We put the new Squall® System to the test in Iceland’s rugged landscapes and unpredictable weather. Because if it works here, it’ll work anywhere.
Hi, I’m Mike Keegan, an art director at Lands’ End Business. At least once a year, my brother Tom—an army special operations vet—and I catch up with each other by taking a trip together. This time, we decided to cross Iceland off the bucket list, and get in touch with our inner Vikings. It was also the perfect opportunity to wear test the new Squall® System, and put it through its paces in some punishing weather conditions.
Day 1: Reykjavik
It may be one of the world’s smallest capital cities, but Reykjavik packs in enough culture and cuisine that you could easily stay a whole week and not feel like you’ve seen it all. So we spent our first day trying to experience as much of it as possible. Throughout the day, both our ThermaCheck® fleece and insulated jackets kept us warm in temperatures hovering in the mid-30s to low 40s. Yet even as we briskly hiked our way through the city, we never overheated or got sweaty. Leaving the shelter of the streets and heading to the waterfront, Tom and I found out just how much protection the Squall System shell provides. Sunny skies quickly turned to horizontal rain and we realized why all the locals wear water-resistant clothing. But the killer was the wind—by the water’s edge we were leaning into 60 mph gusts. However, whenever the weather kicked in, we still stayed comfortable thanks to our Squall layers.
It goes without saying that we worked up quite an appetite, and luckily Reykjavik has every kind of cuisine imaginable. But we couldn’t end our first day in Iceland without sampling some of the local delicacies. So we checked out the menu at Café Loki, a cozy little place where for 1600 króna (about $13) you can try hákarl—fermented shark meat—which looks like cubed turkey and has, let’s just say, a unique flavor that you wash down with a shot of brennivín, the national distilled beverage.
Day 2: Thingvellir
Next morning we picked up our rental car and headed out on a route known as the “Golden Circle.” Our first destination: Thingvellir National Park. There’s no place quite like it on earth, a wide valley where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, where you can literally walk between two continents—or if you’re really adventurous, scuba dive in fissures hundreds of feet deep filled with crystal clear water.
It’s also a very important place in Iceland’s history, where the Althing, or parliament, was established in 930 AD. You can still see the rock upon which the laws were read aloud. While the day started out bright, the clouds soon caught up with us, and sleet blew in sideways as we took in the view. Luckily we both had our ThermaCheck fleece jackets zipped into our shells, so we stayed warm as well as dry through the brief, sudden storm.
The shells proved essential as we continued on our route around the Golden Circle. Next stop was Haukadalur, a geothermal area marked by hot springs, geysers and a strong sulfurous odor. Although you might expect walking between volcanic mud puddles would warm you up, the hot steam rapidly cools and condenses on your clothing, so waterproof fabrics—like the nylon we use in our Squall System shell—are a must.
You’d think by then that we would have had enough of cold, wet stuff for one day, but we still had one more sight to take in: Gullfoss, the first of several spectacular waterfalls we would encounter on our trip. Water can flow over the “Golden Waterfall” at an incredible rate of nearly 5,000 feet per second. Yet even standing on the edge of the Gullfoss, bathed in the cloud of mist that gives it a nearly permanent rainbow, we stayed dry inside our Squall System shells and liner jackets. And we were ready to see more of Iceland’s incredible landscapes and natural wonders.
The adventure continues …