WHAT TO PACK FOR A WEEK IN ICELAND
It’s no surprise that Iceland quickly became one of my favourite destinations, with endless jaw dropping scenery and adventure it’s a must visit for sure! The unpredictable weather can feel a little daunting to pack for, though! In this post I am sharing my recommended packing list for a week in Iceland.
The first step of packing for any trip is to research your destination, checking the weather forecast and any cultural considerations you might need to bear in mind, as well considering what sort of activities you will be getting up to. I’ve visited Iceland in the Winter and Summer; although there’s some variation in temperature, windspeed and daylight, there’s no real drastic difference in your kit list.
If this is your first cold/wet trip, as it was for me, investing in all of the gear you’re going to need may tot up. So, it might be worth you listing what you already have, what you can borrow from friends/family and what you will need to purchase for this, and future trips. Now then! Let’s crack on with the packing list!
Sufficient outerwear is a must in cold and unpredictable climates, it really can be the difference between being comfortable and enjoying yourself, and a trip totally sucking if you’re unprepared. You will want your top layers to be insulated, waterproof/resistant and windproof.
- PACKABLE DOWN // Down jackets are the best for trips like this. They roll up small so they take up no space in your suitcase or hiking pack but are super warm.
- HEAVY COAT // It’s cold, be sure to have cosy insulated winter parker.
For outer bottoms, it really depends on conditions and what you’re doing; in the Winter I wore soft-shell thermal insulated hiking trousers, sometimes with leggings underneath. For the Summer, running leggings (which I usually wear for hikes) occasionally teamed with thermal tights.
- LEGGINGS // My forever go-tos for adventurous days. I often wear thermals underneath in colder temperatures (or you can wear fleece-lined leggings). They’re also just super comfy for chilling in at the end of an action filled day. Pack multiple pairs as you’ll likely wear them every day.
- SOFT SHELL HIKING TROUSERS // Great for layering. I opted for thermal insulated and rain resistant ones for the Icelandic Winter, and I’m very glad I did so!
- I’d also suggest some PACKABLE WATERPROOFS // they’re a solid little saviour to throw over your outer layers in hardcore rainstorms, and are light to carry in your backpack.
Layering is key. Build up fleeces and tops for extra warmth, or shed them to cool down while hiking.
- FLEECE // Great easily removable warm layer, nice to have the zip option.
- WOOL JUMPER // Quality goes a long way, and natural fibres are always better. Invest in a nice wool jumper. You could even treat yourself to an Icelandic wool knit while you’re out there!
- LONG SLEEVE BASICS // A must! Natural fibre, long sleeved, lightweight tops are comfortable, layer-able and breathable.
- TURTLE NECK // I love turtlenecks because they’re like a jumper and snood in one, and make a great smart option for evenings, too.
- If it’s really cold, or you’re not so active you might also want to add a LIGHTWEIGHT DOWN or VEST to trap extra warmth in under your heavy weight coat.
- THERMALS // Merino wool thermals are essential for any wintery trip, sometimes even warm ones if you have a sunrise start! They keep you toasty, while being breathable, and they’re lightweight and soft to touch so thermals are amazing for layering under anything, or even sleeping in. Pack a couple of pairs of thermals, as you might be wearing them daily.
Sturdy shoes are a must, for any trip; for Iceland you’ll want them to be warm and waterproof, as well. Bear in mind that you will want a little more room in them, so you can wear thick socks and still have freedom for movement.
- If you’re going to prioritise one pair, make sure they WATERPROOF HIKING BOOTS // I absolutely love my KEEN Revel III’s, they’re a supportive, slightly more technical boot which are thermal insulated and waterproof.
It’s also nice to have something else to change into for everyday activities or relaxed evenings. Here’s a few options:
- SHORT HIKING BOOT OR SHOE // For every day wear, and Summer hikes.
- TALL WINTER BOOTS // It’s nice to have a tall warm alternative in winter conditions, such as Hoodoo III Winter Boots or the Sorel Caribou Boot.
- CASUAL SHOES // If you have room, it can be nice to wear something that’s not a pair of chunky hiking boots, like trainers or Chelsea boots.
I didn’t pack all of these, they’re just options for you. I only packed two pairs, shoes take up so much room! For Winter, my waterproof hiking boots and snow boots; For Summer, waterproof hiking boots and casual Docs.
- SOCKS // Wool, particularly merino, is the best material for socks - warm and breathable.
- GLOVES // Nothing worse than painfully cold fingers, so be sure to pack some nice gloves. I have extreme windproof and water resistant gloves. You could also treat yourself to some with touchscreen pads, so you don’t need to take them off to snap photos on your phone.
- KNITTED HAT // You’ll want to keep your head warm and dry! I’m a sucker for wool and fleece lined beanies. I usually pack at least two to be safe in wet weather.
- SCARF or SNOOD // You’ll want to pack at least one of these. I personally get annoyed by scarfs, so I prefer snoods, plus they’re smaller and easier to pack. Scarfs get bonus points for photos though!
- BACKPACK // Smaller backpacks are guaranteed to be handy, I use them to carry things like snacks, water, extra layers, camera, lip balm etc
- SWIMMERS // You’ll definitely want to pack 1 or 2 swimsuits for any geothermal, hot tub or lagoon experiences!
Images in this post captured by either Tom Kahler, Elliot J Simpson or Wild Bonde.
- You’ll likely want to pack a few pieces of CASUAL CLOTHING to wear in your down-time, for dinner or less active days, such as jeans, t-shirts and jumpers.
- A BLANKET for cosying up, or extra warmth on activities. I like to squeeze one into my backpack on sunrise hikes to nestle up in as I watch the world reveals itself.
- I always pack LIP BALM and MOISTURISER on trips to help my skin against the elements. I swear by Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Balm for anything!
- PHONE and/or CAMERA, to capture those special moments.
- POWER BANK to charge phone on the go.
- Water BOTTLE to stay hydrated and reduce plastic consumption
- SNACKS - I often pack home comforts, like teabags, wherever ever I go (I know, so British), but I also packed super noodles for my Iceland trip to cut costs on the road, and I like to take bars on treks for energy.
- A BOOK, if you have time!
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