Iceland Summer Packing List – FREE checklist!

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What should you pack for your summer trip to Iceland? Do you need a packing checklist for our trip to Iceland this summer? Are you wondering what to wear and what to pack for your summer trip to Iceland? You are at the right place – read on to know everything you need to bring to Iceland and download the FREE summer packing list checklist!

Summer – a word that initiates thoughts of freshly cut grass, flowy summer dresses, the fragrance of blooming flowers, taking a dip in pools with ice-cold water, and fruity cocktails. Iceland, of all places, is quite different in the summer season that one would normally expect of the basic summer season. The weather changes continuously – you could be seeing bright sunny sky one moment and clouds may emerge the very next one. Icelandic summers are way different than the usual summer season known to most people in the world. The wind is still chilly and you will even be able to see some snowfall in the southern region and the capital city. Summer feels like normal summer to the citizens themselves but if you are visiting from a warmer country, you will feel like you are visiting snow-clad heaven.

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two people standing in front of Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon wearing yellow and red jackets

Know the Weather

There is a very popular saying in Iceland, “if you don’t like the weather, wait for 5 minutes”. This is the extent of change that you will witness in the weather in Iceland. You need to be prepared to tackle these drastic changes at all times because if you are not, a lot of your tours and trips could be spoiled very easily. Here is a brief about the weather of Icelandic summers: 

Temperature

The average maximum temperature in Iceland remains between 15° C to 25° C and the average minimum temperature remains between 3°C to 6°C of in summer season. There is a huge difference between these ranges and it can change in a split-second. If you are heading there for a few weeks then you will be able to experience both extremes in one go. The daytime will feel hotter than the night time and you may even see the locals wandering around in half-sleeved t-shirts and shorts even though you, yourself are freezing. July and August are the warmest months in the country.

Precipitation

Summer months get an average of 54.05 mm precipitation in Southern Iceland, most of which is concentrated in Reykjavík (according to Icelandic Met Office). It can come in any form ranging from drizzle to heavy rainfall, hailstorms, blizzard, and even snow. Most of the snowfall is limited to the extreme southern regions as well. August sees the most amount of rainfall in comparison to all other summer months with an average of 67.3 mm. Since it can start raining any time in Iceland, you need to keep your raincoats and waterproof jackets handy at all times.

Northern regions like the capital in the north, Akureyri get average precipitation of about 29.125 mm. Most of it is limited to August with an average of 41.5 mm (source: Icelandic Met Office).

Daylight Hours

The number of daylight that Iceland gets in the summer season will affect your packing list as well. Since most of the day is bright and there are only about 4 dark hours on the whole day. It is rather difficult to sleep when the sun is up for about 21 hours every day during your visit so, you need to pack some sleep-inducing solutions with you.

A Complete Packing List for Your Icelandic Summer

Let’s have a look at all the things you will be needing for a happy summer vacation in Iceland:

Your Wardrobe for Icelandic Summer

Water and Windproof Jacket

As you know, it can rain anytime in Iceland. So, you need a waterproof jacket whenever you step out for trekking, hiking walks on the beach, and any such activity. Iceland is very windy even in summer so a shell jacket which can block these crisp winds will come in handy. It keeps you warm and dry during the worst of the weather conditions and lets you enjoy the landscapes in the best of the ways. Check for pockets and space to keep your phone and such items handy.

Insulated Jackets

Although the summer season is not as bad as winters in Iceland you may need an insulated jacket depending on your tolerance for cold. If you think that you are not that affected by cold then you may not even need an insulated jacket. So, judge this one based on your caliber. All in all, an insulated jacket is a choice,  you can choose to or not carry it.

Warm Hat and Headgear

While insulated jackets can be thrown into the lot labeled as “maybe”, warm headgear is a huge “must” for Iceland. Crisp winds are blowing all over the place and you will freeze under the hood of your jacket you have not properly covered your head and ears with a warm cap. As long as we are discussing that, go ahead and pack ear protection like ear muffs and some mufflers as well. They will come in handy when you go hiking on glaciers, snowmobiling, or horse riding.

