We booked a trip to Iceland when Esme was just a few weeks old - just getting out of the house before midday was quite the feat, and we had no idea how we were going to manage with her in the cold Icelandic wind. By the time we got there, she was just over 3 months old. It was early March, and they were having a lot of blizzards, along with the usual strong and very cold winds. We were pretty adept at using her Tula sling by then, but the question was, would she be warm enough in my usual coat, or did we both need to be in proper outdoor clothes?
First off, every day started with getting her into her double layer of thermals. Polarno Pyret do a great range of baby thermals, merino wool vests, and baby grows. That was a good start, so we knew she would be warm enough in the car, and for any quick sling changeovers outside of the car.
She also has a habit of losing hats, so I thought I was being smart getting her a balaclava that she couldn't so easily wriggle out of, but she had the last laugh by screaming so much every time the damn thing went anywhere near her, that pretty quickly I gave up on her wearing that, and kept up my original plan of sneaking a hat on when she fell asleep!
We had got her an insulated all-in-one snow suit, with a view to me wearing my goose down Rab jacket, with the sling over it. I'm not sure if it was the slidiness of the two jackets against each other, or the bulkiness that got in her way, or if she just settles quicker being right next to me, but it took a while to convince her that this set up was a good idea. The first time we tried it, it didn't go down well at all - she screamed blue murder! Part of the problem was getting her used to the strong cold wind - at first, the shock of it seemed like a bit of an assault to her, but she got used to it quickly, and stopped panicking when a bit of wind caught her face. I knew full winter outers for us both would work much better for a day out walking in the snow, as I could take her out of the sling, and feed her without having her out in the elements, so I thought it was worth sticking at it, despite the protests. Over the course of a few days, we built up to it - initially putting her in the suit, and just carrying her around a bit, having a picnic close to the car. Once she got used to the kerfuffle of getting the suit on, and to the cold wind hitting her face, the only remaining hurdle was to try the sling. Again, it took a few goes... at times having to take her out of the sling and feed her while we walked (the joys of motherly multi-tasking!) but eventually we managed a few hikes that lasted a good few hours each, so it was definitely worth the effort of persevering with it.
She was much happier in my usual coat, where she could snuggle in to me, so this was good when we were just popping out of the car. Any longer than that, and we had to be more organised, making sure to feed her well before getting out of the car.
The only problem was that my heavy winter sling coat doesn't cover me up too well, against the harsh Icelandic wind. There's no head hole for Esme, so the zip only comes up to her head, leaving my neck and chest exposed.
I had been worried about this before we came away, and so I had bought a couple of extra feeding tops - a merino wool base layer from Milker, and a thick black hoody from VivaLaMama Berlin. It turned out these were invaluable regardless of which coat I was wearing - I wore both under the sling every day.
I wore my usual VivaLaMama Berlin sling hoody (which has a head hole for Esme, and her own wee hood (very handy for children who hate hats!)) over both of us, followed by my coat, along with a woolly hat and neck buff for myself.
This combination gave me enough warmth, but when the wind picked up, I had to hold onto my hood, as the sling coat from Mamaway isn't really designed with Icelandic adventures in mind!
Having good warm clothes with easy accessibility for breast feeding was great, as I was warm enough for feeding in the car, or outside if I had my Rab jacket on (and open), and it gave me good privacy too. I had tried using my usual thermals, and an additional breastfeeding vest while out in the camper before we went away, but it's just too chilly when you have to lift the thermal up at the front, and it pulls up around the back, so I would definitely recommend the Milker merino wool base layer.
On a related note, a buggy wouldn't have had a hope in the deep snow, and lovely black sand beaches in Iceland, and I would have worried a lot more about her being warm enough without the heat of our bodies combined, so a good sling, that you have had a bit of practice with is essential.
All in all, we needn't have worried, with the double thermal layers from Polarno Pyret, Esme stayed pretty snug despite the blizzards. Either outer solution worked fine to keep her safe and warm, with the Rab plus snowsuit having the advantage of being able to feed her outdoors - essential for a longer hike. She eventually settled into this system, it just took a bit of work to get there.
Oh, and for those of you wondering, a back pack set into the snow, with a changing mat draped over it works just fine as a changing table when a nappy needs changing and you're a two hour hike from the car! Get a bit of shelter from the wind behind a rock, and a bit of teamwork, and the baby's changed before they know it!
Thermal baby vest
Merino breastfeeding base layer
Sling hoody (with baby head hole, and hood for baby)
Either heavy sling coat OR regular goose down jacket for you, and insulated all-in-one suit for baby