What To Pack For Iceland: It’s All About Layers

Venturing out on an exotic trip takes a lot of planning, and almost most important is packing!

Iceland packing list
Photo: Nicole Albertson

Showing up unprepared for the elements can be really damper an otherwise amazing experience. So when looking to embark on a trip to Iceland, one can one wonder… what exactly IS the climate out there and how can I pack to be prepared?

It’s kinda a trick question since Iceland can switch temperatures and extreme climates on a dime, but it’s more than likely you’re going to want layers. Lots and lots of layers. The average Iceland summer is about 54 degrees with a whopping six hours of sunshine, and that’s if you get the good weather. Visit during the winter months and only see a scarce one hour of sun and a frigid 32 degrees. Don’t worry, it’s also usually pretty wet, averaging 18-21 rainy days each month, so don’t forget a rain jacket. Add in the wind chill factor and you’ve got the makings for a beautiful bikini vacation. (But seriously, bring one for the hot springs.)

Iceland packing list
Photo: Nicole Albertson

While the rollercoaster of weather emotions can keep you on your toes, there is no denying that Iceland is one of the most awe-inspiring places to see and well worth the packing challenge.

Check out the list below to pack smartly and be prepared for your Iceland adventure.

Packing List:

Iceland packing list
Photo: Nicole Albertson

For a 10 day trip, plan on alternating the base layers and undergarments but ultimately re-wearing the same outer layers (jeans, sweaters, jackets, etc.) multiple times. They aren’t getting that grimy anyway, right?

  • Warm underwear layer, top and bottoms – Either silk or wool
  • Hiking shoes or cold weather boots with good rubber traction soles – You’ll be walking on snow, ice and wet surfaces, so tracking and warmth are key
  • Thick winter wool socks
  • Thin regular dress socks – wear as underlayer with warm wool socks
  • Puffy insulated jacket
  • Puffy insulated vest
  • Bathing suit – Don’t forget the hot springs! Yes, it is suuuuper cold getting in and out, but worth it.
  • Classic Layering Essentials – Sweaters, t-shirts, tank tops, long sleeve, turtlenecks to mix and match throughout the trip
  • Toiletry set
  • Electric Outlet Adaptor for Northern Europe “C” or “F”
Iceland packing list
Photo: Nicole Albertson


Iceland packing list
Photo: Nicole Albertson

Stuff Your Day Pack With:

  • Packaged hand & toe warmers – Hopefully you don’t need them, but better to have and bring home than be wishing they were with you.
  • Warm Wool scarf – Essential for when the wind kicks up
  • Rain overcoat – Essential for when the rain pours down
  • Beanie/Wool hat
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses – Here comes the sun!! For a lil bit.
  • Sunblock
  • Power bars and snacks – There are few gas and food stops in between locations, so don’t leave your stomach hanging!
  • Water Thermos
  • Camera – If ever there was a place that warranted a high quality camera, its Iceland. Borrow or purchase a real lens and practice your photography skillz. It is so beautiful, every shot makes you look like a genius.
  • Extra Pair of Socks – Just, always carry an extra pair of socks.
  • Phone charger battery brick
  • Portable Wifi router – Wifi is available at most locations, but if you plan on some deep driving into the mountains, might be worth investing in a router
packing for iceland
Photo: Nicole Albertson

Forget something? Reykjavik is the awesome capital of Iceland and primed with great shops to pick up anything you left behind. Iceland is also known for their wool, so make sure to leave enough space and fashion moments to dress like the best in matching wool sweaters and slippers that will keep you warm through any blizzard conditions.

Nicole was in Iceland for 10 days in 2016. 

Nicole Albertson


Nicole is based in San Francisco and she has amazing recommendations for Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Iceland, and New Zealand.

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