ven in Iceland’s remote backcountry, electronics are going to play a vital role in making your life a whole lot easier. We live in the age of the smartphone, so even if you don’t plan on lugging around heavy camera gear you’ll still require a few basic items just to keep everything charged. In this post, we’ll cover the best electronics to add to your Iceland Packing List so you can focus on enjoying your precious time here with minimal effort!
If you haven’t already, we highly suggest you start with Part 1 of our Iceland Packing List where we cover the country’s seasons, weather, and the types of clothing you’ll need in excruciating detail.
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The type and amount of electronics each of us will need in Iceland is going to vary by individual needs, however, these are the items we are confident most every traveler is going to want to have with them in order to enjoy their visit to the max!
Laptop and Charger
We’ve found that having a laptop on our travels is vital to allow us to do basic tasks that our smartphones can’t really handle like clearing pictures off of our memory cards. Recently, we invested a little money to upgrade our aging laptop to one that is much, much slimmer and lightweight which makes it so much easier to travel with!
If you’re in the market to upgrade or are looking for a laptop that’s easier to travel with, here are the models we found that are perfect for travel and still have the power to run programs like Photoshop or Premiere Pro.
HP Spectre x360 Convertible is a fantastic travel laptop due to its lightweight, ultrathin design that takes up less room in your luggage than a spiral notebook. We went with the HP Spectre since it has the same specs as the alternatives listed below but the price is cheaper and you get a few added benefits like 4k screen resolution and an SD card reader.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Microsoft Surface Laptop 2, or Microsoft Surface Book 2 are quite a bit more expensive for what appears to be the same product as the HP Spectre, just a different company. The Surface Pro 6 is a tablet that is similar to a laptop, so it’s a little bit smaller in size and weight, has (an optional) lightweight detachable keyboard and it doesn’t have any USB ports. On the other hand, the Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Book 2 have all the capabilities you would expect in a laptop. The Surface Laptop 2 is the middle of the road laptop in between the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Book 2. Choose whichever one that specifically meets your needs.
Apple MacBook Air If you’re a fan of Apple products, then we don’t need to tell you about their ultrathin laptop. The MacBook Air is very comparable to the HP Spectre in specs, so we highly recommend it if you prefer Apple over PCs.
Travel Adaptor and Power Strip
We like to keep things simple by only bringing a plug adapter like this one as well as a power strip in order to charge multiple electronics simultaneously. We prefer a minimalist style adapter over a bulkier Universal Power Adapter that comes with a lot of plugs that are useless in Iceland.
External Battery Packs
An external battery pack is an excellent addition to your pack list. They’re great for keeping your smartphone charged while you’re out exploring, are on a long hike, or are in and out of your campervan and can’t get a decent charge.
Slim options like this are best since they won’t take up much space in your bag and you’re never too far away from power.
Cellphones and Chargers
We don’t really need to remind you to bring your phone since most of us spend countless hours glued to them each day.
But we probably do need to remind you to bring your charger since it’s one of the most frequently forgotten items when traveling.
Camera equipment is one of those subjects that’s hotly debated and endlessly discussed across the internet on brand vs. brand, best models, hottest new gear, etc. etc. etc. We’re not going to get into what’s best or why too much to avoid getting sucked into a gearhead circle-jerk.
We’ll give you a few recommendations for quality gear (that we’re sure someone will have a better, and cheaper alternative for) and we’ll let you all hash it out in the comments section below.
Only bring a heavy DSLR or Mirrorless Camera if you’re familiar with photography and don’t mind carrying all the extra gear – most people will be just fine using their smartphone and nothing else.
If the majority of equipment and suggestions below don’t make sense to you, then you will definitely be much happier sticking with your smartphone or basic camera!
Pixter Cell Phone Lenses
If you want to take amazing pictures during your trip to Iceland, but can’t afford expensive camera equipment, don’t know how to use it, or simply don’t want to lug heavy gear around on your back, then look no further than the Pixter Lenses designed specifically for your smartphone.
They clip onto your phone over the camera lens, are made with amazingly high-quality materials, and are very affordable! They come with a really nice carrying case that fits in your purse or day bag, or you can clip them directly to your purse strap, jacket lapel, or pocket for quick access.
Iceland’s dramatic landscape is perfectly suited for Drone Photography but make sure you’re following the rules and don’t fly it where you shouldn’t. There’s a DJI store in Reykjavik that has print outs of Iceland’s drone laws that you can walk in and pick up for free! We’re big fans of DJI’s products and can easily recommend them if you’re interested in a quality drone with amazing features and optics.
The Best Travel Drone
The Best Value
Which One Should You Choose?
- ND Filters for Mavic Pro, Mavic Pro 2, or Mavic Air
- Extra Batteries for Mavic Pro, Mavic Pro 2, or Mavic Air
- Charger for Mavic Pro, Mavic Pro 2, or Mavic Air
- Micro SD Card
GoPro is the name in action cameras and their Hero 7 is the best we’ve seen for its incredibly stable video performance and weather protection. It is a great backup camera for when the weather turns sour and we like that the Micro SD card also works with our Drone.
Best point and shoot Camera
Point and shoots used to dominate the market when digital photography first became a thing, but now smartphones have all but killed them off. That’s unfortunate because you can get increased quality and functionality compared to smartphones at a fraction of the weight and hassle of a DSLR.