Hats are also a good option and may help you in staying safe from the UV rays of the midnight sun. Summer will get sunlight for about 20 hours. You can also think about being fashionable with your hat since you will bring a warm cap to keep the cold away.

Warm Gloves

Snowmobiling and hiking are two of the main activities that you will be taking part in Iceland. That’s why gloves are very important for you to carry with you. Although snowmobiling agencies will provide you with the gear other activities like hiking, super jeep driving tours, horse riding, and visiting landscapes like waterfalls, highlands, etc. will require you to bring your gear.

A Pair of Touch-Friendly Gloves

There is the gut-wrenching cold on one hand and the need to use your phone and other touch-operated gadgets on the other. This is why packing touch-friendly gloves is a good idea – you will keep warm and will let you use your gadgets as well.

Lightweight Travel Hoodie

A lightweight hoodie is perfect to take a stroll in the capital city of Iceland. Reykjavik is very tourist-friendly and you will get to see a lot as you take an evening walk in the city. An informal look that also keeps you warm throughout the trip is perfect for your backpack. The hoodie will be lightweight as well as save you from windy and wet days.

Warm Sweaters

Not packing enough warm clothes could be one of the biggest mistakes that you would make while packing for your trip. You can choose different kinds of fabric when you start to pile up the warm layers. Anything from wool to fleece will work for a summer vacation in Iceland. Make sure that the material is of good quality. Don’t forget to include some casual wear sweaters as well.

Some Light Fabric T-shirts

Perfect to sleep-in, some light fabric t-shirts will come in handy to wear under the woolen and fleece layers and protect you from the allergic reaction as well. Reykjavik is very fashionable so you need to keep that in mind while packing your casual clothes. You will get to attend a lot of concerts and parties in the capital city so be prepared for that as well.

Stretchable Travel Pants

The need for every hour, the stretchy pants will be a godsend for your travels and trips as well as your sleeping hours. One of the great things about stretchable pants like leggings is that they can be quite fashionable and be styled with your casual clothes as well to attend parties, restaurants, and other places. You need to look more like a normal tourist and less like a hiking maniac when you attend events in the city so that you can mingle with the locals as well.  

Hiking Shoes

The importance of hiking shoes is not even required to mention. You need them to keep your feet protected not only when you are hiking but also while glacier hiking, horse riding, ice caving, visiting lava fields, and more. The terrains in Iceland can be very challenging and if you choose to take on a hike or a ride which is labeled “for experienced folks” then the level of challenges will increase significantly. So, do not forget to pack good quality hiking shoes. Look for ankle rise and above ankle as options since they prove to be quite sturdy. Also, make sure that your hiking shoes are waterproof.

Swimsuit

You go to Iceland and do not visit even a single hot spring or geothermal swimming pool? Not possible! So, a swimsuit is a must-have in your travel backpack or trolley. Iceland has its itinerary of swimming pools filled with warm natural water from the geothermal hotspots which are littered all across the country. So, a swimming costume will go a long way. Also, make it a point to keep it in your day tour bag, there are so many hot springs in the country that you never know when you will stumble across one and would want to take a bath.

Quick Dry Towels

Quick-dry towels will help you pack and move quickly when you are on hikes or other multi-day tours in Iceland. You will not have the leverage to wait for your clothes and towels to dry so that you can finally pack and move. Destinations are infinite and you will be on a time crunch so pack only quick dry towels with you.

Space for Your Luggage – Ideal Division is The Key

Travel Backpack

You can choose to use a trolly suitcase as your primary packing case and roll into Iceland smoothly but you will still need a backpack for all the adventures that are planned for you. Your scrolling suitcase will become a nuisance in that scenario. Imagine hiking on a glacier or walking into an ice cave with a suitcase trailing behind you, pretty weird right? This is why you will need a backpack with you which can be taken along on a long multi-day or even single day trips and can store all your essential items. A backpack with a capacity of about 45-50 liters will be more than enough to store everything that you may need for your adventures like hiking, whale watching, ice caving, and road trips. Choose a variant which has several small and large compartments so that you can pack everything separately. Usually, these backpacks have a flat pocket for flat things like laptops, some smaller pockets for easy to lose but extremely important items like passport and such documents, and such, outer pockets on the side to keep things you will need frequently handy like water bottles. Make sure that the backpack that you choose has strong and comfortable straps, padded hip belt, and chest strap for a comfortable walk. Extra buckles to strap on things like yoga mats and such will also come in handy.

