You would assume this would be logical. Iceland is a bit cold. You wear warm clothes. However, I saw some very interesting outfits there. Thin leggings as pants. Plastic ponchos. A girl in a tutu. Numerous people in $600USD hiking boots that had obviously never seen the outdoors before.
We didn’t have any issues being prepared for the weather, and I was never really cold. Iceland is like New Zealand – the weather is unpredictable. In saying that, I didn’t bring many winter clothes with me to Dubai, for obvious reasons. I had to buy a few items before I left for my trip, and I didn’t want to break the bank. Most of the people I saw in Iceland, particularly people who had obviously never been somewhere cold before, looked like they had spent thousands on entire North Face or Marmot outfits. This isn’t necessary. You don’t need to spend a heap of money to get ready for your holiday. I bought nearly all my items from Tchibo. My Icebreaker gear was purchased in New Zealand. It is comparatively very expensive here in Dubai, but I’ve done my best to suggest cheaper alternatives. If you can find it though, it’s well worth the investment if you plan on heading to the cold multiple times!
The following list provides you with the gear I took to Iceland for our five-day trip, and where you can buy the items (or equivalent items). Let me know if you have any questions!
WHAT TO TAKE
1. Tchibo Thermal Long Sleeved Tops. These are incredibly cheap, lightweight and warm, and cost around 30AED each. Take a few.
2. Icebreaker boot socks. At 88AED a pair, these aren’t cheap, but they are definitely worth it and will last a long time. You will only need one pair for the whole trip, just switch them out for Tchibo thermal ski socks when you aren’t hiking (15AED).
3. Tchibo Thermal Vests. As with the long-sleeved tops, grab a few – they’re around 20AED each.
4. Halo Duck Down Jacket. This is an ESSENTIAL. I didn’t own one of these, so borrowed from a friend. It was so warm! Macpac is a popular brand in Australia and New Zealand, but Columbia (550AED) and the North Face (459AED) make similar products that are available in Dubai. These are, again, a little expensive, but you will reuse it lots if you travel. They can also pack down very small. Just make sure it has real feathers – not synthetic down.
5. Icebreaker woollen hat. I took two, a cheap polyester hat and a merino one. Definitely opt for a lightweight merino hat if you can afford it – it will keep you so much warmer. This one is around 80AED. Make sure it covers your ears! If you can’t afford a merino hat, a thermal polyster hat from Tchibo (15AED) is a good back up.
6. Salomon Authentic LTR GTX Hiking Boots. I bought these a year or so ago for about 450AED. If you have to buy boots before your trip, break them in. Don’t use them for the first time on your trip – you will end up blistered and sore. I opted for a light pair of boots that were styled almost like a heavy sneakers, and they are great for maneuvering around.
7. Icebreaker merino leggings. These are around $90NZD, but a lot more expensive in Dubai. These Marks and Spencers Thermal Leggings or Tchibo Thermal Leggings are cheaper alternatives, at 100AED and AED respectively. Great for also wearing under jeans if you go out and about, but not for a hike!
8. Tchibo Ski Pants. These were THE BEST. I actually got a slightly different black pair for 85AED, but these are 99AED. They are so warm, waterproof, and comfy. Would also be great for Ski Dubai!
9. Tchibo Thermal Hiking Pants. I wore these with a pair of the thermal leggings below under them the night we went to look at the Northern Lights. They were great – superlight, comfy and warm – although in the wind, I appreciated wearing two layers. 51AED.
10. Tchibo Thermal Running Tights. I wore these under my hiking pants, and they were very toasty!
11. Camelbak Chute drink bottle. I choose a Camelbak because of the quality, but the key thing is just to have a drink bottle with you! 80AED.
12. Tchibo scarf and mittens. At 22AED and 15AED, you can’t go wrong. The mittens are convertible from fingerless gloves to mittens, which is good for taking photos.
13. Kathmandu Andulo Two-Layer Rain Jacket. This is basically just an overjacket which is waterproof. You don’t need something flash – my jacket was the old one I wore walking to work in New Zealand. Just make sure its big enough to fit over your down jacket! Some cheaper options are this (51AED) and this (102AED).
HOW TO DRESS
Layering is key. When we went hiking, I wore thermal boot socks, merino leggings, ski pants, a thermal singlet and top, scarf and down jacket. If it was really cold, I threw on a merino sweater – just a cheap old one from Glassons. This meant I could take off the down jacket in the car, along with the scarf, and throw on a rain jacket when it was damp.
In Reykjavík, leggings under jeans was enough – the town has great heating! – but I stuck with a down jacket outside to keep warm.
Finally, the night we viewed the Northern Lights, my pants were covered in mud following horse riding. I wore my merino leggings, thermal running leggings and hiking pants. It wasn’t as warm as the ski pants, but still a pretty good alternative.
WHERE TO SHOP
A note on Tchibo – the website doesn’t show what is available in the Dubai Mall Tchibo store, or the Brands for Less stores. You are better just to pop in and have a look. That place is a treasure trove of goodies!
Tchibo – various outlets throughout Dubai (including Brands for Less).
Salomon Outlet Store. Dubai Outlet Mall.
Namshi, or any sports store, for Camelbak goods. Online store.
Sun and Sand Sports – various locations throughout Dubai, and online.
DesertCart and UBuy – for online Amazon purchases, including Icebreaker.
Marks and Spencer – various sites through the UAE.