Iceland is one of the most beautiful and remote islands in the world. It is also one of the most expensive. So if you are planning a trip, you’ll want to make sure that you pack everything you need to avoid having to make some pricey purchases during your visit.
Check out our list of Iceland packing essentials to help you prepare for your trip. Enjoy!
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What to Pack for a Trip to Iceland
If you are planning on camping or renting a motorhome during your trip to Iceland, you have a few options for renting gear during your trip. Your motorhome may come stocked with gear, or you may have the option to add on a camping package for an additional fee. Or there are several companies including Iceland Camping Equipment and Outcamping that charge per item per day to rent any items you need.
However, if you would prefer to save some cash, consider packing your own camping gear for your trip to Iceland. If you rent a motorhome, a few cooking essentials that you’ll need to bring include:
- Pots and pans
- Plates and cutlery
- Cooking utensils
- Coffee mugs
- If you don’t like instant coffee, pack a collapsible pour over coffee dripper
You may also need to pack bedding for your motorhome so don’t forget warm sleeping bags or blankets and pillows.
And if you choose to camp, you’ll need a much larger bag for all of the things you’ll need to bring. Aside from the items listed above, you’ll also need a lightweight tent, sleeping pads, a portable stove, and plenty of propane (but you’ll need to buy the propane once you land).
As previously mentioned, expect to be cold during your trip to Iceland, regardless of the time of year that you visit. You’ll want to pack a down jacket that will keep you warm but that is also lightweight and can pack down small. We find that Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia are brands that make quality jackets that are lightweight and packable but won’t break the bank.
Unfortunately a down jacket won’t be enough to keep you warm in the frigid Iceland climate. And if you’re anything like me, one pair of pants won’t suffice. I wore a base layer every day under my clothes and even that wasn’t enough to keep me toasty. We recommend that you invest in a merino wool base layer as they are incredibly soft, warm, and great quality.
As long as you keep your feet and your ears warm, you’ll be much happier when trekking around in the cold. Pack enough pairs of wool socks so that you can wear at least one every day, and some days you may want to double up. Better to pack enough pairs to avoid doing laundry during your trip.
A knit hat is imperative for anyone traveling to Iceland. Your ears will thank you. You’ll never want to take it off when you’re outdoors!
Fleece Neck Warmer
You can bring a scarf, but a fleece neck warmer is easier to use as a face cover when the freezing cold winds pick up. There were several times when I managed to cover all of my body except my face which was miserable. A warm cover would’ve helped immensely.
Gloves are another essential that you must pack for your trip to Iceland. And we would recommend investing in a pair with touchscreen capability so that you don’t have to take your gloves off to take photos with your phone.
Other Clothing Essentials
- Workout pants
- Long sleeve and short sleeve shirts
- Sweatshirt or fleece
- Underwear for each day
Iceland generally experiences about 20 days of rain each month so undoubtedly you’ll get wet while you’re there. You’ll definitely want to pack a waterproof jacket because you won’t always have the option of just waiting it out. We prefer Marmot brand rain jackets because they make quality, long lasting coats.
Rain pants are probably only necessary if you see a whole lot of rain in the upcoming Iceland forecast. And if there is, you’ll be glad you packed a pair since most of the activities around Iceland are outdoors. Columbia Sportswear has a good selection of quality waterproof pants.
Not only will you experience some rain during your trip to Iceland, but you will also occasionally need to walk through puddles, mud, and small streams. So waterproof shoes are ideal for keeping those feet warm and dry. We prefer Salomon brand waterproof shoes because they have lots of fun colors to choose from and they have great traction on wet, slippery surfaces.
Quick Dry Towel
The weather in Iceland may be freezing cold, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to warm up in their hot spring pools! Most of the commercial pools have towels available for rent, and none of the natural springs have any amenities at all. So you’re better off packing your own quick-dry towel.
We did hear that some of the natural pools in Iceland are “clothing optional”, but we didn’t actually see anyone bathing in the nude. So be sure to toss a swimsuit in your suitcase before boarding the plane!
Other Swimwear to Pack
- Flip flops or water shoes for getting into and out of hot pools and for showering at campsites
- Sun hat to keep your face from burning
The discount grocery stores around Iceland carry the typical toiletry products that you’ll need during your trip at reasonable prices. So if you’d rather skip the liquids and just bring a carry on, or if you simply forget a few things, you can absolutely find everything you need in Iceland.
If you do want to pack your toiletries, a few things you’ll need are as follows:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Body wash
- Face wash
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Face and body lotion
- Feminine hygiene products
- Hair dryer
- Hair brush
- Any medications
Camera and Tripod
Iceland has the most incredible and dramatic landscape so you’ll want a camera that is more powerful than your cell phone to capture it. Ideally, you would want to bring a DSLR camera (or full-frame mirrorless camera) with both a zoom and a wide-angle lens, as well as a lightweight travel tripod for long exposure waterfall shots.
Check out all of our recommended Travel Photography Packing Gear!
And if a DSLR camera seems too complicated, the Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera is a great choice! It’s incredibly easy to use, takes gorgeous high resolution photos, and has instant sharing with Wifi connectivity.
Car Power Inverter
If you are traveling with any gear that cannot charge via USB, then you’ll run into some issues finding outlets if you are not staying in hotels. A car power inverter has an AC outlet that will allow you to charge your laptop, breast pump, gaming consoles, Kindle, or any other device with a regular plug. Plus it has 2 USB ports to charge your cell phones and tablets.
And if you want to make sure your cell doesn’t die while you’re out trekking around Iceland, be sure to pack an external battery. We prefer the Anker brand as we’ve used a variety of their batteries over the years and found them to be reliable and long-lasting.
International Travel Adaptor
Iceland uses type F power plugs so if you are from the US, you’ll need an international travel adaptor to charge your electronics. If you do end up camping, most of the campsites have a common area where you can cook, hang out, and charge your electronics.
Other Packing Essentials
If you visit Iceland during the summer months, the sun only sets for a few hours each night. And even then, it’s never completely dark. So if you are the type of person that requires complete darkness to sleep, you’ll definitely want to pack an eye mask. Even if you plan to stay in hotels and guesthouses as most don’t have blackout curtains.
Reusable Water Bottle
There should be no reason for you to ever buy bottled water in Iceland – all of the tap water is clean and delicious! Just be sure to bring a reusable water bottle so that you can fill it up every morning before you hit the road.
Spill-Proof Travel Coffee Mug
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a much easier time getting out of the car in the freezing cold if you have a hot cup of coffee in hand. Bring a spill-proof travel coffee mug to keep you warm and caffeinated all day, every day in Iceland.
We hope you have an amazing time in Iceland!
Want more help planning your trip to Iceland? Check out our favorite travel guides!