Knowing what to pack for Iceland in summer can be challenging. Check out this in-depth breakdown of everything you need for your Iceland packing list.
Planning your summer in Iceland packing list can be a challenge. That could be why so many readers, after reading our two-week Iceland itinerary, have asked us to put together a comprehensive Iceland packing list for their summer travels. Icelandic climate can be all over the map.
During our trip, we dealt with everything from warm sunny days to snowstorms and rain. Whether you’re going to be spending your time in cities like Reykjavik and Akureyri or off-the-beaten-path locations like the Westfjords you’ll need to be prepared. Even activities like chasing the countless waterfalls sprinkled across the Icelandic landscape require the right clothes to remain warm and dry.
Our travels in Iceland took us from the far south on tours of the Golden Circle to the far north, where we watched Blue Whales bathing in the Arctic waters. We explored the often unvisited Westfjords and even hiked to mountain hot springs in the Icelandic highlands. Because our travels covered the whole country, we had to plan our Iceland packing with every possible weather in mind.
What You Need To Know Before Packing For Iceland In Summer
First things first about packing for Icelandic summers, pack light. When you’re dealing with travel in destinations where the weather can be unpredictable, in our case, summer travel in Iceland with kids, luggage weight can get out of control! But knowing what not to pack is as important as knowing what to pack for Iceland.
If you are visiting Iceland from June to August, you can leave the parka and the snow pants behind. You likely won’t need a toque or major winter clothes at all, even if you are hiking the largest glaciers. Generally, the temperature during the summer in Iceland is downright pleasant. You likely won’t be wearing shorts, but you’ll probably strip down to a t-shirt from time-to-time.
What Is The Weather Like In Iceland During Summer?
Believe it or not, summer temperatures in Iceland, even WAY up north, are pretty pleasant. Even sub-Arctic cities like Akureyri average temperatures around -10-13°C (50-55°F). while that may not seem warm, the strong sunshine and long days make the temperature feel much warmer.
Warm summer days can see highs of 25-27°C (68-77°F) which is downright comfortable. However, just like anywhere, there can be days where those temperatures dip deep down below freezing, but it’s not very common. By preparing for the worst weather, you can ensure that you’ll be prepared no matter what the weather in Iceland.
How To Dress For Outdoor Activities In Iceland
If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying all of the incredible places to visit in Iceland, you’ll need to prepare more than if you’re just planning to explore the urban areas. However, if you’re going to be on organized tours in Iceland, check with your tour operators.
Many Iceland tour operators providers supply warm, waterproof outdoor gear for experiences such as whale watching and glacier treks. Sometimes it’s an additional cost, and sometimes this outdoor gear is included in the tour. Check with your tour operators beforehand so you know if you can save some money and luggage weight when making a winter trip to Iceland.
It’s good to remember that prices in Iceland can be high, especially compared to North American prices. As best as possible, bring your gear with you and avoid paying the high local prices for things you may have forgotten.
What To Wear In Iceland In Summer: Dress In Layers
The key to staying comfortable in Iceland is dressing in layers. For Iceland, you won’t need base layers (such as thermal underwear) in summer, but you’ll want to wear a comfortable and quick dry long sleeve shirt and have a breathable wool sweater handy. The advantage of dressing in layers is that you can easily remove heavy top layers if you get too warm and put them back on if you get too cold. Dressing in layers is important in variable climates like Iceland because you don’t want to get so hot that you sweat.
What To Pack For Iceland In Summer
Even if you are taking part in winter activities, it’s not necessary to buy a whole new wardrobe before you visit Iceland. However, a few items are necessary to pack for Iceland in winter. This post will cover the essentials of what you need and cover a few items you might want to pack for winter activities in Iceland. To help you plan your packing, I’ve laid out the layers from bottom to top to help you plan.
Winter Clothing For Winter In Iceland
Wool or Synthetic Blend Socks
I have an unnatural love for socks. Whenever I go to gear shows, it’s the sock vendors that I seek out first. And there’s a reason for that. A high-quality pair of wool or synthetic blend socks will keep your feet dry, and comfortable no matter the temperature. Whether I’m traveling in warm or cold weather, I always travel with wool socks. Kevin and I love Wigwam socks for being really comfortable without being bulky. Finding quality, breathable wool socks for kids can be challenging. We’ve had good luck with these ones, and they aren’t too pricey.
It’s easy to dress for success in Iceland. You can pretty much wear whatever pants you would like in the city and you’ll be comfortable. For touring around town I’m personally a big fan of the Prana Halle pants. They look great around town. But they’re also waterproof and durable for days on the trail. For a day exploring the outdoors, my Iceland packing list also includes their water-repellent convertible Halle pants. If you hit one of the Iceland summer warm streaks, you’ll appreciate having the ability to make them shorts. For the kids, I’ve found Columbia convertible pants to be fantastic year-round options for outdoor activities.
