The first thing I do when booking a trip is add the city to the weather app on my phone, and check it constantly. It doesn’t matter if the departure date is months away, I still love to know what the weather is like there so that I can help picture myself in the environment. When it came to Iceland, I spoke to a couple of friends who had already visited, and to another friend who had moved out there to ask for tips on packing, so I wanted to share their advice, along with some I picked up from my trip.
Firstly, expect rain. Yes, the frozen wastelands and lava fields of Game of Thrones may exist in Iceland but more than likely, particularly during the Autumn and Winter, you’ll encounter rain more than once during your trip. This wouldn’t normally be an issue, but about 90% of what you’ll be experiencing (the other 10% being hot lobster soup and cold Icelandic beer) is outdoors, and therefore getting absolutely drenched is not ideal. So, with this in mind, I recommend leaving the jeans at home and layering up with thermals and leggings. They’re much more forgiving when wet than denim and dry out quickly overnight when slung attractively across the hotel radiator. I have particularly long legs, so I am obsessed with the Victoria’s Secret leggings in their long length, and I layered them over some M&S thermal leggings and for any exceptionally cold days (I’m talking -5 or below) I had a pair of trusty Primark fuzzy lined leggings to slip on as well.
With rain in mind, make sure your jacket is waterproof, a lot of snow jackets can’t handle any serious moisture so keep than in mind when packing. Your other option is an insulating down jacket with a normal raincoat over the top – potentially a great space saving option though the down jackets can be pretty pricey. I grabbed my coat in the Black Friday Mountain Warehouse sale, and it’s been worth its weight in gold during Iceland and Alberta trips!
Socks. You can NEVER have enough socks. I love my waterproof walking boots, but even they, fully scotch guarded, can be known to let a melted snowflake through the gaps, and leaving you with damp, sweaty socks. Attractive I know. Therefore a solid supply of dry socks is a must. I pair every day normal socks with proper wool walking socks for maximum comfort.
So with your socks, leggings and jacket packed, what else do you need for that Icelandic adventures of your dreams?
Reykjavik itself has some incredible bars and restaurants – so if you fancy a night out you won’t be short of options. My general advice would be stick with some form of boots for your footwear though! If you’re looking for a fun Scandi night out then try Kaffibarinn (easy to spot with a London Underground inspired logo) or my personal top choice, Prikið where you can transition from coffee and snacks in the daytime to great music and reasonably priced drinks in the evening.
With rain in mind, make sure your camera equipment (you’re going to want to snap loads of photos) is prepared. Whether you’re battling the weather with a hardcore waterproof housing for your DSLR (also fantastic for Blue Lagoon photos) or if you’re aiming to keep your camera as dry as possible and loading up on silica gel to dry it out whenever possible. All options work, I went for keeping my camera packed in with lots of silica gel packs, and protected it with a waterproof backpack wherever possible. When it came to the Blue Lagoon I would have loved to take a GoPro but financially that’s not an option so I opted for a much cheaper Vivitar. Yes the photos aren’t of great quality but it was fun to be able to take the camera in the water with us.
So – your packing list for a winter trip to Iceland should include:
- Waterproof, warm jacket
- Thermal tights/leggings
- Plenty of socks, some for layering
- A hat
- Walking boots
- Smart boots
- Bright beach towel
- Waterproof rucksack, or waterproof bag
- Silica gel pouches to keep your camera equipment free of moisture
Along with all the ususal bits and bobs you might take on holiday with you!