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66°North’s claim to fame is they’ve been keeping Iceland warm for almost 90 years - quite impressive given the island sits just south of the Arctic Circle and regularly experiences sub-zero temperatures. Starting out as a manufacturer of fishing gear, today 66°North is known as an innovator in specialised clothing for use in the toughest conditions on the planet. Their motto is, “there’s not such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.”

With the 2013 RacingThePlanet Roving Race in Iceland only a few weeks away, we’ve asked 66°North your burning (freezing?) questions on how best to stay warm (and cool!) and dry in the land of land of glaciers, lava fields, geysers and fjords.

The first asked questions were about the weather and terrain:

What is the daily probability of rain? (Virginie Goethals - Belgium, resident in China)
[66°NORTH] It can be tricky to evaluate as there are such extremes in the weather here. It can be 20°C and it can also be 5°C, which means there can be rain, sleet or snow. The wind is also another factor that can make for much cooler conditions.

How much can the weather change in one day and between the days in August? (Jeroen – France, resident in Hong Kong)
[66°NORTH] The weather can be unpredictable. You can have sun, rain, snow and storm on the same day, particularly in the middle of the country. So you should be prepared for all types of weather.

How muddy are the trails in general? (Virginie  - Belgium, resident in China)
[RacingThePlanet] It is often wet in Iceland due to rain and also glacial melt. The terrain is a mixture of trails, hard packed mud, gravel jeep roads, grasslands, sandy desert / beach, rocky lava fields and more. On the trails you can expect there to be a reasonable amount of mud and that your feet will get wet, not only during the water crossings but also on the wet and muddy terrain. 

Then onto the more specific ones about items of clothing:

What is the best gear for daytime temperatures between 5-20 °C, wet and dry weather? (Tatiana – UK, resident in Hong Kong)
[66°NORTH] You would be quite lucky to get such a warm day here in Iceland! [The average temperature during RacingThePlanet:  Iceland will be between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius]. The temperature is not necessarily the problem here in Iceland; it is the wind and rain that can be cold and challenging to deal with. We recommend clothing that is both breathable and warm, such as Polartec fleece fabrics.  Our Grettir collection, t-shirt, long-sleeve or zip neck would be our pick, as it’s fabricated in Polartec® Power Dry® (96% Polyester, 4% Spandex). 

Given the range of temperatures during the day in August, do you recommend long or short sleeve running tops and pants? Please specify best types for day and nighttime. (Benjamin – UK, resident in Hong Kong)
[66°NORTH] August is still unpredictable and the weather conditions can change suddenly. We would recommend bringing both long and short options. You should also be prepared for rain.  
Can you recommend the best materials and products that are lightweight, waterproof and breathable? In particular, please recommend waterproof jackets and pants. (Tatiana – UK, resident in Hong Kong)

 [66°NORTH] We find runners opt for the Setberg jacket (originally designed as a golf jacket). But being lightweight, highly waterproof, extremely moisture permeable and having a dry feel, we also agree it couldn’t be more suited for running. 

In terms of waterproofness and breathability we always recommend our award winning multi-use outdoor Snæfell jacket (men/women) and pants (men/women fabricated in the revolutionary fabric Polartec Neoshell.

Which lightweight summer rain jacket would you advice to wear when running? (Virginie  - Belgium, resident in China)  

[66°NORTH] We recommend the Kári Jacket, the Snæfell jacket and the Setberg jacket.

For the late afternoon and evening at each Camp, when the weather is much cooler, what type of jacket would you recommend to wear that would keep you warm but at the same time is light, easy to pack and carry in a race-pack? (Al – Canada)
[66°NORTH] We believe the Vatnajökull Primaloft jacket is the ideal option. The jacket is insulated with Primaloft, which is very lightweight but is at the same time very warm. It also dries quickly when it is wet.

Another option is the Vatnajökull 800 fill down jacket.  Insulated with 800 grams of ill power down, it is a very lightweight down jacket that provides exceptional warmth. The jacket is packable and comes with a small bag. The down is from Germany and VET certified. It is not yet available online, but you can find the jacket in our 66°NORTH stores in Iceland. 

Would you use gloves and a warm hat for running or just to wear it in the evenings at camps? (Benjamin – UK)
[66°NORTH] It can be cold in August, so you should be prepared to wear gloves and hat while running. During the evenings, when it will definitely be cold, you are recommended to wear gloves and a hat.

What kind of trail running shoe would you recommend for diversified off road terrain in Iceland? Can you recommend a trail running shoe that dries quickly or is particularly good for going through river crossings, and damp ground but is also breathable? (Tatiana– UK, resident in Hong Kong)
[RacingThePlanet] 66°North do not produce shoes, however we can recommend a non-GoreTex trail shoe such as Salomon S-Lab or Montrail Mountain Masochist. 

What is the best type of sock, especially in humid/moist conditions? (Jeroen – France, resident in Hong Kong)
[66°NORTH] We recommend wool or wool blend socks. 

Do we need long socks for shin protection? (Benjamin Chandler – UK, resident in Hong Kong)
[RacingThePlanet] It is a  good idea, particularly if you are opting for shorts while running, however this is primarily recommended for warmth rather than protection although there will be some long grass.

My hands get cold really easily, but I don't want to bring bulky mitts or ones that are going to get soaked if it rains while it's cold out. What is your best recommendation for keeping hands warm AND dry? (Mary – Canada)
[66°NORTH] Vík gloves are fabricated in Polartec PowerStretch Pro fabric, a four-way stretch material with a brushed inner layer that pulls moisture away from your skin, making them extremely quick drying. We also recommend having a second pair as a pair of wet gloves will not keep your hands warm. 
To keep your hands warm, we also recommend you wear a hat. By wearing a hat you avoid loosing your body heat, keeping your body and hands more warm; in fact, a hat is just as important as warm gloves.

At the Camp at night when it can get cold, I was thinking of wearing thermal skins (such as the Skins S400 range) to keep me warm and help recovery through compression. I would like to hear an experts view on whether this is a good idea or not? (Glen  – Australia)
[RacingThePlanet] Compression items are good for recovery.  Bringing a pair of thermal recovery tights serves two purposes – recovery and warmth.  We are recommending thermal underwear to add warmth to the sleeping bag (required down to 0°C / 32°F).

I managed to finish a multi stage race in Nepal with one layer. I wonder whether one layer solution is possible in Iceland as well or do you recommend wearing several layers? (Jeroen – France, resident in Hong Kong)
[66°NORTH] If it is not raining, it is possible to run in a one-layer system, but you will always need a shell as it is always possible that it can rain during the summertime. The wind is also the worst enemy (cold wind); be prepared for a constant wind.

Weight versus comfort: What clothing do you recommend for people who move slower and plan to walk or jog throughout the event, staying out on the course for a longer period of time? (Mark – UK, resident in Hong Kong)
[66°NORTH] A good base layer is very important. Wearing a merino wool base layer would be clever (unless it is very warm) combined with a shell as an outer layer.

Any insiders tip to stay warm at night? (Virginie - Belgium, resident in China)
[66°NORTH] Wool base layer, wool socks.

By Rachel Jacqueline

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