the public swimmming pools.
Do not forget about trekking gloves and a hat. Make sure these are warm and waterproof as well so your hands do not freeze when these get wet.
If you are planning to dress smartly, bring a pair of fleece leggings or jeans, long sleeve tees and you will be fine.
What to wear and pack for hiking in Landmannalaugar
Thanks to the small preparations, you will be able to fully enjoy your trekking on the best hiking trails in Iceland as you will be able to face the temperature and atmosphere phenomena well. You need to be prepared for all kinds of weather, rain, snow, wind, a lot of wind, and more wind. I am not joking.
The right clothing not only provides warmth and comfort during the trip but make your experience much better. Find out in advance what you should pack and wear for your hiking trip in Iceland before or you might regret it.