So what exactly goes on the Ultimate Iceland Packing list? Well I’m glad you asked. Only the essentials!
This is a specific ultimate Iceland packing list, but would be similar or even exactly the same for other rugged and cold climates. You could also use this list for a camping trip and just add the camping gear! Or a warmer rugged trip and ditch the extra layers.
Nate and I traveled on a cheap airline that charged crazy prices for all of the extras (I’m talkin $3 for a water!). Being the cheapos that we are (in we I mean I) we ended up packing everything for 2 days in Washington D.C. and 5 days in Iceland in a carry-on! It can totally be done.
The only thing we ended up needing to buy were eye drops and hand sanitizer ($40!). There’s really no way we could have foreseen that I would develop a gross eye thing. My advice would be to just think of every probable thing YOU would need.
I feel like the trick to packing is: packing EVERY essential and ONLY the essentials. Not too much to ask right? Haha. After lots and lots of study we came up with what proved to be the perfect packing list.
The Ultimate Iceland Packing List
- Base layer shirt. Needed: 1 or 2. Nate brought two and I packed one. We really didn’t sweat so the one base layer was fine. If you know you will have access to a washer anywhere I would recommend just one of these. If however, you plan to hike, go horse back riding, snowmobiling, or anything else active and aren’t sure about your washer situation, I’d bring two.
- Long sleeved shirts. Needed: 2. This item you won’t sweat on or get wet so one would almost be ok. But do you really want all of your pictures in the same shirt?
- Jacket. Needed: 1. I would highly recommend down or something else equally compact. Not only do you not have a lot of space, but you want something that fits comfortably under your outer shell. We borrowed Patagonia down jackets from friends and they were PERFECT. Consider something even warmer if you’re traveling in the Winter. Omit a jacket if traveling in the Summer.
- Outer shell. Needed: 1. This can NOT be understated. Research your destination’s climate first. For Iceland, we knew there was going to be a chance of rain every day. When we weren’t getting rained on we were enjoying large amounts of mist rolling off the waterfalls. I bought a rain coat from Mountain Hardwear and really liked it.
- Hat, scarf, and gloves. Needed: 1 of each. Nate didn’t bring a scarf or gloves and was mostly fine. I brought all three and was very glad that I did. We got the best beanies from Minus33. They were warm, water resistant, wicking, and fit really well. Scarf should be warm instead of cute (girls!) and gloves should be slim so you can still use your hands as much as possible.
- Base layer pants. Needed: 1 or 2.
- Outer pant. Nate brought water proof and loved them. I ended up running out of time and brought jeans that fit over my base layer and fleece lined leggings. Both worked well.
- Socks. Needed: 2. Wear the first pair for the first few days and then switch. Just don’t take your shoes off. We took wool which proved extremely warm. Wicking would be ideal as your feet may sweat.
- Shoes. Needed: 1 or 2 pair. We each wore boots most of the time, but wanted a casual shoe for the one evening we went out for a nice meal. Highly recommend a waterproof pair. I wore my friends Sorel boots.
Gear and Random Items
- Converter. We got a adapter that would work in lots of different countries. ALWAYS research what kind of adapter you’ll need in the country you’re going to!
- Passport covers. These keep passports, cards, and other papers safe. We got ours from Sweenks Custom Laser. They were excellent quality and fit all of our items perfectly.
- Travel journal and pen. We kept things recorded here (locations, flight times, phone numbers) since we didn’t always have internet. We also wrote down all of the the funny little things that happened and our day to day experiences. (You’d be surprised by what you forget).
- Cards and cash. Iceland took our cards everywhere, but we had cash just in case. Make sure you call ahead of time and check that your card doesn’t charge you to use it overseas. And let them know you’ll be traveling.
- Backpacks. We took our one carry on and then a backpack each. We made sure to bring water proof ones and that literally saved my camera gear.
- Camera and accessories. I brought my Rebel T5, a normal lens, wide angle, camera card, small case, towel to wipe mist off, and charger. I also took a tripod. There were people around to take pictures in the south part of the island, but not very many in the North.
- Microfiber Towels. This saved us sooooo much money. At the Blue Lagoon alone it would have been an extra $40 to rent TWO TOWELS! The rest of the island was full of hostels that rented towels and hot springs that had none at all. We found our at 9th Wave Towels. They are extremely compact and quick drying. I used mine several times a day.
- Luggage tags. No way was I not tagging my bag with all of my expensive gear in in! We got ours from Springbrook Laser. Huge range of designs and awesome service!
My beanie from Minus33
Using my 9th Wave microfiber towel to clean mist off my lens before shooting the sheep.
Our custom passport covers from Sweenks Custom Laser.
Again, using my 9th Wave towel. Life saver!
Iceland was simply amazing! I think we were able to fully enjoy it because we were fully prepared. Hope you found this ultimate Iceland packing list helpful.
Interested in learning more about Iceland?
Read about what to eat in Iceland here.
Read about where to stay in Iceland here.
Read about how to save money when traveling to Iceland here.
Read about how NOT to get a passport here.
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