Your Complete Iceland Packing List For Summer or Winter
Iceland Packing List for summer and winter
Packing for Iceland can be tricky. The unpredictable weather means you have to pack a few extra items for unexpected weather conditions. In the summer, the average temperature in Iceland is about 50 °F, pouring rain can surprise you at any moment, and wind can be strong enough to blow you away. In the wintertime, the average temperature can range from 32 °F to 14 °F depending on where you are. Exploring Iceland on a road trip also means you will be visiting remote areas where you won't find the convenience of a nearby store if you need extra items.
You may wonder then, what to wear in Iceland? Fear not, I’m here to guide you. Here’s my Iceland packing list for summer and winter to help you brace any weather condition you may encounter on your trip.
Outwear to pack for Iceland
Parka of Heavy Coat
Visiting Iceland in the winter? You will need a parka or a heavy coat that’s waterproof when packing for Iceland. It’s going to be cold and wet so make sure invest in a good one. Bonus if it’s a knee-length coat. The North Face Down Parka it's a great option, but if you want to treat yourself get the Canada Goose Down Parka
In the summer, you won't need a big heavy parka, but you will need a waterproof jacket. From experience, rain in Iceland comes from all direction and at any moment. An umbrella won’t keep you dry. The UNIQLO Blocktech coat is great - it’s windproof, waterproof, and it’s knee-length - excactly what you w need to pack for Iceland in the Summer. The jacket also comes in a waist-length version.
Jeans or Leggings
Jeans and leggings are not ideal to pack for winter in Iceland, but if you do, make sure to add at least one pair of snow pants or waterproof pants for snow adventures. For leggings, get a fleece-lined leggings to stay warm.
You can get away with wearing leggings or jeans in the summer, but in the winter, you don’t want to leave out snowpants or waterproof pants from your Iceland packing list. Getting your pants wet in the bitter cold will not be fun. Even in the summer, I highly recommend packing a pair of waterproof pants for outdoor adventures. Keep it in your backpack and wear it when it rains or approaching a waterfall.
Layers to stay warm in iceland
The key to what to wear in Iceland is layering. Whether you visit Iceland in the summer or winter, layering will help you stay warm. Depending on how cold the temperature is, I suggest wearing one to two thermal layers, a jacket, and a coat. If you want to stay extra toasty, add a fleece jacket or turtleneck in the mix.
ThermalWant to know my secret to staying warm? Uniqlo Heattech clothing line. Uniqlo’s innovative collection will keep you warm on your daylong outdoor excursions. The Heattech technology works by absorbing your body’s moisture and turning it into warmth.
There are 3 levels of Heattech: Heattech , Extra Warm , and Ultra Warm . Depending on the temperatures, I wear it solo or layered with a jacket or sweater. On colder days, I layer two Ultra Warm tops – they are so thin and stretchy, you won’t feel them. I recommend them to everybody!
I love the UNIQLO down jacket and my all-time favorite Canada Goose Hybrid Jacket it's expensive but worth every penny. Down jackets are lightweight, easy to pack, and great for insulation. You can wear it on its own in the summer or as a layer in the winter. A down jacket is a perfect addition to your list of what to wear in Iceland. If you want the extra layer but not the bulk on the sleeve, go for a down vest.
Add a fleece jacket or fleece turtle neck to your Iceland packing list if you are visiting in the winter. You will be thankful for the extra layer. But with the UNIQLO fleece jacket, you may end up wearing fleece yearlong. It's ultra soft, warm, and super affordable. And as much as I would like this to be a UNIQLO sponsored post, it isn't. I really love their products - it's hard to beat their price and quality.
Shoes to pack for Iceland
Boots or Hiking shoes
On my summer road trip to Iceland, I packed these pair of leather boots that were water resistant. They worked great and kept my feet dry and warm. I have retired those after years of misstreament and now my new favorite is the Sorel Phoenix boots. If you are planning a lot of hikes, I recommend bringing hiking for Iceland. These Merrel hiking shoes are my favorite. They are waterproof and comfortable - it's like walking on clouds.
Packing for the winter in Iceland will require snowshoes. They will keep your feet warm and dry. For rain and light snow, the Sorel are the perfect boots for Iceland. But if you expect to encounter heavy snow, I recommend these boots. They are on the expensive side, but they will last a long time and will keep your feet dry and warm - your feet will thank you for it.
