Are you about to embark on a cave visit in Iceland and wondering what kind of clothing you need when? Well, it depends on what type of cave you are about to visit and when. In Iceland, we have various types of caves, ranging from open caves that are obviously very cold in the winter and warm and sunny in the summertime over to closed lava tunnels that offer shelter from the weather every season or even glacier caves. The average temperature in Iceland over the winter is about -5° to +5°celsius but the windchill and the stormy weather often makes it feel a lot colder so it is important to know what to wear on a cave tour in Iceland.
If you are visiting our Lava Tunnel, you will be provided with all the necessary safety equipment such as helmets and lights. What you need to bring along are good hiking shoes, especially if you are going to go on the Lava Falls tour, and depending on the seasons you want to address accordingly. At the entrance of the cave during winter time, you will need a good base layer, we would suggest a warm wool layer. For a second layer, we recommend hiking pants and a good sweater, may we suggest a Lopapeysa (e. Icelandic Wool Sweater). And for an outer layer, we suggest a warm pair of gloves and a hat, plus a waterproof jacket since sometimes it drips from the ceiling of the cave. Keep in mind that the temperature inside the cave is around 0 – 4 degrees Celcius (32 – 38 Fahrenheit), and it is a good shelter from the weather so there is no need to dress up for extreme conditions as if you would be going on a glacier hike. During summertime, the same principles apply but you can be a bit more relaxed about the base layer. There is no need for three layers for your legs during the summer, one or two layers are good, but keep in mind that while it might be warmer when entering the cave it is still the same temperature at the deep end, all year round (3-4°C).
If you plan on going to visit a glacier cave you will need to dress quite well since you will be going inside of a glacier. The temperature will be below 0° degrees Celcius 32 Fahrenheit so it is important to dress well to really enjoy the tour. Similar to the Lava Tunnel, most tour companies that operate the ice and glacier caves in Iceland will provide needed safety gear for their customers. Depending on the cave, that gear can be, crampons, headlights, hardhats, ice axes, and safety harnesses. When it comes to what to wear on an ice cave tour we suggest dressing in a few thin layers in order to trap the air between them rather than one big jacket. Start off with a good base layer, merino wool is always a classic one, both a top and pants. Then build upon it with a second layer, we would suggest a warm fleece layer that will fit under a shell. The third layer should be a good shell that keeps both water and wind out, so you can be warm underneath it and not worry about the drops from the cave ceiling. Don’t forget to pack good warm socks, a hat that can fit under a hardhat and that covers your ears and thick gloves.
To conclude, preparing your luggage for caving in Iceland should be a walk in the park. Simply make sure to match the season, research what weather conditions you might encounter in the cave and remember that it is always better to pack for an unlikely incident than to be caught unprepared.