It used to be an unfortunate rule of fashion that you simply cannot look good and stay warm at the same time: you can either bundle up and get laughed at by shivering throngs of hipsters, or leave your Michelin-man style coat at home and get hypothermia while waiting in line to get in a club. But in Iceland, it’s been possible to look good and stay warm at the same time for nearly eighty years, thanks to 66° North.
66° North was created by Hans Kristjansson in 1926 to protect fishermen from the elements. Since then, the company has taken off into an international clothing line for men, women and children.
I could go into all the technical details that went into the design of these clothes; how the stitching, layering and materials have enabled them to be lightweight and still weather resistant, but I think the ability of the clothes to keep you warm can be best summed up by how they were tested.
66° North gave (and continues to give) new items from their line to Icelandic Search and Rescue teams like Hjálparsveit skáta (the Scout’s rescue team) in Reykjavík and Slysavarnafelagið (the Accident Prevention Society) in Landsbjörg. If these people, who have to brave some of the toughest conditions Iceland can dish out, say 66° North is up to snuff, you can believe you’ll be able to stay warm in these clothes no matter where in Iceland you decide to enjoy the great outdoors.
As an added bonus, the designs are sharp, contemporary, and accessorise well. So you should be able to forgo the “bloated flourescent red Arctic explorer” look so popular with many outdoor wear lines without sacrificing any body heat.
You can check out your gear for yourself and do some online shopping at www.66north.is, or visit one of their seven locations in Iceland. Their store downtown is on Lækjargata 4, and is open from 10:00 to 18:00 Monday through Friday, 10:00 to 16:00 on Saturdays, and are closed on Sundays.
Also worth checking out is Veiðihornið (Hafnarstræti 5 and Síðumúla 8). Even if the name means “the hunting corner,” you don’t have to be interested in hunting to shop there. When we checked out their downtown location we found outerwear well suited for spending long periods in the out of doors (weather and water proof) that had the added advantage of making you virtually invisible to small, tasty animals. And if fishing, especially fly fishing, is your game, you can’t go wrong – we found more rods, reels, lines, lures and feathers than you could shake a salmon at. On top of it all, the prices are very reasonable, they stay open longer for the summer season (begins June 1), and they have a comprehensive website www.veidihornid.is.
9:00-18:00, Monday-Friday; 10:00-16:00, Saturday; 12:00-16:00, Sunday.
Summer hours: 8:00-20:00, Monday-Friday; 10:00-16:00, weekends.
10:00-18:00, Monday-Friday; 10:00-16:00, Saturday; 12:00-16:00, Sunday.
Summer hours: 9:00-18:00, Monday-Friday; 10:00-16:00, weekends.
One outdoor clothing line you can find, well, damn near everywhere is Cintamani. Their website www.cintamani.is claims that their label “has been used on many expeditions, including climbs up Mt. Everest (8850m) in 2002 and 1997, treks to both the North Pole and the South Pole, across Greenland’s Ice Cap and over Iceland’s treacherous winter terrain.” Need we say more?
The most central location in the Reykjavík area for finding Cintamani products is Útilíf in Kringlan. Open 10:00-18:30, Monday-Wednesday; 10:00-21:00, Thursdays; 10:00-19:00, Fridays; 10:00-18:00, Saturdays and 13:00-17:00, Sundays.