Summer in Iceland may not be freezing, but you’ll still want to be cozy. When packing for Iceland, you can get by with most shirts. I like to pack a comfy flannel button-up that fits nicely under a sweater when I’m in the city. It’s warm, easy to unbutton if I get too toasty, and looks great. When I choose what to pack for Iceland activities in summer, I sometimes skip the shirt and go straight for a wool sweater.
I also recommend that you bring a few long-sleeve t-shirts. Personally, I prefer quick-dry style shirts that pack up small and light. They also tend to be easy to clean on the go if you are spending a few weeks in Iceland. These are shirts that I would wear on most of our Iceland hikes. These shirts wear well and can be used over and over again.
Besides your shirts, a great wool sweater is one of the most important things to pack for winter in Iceland. When it gets warmer, you can often leave the jacket behind and wear a comfy warm sweater overtop of your thermal base layer. Plus, great wool sweaters look amazing! Like the synthetics in the base layer, Wool helps keep moisture away from your skin. If you’re looking for something more practical for activities like snowmobiling, dog-sledding and more, try this sweater. It looks great and is super durable.
Light Packable Jacket
Bringing a jacket to Iceland is a must. The temperature can drop unexpectedly. Or, if you’re hiking some of the glaciers, the cold from the surrounding ice can permeate. Bringing a light, packable down jacket is a great way to save weight and bulk and still stay warm. I personally love this one. It’s tried and tested and has lasted a number of trips without showing any wear and tear. I’ve found these ones to be both excellent quality and price for kids.
A rain jacket is another necessity when traveling in Iceland. You may be able to get by with a waterproof packable. However, if you are packing for Iceland and a warm spell occurs, you may end up being too warm. Bringing a light rain jacket will help you stay dry and comfortable if you get caught in the rain, or under the spray of one of Iceland’s waterfalls. This is the rain jacket that our kids use.
A good pair of hiking boots is crucial to exploring Iceland. The land is often rough and uneven. Climbing to get great views is often a necessity, especially to access some of the remote waterfalls in Iceland. Choose a pair of boots with rubber soles that will help you keep your grip in slippery conditions. Durable, waterproof materials will keep your feet from getting wet. I really like this brand of boots for quality and price. A low cut is great for the maintained trails. But if you’re going off the main trails, you might want to consider a higher cut to support your ankles.
One piece of Iceland travel gear that I regret not packing myself was a pair of light gloves. When we were hiking on the glaciers a pair of light gloves would have kept my fingers warm after inevitably touching the snow. You won’t need anything too heavy, just something light and comfy like these.
Other Gear To Pack For Iceland In Summer
Anti-Slip Traction Gear For Shoes
Things can get slippery in Iceland, even in the summer. If you’re climbing the mountains or glaciers it’s important to have traction to avoid slipping and falling. Anti-slip traction gear for shoes are compact and easy to pack, and it may just save you from a broken wrist.
The long sunny days of summer in Iceland can reflect harshly off of unmelted snow. White is bright. This is especially true on sunny days. Make sure you bring a good pair of sunglasses to avoid harming your eyes.
Public pools are a way of life in Iceland. Nearly every town has a publicly accessible pool heated by the country’s abundant geothermal energy sources. Whether you’re lounging in style at the Myvatn Nature Baths or the Blue Lagoon or chilling at one of the local hotspots, don’t forget to pack a swimsuit for Iceland.
Electronics And Travel Gear To Pack For Iceland
Extra batteries and power bank
The scenery of Iceland is gorgeous. If you’re anything like me, that means your camera will be working overtime. Make sure you are carrying extra batteries for any of your key electronics like cameras. If you’re using a smartphone, I recommend getting a battery case for it that will keep your phone charged on the go.
A portable power bank is something that I always have with me no matter where I travel. This is a unit that I can plug any of my electronics into (via USB) to charge. It is usually good to recharge my phone or camera battery a couple of times before it needs recharging. I also find portable battery banks great for camping, hiking, or long bus and plane rides where you may not have access to plugs.
No matter how you plan to experience Iceland, make sure to stay warm and dry, and you’ll have an incredible time. And remember the most important part of travel. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices.”
I hope we’ve helped sort out what to pack in Iceland in summer. If this Iceland packing list has helped you out, or if we’ve missed something, leave a comment below. Or if you’ve been to Iceland, swing by our Facebook page and share a photo. We would love to share in your journey.
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Sunday 26th of July 2020
I love all your blogs. We are going for 9 days this August and I can't wait. Your info is so helpful. Thank you so much.
Sunday 26th of July 2020
I'm happy to hear that we've been of help! I hope that you have an absolute blast on your trip.
Thursday 19th of March 2020
Thank you for a useful list, Kevin. I wish you had also included links for male clothes on Amazon, but anyway, it is great! I think you have covered everything!
Friday 20th of March 2020
Hi Mo! Great point. This article was actually created by Christina (probably why the focus was on women's clothes). I'll go through all of our gear posts and update them with my top choices as well. Thanks for pointing that out. Check for an update next week.