A Smarter Iceland Packing List + What to Wear in Iceland

Adventures come in all shapes and sizes — and here in Iceland, you can find the kind of thrill-seeking experiences that you’ve always dreamed of. Simply browsing our range of Iceland adventure activities offers a window into what you can expect, from glacier hikes to canyoning

But what should you pack to ensure your trip is as comfortable and enjoyable as it is exciting? If you’re gearing up for an unforgettable journey to Iceland, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we offer local tips and insight that will help you make the most of your time in the Land of Fire and Ice. 

Scroll down to find our advice for the ultimate packing guide for Iceland! If you have any questions for us as you read, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

What is the Weather Like in Iceland?

First things first, let’s talk about the weather. Iceland is notorious for its unpredictable climate, where you can experience all four seasons in a single day. Whether you’re visiting in summer or winter, be prepared for anything from sunny skies to sudden downpours and even the occasional snowstorm. 

Of course, summer brings the best weather. Temperatures can fall as low as 5°C (41°F) and reach highs of 25°C (77°F). However, Iceland is windy, so there is always the wind chill to factor in too.

In winter, southern regions, including Reykjavik, have an average temperature of around 0°C (32°F). Highs and lows on either side of this typically reach -5°C (23°F) and 5°C (41°F). The further north you travel, the closer you get to the Arctic Circle, so expect colder conditions.

Whenever you plan to travel, we always recommend checking the forecast before you set out on your adventure. The Icelandic Met Office is a great place to start.

If you’re especially curious about visiting in winter, our blog How Challenging is Winter in Iceland? takes a closer look at this cold but highly rewarding season.

Essential Items for Your Iceland Packing List

When it comes to packing for Iceland, it’s all about being prepared for every eventuality. Here are some must-have items to include on your packing list to ensure you’re protected against the elements:

  • Waterproof clothing: It will almost certainly rain while you’re in Iceland, so a waterproof jacket and trousers are essential for staying dry and comfortable. This is especially true if you plan on hiking or exploring Iceland’s most scenic waterfalls.
  • Waterproof hiking boots: Invest in a pair of sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good traction to tackle Iceland’s rugged terrain. We strongly recommend breaking them in before you arrive to avoid discomfort and blisters.
  • Backpack cover: If you’re exploring with expensive camera gear in a standard backpack, and dry clothing to change into afterwards, a sudden and/or prolonged downpour is the last thing you need. With a waterproof backpack cover or roll top dry bag for valuables, you can continue carefree.
  • Sleep mask: In the height of summer, the sun will barely set. This is the Land of the Midnight Sun after all! While it’s a magical experience, a sleep mask will be a lifesaver for getting some shut-eye during the bright summer nights.
  • Swimwear: Taking a dip in hot springs and geothermal pools — like the Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon — is a quintessential Icelandic experience that you won’t want to miss, so don’t forget your swimwear! 
  • Quick-dry microfibre towel: From drying off after a refreshing swim or unexpected downpour to your daily shower, a quick-drying towel is an absolute must. Consider showering at night too. This allows towels of any kind to dry overnight and frees you up to make a fast start in the morning.
  • Refillable water bottle: Stay hydrated on your adventures with a reusable water bottle. This not only keeps you feeling your best, but it’s also better for the environment than relying on plastic bottled water.
  • Lip balm and hand cream: Iceland’s cold, windy weather can be harsh on your skin, so keep your lips and hands moisturised. Cracked lips and dry hands are small annoyances that can distract from your experience.
  • Sunscreen: Even on cloudy days, Iceland’s high latitude means you’re at risk of sunburn, so be sure to lather up with a high-SPF sunscreen.
  • Extra SD card and camera battery: With Iceland’s breathtaking landscapes around every corner, you’ll want to capture every moment, so don’t forget to bring along extra memory cards, camera batteries or power bank for on the go charging

If this Iceland packing list is stirring your wanderlust, be sure to read our blog How Should I Plan My Trip to Iceland? It’s filled with even more essential local advice to help you create an adventure that’s perfect for you.

What to Wear in Iceland?

Now that you’ve got your essentials sorted, let’s talk about what to wear in Iceland. As an adventure company, we know that comfort and practicality are key when exploring the great outdoors. Here are some tips for dressing the part…

Layering is Key

One of the golden rules of dressing for Iceland is to layer up. This allows you to easily adjust your clothing to the changing weather conditions throughout the day. Start with a moisture-wicking baselayer to keep you dry, add a mid-weight layer for insulation, and top it off with a warm coat to keep out the chill. A waterproof shell is the ideal final layer when needed.

Warm Hat, Gloves, and Socks

Keeping your extremities warm is key to comfort, so don’t neglect your head, hands, and feet! A warm hat and gloves are simple, effective solutions to keeping you warm in Iceland’s cold climate. Look for insulated options that will provide maximum warmth without sacrificing dexterity.

Thick, wool socks are also ideal for keeping your toes toasty, and they pair brilliantly with robust hiking boots. We offer a boot rental service on our activities.

If you’re planning to join adventure activities like our Iceland glacier hikes and ice cave tours, or any other strenuous outdoor experiences, pack extra gloves and socks. Your gloves will take some rough treatment, so you’ll be thankful for having a spare pair to hand if needed. And we’re sure we don’t need to explain the horrors of wet socks!

Prepare for All Conditions

We truly want to reiterate this point! Whatever shape your adventure comes in, it’s important to be prepared for all types of weather. That means packing waterproof layers, a sturdy pair of boots, and plenty of warm clothing, even in the summer months.

Bonus Iceland packing tip: Consider investing in a bright and bold coat that will stand out against Iceland’s often muted landscapes. Not only will it keep you visible in case of emergency, but it’ll also add a pop of colour to your photos!

Book Your Spot on Our Iceland Adventure Activities!

We hope this ultimate Iceland packing list has inspired you to visit the Land of Fire and Ice. And now that you know what to wear in Iceland, it’s time to start preparing for the adventure of a lifetime! Browse our range of Iceland adventure activities and discover more about our thrilling excursions in and around Vatnajökull National Park.
Do you have any questions for the Ice Guardians team? Please contact us for all the information you need.

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