If you are planning to explore Reykjavik’s nightlife, pack a dressier pair of shoes or boots.
Merino wool socks are the perfect socks to wear in Iceland as they are naturally anti-bacterial, breathable, and warm. You will want to get a few pairs of wool warm moisture wicking socks versus layering regular socks because they trap moisture making your feet colder. Another great option is UNIQLO Heattech Socks.
Crampons are a must when you are packing for Iceland in the winter. If you haven’t heard of them before, - don’t worry I haven’t either until my trip to Iceland - is a traction device made for ice walking. You can easily attach them to your boots to prevent slipping on an icy surface. You will need it especially for walking around waterfalls.
Accessories to pack for Iceland
Packing a scarf for Iceland is a must whether you visit in the summer or winter. In the summertime, you can bring any scarf that you like. But for the wintertime, I recommend getting wool, cashmere, alpaca, or any material that will keep your neck warm.
Gloves I packed a pair of gloves for my summer trip to Iceland and wore them fairly often. Even if you don’t think you will need them in the summer, throw them in your suitcase when packing for Iceland. In the winter, you will need warmer gloves . Bonus if they are touchscreen fingertip.
Don’t forget to keep your ears and head warm! I made the mistake of forgetting to pack one on my trip to Iceland. I ended up buying a beanie and wore it for the rest of the trip. Make sure to include a beanie – or two for variety - on your winter Iceland packing list. You can also opt for a earband instead of a hat if you are packing for Iceland in the summer.
You won’t be able to resist Iceland’s famous hot springs so pack a swimsuit.
Flip-flops will come in handy when you are visiting the hot springs. After getting out, you don’t want to wear your boots right away.
Fast Drying Towel
I love fast-drying towels . They are compact, lightweight, absorbent, and quick drying. It’s perfect to travel with. You will need the one for the hot springs, but it will also come in handy in case you get wet from the rain or waterfalls.
Tap water in Iceland comes directly from the glaciers, so it is fresh and pure. There's no need to pay for expensive water so bring your bottle and refill it. I love S'well stainless steel bottles , and I have two of them the 17oz and 25 oz. They are sleek and keep your beverage hot or cold for several hours. Another favorite is the Zojirushi travel mug . It has excellent insulation and keeps drinks hot or cold for many hours. Also, the safety lock and tight-fitting lid prevent the liquid from spilling - no matter how much it tumbles in your bag.
On my Iceland road-trip, I would bring hot water with me on the road and a few tea bags or hot chocolate packets to make hot beverages during the day – much needed after a few hours out exploring. I don’t recommend bringing foldable bottles because water gets too cold or freeze in the winter.
Day bag or backpack
Another essential on your packing list for Iceland? A day bag! On outdoor adventures, I always bring an ultra-lightweight backpack with me. I keep it in the luggage – it doesn’t take any space – and use it on my daily excursions. My favorite backpack is the Fjall Raven . It’s big enough to carry my actual camera bag, water bottle, snacks, and extra items that I may need during the day.
The Fjall Raven regular size can fit:
My camera bag – with my camera and accessories inside
Clothes (i.e., waterproof pants and jacket)
Sunscreen / Moisturizer / Body lotion / LIp balm
I always bring sunscreen wherever I go and put it on shine or rain. You will need sunscreen when you visit Iceland as you will be spending lots of time outdoors. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you won’t need it in the winter. Exposure to UV lights double because the light reflects on the snow which can expose you to twice the amount! The Coola Mineral sunscreen is my favorite one at the moment. It is lightweight and doesn’t feel sticky.
You will need a thicker moisturizer than your everyday one - especially when visiting Iceland in the winter. Between cold winds and heaters, your skin will dry up fast. Same goes for your body! Pack a rich lotion, and your body will thank you for it. Also, bring a few face masks to replenish your skin at night.
Bring a super rich lip balm because you.will.need.it. I absolutely love the BITE Agave lip balm. I discovered it when I was traveling in Maine, and my lips were about to fall off. It’s so thick that it will keep your lips moisturized and protected from the wind.
