You’ve purchased your ticket, you’ve booked your tours, now all that’s left to do is pack for your summer trip to Iceland. Just writing this I’m excited for you! Iceland’s weather in June, July and August is known for its fickle nature and can change in an instant. You are going to be experiencing elements that are unlike any other place in the world. Summer clothes won’t suffice, and you need to be pack with jackets, vests, windbreakers, and comfy wool socks. Below I will outline the essentials you need on your Iceland packing list to make your trip to Iceland this summer as comfortable, warm and dry as possible.
Rain, Rain, Rain Please, for Thor’s Sake Go Away!
While summer is probably the best time to go to Iceland, you won’t always find clear, sunny skies. During your Icelandic summer adventure, your rain jacket will be your greatest ally. Your rain jacket will be the Chewbacca to your Han Solo, the peanut butter to your jelly, the perfectly lit picture of a piece avocado toast to your struggling Instagram food account. What I am trying to say is, a good rain jacket goes a long way and is a must on your Iceland packing list. Let’s cut to the chase: you want a hard shell, **fully waterproof** rain jacket.
The average rain jacket is “water resistant.” We have all had that moment of being stuck in a torrential thunderstorm with our “handy-dandy, bullet-proof, nothing-can-stop-me” rain jacket, and in about five minutes you feel like you’ve been sprayed with a firehose. *Water Resistant* jackets are useful for every day, to and from, commuting. They aren’t built to resist heavy duty Icelandic weather. Hardshell rain jackets are pretty close to being genuinely waterproof, and the best part is that you can layer underneath very easily. This brings us to number two of things to include on your packing list for Iceland: layers, layers, layers.
The Name of The Game is Layering!
Layering is the name of the game. If you have never had the good fortune of living in an area whose weather changes as abruptly as trending Twitter hashtags, then I will give you a crash course in layering for Iceland.
Base layers, t-shirts, sweaters, and down jackets. This is the standard combination that one would wear during the winter in Iceland. The summer is not like the summer you are probably picturing in your head. While the sun is out for exponentially much longer than anywhere else in the world, the climate doesn’t get too warm. It can wax and wane over the course of the day and usually reaches a maximum of 15 °C (60 °F). Wearing a functional base layer will ensure that you are warm no matter; during the day, and into the night. Temperatures in Iceland can drop quickly, and you don’t want to end up turning into an icicle.
T-shirts are a useful safety net if the weather begins to get unexpectedly warmer. You can shed your sweater and rain jacket (I recommend a sweater or a compressible down vest ), throw them into your bag, and soak up some sun. You can also wear them out for a casual night. A great pairing with the base layer, t-shirt combo, is a chambray long sleeve button. Not only will you look great, but you will feel great too. The fabric easily breathes, and it allows for nice layering.
Down-vests and sweaters are a most for going out at night. With all of the layers you will be wearing underneath, you will want to be as snug as a bug in a rug. Not having to worry about the cold will allow you to focus on taking in all of the great culture, food, and scenic views that Iceland has to offer.
What to Pack for your Iceland Trip – Pants
Pants. Or as they say in Icelandic “buxur” should be versatile and sturdy. I would recommend hiking pants if you plan on going out into the countryside. You won’t worry about them getting dirty, and also they are meant for walking great distances. If you are in the city bring some jeans. Again, check the weather though to see if you need any thermal underwear. In the summer it is not likely, but you never know. Weather is so changeable in Iceland that it has been known to snow in June.
What to Pack for your Iceland Trip – Shoes and Socks!
Shoes. Women love them, bugs hate them, and the pairs you own probably won’t work for a trip to Iceland. Sorry I had to break it to you! I am just trying to prepare you for a great trip, and your Vans and Nikes wouldn’t cut it. If you are in the city, I would recommend a good, semi-waterproof shoe, such as Merrell’s. They aren’t the most fashionable, but hey, you are here to enjoy Iceland not walk down the runway. If you are hiking at all then hiking boats are a prerequisite. Pro Tip: break in your shoes before you come to avoid painful blisters, you will thank me later.
In Iceland, we recommend wool socks no matter what. Now I know what you are thinking, “Wool socks?! In the summer?! Lay off the Brennivín, and tell me what to really pack!” (Brennivín is Iceland’s signature schnapps, definitely worth a try!) The wool socks of yesteryear are a thing of the past. Companies like Smart Wool have made light, breathable, and insanely comfortable wool socks for all seasons. Head over to their website to check out which pair is right for you.
Word to the wise: check the average temperature for the region you are planning on visiting. If it looks like Thor has been angered by said region and plans on unleashing a torrential rainstorm during your time there, it may be wise to invest in rain pants to go along with your fancy new rain jacket.
Insider Tips on What To Pack for Iceland
Sunscreen. Bring it. Wear it. Love it. Embrace it. There can be up to 21 hours of continuous sunlight in Iceland during the summer. You may not get a sunburn, but with the way the world is going, especially our environment, it’s best not to tempt fate. Protect your skin.
With the abundance of sunlight, a sleeping mask is crucial for first-time visitors to Iceland. Most first time visitors have a hard time sleeping due to the seemingly limitless amounts of sunlight during the summer. You don’t want to feel like a zombie during your Iceland trip so make sure you pack a sleeping mask.
Chargers are of course a must. In Iceland we use European chargers, so get a decent converter, pack it and forget about it. The last thing I would highly recommend is a day bag. Just bring a backpack that is comfortable, and whatever over the counter drugs you cannot live without. Our regulations on drugs are much different than other countries. So, if you frequently take ibuprofen, Advil, etc. etc. make sure you bring enough with you for your trip.
You are now ready to pack your bags and make your way here. Breathtaking vistas, friendly faces, and unforgettable memories are waiting for you! Double check your packing list, and we will see you soon!
Essential Iceland Summer Packing List
To make your life easier, we’ve created this handy dandy checklist for your Iceland packing list:
- Hardshell Rain Jacket
- Thermal Base Layers (Light Weight)
- Down Vest or Sweater
- Jeans (City)
- Hiking Pants (Countryside or Hiking)
- Rain Pants (for inclement weather)
- Wool Socks (Smart Wool / Light)
- Day shoes (water-resistant) for the city (Merrell’s or equivalent)
- Hiking Boots (waterproof and comfy)
- European adapter
- Any medications you need
- Sleeping mask
- A sense of adventure 🙂