An Essential Packing List For Your Trip to Iceland

Icelandic houses in the Westfjords

In 2015, I visited various cities across Iceland and the weather ended up being completely different in each place. In the funky Reykjavík and on the Golden Circle loop the skies were cloudy and there was a constant cool breeze. In Northern Iceland, around Lake Mývatn, I was sweating in the warm sun on a cloudless blue-sky day. Finally, in remote Ísafjörður in the beautiful Westfjords I was bundled up in my winter parka to keep the damp cold out during on-and-off rain downpours.\

Iceland is one of those destinations where the weather is constantly changing so you need to be prepared for anything. In fact, there is a popular saying in this Nordic country that goes something like this: “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes”.  The key to packing for a trip to Iceland is to bring layers – lots and lots of layers.

Here are some essentials items to pack on your trip to Iceland!


Clothing Essentials

Waterproof Hiking Shoes If there's one thing you bring make sure it's a good pair of waterproof hiking shoes. Iceland is a naturally diverse country where you might find yourself walking through the desert-like landscape of Námaskarð one day and hiking on a massive glacier the next day.

Rubber Boots The southern and western region of Iceland generally receives the most rainfall, especially in the off-season from October to February. Bring along a pair of rubber boots to ensure your feet stay dry and toasty.

Bathing Suit A trip to Iceland would not be complete without a dip in one of the many natural hot springs found throughout the country. Of course, there is the popular Blue Lagoon, a man-made lagoon filled with mineral-rich water and, in my opinion, the biggest tourist trap in Iceland. If you’re looking for a quieter, more scenic and affordable option consider the Mývatn Nature Baths.

Waterproof Windbreaker An absolute must for the constantly changing weather in Iceland! I especially love this jacket because it can be folded and stowed in one of the hand pockets making it small, light, and easy to pack. In other words, it's perfect for traveling. Tip: Choose a brightly colored jacket that will really pop in your photos!

Fleece Jacket Pack a fleece for layering over light clothing on warmer days and bundling up on colder days.

Stretchy Jeans I highly recommend you bring along some Second Yoga Jeans (ladies only, sorry!). These are the comfiest pants I have ever owned and you can find them in all kinds of colors and styles. The reason why I love them so much is that they fit and stretch like yoga pants while looking and feeling like jeans.

 

Camera Essentials

Nikon S1 Great for sightseeing and hiking because the Nikon S1 is super lightweight! When I was in Iceland I used the 11-27.5mm lens for landscapes and the 30-110mm lens for everything else.

Nikon D3300 I recently upgraded to this compact DSLR camera that features 24.2mp in resolution, so if it's high quality stills you're after I have no hesitation recommending the Nikon D3300. I use the 18-55mm for everyday sightseeing and the 55-200mm to zoom into things further away. 

GoPro Light, small, easy to carry around, a GoPro is perfect for documenting your soak in the geothermal pools. 

Camera Bag Strong, sturdy, with built in compartments that will fit a DSLR camera. This bag also comes with a waterproof rain cover.

Other necessary camera items Battery chargers, memory card, and hard drive for storing photos. Head here for a full listing of my camera gear.

 

Other Gear

Water bottle Save yourself the cost of buying water every day and bring along your own bottle from home. Iceland prides itself on having some of the cleanest drinking water on the planet so it's safe to drink directly from the tap.

Backpack This backpack is the perfect size for day trips and hikes.

Lonely Planet Iceland Guidebook I bought this Lonely Planet Iceland guidebook before taking off and discovered a bunch of information that came in handy once I was actually in Iceland. Highly recommend!

 

What you need to know

Average Temperatures I visited Iceland in July and August, which is when the average monthly high in Reykjavík is around 13°C with a low around 8°C. In the winter months the average temperature in Reykjavik usually hovers around freezing with a low of -5°C. Note that the weather inland and to the north can be significantly cooler in the winter. No matter what time of year you decide to go to Iceland be sure to pack for all types of weather.


 

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Are you packing for a trip to Iceland? Here's a helpful list of essential items to bring! 
 

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