Essentials to add to your Iceland packing list
Traveling with a multi-outlet will change your life. This will reduce the multiple converters you have to bring to just one and charge all your gadgets when hotels do not provide more than two plugs in the room. It will also come in handy at the airport when you need to charge your phone, and all the outlets seem to be taken.
My current camera is the Sony 7a II, and I usually shoot with the Zeiss 35mm 2.8 lens. For Iceland, I will recommend bringing a wide-angle lens to capture the magnificent landscape and a zoom lens to photograph puffins.
This is my favorite tripod. It’s affordable (compared to brand names) compact, and lightweight. Make sure to check the weight limit on the tripod, as you don’t want your camera to trip over due to its weight.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I prefer a single adapter versus the all-in-one type of converters. The all-in-one converter is too bulky, heavy, and not strong enough – especially for the European plug E/F which is missing the circular base – resulting in the adapter to fall off the outlet easily. I prefer the individuals one and most of the time you only need to bring one or two depending on where you are traveling.
In the cold, batteries tend to run out faster. Always keep a portable charger around. This is my favorite portable charger. It’s sleek and charges both my phone and camera.
It can also get very sunny in Iceland!
First Aid Medical Kit
When packing for Iceland, you will want to include a medical kit. There are certain medications that we find over the counter in the U.S. that you may not get so easily in Iceland – i.e., ibuprofen or cold medicines. Get a small bag and build your own first aid medical kit.
Non-drowsy allergy medication
Packing for Reykjavik
Your Iceland packing list is not complete without including an outfit for Reykjavik. As much as I emphasize the importance of snow pants and waterproof jacket when packing for Iceland, unfortunately, outwear won’t work for Reykjavik nightlife. Locals are very trendy, and they dress to impress. Pack a cute top or jacket or even a dress. You can wear your heavy coat and check it in at the coat-check. Before heading out, make sure to read my post on Reykjavik Nightlife Do’s and Don’ts.
Packing For Iceland In a Carry-On
You may wonder, Is it possible to pack for Iceland in a carry-on? Yes! You may not enjoy the luxury of choosing different outfits every day, but it’s possible if you are ok traveling light. So, let me tell you how to do it. The luggage I use is the AWAY Carry-On. I love the luggage’s compression system, it comes with a laundry bag, and it’s a hard shell. I have stuffed this luggage to the max and has survived many adventures - there’s a Bigger Carry-On, but I found that most airlines only allow in the cabin the “Carry-On” version so, let’s aim for that one! For reference, the Away Carry-On’s capacity is 39.8 L. First, follow the packing list below for Winter in Iceland Packing List Carry-On version. Then, to make everything magically fit in the luggage, use compression bags! Compression bags are lifesavers for any traveler, but they are extra convenient if you are packing for a winter trip. You won't need a vacuum to make these bags work. All you have to do is roll the bag to push the air out. The two-way valve releases the air thus compressing your clothes. You can thank me later!
What to pack for Iceland for 10 days or more
Summer in Iceland packing list
2 Jackets - Down jacket /vest or Fleece jacket
1 Waterproof Jacket or rain coat
2 Long sleeve tops
2-3 Top thermal layers - can also be used as outwear
1 Bottom thermal layer
1 Pair of wool socks or UNIQLO Heattech Socks
1 Pair of boots or hiking shoes
Winter in Iceland packing list
1-2 Waterproof Parka or Heavy Coat
2 Jackets - Down jacket/vest or Fleece jacket
1-2 Warm sweaters - preferably wool or cashmere
1-2 Long sleeve or turtle necks
3-4 Top thermal layers
2-3 Bottom thermal layers
1 Waterproof/Snow pants
4-5 Pair of wool socks or UNIQLO Heattech Socks
1 Pair of waterproof or snow boots
1 Pair of everyday boots
1 Pair of crampons
Winter In Iceland Packing List - Carry-On
1 Waterproof Heavy Coat - wear it on plane
1 Down jacket
1 Cashmere sweater or fleece jacket
1 Fleece turtle necks
3-4 Top thermal layers
2 Bottom thermal layers
1 Waterproof/Snow pants
3 Pair of wool socks or UNIQLO Heattech Socks
1 Pair of waterproof or snow boots
1 Pair of everyday boots - wear it on plane
Use the backpack to carry most of the essentials