We visited Iceland for two weeks in August (summer season). We spent the first week backpacking the Laugavegur trek and hiking in the Thorsmork area. The second week, we rented a car and drove around the island. The packing list below was what we had for the two weeks in terms of clothing and camping gear. We packed food for the first week as we didn’t have access to any shops. Once we had a car in the second week, we were able to buy fresh food and vegetables. We spent 13 of the 15 days camping so the camping gear listed below was used extensively.
We knew that Iceland weather is notoriously unpredictable, and you really should assume that it will rain every day. For that reason, keeping your gear and clothes dry will be a challenge, especially if you are camping and don’t have access to washers/dryers. Below is our packing list. If you have any questions, please comment below!
Not sure how much a 15 day backpacking trip in Iceland would cost you? Read our budget report and top travel tips.
Here is our Iceland Packing List (For 1 week backpacking)
Clothing and Backpack
- 42l-50l backpack with waterproof rain cover (very important!!)
- Dan used his Gregory backpack Z40 which he used on our RTW trip
- I used Osprey Ace (I am 5 feet and have a small frame so the kids Osprey Ace works perfect for me!)
- You can carry a bigger backpack than what we had but we prefer to pack light. That makes a difference when you are hiking with your backpack for days.
- Water resistant hiking jacket (similar to Alpen Plasmic Ion Jacket but older model)
- 2 mid-layer pullover long-sleeve hiking shirts
- 1 warm fleece to wear under jacket and over mid-layer on colder days
- 4 under shirts (long-sleeve or short sleeve, but water wicking (nylon or other synthetics that are quick drying)
- 5-6 underwears (quick drying if possible, Ex-officio brand is great!)
- 4-5 warm socks (quarter-calf or higher for extra warmth, Smartwool works well)
- 2 hiking pants (lightweight, quick drying with pockets), we did not bring jeans to reduce weight and never honestly needed them.
- 1 lightweight wool skull cap or winter hat that covers ears
- 1 pair of gloves or mittens (these don’t have to be heavyweight, water resistant is better)
- 1 pair hiking boots (waterproof, not just water resistant if possible)
- 1 pair of water shoes (aqua socks or sandals that have straps over foot, croc type shoes would work), you need these mainly if you intend on doing multi-day treks with river crossings or enjoying hot springs or while taking showers in hostels/campgrounds
- 1 lightweight rain jacket
- 1 lightweight rain pants
- 1 large, quick-drying hiking towel (lots of options in stores and online, MSR is a popular brand)
Camping/Tenting Related Gear
- Lightweight 2-person Tent (we went with a lightweight 2-person tent, Kelty Mesa). Whatever brand you choose make sure reviewers give positive marks for it being waterproof and short assembly time. Assume it will rain every day and sometimes hard.
- Waterproof Tent Footprint (we didn’t have one of these, so I guess you can make it without it, but we were a little cold at some camp sites and sometimes finding soft ground was difficult)
- Tent tie-downs – these come with most tents, but make sure they can stretch out 2-3 ft past your tent so you can tie them around large rocks. The ground is very rocky in places and it gets very windy, so the stakes don’t work well.
- Sleeping Pads (highly recommend getting a good inflatable pad. There are a lot of good brands in the market. We used Therma-Rest Scout)
- Sleeping bags (lightweight and rated for 30deg or lower…it drops easily into the low 40s upper 30s even in the summer…but everyone’s tolerance for cold is different )
- Burner/stove and camping cookware set (we went with very compact sets with high reviews on Amazon)
Food and Drinks
- Dry food and snacks –
- Breakfast: 8 servings of oatmeal with dried nuts and dried banana chips
- Lunch/Dinner: 14 servings of freeze dried vegetables, protein mixed with different grains such as couscous, par boiled brown rice.
- Snacks: Ginger snaps, dark chocolate, granola bars
- Tea bags, instant coffee and powdered milk
- Salt and Pepper (very crucial!) and extra spices like curry and greek mix. The spices add variety so you are not getting bored of eating the same meals everyday. Oh, little joys in life!
- Alcohol from the duty free shop at the airport!
- Flask (highly important esp. for those nights you are freezing in your tent;) )
- Water bottle (easy to fill water from campgrounds. We didn’t carry any water purification system)
- Small baggage lock with wire tie to secure bags to immovable objects (hardly ever used this)
- Ear plugs and eye mask (didn’t use these, but important if you are staying in hostels)
- Head lamp/flashlight (bring 1 per person and bring extra batteries, you’ll need these everywhere)
- Lighter, don’t bother with matches (purchase in Iceland)
- Fuel for stove, purchase in Iceland or acquire some left behind at main Reykjavik camp grounds
- Playing cards, lightweight e-book reader
- Waterproof bag to store wallet/passport or electronics
- Waterproof stuff sack to store food
- Waterproof stuff sack to store clothes
- Iceland maps, hiking maps stored in waterproof plastic bag
- Extra plastic slider bags
- Emergency kit
- Toiletries including biodegradable camp soap (important!)
- Camera, chargers (I had 2 extra batteries), memory card (depends how many photos you like to take. I had 2-16GB cards), camera case and rain cover for your camera. I had strapped my camera case to my backpack and the extra rain cover was very handy to cover the camera case when it was raining and we had nowhere to take shelter while hiking
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