Iceland is a magical place! With the constant weather changes even in summer, knowing what to wear in Iceland as well as what to pack for Iceland is an important part of your trip planning for the country visit. Below you will find tips to help with your Iceland packing list plans.
Iceland ranks at the top of naturally beautiful countries of the world, with some of the most hospitable people. Now, Iceland is a land of spectacular scenery, but the weather is highly unpredictable and can become extreme. So if you are planning to visit Iceland, you need to pack for rain, sun, snow, and the wind, and you need to pack smart because you can’t pack everything.
Iceland Packing List At A Glance
Iceland has two main seasons; winter and summer. Winter in Iceland start at the end of October and ends in mid-April. The rest is summer! Not as you and I know it though. There are 26 weeks of winter and 26 weeks of summer in Iceland. Both are cold but winter it’s even colder. Remember that the average summer temperature in Iceland can be 10-13 degrees with the highest at around 20, while winter temperatures can be as low as -10 degrees with the Northern part of Iceland recording as low at -25 degrees in some winters. I shared a post with tips and tricks on everything you need to know about experiencing Iceland by Campervan. I thought I would now share tips on what to wear and what to pack for a trip to Iceland.
I have tried to split this so its easier to see what to pack in terms or a short trip to Iceland by way of your essentials and city exploring, Blue Lagoon, Iceland layover(the same if doing a golden circle tour) and then details for gadgets, outwear, backpacks, warm clothing for people staying in Iceland a little bit longer and embarking on active itineraries, hiking, glacier walks etc.
Iceland Packing List Essentials At A Glance
- Wool-mix layers – The weather is unpredictable to you be peeling layers when you warm up.
- Thermals – Essential at all times of the year.
- Jacket – You will at best need 2 jackets one for normal exploring and another waterproof.
- Waterproof shoes – Iceland can be cold and wet even when visiting Iceland in Summer so waterproof will take you a long way.
- Power bank – With the cold most phone and camera batteries lose charge quickly so this is a must-pack item on your Iceland packing list.
- Swimsuit – You will most likely want to visit the Blue Lagoon and the many hot springs in Iceland.
- Camera – Iceland is a beautiful country and something worth capturing on every corner so always make sure your cameras are charged. If you have a drone don’t forget to bring that too.
- Extra SD cards – Essential!! As I said Iceland is stunning and something to photograph on every corner so you will likely run out of SD memory, especially if like me take to shoot RAW.
- Extra camera batteries – As I said, the cold will suck out your batteries like nothing else so if not using them keep in the bag and out of the cold but either way you will need extras.
- Backpack – A day bag is essential! You will park your car and go exploring you will most likely need something big enough for camera gear and snacks obvs!
- Extra pairs of socks – possibly wool mix or fleece based as it’s gets super cold even in summer. Yes, even when you are cold in Iceland you will find that you will get sweaty and your socks will get wet. Always keep a pair in your backpack too.
- Mosquito repellent – must if exploring in the summer near lakes.
- Sun protection – Winter or summer this is a must.
What To Wear In Iceland | Your Essentials For Iceland
Layers and Thermals
Owning a quality coat or jacket is one thing, but what you wear underneath also counts. Irrespective of the time of year you are visiting Iceland, you will still need some layers of clothing to keep yourself warm, dry and comfortable. Pack at least 2 thermal tops and leggings. Also include wool sweaters, two fleece jackets, wool socks, and long sleeve shirts.
You can also pack a pair of long thermal underwear to keep your legs warm during outdoor activities such as hiking. If you are visiting in the summer, you will still need your thermals! It gets warm but the weather in Iceland changes dramatically from location to location. Remember this little island country is filled with glaciers, geysers, and volcanoes so all of those things play a role in the mish-mash of constant weather changes.
Outerwear – Jackets for Iceland
If you are making your trip in the summer, pack a warm but lightweight jacket that can give you enough warmth in the Iceland summer. Also, remember to pack a rain jacket because it rains in Iceland throughout the year. Both my husband and I swear by our Mountain Equipment jackets. You may have seen these jackets feature on posts on Trolltunga and Snowdonia. They are one of the best selling and multi-award winning GORE-TEX® Pro jacket for mountaineering. They are super light but incredibly warm and provide weather protection for those that head into the mountains whatever the weather. For more tips on the best jackets for Iceland weather read my post.
They will keep you dry during Iceland’s wet weather as well as keep you warm without the need for a heavy coat or raincoat. Perfect whether battling blizzards on a Scottish winter, Iceland’s unpredictable weather or hiking Trolltunda overnight. You can also pack the winter coat like I did for city exploring too if you want to stay warm while exploring Iceland, as temperatures can drop to freezing point in some months. For your pants, waterproof pants are perfect as they will keep you warm and dry.
