What to pack for Iceland
Iceland has to be one of the most naturally beautiful places on the planet. We visited Iceland in winter of 2017, arriving February 1st and staying for 7 nights. We are already planning our next two trips to Iceland to drive around the north coast and the interior. One week was only enough for the southern coast for us. Prior to our trip we spent a lot of time deciding what to pack for Iceland in the winter. We have already posted about clothing here: What to Wear In Iceland During Winter. This post will talk about non-clothing related items, including camera & electronics, food, and other random tidbits. If you are visiting in the summer you may need to bring addition items – this post reflects our experience with travelling to Iceland during the winter months. Please feel free to drop us a line below and let us know your experiences in Iceland!
Since we are professional photographers, our approach to camera gear may be a little different than most. You can view pictures for all 7 days of our trip starting here: Northern Lights & Thingvellir National Park – Euro-Trip Days 11 & 12. All of our pictures taken on the trip were taken with some combination of the following gear: Camera: Canon 5D Mark III Lenses: Canon 16-35mm 2.8. Canon 35mm 1.4. Canon 70-200mm 2.8 Tripod: Benro C2692T Carbon Fiber Tripod. Joby GorillaPod Focus Filters: CPL Filters for all 3 lenses If you want to maximize your photo-opportunities in Iceland, we would highly recommend pro gear and a tripod & wide angle lens. If you are attempting to take pictures of Northern Lights, YOU WILL NEED A TRIPOD. It is impossible to get high quality Northern Lights pictures if you are not using a tripod. Typically speaking you will need exposure lengths between 1 and 30 seconds to capture the Northern Lights. If you are not sure what to pack for Iceland in terms of camera gear, shoot us a message and we can give some tips! Additionally, if you want to take pictures of waterfalls or any water feature and have “smooth” looking water, you will need a tripod. Carbon fibre tripods are light and easy to carry – we would suggest investing in a good one.
Anytime we travel, we always take some medicine with us. Make sure you bring your prescription meds, along with cold & flu medicine, travel sickness medicine, Pepto & Imodium, Tyenol/Advil, and allergy medicine. You never know what you will encounter, and if you traveling around the country it could be hours between towns with stores.
We packed this USB charger with flaslight for our trip. It works to charge phones, tablets and other USB devices and also has a decent little flashlight. This was super handy for taking pictures at night as it was compact and provided enough light for us.
We were mostly exploring from our car, but we still took a small camera bag that would fit our camera, lenses, snacks and a few other things. If you plan on hiking, take a bigger pack with you. Some of the sights require you to park a little ways away from the view so make sure you bring things like water bottles, gloves, toques, scarves, phone etc.
It may seem like a weird thing for us to recommend, but Iceland is windy. The wind will dry your skin very quickly. Lotion & lip balm will make you a little more comfortable. Also, make sure you bring sunscreen. Always wear sunscreen.
This one might seem a bit weird for some people as well, but hear us out. As you’ve probably heard already, everything in Iceland is expensive. Additionally in the winter months, not as many roadside cafes are open. If you bring your own camp stove you can set up anywhere you want, boil some water and make coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Camp stove fuel is easy enough to find in Iceland – just check the gas stations. When we were deciding what to pack for Iceland we decided on getting some Alpineaire pre-made meals. All we needed to do was add hot water to these meals and they were ready to eat. They were delicious, nutritious and a cheap way to feed ourselves while travelling. We use: MSR Windpro II Stove GSI Crossover Kitchen Kit MSR Quick 2 System Cookset
You know those blankets airlines sometimes give you on long flights? Keep one of those and bring it with you. You never know when you’ll want a picnic or want to snuggle outside and just enjoy the views.
Iceland uses the Europlug/Schuko-Plug (CEE types) for their power. They also use 220v electricity. Bring the appropriate plug adapters and check your devices for compatibility with 220v electricity. All of our gadgets were fine with 220v, we just needed a plug adapter to fit the holes. Some devices may not be suitable for 220v, so make sure you pick up an inverter to avoid blowing fuses. We would also suggest portable power. We took this large power bank with with us. It could charge our iPad, phones and our laptop.
Bags – for wet swimwear & garbage while driving Dryer sheets. We learned about this trick when we hiked the West Coast Trail. Keep these in your bags & shoes to keep them smelling fresh! Snacks are easy to bring from home. As mentioned earlier, Iceland is expensive. Bring your own snacks if you plan on driving a lot. East & north of Hofn there is very little development. You may want to explore but you don’t want to be out and about on an empty stomach. We brought Cliff Bars as our main snack. We also stopped in Keflavik at a grocery store and picked up fruits & veggies, bread, meat and cheese.
We hope this helps you when you are deciding what to pack for Iceland. Being prepared will help make your trip much more enjoyable!
To learn more about Iceland, view our other posts here: