Listen, we need to talk. Do you have a rain jacket for your next trip to Iceland? If you don’t have one, you need to buy this very important piece of clothing. A bulletproof rain jacket is paramount for Iceland’s ever-changing weather. It is easy to get bogged down in all the technical mumbo-jumbo when trying to purchase outerwear or backpacking equipment, but I am going to simplify it for you. This is the ultimate rain jacket purchasing guide for Iceland.

Woman in red rain jacket in Iceland

Specs and the Nitty Gritty

There is some housekeeping that we need to get out of the way before you can decide on which rain jacket to buy. Iceland can be messy; one minute it can be picture perfect clear skies, and then all the sudden you can feel like you are in a scene from The Perfect Storm. I am going to give you my personal recommendations for which jackets I would recommend, but I am also going to provide you with some tips and tricks if you decide to look for your own jacket.

Breathability

Breathability sits atop the list in regards to the essential qualities of a good rain jacket. Our bodies naturally produce massive amounts of heat. Once we put on a rain jacket that heat can become trapped within the coat causing you to start to sweat. There is nothing worse than sweating bullets during an Icelandic rainstorm. It can feel like an exercise in futility when it is raining, and yet you are soaked with sweat.  The point I am trying to make is that you want to make sure that while your jacket is waterproof that it can also expel heat.

There are several ways that a jacket can reduce heat. The first and most effective is through a breathable fabric. Be careful though. If the fabric is too breathable, the waterproof functionality will be compromised. Look for materials like Gore-Tex or another brand-specific waterproof breathable fabric. If you decide to go to a physical store merely ask any sales person to direct you towards something that is both waterproof and breathable.

The other most effective way to ensure that your jackets breath well during your Icelandic camping trip or holiday is to see if the coat has armpit zippers. Armpit zippers (or pit zips) act like heat sinks and ventilate your body quickly and efficiently. If you are going to be doing any hiking you want to make sure that your body is under the least amount of unnecessary stress as possible. Pit-zips will ensure you stay dry and cool at the same time.

Main in rainy weather in Iceland

Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant

This is a huge tip: it is almost impossible to find a truly 100% waterproof jacket. The majority of jackets will claim they are waterproof, but in actual practice, they are not. Iceland is definitely the type of place where you are going to want to stay as dry as possible. I am not going to say that it is for sure going to downpour during your trip, but there is always a chance that the heavens will open up and soak you to the bone.

Fabrics like GORE-TEX are designed to keep you as dry as possible, but they aren’t entirely waterproof. Again, with most things, you get what you pay for. One way to tell how waterproof the item is, is to see if the brand or company has used laminates or if they have used coatings to waterproof their jackets. The difference between the two is astounding. The industry standard analogy is to think of laminates as wallpaper glued to a wall, and coatings as paint spread across a wall.

Laminates are the crème de la crème of waterproofing for rain jackets. They tend to be much more expensive, but with that, they are the most waterproof, breathable, and the most durable. They tend to make the jacket a little bit thicker, and they cost the most to produce, but nothing comes close to them concerning functionality. Coatings have the benefit of being able to reduce a jackets weight significantly, but they tend to be much less robust than laminates. Always opt for laminates when you can.

Economic Rain Jacket Recommendation For Iceland

Alright, now that we have gotten the technical jargon out of the way I am going to give you three recommendations for rain jackets to buy before you come to Iceland. The first will be geared to those who don’t want to break the bank but also want to be nice and dry during their stay on the Nordic island. I highly recommend the Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket.

Marmot is well-known for their outerwear, and they have been a staple in the outdoors scene for a while now. The jacket is perfect for a short trip to Iceland and is sure to keep you dry and comfortable. This garment has pit zips, taped-seams, and is extremely packable. It’s also very wallet-friendly and retails starting around 65 USD. Again though, word to the wise: you get what you pay for.

This jacket will serve you well on day trips, but I would not recommend it for heavy-duty backpacking trips due to the nylon fabric from which it is constructed. If you plan to explore Reykjavik and maybe take a trip to see some sights outside of the city, then this is right up your alley. Marmot offers this jacket in several different colors and sizes. 

Woman walking in Iceland in yellow rain jacket

Mid-Level Price Point Rain Jacket Recommendation For Iceland

Coming in as my mid-tier recommendation is North Face’s Apex Flex GTX Rain Jacket. North Face offers this jacket for both men and women, and in several different colors for each. The jacket retails for around 230 US dollars, and it is worth every penny.

The North Face got it right when they designed this jacket; every detail about this jacket was meticulously crafted with heavy duty hiking in mind. Gore-Tex protects this soft-shell from top to bottom. Soft-shell is a type of fabric that resembles more cloth than plastic. They also designed the jacket to ventilate heat exceptionally well, while still being ridiculously quiet.

Not only is the jacket utilitarian, but it is stylish and comfortable as well. I adore The North Face’s products because not only do they take great care in the way they craft their products but they also have excellent customer service. They offer a free lifetime guarantee on this jacket so you can rest easy knowing they have your back.

Premium Rain Jacket Recommendation For Iceland

If money is no object and you need something to withstand mother-nature throwing the kitchen sink at you then look no further than Arc’teryx’s Zeta AR Jacket. This thing is an absolute beast. Arc’teryx has long been considered the top of the line for outerwear. Their products come with a steep price tag. Both the men’s and women’s jacket can retail for up to 500 US dollars! Yikes! But, I will repeat it, you get what you pay for. And on sites like Amazon you are able to shop for the best deals. Don’t be worried if you are concerned that the price tag doesn’t match the quality. This thing is worth every penny.

The Zeta AR was designed to handle the most intense elements. If you are planning to do some hardcore backpacking during your stay in Iceland this jacket will have your back. Equipped with Gore-Tex, waterproof zippers, and articulating elbows (for added mobility). There are also and hand pockets that are accessible while wearing a trail bag. This thing has all the bells and whistles. Customers rave about this jacket, and by all measures, it is a top rated hiking and trail jacket. If you are willing to pay the steep price, then buy this piece and never look back.

Iceland Rain Jacket Buying Guide

In summary, rain jackets are versatile items that are essential for any wardrobe. They are necessary for a trip to Iceland. They are also highly dynamic articles of clothing suitable for almost any weather. In the summer, they are great to have on a chilly or windy night to give you some warmth while still staying cool. In the fall you can pair a rain jacket well with a base layer to keep warm on a crisp autumn night. During the winter, you can layer underneath them to hold in warmth while keeping the biting cold off your bones. And, in the spring they are perfect when the nights are still too cold to wear a t-shirt, but too warm for a sweater.

Also, rain jackets are a worthy investment if you maintain them properly. All rain jackets, no matter the price, require a bit of love and care after a heavy rain season. You can purchase sprays to maintain the waterproofing on your jacket. I highly recommend looking into a DWR spray before tossing out your old, beaten up rain jacket. Do your research before you come to Iceland. Find whats right for you, and I guarantee that your trip will be infinitely better when you are cool, dry, and happy.

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Having a high quality rain jacket is important. Let's go over everything you need to know to make the best purchase for your style and budget | Ultimate Rain Jacket Shopping Guide | Visit campingiceland.com to learn more

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