Packing List For Iceland (Winter Photography)

Icelandic weather can be quite treacherous, especially during winter. Here are a few essentials I'll be packing for my March 2017 trip (not everything is pictured).

Icelandic weather can be quite treacherous, especially during winter. Here are a few essentials I'll be packing for my March 2017 trip (not everything is pictured).

Rough Itinerary: 

I'm very excited to be returning to Iceland for the third time! I'll be visiting some new locations, as well as some that I've been to before (weather permitting, of course). The general plan ( permitting) is to do a little car-camping as I travel east along the Icelandic south coast on Route 1 from Reykjavik to Hofn and back, stopping frequently along the way to make images. On my journey I hope to finally visit and photograph Jokulsarlon Beach and glacial lagoon. I also hope to see the northern lights. On my last visit to Iceland in October, the skies never cleared enough for the aurora to be visible. During my upcoming trip I should have three good opportunities to see and photograph the northern lights at some epic locations - as long as there is a break in the clouds (fingers crossed). It's looking like I may be able to do some horse-back riding and spend some time on the Snaefellsness Peninsula again as well. Needless to say, I'm beyond excited!

Packing List for Iceland (Winter Photography)

Because I've been to the land of fire and ice twice already during cold months, I have a good idea of what I need to pack as well as what I don't. Layering is important. Lucky for me, I live in a climate very similar to Iceland's, so I didn't have to run to the local outfitter and drop a bunch of dough on new gear that'll only be used on this trip. Much of the clothing I'll need, I already have. (That isn't to say I didn't hit up the post-winter sales at my local outdoor gear stores, however....full disclosure.)

The key to surviving wet, windy, and cold winter weather is to layer clothing. Being able to remove clothing when necessary is just as important as bundling. Getting sweaty leads to getting cold and can cause hypothermia. It is better to be a little chilly and dry than cold and damp. Iceland is constantly windy and it precipitates almost daily year-round. The clothing I'm packing must be made of durable water resistant (if not waterproof) and breathable moisture wicking material (not cotton). I'll require a base layer (long thermal undies and thermal top layer), mid-layer (fleece, wool, thermal pullover or soft-shell jacket), and an outer layer (waterproof, windproof, breathable, and made of durable fabric). I'll also need a hat, gloves, wool socks (they insulate even when wet), and sturdy waterproof hiking boots.

I typically travel as light as possible and have to make sacrifices to save weight as well as money on budget airlines. Fortunately, I have one piece of checked luggage included in my ticket price in addition to a normal sized carry on. I'm taking full advantage of that so I can have every piece of photo equipment that I could possibley need. For the detailed post about all of my camera gear, click here. Without rambling further, here is my packing list for a week in Iceland:

Camera Gear:

(All my camera gear will be taken onto the plane, except the Gitzo tripod and multi-tool, which will go into my checked luggage. Lenses will be wrapped in Domke Gear Wraps for extra padding.)


  • Base-layers: Thermal Underwear (2), Thermal Base-layer Long-Sleeve Tees (2)

  • Mid-layers: Arc'teryx Fleece Pullover, Sherpa Adventure Gear Pullover

  • Extra layer: Columbia Water-Resistant Fleece Soft Shell

  • Outer layer: Columbia Water Proof Rain Jacket

  • Pants: Kuhl Hiking Pants (2), Mountain Hardwear Fleece-Lined Waterproof Pants (1), Thin Rain Pants (1), Jeans or Comfortable Travel Pants for the Plane (1)

  • Wool Socks (5 pairs), Regular Socks (2)

  • Wool Hat

  • Insulated Gloves for Low Temps

  • Regular T-Shirts (3), Button Shirts (2)

  • Merrell Waterproof Hiking Boots With Vibram Soles, Rubber Steel-Toe Rain-Boots (for photographing on beaches and near waterfalls)

  • Yak Trax (for added traction while walking in the snow)

Miscellaneous Gear / Accessories:

  • Map of Iceland (with locations marked)

  • Marmot 30 Degree Sleeping Bag

  • Petzl Tikka Head lamp (for hiking and northern lights photography)

  • Extra Glasses & Case

  • Cell Phone and Charger

  • U.S. to European Power Adaptor & Car Charger (for charging batteries while car camping)

  • MSR Camp Towel

  • Toiletries (minimal - no razors or hipster hair and beard products...just toothbrush, paste, and deodorant)

  • Passport, wallet, and copies of ID's

  • Food and water for the Road-Trip

For the Flight:

Like I said, I typically try to travel as light as possible, but my minimalist approach has been thrown out the window for this particular adventure. Normally, I take only one backpack, which contains only essential camera gear, a small travel tripod, and only the clothing I can't do without. Iceland in Winter requires more of everything: more layers, more shoes, more than one camera body, and a larger tripod. My next trip (after Iceland Part III) will allow me to return to my minimalist style of travel packing, but I'll announce the when and where for that trip later. Thanks for reading and happy travels! 

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Packing List for ICELAND (Winter Photography)

( Check out my article on How To Afford To Travel! )