What to pack for Iceland in the summer

Although Iceland is a destination that can be visited all year round, the majority of tourists visit Iceland in the summer. I have been to Iceland six times in the summer (and four times in the winter) and what I always remember is that it’s actually always relatively cold in Iceland. When I look back at the photos I took during those travels, I never really wear just a t-shirt, but always a warm jacket or sweather and long pants. Don’t be alarmed, but the average temperature in Iceland in summer (July and August) is between 10 and 13°c. This may require some creativity with packing for Iceland because it might not be the regular things that you take with you on a summer vacation. That’s why I have compiled this packing list for Iceland in the summer for you, based on years of travel experience in Iceland. Enjoy reading!
Are you going to Iceland in winter? Then check the Iceland winter packing list here

iceland packing list summer
In the middle of summer: a warm jacket and hat

About Iceland in the summer

Let me start this article with some more information about Iceland in the summer. As mentioned above, the average temperature on a summer day is not very high. Occasionally the Icelanders have peaks of 20 and 25°C, but this is quite exceptional. I can remember just one day when it was warm enough to go out with a t-shirt.
What makes the wind chill in Iceland somewhere between cool and cold is the strong wind that is often blowing. This usually means that the temperature is very low as it feels. A day without wind is quite rare in Iceland, especially on the coast and in the highlands the wind can blow very hard. Fortunately, there are plenty of hot springs in Iceland to warm you up on cooler summer days.

hot air coming from the ground at Eldfell volcano
hot air coming from the ground at Eldfell volcano

Packing list Iceland: a warm jacket

A warm and especially water and windproof jacket is really indispensable to take to Iceland. I have been wearing Fjällräven’s Eco Shell for years (see photos with red jacket in this article) and it keeps me protected from wind and rain. If you do not have a budget for an expensive jacket, then the coats from Decathlon are recommended. However, the difference in quality with a jacket from, for example, Fjällräven or The North Face is considerable. If you plan to buy a good jacket just for this trip, Decathlon will suffice. If you want to last longer with your jacket, invest in a quality brand.

Hiking on the Westman Islands
Hiking on the Westman Islands

Sturdy boots

Sturdy walking shoes are really a must. They do not necessarily have to be ankle high boots, but should at least have a good profile and be waterproof. You are guaranteed to get wet in Iceland at some point during your trip and nothing is more annoying than wet feet during your walk or excursion. In addition, many trails to sights are uneven and you walk on beaches, lava fields and other uneven landscapes. There may also be ice and snow in the interior until well into the summer. Sturdy shoes are therefore a must. In addition, I usually bring a pair of sneakers for when I’m not on the road and a pair of slippers for during your visit to the hot springs.

What to wear underneath your jacket

As mentioned, your footwear and your jacket are the most important, but what you wear underneath also needs some attention. I myself am a fan of wearing multiple layers, so that you can always put on or take off something extra when you get cold and / or warm. For my upper body I have the following with me as standard:
1 Icebreaker Thermal Shirt (has been around for 10 years and I use it on literally every trip I take!)
1 Kari Traa merino base layer shirt
A fleece sweater of your choice
The first two pieces are made of merino wool which keeps warm but also absorbs. Wool dries quickly so if you start to sweat, you will not have a sticky back or something for the rest of the day.
In terms of pants, you can best choose what to wear. I often get the question whether ski pants are sufficient and I think that is certainly an option, but to be honest, my ski pants are quite bulky and that doesn’t make me happy if I have to wear them all day. That’s why I wore my Fjällräven leggings last time. Usually I also have jeans with me for good days. Good rain pants are also really indispensable.

Scarves, hats, mittens

Finally, I definitely recommend that you bring a hat, scarf and gloves or mittens. I don’t have any guidelines for this, as long as it’s warm. If, like us, you are going to do the Ice Caves & Lava tour, for example, it is useful to bring waterproof gloves because you regularly crawl over the ground and it is nice if your hands stay warm and dry. Tip: also bring a few sets of hand warmers for cold moments during the day! I never wear a scarf myself, but actually always a merino buff: one of the best investments ever if you ask me and at least as practical as a scarf because you can also use it as a hat, for example.

What else to pack for Iceland in the summer

Furthermore, I always take the following with me, but that of course depends on your own preference:
– Bikini and lightweight travel towel for the hot baths
– Underwear (just normal because I’ve already adjusted the rest of my clothes)
– Toiletries
– First aid kit
Travel guide to Iceland
– Electronics + chargers
– A book (tip: read Arnaldur Indridason’s thrillers during your Iceland trip!)
– A daypack -> think for example of the waterproof Fjällräven Ulvö Rolltop
Blue Lagoon alternatief Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Icelandic clothing

Would you like to buy something Icelandic? Iceland has some very nice outdoor brands, but you should start saving because it’s not very cheap. The most famous brand is 66 North, I personally think this is a beautiful brand with fine clothing that generally lasts a long time, including a fleece sweater and gloves. The sweater I’m wearing on the cover picture is from 66 North and I’ve been wearing it for more than 10 yers now. A lesser known brand is Cintamani, their clothing is recognizable by the orange logo. Then there are Zo-On Iceland (I have a lovely warm down jacket), Ice Wear and a few smaller brands. You can buy these clothes everywhere in Iceland, but the best prices can be found at the outlets just outside Reykjavík. The 66 North outlet can be found at Faxefen near Reykjavik, the Cintamani outlet can be found in Garðabær just outside Reykjavík.

Conclusion and disclaimer

This was my article on what to pack for Iceland in the summer. Hopefully it will help you prepare for your Iceland trip. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them via the comments section below. This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a modest commission, of course at no extra cost to you!

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