Pack a pair of snow pants for the winter season and one or two pairs of denim for indoors. Remember not to wear denim on an outdoor trip! You will thank me. Gloves to keep your hands warm, scarves and knit beanie hat to keep your head warm and protect your ears from the frigid cold and strong winds of Iceland. You might also need to bring your sunglasses because of the hazy conditions, and a sunscreen might be helpful if the sun decides to brighten your holiday.
Mens and Ladies Jackets
What To Wear In Reykjavik
When exploring Reykjavik, your clothing doesn’t need to be as drastic as what you need to pack when heading towards places like glacier lagoons and glaciers along the Ring Road. The city can be a little warmer because of lights, the population in much the same way London is doesn’t get a cold as the rest of the UK due to many factors like dense population for one.
Reykjavik’s is very much like that. We visited in the summer and the weather although warm compared to how cold Iceland can get it still does get cold so you can still wear your normal clothes I would still recommend packing thermals for under clothes comfort and warmth. Warm jumpers are a key investment in any wardrobe, both men, and women. In addition to jumper dresses for the ladies.
I packed a pair of Camper boots which come with fur on the inside. Stylish and cozy all in one. The pictures below were taken in July. Although it does not look like it I am layered up in thermals, a jumper dress and super warm Camper boots and a wool coat. Yes, this is summer in Iceland!
What to Pack For The Blue Lagoon And Hot Spring Pools
Iceland has many thermal pools that are popular among tourists. In fact, your trip is not complete if you didn’t visit one of them, the Blue Lagoon in particular or the beautiful hidden seljavallalaug pool in the mountains. Don’talso forget to pack plenty of swimwear including hair and beauty products.
The minerals in the blue lagoon is super drying for the hair. I would highly recommend packing hair treatment products like Phyto or Aveda hair travel kits to fit damage to hair for after you visit the Blue Lagoon. Pack a quick drying towel for when you visit Seljavallalaug pool as there is nothing in terms of service in that location.
Mens and Ladies Travel Kits
You should remember to pack things such as moisturizers, lip balm, hand cream, and so on to protect your skin from the cold weather. There are plenty of travel hair beauty kits that cater to sensitive, dry and oily hair and skin. With the cold and wet weather in Iceland, especially if you are visiting Iceland over a week or even two. Stock up on decent skin care to protect your skin while exploring.
What To Wear Hiking and Walking In Iceland | What Shoes Do You Need For Iceland?
Footwear for Iceland
Iceland is a wet country, and the landscape is varied, so you must remember to buy quality water-resistant hiking shoes. I have a complete guide to the best hiking shoes for Iceland on the blog. Also consider waterproof pants and waterproof jacket if you are going to be doing something more adventurous. You could take along a pair of boots too. As I said above, although I took Camper boots these were also warm but these also double as walking boots because of the sole. I would recommend packing something with fur or wool lined boots like Ugg or Camper, and Sorel.
Mens and Ladies Winter Boots
Other Items to Consider When Packing For Iceland
Thermos Flask and Reusable Water bottle – Pack a thermos for hot drinks and a reusable water bottle for Iceland’s pure drinking water.
Emergency kit – Some of the essentials you should pack include pain relievers, motion sickness pills, Band-Aids, sterile gauze pads, hand sanitizers, pocket tissue and so on. I pack one for any adventures that include a little of outdoor activities in much the same way Iceland is very much one of those countries that will center around outdoor activities whether you are exploring glaciers, walking along slippery waterfalls. An emergency kit should be part of your packing list for Iceland.
Day bag or Backpack – Pack a small day bag or backpack where you can throw things such as your camera, gloves, knit hat, water bottles, etc. You might also want to make sure this is waterproof too if possible. It rains a lot in Iceland and you want all your gadgets dry! With everything safely in your day bag or backpack, you can keep it somewhere and continue exploring glaciers or waterfalls conveniently.
Head Torch – You will definitely need this for when you arrive at campsites at night if you camping in Iceland or just heading out to places like the hidden mountain pool whose changing rooms have no lights.
Wool Hats, Socks and Scarves – No need to explain why it’s important to pack some thermal socks, wool hats, decent winter scarves as well as the best gloves for Iceland weather. You need them for both Summer and Winter in Iceland. More so for Winter travels.
