18 In Iceland/ Packing

What to Pack for Exploring Iceland in the Spring

Packing for Iceland can be a challenge, particularly for a spring trip when the weather can be even more unpredictable than normal. Also, it’s Iceland, so chances are you’ll be doing a lot of outdoor activities that you want to pack the right gear for. And, if you are like me, you are probably flying with a discount airline like WoW Air (although I’ll never fly with them again, but that’s a whole other story!) and so you have to be selective with what you can fit in your small carry-on bag. Well, I’ve got just the packing list for you!

My Trip Details:

  • Travel month: Mid-April
  • Season: Spring
  • Length of travel: 1 week
  • Travel type: Adventure! We spent most of the time outdoors and camped in a van at night.
  • What the weather was like: On some days during the trip, in the period of 5 minutes, I saw and felt all four seasons – from wind, to hail, rain, snow, and even sun! The average temperature during the day was 45 F (7 C), and 32 F (0 C) during the night, but there was also a lot of variation.

Here is my packing list for Iceland, with links to some of my favorite items. This list is particularly useful if you will be seeing Iceland by van.

 

Outerwear:

Apart from waterproof shoes, a warm jacket and a waterproof outer layer are the most important things you can pack for a trip to Iceland at any time of year, outside of maybe summer.

  • Packable warm down jacket: It will be cold, so if you don’t have a warm jacket, I’d invest the money in getting one. A down jacket is particularly a good investment because it can stand on its own when it’s not raining but it can also be used as a mid-layer, that isn’t too bulky, under a waterproof outer shell jacket.
  • Rain jacket: It will definitely rain at some point while you are in Iceland and I’d have either a rain jacket or, at the least, an umbrella.
  • Down or fleece vest: A vest is probably optional, but it is nice to have during those more sunny moments.

Layers:

Given that the weather in Iceland is so unpredictable at all times of year, but especially in spring, the best thing you can do is to bring layers. I was constantly taking layers on and off, and I was glad to have lots of options.

  • Thermal top and pants: I like to have a thin pair of thermals to put under my clothes on really cold days, but also to sleep in at night. They are so soft!
  • Fleece jacket: I’d recommend a zip-up fleece, which is easier to put on and off (something that you will be doing a lot of during a spring visit!).
  • Sweater: I had a fleece, turtleneck and plenty of layering tees and jackets so I didn’t take any additional sweaters, but having one could be another useful layering option.
  • Warm turtleneck: This is nice to have for some extra bundling up and can also be used for a more stylish look for a day out in Reykjavik.
  • Layering tees: I’d pack a few of these long sleeve tees for extra layers, and they can also be good under a vest on a warmer day.
  • Flannel or denim shirt: A flannel or denim shirt is also perfect for layering and can be used under a vest as well.

Pants:

Suitable Footwear:

Do yourself the favor and invest in some proper footwear and warm wool socks! If you are buying hiking boots new before your trip, I’d advise you to break in your shoes before leaving. You can see tips on how to do so here. This will prevent blisters, which would certainly put a damper on your trip.

  • Waterproof hiking boots: I wore hiking boots as my everyday shoe and having a good pair is a must in Iceland. Whatever shoe you decide, just make sure it is waterproof!
  • Waterproof ankle boots: I only brought a pair of hiking boots, but these higher boots could be useful in snow or mud.
  • Flip flops: If you are camping, having a pair of flip flips is great for use in the public showers.
  • Warm wool socks: Bring several pairs of warm socks! I kept one pair in my sleeping bag that I only used for sleeping at night.

Accessories – Hat, Gloves and Scarf:

  • Hat: I was literally just in layers with my black down jacket over top, so I attempted to use my hat and scarf as a way to add some color to my outfits.
  • Scarf: An infinity scarf is useful because it won’t blow off with the intense wind.
  • Gloves: Bring gloves! I forgot them and luckily I was able to borrow a pair from the friend I was traveling with.

Swimsuit:

Don’t forget your swimsuit on a trip to Iceland! No matter what time of year, you will need it so that you can take a dip in all of the hot springs dotted throughout the country.

  • One piece / two piece: You’ll likely be in a hot spring every day, so bring two swimsuits so that you always have at least one that’s dry.

Versatile travel bags:

  • Big travel bag: On most airlines the bag I’ve included here classifies as a carry-on. I like this Patagonia bag because it can fit a lot, is both a duffle and a backpack and is water resistant.
  • Daypack: I’d also take another smaller backpack that you can use to put food and water in for day hikes or other outdoor activities, and I’d make sure it is waterproof as well.
  • Toiletries bag: If you are camping, a toiletry bag is even more useful to have for taking all of your things to the the shower.

Other useful items:

Here I’ve included a few additional items that I found useful during my trip.

