How to pack for Iceland in summer
Headed to Iceland but aren’t sure yet what to pack for Iceland? I’ve got you covered!
I’ve gathered together my advice for an Iceland summer packing list. I visited Iceland in July, and can tell you it can go from sunny and bright to moody very quickly! Iceland is the type of destination you need to make sure you pack accordingly for.
This Iceland packing list includes what to wear in Iceland, boots for Iceland, Iceland clothing – even waterproof pants for Iceland (!), and all of the gadgets you should bring to Iceland.
So without further ado… here are my tips on what to pack for Iceland in June or Iceland in July.
Water Proof Shells and Iceland outer wear
Sure, they won’t be the sexiest items in your wardrobe, but if you visit Seljalandsfoss, and the “hidden” waterfall Gljúfrabúi just 10 minutes walk from Seljalandsfoss, you’re going to want to make sure you have water proof pants to wear in Iceland! I can’t tell you how many other people I saw climbing out from Gljúfrabúi, completely drenched and looking miserable – and we were there on one of the warmest days of the year! Meanwhile, I was drive and splashing about in my shells – these are items you must bring to Iceland! Of all the items on this Iceland packing list, this one is right up there with the DSLR.
You WILL get sprayed by the waterfalls, and you won’t be happy if you’re wet for the rest of the day.
I wore a really like pair just like these Paradox Womens Waterproof Breathable Rain Pants (Large). I prefer really light ones because then you can just throw them in your bag without adding much weight, and they can be worn in both warm and cold weather. These are ideal to add to your packing for Iceland, so I strongly recommend them!
You might have guessed already, but you’re also going to want a water proof jacket as well on your packing list for Iceland in July!
Again, I’d suggest an unlined waterproof shell jacket. You might want to get one size larger so you can choose to layer underneath or just wear it with a t-shirt for warm weather as well. This The North Face Womens Venture 2 Jacket TNF Black – M is perfect for these types of trips and can be used in both warm and cold weather, making it a great jacket for Iceland.
Boots for Iceland
If you plan to go hiking in Iceland, I’d strongly recommend a good pair of hiking boots. Any packing for Iceland should include a sturdy pair of boots, no matter what. To be honest, I didn’t spend too much money on mine, and picked up a waterproof pair from Decathlon for only 38euro!! – for all those who don’t live in Europe, sorry! This ultra cheap retailer is not available for you! But here are a few I would recommend that don’t cost a fortune if you can’t shop at Decathlon:
One big tip on your boots – make sure they are WATER PROOF! Not water-resistant. Trust me, you’ll be glad your feet won’t be wet!
If you’re wondering what shoes to wear in Iceland, just know that I pretty much exclusively wore hiking boots… even when we went out to dinner. Hey, you’re gonna be out in nature, not attending any fashion shows, right? In any case, hiking books are a definitely must for your Iceland packing list.
A good day pack
If you’re in Iceland you’ll probably spend half of your time driving and half of your time hiking, walking, etc, which is why I would strongly recommend having a good day pack. If you’re hiking you’ll want to make sure you bring layers with you, especially a waterproof layer in case it rains, and likely some water and snacks as well.
My favorite day pack is actually one that came along with my backpacking pack from Osprey, and is very similar to the Osprey Packs Quasar Daypack, Black. I like Osprey packs because they can pack a lot, are very light, and are very comfortable. Mine has traveled with me around the world to Indonesia, Iceland and South Africa, and is still in great shape. In my day pack I can usually fit a water bottle, an extra jacket, and my DSLR (and some snacks as well).
Backpack for Iceland
Of course, you can be ULTRA prepared, and also bring a bag cover, like
Osprey Hi-Visibility Raincover, Electric Lime, Small to keep your backpack from getting soaked – but I’ll leave this one up to your discretion 😉 to add to your Iceland packing list
Mittens and gloves for Iceland… yes, even in summer
Ok, I know this item seems weird for the summer, but this is Iceland we are talking about. When we went whale watching, we got suited up from head to toe but with nothing to wear on our hands. By the end of the boat ride my hands were freezing and I so wished I had brought mittens along with me! I’d recommend mittens like Carhartt Women’s Quilts Insulated Breathable Mitt with Waterproof Wicking Insert, they can go with nearly anything, are breathable, and are ideal to throw in your bag!
