Essentials to Pack for Your Iceland Trip

No matter where you are headed, packing is always the exciting and stressful part. You start to think about all of the things to bring to your trip, from the moment you book your flights, decide your trip routes, to the moment you lock your house, hoping you did not forget anything.

Packing Right can also be challenging, especially if your next destination is Iceland.  You definitely want to be prepared for all weather conditions, various outdoor activities, and perhaps any surprises.

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Outer Layer:

Iceland’s weather isn’t always as consistent as we wish. Having a versatile jacket will keep you dry and warm.

  • Rain Jacket  –  Even though Summer tends to be the dry season and the Fall/Winter is the raining season, a rain jacket is a must to bring item for all seasons.  The weather in Iceland is unpredictable, and you will want to be dry and warm wether you are in the city or trekking in the mountains, especially when it’s windy and rainy. In addition, when you visit waterfalls such as Skogafoss, you will want to have a rain jacket in hand to get  as close as possible to these waterfalls.My rain jacket was the Arc’teryx Beta AR.  However,  the Beta LT  or the Beta SR is a great alternative version.If Arc’teryx is out of your price range, I’d recommend to take a look at Patagonia .
  • Rain Pants  – In addition to a  rain jacket , you will also need rain pants.  I hesitated to bring my rain paints but I was extremely happy when I had to hike in the snow and rain, along with 30mph in September.  Mine is the Women Arc’teryx Beta AR Pant
  • All weather Jacket (Optional for Winter) -In addition to my rain Jacket, I did bring  my favorite jackets of all times  on my trip, the  FjallRaven Women’s  Trekking Jacket, because Not only the G1000 material is breathable , but also windproof, in addition you can also waterproof the jacket with the Greenland Wax.  I also fell in love with the jacket when I realized the amount of snacks I can stuff in those pockets.

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Base Layer /Mid Layer
  • Lightweight Dawn Jacket – A light weight down jacket is also a must to bring item regardless when you visit Iceland. Temperature tends to drop in the valley and at mountain tops. You’ll be happy to have a lightweight warm jacket with you. I bought my Arc’teryx Cerium LT  and I was surprised how light but how warm the jacket is. The jacket also comes with an attached pouch that you can fold the jacket into to minimize the space.
  • Thermal BaseLayer & Alternative Options  -I did not own any thermal base layer when I went to Iceland first week of the October. Instead, I worn my thermal running leggings under my AA riding pants to keep myself warm.  I felt fairly prepared for the temperature then (75-80%). However, if you are going to Iceland between November – April, thermal base layer is def a must .
    I personally do love Patagonia’s thermal base layer, and can’t recommend enough.  If you are on a budget, REI has some pretty good base layer as well and the price is usually much cheaper.
  • Base Layer Hoodie (Recommended for Winter) –  Now, I really wish I had Patagonia R1 with me. It’s another layer of warmth without adding any bulkiness. I also love the  thumb holes that will keep part of your hands covered when you snap away all the photos. Alternative is a warm fleece

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Shoes Made for Walking

Hiking Boots / Trekking shoes – you will need a pair of fairly good & already broken-in hiking boots/Trail shoes.  Trails in Iceland are very well maintained, but can be on a very steep hill without much zig-zag. The last thing you want to have in Iceland is to get all the blisters on your feet because you just starting to beak into your shoes.  I would def. recommend to go with a pair of well worn trail shoes than a pair of new Hiking boots.

Crampons (Optional) – If you feel adventurous and had experiences in Glacier Hiking, you can bring your own crampons and do your own glacier hike!  You want  to be very careful with hidden crevasse. Glacier hike on your own is definitely much more dangerous than traditional trail hike, I would not recommend if you aren’t with someone experienced in that.  If you do decided to go on a glacier hike of your own, you should also bring trekking poles and/or Ice Axe .

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Accessories

Gloves –  E-tip gloves are essential to keep your hands warm while allowing you to take photos or do your phone stuff out in the wild. I also recommend to bring a pair of insulated waterproof gloves if you are going in the colder weather. Double Layers for your hands can never go wrong.

Beanie – Be sure to pack your favorite beanie. It’s Windy out there!

Hiking Socks – Grab one or two pairs of hiking socks with ya, and that’s enough! Because once you get to Vik, you will want to purchase a few  Vik Wool Socks and Vik Wool Hiking Socks (They are the warmest socks ever and I swear by them). So To keep your pack lite, don’t over pack hiking socks.

Hiking Poles – I did not use my hiking poles for hiking actually. I used the poles for my own glacier hike. However, if you are used to hiking with poles or plan to do a multi-day backpacking trip, hiking poles are really nice to have.

Ice Axe/Harness (Optional)- I did not bring Ice Axe nor my Harness with me for my glacier hike. However, if you plan to do some serious Ice Climbing or go deeper in the glacier, both items may save your life if you fall into a deep crevasse.

Scarf – so that you can Cover your face and mouth in extreme Windy weather. However, because I can zip up my R1 Hoodie and Jacket all the way up to my nose, I did not bring my scarf.

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Personal Care

VE Oil/Facial Oil/Body Oil – The second to last thing that you want to resolve after your trip is to have wind-burnt face.  Bring a bottle of none-scented facial oil with you to keep your skin healthy. I know a lot of guys don’t think it’s necessary, but trust me, your face will hurt after standing on top of a mountain in a 40mph wind, and you want to sooth your skin asap, rather than waiting after your trip.

Hair Conditioner – Going to Iceland means you will be soaking in a hot spring at some point. Sulfite in the hot spring or natural bath will absolutely kill your hair. Be sure to bring leave in Hair Conditioner, a couple coconut packets, or hair mask to treat your hair after.

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