Travel Backpacks (Include waterproof backpacks)
Gadget and Technology
Iceland has many hidden gems to explore and experience and with that in mind, you will be to capture it. I would highly recommend packing additional batteries for your Nikon or Canon cameras. I have at least 3 spare batteries for my DSLR. Pack a power bank in addition to in-car multi-port USB charger. Consider packing a phone drybag, power cube so you can charge many of your gadgets when you don’t have Many power sockets.
A DSLR camera – Most of you know that I have a Nikon DSLR but for those that like the camera on the lighter side check out Sony A6000, Fujifilm X-T2 or Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II , which are all super light and take amazing shots and you don’t have to carry a heavier Canon/ Nikon DSLR. I will try and do a travel camera post on the best cameras for travel soon.
Drone – I currently have a DJI Phantom 3 Pro which I took with me to Russia(post to come soon), I have just upgraded to a DJI Marvi Pro which I am hoping to take to Israel next month as its just a lot easier to pack and travel with than the Phantom 3. Both take amazing footage but for me if you are going to be traveling a lot with your drone I would really recommend getting the Marvic Pro or Marvic air which is smaller.
GoPro and Accessories – For our trip to Iceland with the spray from waterfalls and the rain you will either need a decent cover for your DSLR camera or a camera with an easy waterproof case. In my case I used my Nikon and GoPro interchangeably. In most of my Iceland pictures, you will not even notice which pictures were taken with which camera as the quality for the GoPro for both video and image are really good.
Camera Stabilizers/Gimbal– A great addition to your kit if you want smoother videos.
SD Cards – You have no idea the photo opportunity that awaits you in Iceland. Be sure to pack extra SD Cards.
Filters – Whether you want to counter the harsh light during the day or want to add a touch of tone to your images then consider packing some filters. You can see some of the effects from some of my images taken at the Glacier Lagoon on Jokulsarlon.
Chargers – Additional chargers and batteries are a must. Most camera batteries are made from Lithium-ion and these lose their charge quickly in cold conditions so Iceland being super cold. Your battery life may be unusually shorter so when not using your camera then keep it in a camera bag to preserve battery life. That goes for your phones to with are made with the same type of battery.
Camera cleaning products – If like me you carry several camera lenses, then consider packing some microfiber cloths and camera cleaning kit.
What Wear In Iceland In Summer (April, May, June, July & September)
Summer in Iceland starts from mid-April to the end of October. Yes there are 26 weeks of summer in Iceland. Summer is one of the best times to visit Iceland as the weather although unpredictable can be pleasant compared to winter in Iceland. Also a plus is that the days are long meaning longer time to explore. That being said you still need to know what to pack for Iceland in summer and how that differs from other countries.
Summer in Iceland in some ways can be like London in that yes it also rains in summer. Temperature is usually above 10°C and can be as high as 20°C but this is very unusual. Below is a packing list for Iceland in Summer
Iceland Summer Packing List
- Gloves – Only in Iceland do you need to pack swimsuit and gloves but it can be cold some days.
- Thermals – essential especially if you are visiting northern parts which are colder than the south.
- Hiking or walking boots
- Beauty and feminine products
- Mosquito repellent
What To Wear In Iceland In Winter (October, November, December, January, February, March)
Wint in Iceland starts from end of October to Mid April. Make sure you are familiar with good packing list for a cold-weather trip as winter in Iceland is nothing like winter in say London. The other thing to contend with considering travel essentials for winter is how many hours of daylight in Iceland there is in winter.
If you are planning on walking or hiking of some sort pack a torch or head torch because the days are super short. Sunrise can be as later at 9am and sunset at 5.30pm. So basically the day is as short as a shift at work. If you are wondering what clothes to take to Iceland in Iceland or what to wear in Reykjavik in January, December or November below is and essentials Iceland winter packing list. Also remember that temperatures in Reykjavík can drop down to about -10°C, with a high of almost 10 °C in winter so come prepared with warm clothes as it will be very expensive to replace in Iceland.
Iceland Winter Packing List
- Gloves – for more details see my post on best options here.
- Hand warmers (must!)
- Waterproof fleece or wool-lined boots
- Waterproof walking pants
- Thermals – for additional tips see my tips for thermal clothing for Iceland.
- Warm socks
- Fleece jumper
- Gadgets as above
- Jumper dresses
- Jacket – for additional tips on jackets to wear in Iceland see my guide on best jackets for Iceland in winter.
- Swimsuit – because its super cold so you will want to check out the hot spring pools.
More on Iceland
- Guide to exploring Iceland by Campervan – With tips on booking camper vans in Iceland
- How to find Iceland’s hidden pool in the mountains
- Sleeping Under waterfalls plus how to find the hidden waterfall
- The Best Areas To Stay In Reykjavik