I like to think of myself as a pro when it comes to packing. I’ve been to Costa Rica in the middle of summer, through Australia with the seasons flip-flopped, and somehow returned from a year in Europe with almost nothing having to be left behind. And yet, packing for Iceland was a little bit of a challenge.
I’ll be in the land of fire and ice for a week, so I decided to just bring one carry-on sized rolling suitcase as well as my waterproof camera backpack. Normally for a week long excursion, this is more than enough packing space.
However, I want to make sure I’m really prepared for all the different weather scenarios I could be facing in Iceland, as well as planning for walking throughout downtown Reykjavik and going out a few nights in the city too.
Icelandic weather in May can be a bit versatile (just last week it was 32 °F [0 °C] and snowing!), but the temperature should reside at about 50 °F (10 °C) and partly cloudy with no rain while I’m there.
With that said, Iceland has been known to have all four seasons in one day, dumping rain, wind, and sunshine at any given moment. Growing up in Oregon, this isn’t foreign to me, so I tried to pack as closely to what I’d normally wear while hiking in these situations at home.
Eventually I narrowed it down.
What I packed for a week in Iceland:
- 1 warm puffy black coat (it can get down into the 30’s at night)
- 3 loose T-shirts and one bodysuit I can dress up or throw under my hiking clothes
- 3 long sleeve T-shirts for layering
- 1 chunky cable-knit sweater
- 1 chambray button-up (can dress up or work as another outdoor layer)
- 2 pairs of jeans (my black ones I can dress up to go out)
- 2 pairs of yoga pants + fleece leggings for underneath
- A beanie and a blanket scarf (I plan on using this as a blanket on the plane too!)
- One swim-suit and crocheted romper cover-up for the Blue Lagoon
- PJs (I brought a set, and then I usually sleep in the T-shirt I wore earlier)
- Short, waterproof rubber boots for waterfall excursions
- Colorful tennis shoes for walking downtown
- The usual comfy sports bras, wool socks, and everything else in this category (not pictured, of course)
I plan on throwing a few more items in my bag such as flip flops for the hostel shower and the lagoon, and probably a small pair of flats for going out (Icelanders tend to dress up more even going out to dinner than we do here in the States).
I could definitely narrow this list down a lot more (I could wear the same T-shirt again, or only bring one pair of jeans, for instance), but when I travel I tend to change my clothes a lot. I might wear one thing to go out to breakfast and walk about in the morning, another outfit while hiking all day, and a third for going out later in the city.
Some of you probably have very different habits while traveling, but these are mine! I also tend to spill things on myself a lot, or end up slipping in mud, so I’m a fan of bringing a bit more than the bare minimum. Plus I’d much rather be too warm than too cold! 🙂
My favorite packing hack is to roll up all of my clothes instead of folding them. You can get much more room in your suitcase this way, plus rolling prevents wrinkles and things getting smashed!
I’m going to wear my bulkier items on the plane, as well as a half-zip thermal shirt I plan on throwing over my shirt for hiking days. I prefer to wear as little layers as possible while hiking, although I know this goes against others’ advice to layer, layer, layer. I just prefer to wear clothing that retains or expels heat so I can carry as little layers as possible (and focus on carrying all my camera gear!). I’ll also be wearing a thin North Face waterproof windbreaker, which will especially come in handy as I get close to the waterfalls!
I wanted this post to mainly focus on what clothes I’ll be bringing for my week in Iceland during the spring season, but I haven’t forgotten things like toiletries and all my camera gear.
I use a lot of different equipment, so check out my carry-on packing tips for photographers here!