We have been back from Iceland for a couple of months, so I’m delayed in posting this a bit, but I always find packing lists for trips really helpful (I was inspired by Carly’s Ireland packing list on thecollegeprepster.com), so I figured I would share some more about how I packed for our trip to Iceland. (For more information on our trip, see this itinerary post and this recap post.)
Unlike our trip to Italy in which we backpacked the whole way, we had a rental car and 2 free checked bags a piece through Icelandair, so packing light was not really our aim. However, we did pack smart, and I made sure there was a purpose for everything we brought.
I was going to call this a “Spring” packing list, but the truth is that the weather doesn’t vary that much in Iceland from season to season, and many of the same things remain important no matter when you go. You might find more use for short sleeved shirts in August and you might need a heavier coat in January, but generally, it’s not particularly warm and the weather can change dramatically. We saw days go from gray, cloudy and cold to bright and sunny in a matter of minutes, so we brought layers with us in our rental car and relied on pieces that could transition easily. Our temperatures were generally in the 40s and low 50s.
Here are a few basic tips:
1. Plan for layers. The changing temperatures and conditions mean that one minute you might be fine in just a tee shirt and puffer vest and an hour later you’re pulling on your heavy coat and hat. if you’re renting a car (which I highly recommend), you can keep things with you that you may just want to pull on. Thermal shirts, vests, and thermal underwear are all great for this.
2. When in doubt, make it waterproof. Waterproof shoes are especially essential. But bonus points for waterproof coats, and an extra layer of waterproof pants you can pull on for dire situations. We didn’t encounter a lot of rain while we were there, but when we went to visit waterfalls, we were glad for those waterproof pants.
3. Practicality beats fashion in Iceland. You aren’t going to London or Paris or New York. Icelanders believe in function over form. Even in Reykjavik, puffer coats and cute beanies are the local way of dressing. I worked hard to make my practical choices as cute as possible, but in the end, being warm and dry is first priority.
Here is a breakdown of what I packed.
– a couple of thermal shirts. I brought a basic black thermal tee that I picked up for a couple bucks on clearance at Academy, and I also brought a cute white Free People thermal tee with crocheted cuffs for a bit of fashionable flair.
– A couple of tee shirts for layering and sleeping
– A couple of sweaters. I brought a gray sweater, a brown turtleneck, and an oversized black sweater to wear with leggings on the plane, but I thought this cute Free People sweater in the photo gave a nice Scandinavian flair to the wardrobe. Maybe next time I’ll buy one of those.
– Two pairs of jeans. I brought a black pair and a denim pair which I mostly wore on our days in Reykjavik.
– Thermal underwear. I brought several pairs of these and they were the best. I wore them under everything, and they kept me from ever being too cold! I liked the synthetic pairs from Magellan…also at Academy.
– Workout pants/leggings. Most of the days we were road tripping for long periods of time, so comfort was key. I stuck with workout leggings and thermal leggings most of the time.
– Rain Pants. I picked a pair up for me and a pair for Jeremy at Academy. We didn’t use them a whole lot (only at a couple waterfalls), but I was so glad we brought these. You just slip them on over your pants, and you can come away from a wet situation completely dry.
– A heavy waterproof puffer coat with a hood. I bought this Columbia coat at JCPenney on clearance, and it was awesome! Kept me warm and dry and cozy.
– A packable down jacket. This was my favorite purchase for the trip because I will wear it all the time. I actually bought mine from JCPenney as well (can you tell they were having a good winter sale?), but any brand will do. It packs into a tiny little sack, and I carried it on the plane as a pillow and even stuffed it in my purse at times. And it is surprisingly warm!
– A puffer vest. I borrowed one from a friend, and I loved it! Was the perfect layer on warm Iceland afternoons. And I think they look pretty cute.
– My Columbia Minx Mid II Omni-Heat Boots are the best cold weather shoes. They are technically snow boots, and though we didn’t have a lot of snow, they are the most comfortable and warm boots imaginable. They aren’t built for heavy duty hiking, so I didn’t wear them on days when i thought we would be traversing through lava rock or going off road, but they were perfect for days in Reykjavik and on the golden circle.
– Hiking Boots. Don’t go to Iceland without a good pair of hiking boots. You won’t be sorry.
– Toms. I brought a pair of toms for the airplane and just to have a pair of lightweight shoes for a quick slip-on.
– Hats. Self-explanatory. Not only are beanies warm and cozy, but they add a touch of style to your active outfits.
– Gloves. I went with a pair of waterproof gloves with touchscreen capability for taking the perfect iPhone photo.
– Wool socks. A pair for every day.
– A swimsuit. For that blue lagoon and all of those hidden geothermal pool experiences, you will be sad if you go to Iceland without a swimsuit.
– Scarves. I forgot to include this in the photo, but I brought a couple of scarves, and I was glad to have them.
I didn’t include this in the infographic, but these are the things we brought:
– Canon DSLR Camera
– GoPro Camera
– Power converters
– Dual voltage hair straightener
– Dual voltage blowdryer
– Car phone charger
I think that covers the basics! Here are some photos of the outfits I wore in Iceland.