  • Camera: My go-to cameras are the GoPro Session, my Canon digital SLR and IPhone 6.
  • Fully charged battery pack: I usually always bring this while traveling, and although I didn’t bring one to Iceland because I knew we’d have a car charger, it still could be useful to have.
  • Adaptor: This link will show you the type used in Iceland.
  • Pack towel: Having a towel is useful for showering but also for the many hot springs around Iceland. A pack towel in particular is great because it generally dries quickly.
  • Warm sleeping bag: A proper sleeping bag is obviously expensive but if you already have one and you will be camping or sleeping in a van (many companies charge extra for bedding), I would definitely bring it for the extra warmth.
  • Head lamp: In April the sun is already starting to set late in Iceland, but a headlamp is useful if you are seeing the country by van. It’s also useful for night hikes and for those middle of the night bathroom runs.
  • Thermal water bottle: I’d take a an insulated water bottle for keeping some tea warm on a hike, but also for use as a water bottle. I always take one of these while traveling!
  • Toiletries: In addition to the basics, I would make sure to have good conditioner and moisturizer because the hot springs will dry your skin and hair out! I also took a travel pack of tissues, which I used for many things, including as toilet paper when there wasn’t any available at some of the camp spots. I also took face wipes and my favorite ones are these.
  • Snacks: It may sound silly that I’ve included this, but I was really happy that I had stuffed random granola bars and wine gummies into my bag. Iceland is so expensive and it was nice to have some food in the van that was easy to access and cheap.

Let me know in the comments below what items you think are essential to pack for exploring Iceland in any season!

Love Love.

18 Comments

  • Reply
    Sophie | The Wanderful Me
    May 10, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Omg I love your hat Eleonore! It’s so cute. And great post on what to bring to Iceland – really thoughtful and put together. I hope to be going there soon!

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 10, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you, Sophie! It’s literally in almost every photo I have of Iceland – haha. Obviously should have packed more hats! 🙂

      Xx
      Eleonore

  • Reply
    Leanne
    May 10, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Oh man, I would LOVE to visit Iceland this year and experience all those seasons in one day. I was thinking summer, but now I’m leaning toward spring. I’m fine with cold weather, and I want to see Northern Lights so I think spring is better?

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 10, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Hi Leanne! If you want to see the northern lights then you’d definitely need to go in spring or earlier – I wasn’t able to see them (lots of rain!) but I know others who have been able to see them throughout April. One of the perks of going in summer would be that it won’t really get dark, which is a cool experience! Looks like you should just go more than once ;-). I’ll post the itinerary I did next week, but let me know if you have any other questions.

      Xx Eleonore

  • Reply
    Rebecca Brianne
    May 10, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Love this, Eleonore! And I love the red hat! It looks so cute against the blue tones of Iceland. I hope to go very soon and not just fly over it! Definitely worth the visit. Great job!

    Best,
    Rebecca

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 11, 2017 at 6:56 am

      Thank you, Rebecca! I wore that trusty red hat all day everyday haha. I hope you can make the trip to Iceland soon – it is well worth it.

      Xx, Eleonore

  • Reply
    Rachel
    May 10, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Great list!! I want to go back so badly – we went in October and it was quite cold, but so, so, so beautiful.

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 11, 2017 at 6:57 am

      I can imagine it is even colder in October than April! I think it would be interesting to go in the winter, but not sure I could handle the cold and constant darkness.

      Xx, Eleonore

  • Reply
    Carly Heyward
    May 11, 2017 at 12:48 am

    I was there, but it was in Dec! So cooooooooold. Do you have an updated one for winter? I’m jealous of your pictures though! It was a blizzard when I was there!

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 11, 2017 at 6:59 am

      WHAT?! You get major points for braving Iceland in December!! I can’t even imagine how cold, and windy too? I don’t have one specifically for winter but I think you could just adapt this one a bit – a major down jacket (like the Canada goose jackets) as outerwear and snow boots! I feel like a quality jacket and boots are key in Iceland to staying warm.

      Xx, Eleonore

  • Reply
    Sara
    May 11, 2017 at 3:44 am

    Iceland is high up there on my travel bucket list. It seems like such a beautiful country that is so unique. Really loved how you put together this packing list – so informative! How long were you in Iceland for?

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 11, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Hi Sara! I was in Iceland for a week, and all of these items fit in my carry-on. I also wore some of the thicker layers on the plane to save space. I hope you can visit Iceland soon, it is well worth it!

      Xx, Eleonore

  • Reply
    Justine Alonzo | The Iridescent Wings
    May 11, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Iceland’s been on my list. I guess I know what I need to bring when I do plan that trip 🙂

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 11, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Hi Justine! It’s worth the trip, and one of the few places I was glad that I had packed appropriately for….especially when it’s still cold and windy out!

      Xx, Eleonore

  • Reply
    Megan at Lush to Blush
    May 11, 2017 at 11:55 am

    These are great tips!! I definitely want to visit Iceland, but I’m SUCH a wimp when it comes to the cold! The layers certainly help, I’m sure.

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 11, 2017 at 11:59 am

      Don’t let the cold turn you away – it’s so worth it! I get so cold easily so I was really glad to have LOTS of layers 🙂

      Xx, Eleonore

  • Reply
    Felicia
    May 13, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    This is a very helpful post! I was there a couple weeks before you this year! I had no idea what to bring though and would have loved to find a packing list blog! Great job 🙂

    • Reply
      Eleonore Everywhere
      May 13, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Felicia, I hope you enjoyed your time in Uzbekistan! I lived there for a year so I have a lot of lessons learned (the hard way!) that I need to put into posts, including a post on packing!

      Xx, Eleonore

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