If possible, pack a small day bag with your luggage to take on trips that last a few hours or a single day. You can use this bag to store some snacks and some essentials when you step out to take a tour of the city or visit the nearby small villages or when you go boating to watch whales. These tours are short so taking a 45-liter capacity bag is illogical for these trips.

Packing Cubes

If you are a frequent traveler, you must be familiar with these little delights called packing tubes. They are very useful in categorizing your luggage and making it easy to pack everything separately for easy access. Packing cubes also compress the size of things like clothing and such resulting in a lot of saved space to pack everything properly and also help you in dropping some extra few things. Packing cubes with also save you from clutter and have you grab the exact thing that you need without having to juggle a million things every time.

Separate Toiletry Bag

Since you will be bringing travel size variants of your shampoo and soaps, it is easy to lose them between the larger items like your clothes. So, either make a separate compartment for them or take a separate bag for them. A separate toiletry bag will also prove useful when you pack your day pack for hiking and other activities since toiletries are always required no matter where you go. You will save a lot of time by simply picking up the bag and throwing it in with other things you choose to carry along.

Laundry Bag

This is also an optional thing for you to pack. If you can separate your dirty and clean clothes some other way, you will not need this. Although make sure that you do separate them as you would not want to catch any skin disease during your vacation time in a foreign country. If you choose to carry a laundry bag, you can get a small size foldable bag – they are space-saving and will do the task effortlessly.

Do Not Forget These Essentials

Reusable Water Bottle will prove useful when you are surfing some remote areas where there are no snack shops nearby or when you go for a hike. When on a hike you can get clean water from the streams and rivers that you will pass. Always keep a water bottle with you.

Also, the tab water in Iceland is the best water in the world. 

Prescription and Basic Medicine: Always bring your medicine with you. Some basic fever, stomach ache, painkillers, and other medicines should always be in your first aid box along with the prescribed ones.

Toiletries

Sleeping Mask – you will not be able to sleep under the midnight sun if you do not have a good sleeping mask so pack one beforehand.

Power Adapter Iceland has a standard Europlug socket. You can get a type “C” or type “F” if your country functions on any other kind of socket other than these two. Check the capacity of the adapter in terms of how many watts it can handle and what kind of appliances/gadgets you will be carrying.

What Not to Do

Giving the Word “Summer” Too Much Leverage

The worst mistake you would make while packing is underestimating the power and shrewdness of the summer wind in Iceland. Theoretically, the summer winds are supposed to be either soothing or even hot in some regions (known as “loo”). Iceland is the exact opposite of these scenarios and will show you the crispest and coldest winds that you may have never experienced before if you belong to a country that is located the equator.

Not Packing Enough Layers and Enough Kinds of Fabrics

Layering up will help you a lot in Iceland. While your insulated jacket can save you from extreme cold weather, there will be times when you would want to take it off as the weather keeps changing frequently. If you have not layered up properly then you will not be perfectly comfortable in every scenario – sometimes you may end up feeling cold and sometimes the heavy jackets may come in between your sightseeing expeditions as the sun shines bright on you. every kind of layer is important to pack – so do not take it lightly.

While you will experience long-stretched fields of greenery and migrating marine life and birdlife, there is a fair chance that you will see rainfall, and even some blizzards, although the chances are a bit low. Summer will not be like the normal notion that most of us are familiar with but it will still be every bit amazing and you can enjoy each moment if you have packed everything you will need.

Download the FREE packing list here!

woman in yellow raincoat standing in front of Litlanesfoss basalt column waterfall in East Iceland
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