Happy Camper’s Official Packing List for a Great Road Trip

As an unofficial Iceland ambassador for my friends, one of the hot topics that comes up a lot more than you think is, “What should I pack for my Iceland adventure?!”. In fact, one of my Canadian friends is currently planning her packing list and quickly turned to me for advice. So, I thought it was about time I passed on my wisdom with you, too, Happy Campers!

A few things to keep in mind before pulling out your essentials based on my personal experience:

  • Don’t over pack and use a backpack– You have a limited amount of space to store everything, so it’s best to take only what’s necessary. Unless it’s extremely small, a hard case will not fit into a Happy 1 camper, and it will take up valuable storage space in a Happy 2 and 3. Consider it a backpacking trip. It will force you to carry less overall.
  • Layers, layers, layers – I can’t stress enough how crucial this point is. Icelandic climate is temperate and weather can change rapidly, year round. If you’re coming in the winter, definitely bring a parka, however, you can get away with light layers in the summer. You can always peel them off, but you can’t add anything you haven’t packed! And I’m not even joking when I say I’ve seen all four seasons in one day.

Assuming most travelers go on a road trip one week or less, I’ve come up with a list of essential gear to pack:

Wind & Waterproof Outer Shell
Make sure it’s breathable material so you can comfortably walk around the nature. Water resistant is also fine, especially in the summer months.

One wool or fleece sweater is acceptable and you won’t regret it on those chilly mornings and evenings, even during summer solstice.

T-Shirt & Tanks
Keep in mind these items will be in contact with your skin, and therefore will dirty fast. I bring one for every day of the itinerary.

It’s all based on preference; however, my sweet spot is three pairs of pants I love walking in, no matter how long the trip is. Usually this entails stretchy, sporty pants or leggings. Hiking and slush pants are great options as well!

If you’re okay wearing the same thing day and night, go for it! But it’s always good to have a designated set of pajamas just in case.

Underwear & Socks
This is a given. Personally, I pack enough for the trip plus one extra of each. As a lady, I also bring both a normal and sports bra.

Hat & Gloves
At the least, have these ready so you’re prepared for anything. A scarf may be necessary in the colder months as well.

Hiking Boots – Ideally Waterproof
Casual shoes will suffice for easy walks in and out of the city. However, if you plan to do more serious hiking on rougher terrain like on a glacier or up a mountain, protect your tootsies in proper hiking boots. Cold and/or wet feet equal one unhappy camper.

Bring whatever is absolutely necessary, but in travel sized containers. Or buy when you arrive. Remember the carry-on airline rule if you’re not checking in a bag!

2 girls sitting in Landbrotalaug

Bathing Suit
I always encourage my guests to bring along a swimsuit. Bathing in a hot pot- whether it’s a local pool or a natural hot spring- is mandatory for the cultural experience! Pack a plastic bag with you as well to hold future wet gear.

If you forgo a shower for the entirety of your Iceland adventure, good on you! It’s a camping trip, so no one’s judging. However, a towel is versatile when you decide to take a dip in a hot spring (see point above), rinse your hair in a sink, or sit on it as a picnic blanket.

Water Bottle
Do not- I repeat, DO NOT- purchase plastic water bottles when in Iceland. Tap water is perfectly safe to drink. Run the water on cold for a while or refill your bottle at a flowing stream during your hike. You’ll thank me later as you experience the best water in the world!

For days when you opt for a tour or hike, a small backpack will be handy for holding several items like your water bottle, snacks, wallet, and camera.

Camera. Check. GPS. Check! A phone with a camera is yet another versatile tool, this time to keep your memories and anecdotes in order. We understand your need to post Insta stories, so our Happy Campers are equipped with wifi as add-ons if you desire access to the World Wide Web.

Disclaimer: There’s nothing more I dislike than having to waste time cleaning clothes. If you’re unlike me, feel free to alter the number of items you take, making extra space for souvenirs! Coin operated washing machines are at most campgrounds for those who are on the road long term.

This is by no means set in stone and is free for interpretation, but I do feel strongly this is an essential packing list for any Iceland adventure! Have I missed anything? What are you going to pack to make your tour around Iceland more comfortable. Let us know in the comments!

Until next time, happy travels!

To check out Lea’s adventures, follow her on Instagram @coolitchcowski

To read more about Lea’s Happy Camper Adventures in Iceland check out these articles:
A Rejuvenating Experience at Myvatn Nature Baths
Reykjavik Food Walk
Pólar Hestar Horseback Riding in North Iceland