Gadgets to Pack for a trip to Iceland
A waterproof camera
The best option for a waterproof camera is a GoPro HERO5 Black. On our trip I brought Nikon DSLR, but sometimes when we got a bit too close to the waterfalls I was a bit nervous about it, so I pulled our GoPro instead. What I love about GoPro’s is that they can withstand a fair amount of abuse without getting damaged, they are incredibly light, and they have a fairly sharp picture. It probably goes without saying that a GoPro HERO5 Black is the perfect way to capture an adventure like Iceland, especially when you’re likely to get wet.
A kick-ass DSLR camera
I know, I know, this one is pretty expensive, but it is so worth it! Before I bought my Nikon 5300 all of my vacation photos were from my smart phone. Smart phones do take pretty good pictures nowadays, but they are still completely incomparable with the types of shots a good DSLR can get you. Since splurging and buying my camera I have never regretted it. My pictures are sharp, colorful and honestly a joy to look at post-vacation.
I would recommend buying the camera body and the lens separately. I have a Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS Body Only (Black) and Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras. If you are new to DSLR’s or trying to find a good one, let me explain below why these are great!
First off the camera body: D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS Body Only (Black)
- I love that this model has built-in WiFi and GPS. Once you download the Nikon app to your phone, you can easily use your phone to remotely take photos, and to download your best snaps to your phone – perfect if you are traveling without a laptop and want to do some ‘gramming on the go.
- GPS is also a must have feature for me – it makes sorting through my images on Google Photos so much easier when I can just search by location!
- This is an 18-105mm lens which is not the tightest zoom you can get, but it is pretty good on the go, and captures detail even at a distance. I’m not the kind of person that wants to travel with 2-3 different camera lenses – that is too much weight and too much value for me to carry at one time! Once you have the pics on your computer or phone you can still zoom quite far into the photo without losing much quality.
This camera wouldn’t just make it on my Iceland packing list, but ALL of my packing lists. It has been my best travel buddy (besides my boyfriend), since I bought it.
For a look at some of my best shots, check out these blog posts
A pair of binoculars
One thing that I really looked forward to on our trip to Iceland was spotting puffins – luckily for us we were there during the right season. But… these little bird are faster than you might imagine, and in many cases you won’t get too close to them. So, I’d recommend getting a Bushnell Perma Focus 7x 50mm Wide Angle Binocular. I wish I would have had binoculars when we went to Iceland, but luckily we brought them along for our South African safari having learned out lesson in Iceland.
Asking yourself “what kind of adapter do I need for Iceland?”. The answer is that Iceland uses the same kind of adapter as the rest of Europe, so if you’ve got one of these, you’re already solid.
Books to read before going to Iceland
Where would I ever be without my handy Lonely Planet? I buy one for every destination we visit, and 9 times out of 10 its my best friend in the planning process – besides reading other blogs of course! They say one of the best parts of traveling is the planning process, and the excitement is just as enjoyable as the trip itself. Buying my Lonely Planet each time definitely contributes to my enjoyment, and they look good on the bookshelf to boot!
The other book I’d recommend is Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition. My dad was coincidentally reading this when we visited Iceland together, and read out of this book to us while we drove around, explaining to us why you hardly see any trees in Iceland.
Whenever I visit a new country I find myself asking: what is driving the economy here? What are the main industries? How did the culture develop? Collapse is not solely focused on Iceland, but has a chapter dedicated to Iceland that tells about how the vikings landed there, how they pillaged the land, and how that society collapsed afterward, an interesting read for anyone interested in how things got to be the way they are there.
Looking for other posts on Iceland? Check out these
- What to know when planning your trip to Iceland
- Hiking the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Whale watching in West Iceland: See orcas!
- How to visit the Jokulsarlon ice lagoon
Disclosure: some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase.
Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.