What to Pack for a Trip to Iceland

I’ve been a bit surprised that one of the questions I’m most commonly asked regarding my Iceland trip is “What did you pack?” So I’ll let y’all in on what went in our suitcases!

1. Jacket: I brought my Columbia Mighty Lite II, it was just the right amount of insulation to protect against the windchill, but if you’re going in the winter I would recommend a heavier snow jacket.

2. Rain jacket: I used my North Face rain jacket because it doesn’t have any insulation of its own. All it did was keep me dry and protect me from the wind. I had enough insulation from my Columbia jacket, I didn’t want to overheat when I was layering the two.

3. Pullover: I wore my Patagonia pullover more when we were exploring the city on warmer days. I say “warmer” but it was still like 60 degrees…

4. Long sleeve t-shirts, athletic shirts, athletic pullover: These can be packed in differing amounts according to the length of your trip. I brought three t-shirts, two athletic shirts, and one athletic pullover for a 7-day trip.

5. Jeans: 
I brought one pair. Wore them in the city.

6. Fleece lined leggings: So important! I usually layered two of these things. The fleece lining is amazing. My personal favorites are from Target, but they don’t carry them year round. Here is a very similar pair on Amazon.

7. Rain pants/waterproof hiking pants: Self-explanatory. No one wants wet pants. I got these ones from Academy because they were inexpensive and packable, they’ve lasted me over 5 years now.

8. Hiking boots: For all that hiking you’ll be doing. Make sure they’re broken in before your trip!

9. Waterproof boots: I didn’t bring any and that is my biggest packing regret. If I could do it over, I would’ve brought my Bean boots (which are great, but pricey and often backordered, there are some good, affordable lookalikes here and here). I guess hiking boots could double for these, but if you have the space, do it.

10. Athletic shoes: 
For walking around the city. I love my New Balance 620s.
11. Wool socks: Matt is an avid believer in the liner socks, so we brought those to wear under our Smartwool socks. I have a few pairs of these Smartwool winter socks and they’re my fave. Wool socks are good because they breathe, wick moisture, and resist odors.

12. Swimsuit: 
You’ll need this for the Blue Lagoon and the hot springs scattered across the country.
13. Gloves

14. Neck Warmer/Gaiter:
 I used this to pull up over my face and keep my nose warm. Definitely recommend having some form of neck gaiter or balaclava for this purpose.
15. Purse: For more urban adventures when your daypack is too bulky. You can find the one pictured above here.
16. BackpackTo carry all your adventure gear, of course.

For the gentlemen, basically everything above applies. Subtract the purse. Swap the swimsuit for swim trunks. Forget the waterproof boots, my husband was perfectly fine just wearing his hiking boots for that purpose. But men, invest in base layers! Wear them under your jeans and hiking pants.

And some other goods that you should definitely remember to pack or consider getting:
  • Camera Tripod: Preferably one that’s lightweight. This will come in handy if you plan on taking amazing photos of the Icelandic landscapes.
  • DSLR camera: Because Iceland is amazing and beautiful and you should take photos that will do it justice. My husband has a Canon Rebel and I have a Nikon D3100, both are absolutely amazing and you can’t go wrong with either as a starter level DSLR.
  • Large capacity memory card for camera: I would recommend investing in one of these instead of bringing your laptop. It just ensures that you don’t need to upload photos as you go through your trip in fear of running out of memory. A 64GB card would suffice, you can find them on Amazon for less than $20!
  • Selfie stickI know people make fun of it all the time, but I am a serious advocate of the selfie stick. I mean, have you ever just wanted to take a photo of you and your adventure buddy, but there’s no one around to ask? Or maybe you’re like me and you have a fear of asking someone to take a picture of you two together. Not because you’re awkward, but it seriously could happen that the person runs of with your phone! The selfie stick is amazing. It solves all those problems. Get one. A sturdy one. Mine is from Amazon, it’s super sturdy, high quality, and waaaay cheaper than the dinky ones they sell at the mall.
  • GoPro: If you’re the adventurous type and would love to get action shots or underwater shots, a Go Pro is perfect for you!
  • Head and Chest Mounts for GoPro: Because we live in the age of “pics or it didn’t happen” and it’s not always the best idea to whip your DSLR or iPhone out to snap a photo in the Blue Lagoon or while hiking a glacier…
  • Waterproof iPhone caseDropping my iPhone in water is one of my biggest fears (oh the life of a millennial), so this eliminates that fear! And you can snap some pics in the hot springs…
  • Plug adaptersIceland uses the same plugs as the rest of Europe FYI.
  • Reusable water bottleYou can seriously just walk up to the rivers and fill your bottle. Don’t pay for water in Iceland. It’s a gimmick, y’all.
  • Chapstick: My lips got so chapped while I was in Iceland. Be prepared and bring your personal favorite brand.
  • External phone chargerBecause it never hurts to have one on hand.
  • Sleep maskIt’s hard to fall asleep in the land of the midnight sun!
  • Fast drying towelSelf-explanatory, you’ll probably do more swimming than you’d expect in Iceland.

Hope this helps y’all in your preparations for your Icelandic adventures! If you need specific product recommendations, message me. And as always, feel free to ask me any more questions or let me know your thoughts and feedback.

If you’re looking for more content on the Land of the Midnight sun, visit my Iceland Index.

Happy wanderlusting, friends!

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