Each would be a great option for minimalizing your photography gear while still getting excellent performance. Each has its own loyal following and fans for various reasons.
DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras
RJ is a Canon shooter; he uses the 1DX Mark2, but this is a massive and expensive camera that we can only recommend for a few specific people. Otherwise, it’s not worth it!
Truthfully, any DSLR or Mirrorless Camera on the market today is going to be more than adequate to take stunning photos of Iceland – especially from Sony, Nikon, or Cannon. It must allow you to totally control the camera settings and be able to shoot images in RAW format.
But these cameras are not going to automatically make your images more beautiful or make you a better photographer; you need to practice! There is no substitute for knowing how to use it to achieve what you’re trying to capture creatively.
This isn’t intended to be a complete list, but if you’re going to bring a DSLR along then you’ll definitely need the following items…
Wide Angle Lens
This should be your first consideration after your camera body. Iceland is a country of dramatic landscape and in order to capture the vastness and immensity of that landscape, you’ll want the widest lens you can get your hands on – especially if you’re camera has a crop sensor.
The quality of your lenses matters much more than your camera body, so upgrade to better quality lenses first if you’ve got the money to invest in higher quality gear.
We recommend a wide angle zoom lens, so you can adjust your composition more easily. RJ uses the Canon 16 – 35mm f/2.8. Any wide-angle lens in a similar equivalent will work perfectly.
A sturdy tripod should be your second most important consideration behind your wide-angle lens. Leave your flimsy or broken tripods at home – they’ll be utterly useless. Iceland’s high winds demand you carry a sturdy tripod for locked-off shots.
Look for tripods with:
- Robust ball heads with Arca Swiss style quick release plates
- Thick legs of aluminum or carbon fiber – not plastic! Aluminum legs will be slightly heavier than carbon fiber.
- Flip-Lock style leg extensions – they’re quicker to deploy than twist-lock legs can ever hope to be!
- Legs that can be extended out for low angle shots closer to the ground
Even though Iceland’s landscape is wide, it still presents several opportunities for using a telephoto lens. Compress shots of people or wildlife by introducing Depth of Field into your images. Zoom in on distant objects like waterfalls or mountains.
RJ uses a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 – it’s a big, heavy beast of a lens, but it takes absolutely stunning, high-quality images. Any telephoto zoom lens in the 70-200mm range will work perfectly fine for close-ups of people or wildlife – like Iceland’s sheep, Horses, or Puffins!
Remote Shutter release
For long exposure shots, night photography, timelapses, and locked-off shots where you need as little camera shake as possible – you’re definitely going to need a Remote Shutter Release!
You don’t need to invest a lot of money here. We recommend getting an intervalometer – it’ll allow you to control shutter duration, shutter delay, photo intervals, and remote triggering.
Be sure that whatever you buy is compatible with your camera!
ND and Circular Polarizing Filters
For taking long exposure shots during the day, or to stop down your aperture in bright daylight, you’ll need to invest in ND (Neutral Density) Filters.
To cut the harsh glare of sunlight and saturate colors, you’ll need a Circular Polarizing Filter.
Whatever you decide to bring, make sure it’s high enough quality. Don’t buy cheap filters – they are a waste of money and produce poor quality images. Check Youtube for reviews of Filters you’re interested in purchasing to see if they are quality pieces.
RJ loves the Polar Pro Filter for its image quality and durability, as well as the fact that it is both ND and Polarizing Filters in one!
If your lenses have different barrel widths, then be sure to also purchase Step-Rings for your Filters so you don’t have to buy more than one!
This is extremely important to have in your camera bag if you’re serious about photography, but it’s even more-so when campervanning around Iceland.
Keeping all your batteries charged for your various electronics is an exhausting chore you’ll have to juggle as you’re driving around. And the last thing you want is to run out of juice in your camera because you forgot to charge your batteries between sights.
We recommend bringing enough to keep you shooting all day. This means bringing 2 to 6 batteries depending on how long they last in your camera! If you’re not sure how long the batteries last in your camera, then you need to go out and practice shooting somewhere to find out before your trip.
Don’t forget that cold diminishes the charge in batteries and Iceland isn’t known for its balmy weather.
External Hard Drives and Media Storage
You’re going to be shooting a lot of images and video while in Iceland – just trust us on this one. We recommend two different types of storage: Memory Cards and External Hard Drives
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Do not buy cheap cards! They can get corrupted and fail far too easily and you don’t want to have a card full of important memories disappear FOREVER. It’s happened to us and we are still bitter about it.
We recommend name brands like Sandisk and Samsung, or cards with really high customer review ratings – be sure that they have been reviewed A LOT!
A tip for finding high-quality Memory Cards is to look for the ones with the fastest WRITE and READ speeds and choose the ones with the highest of each – only high-quality cards are going to be super-fast.
We recommend having at least two memory cards of each type you’ll need for Iceland. That way you can transfer images off the card and still have the ability to take more photos if you so desire and decrease the chances of running out of space in the middle of the day.
External Hard Drives
If you’re using a DSLR camera, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be shooting RAW. These files take up far more storage space on your cards than JPEG images and chances are that you’ll run out of space on your cards rather quickly.
Protect what you photograph by doing a regular card dump and clearing your storage each day.
SSD’s are generally more reliable since they have no internal moving parts that can fail, but they also come in smaller storage sizes and are much more expensive. If you’re using a smartphone or point and shoot style camera and only taking JPEG images, then an SSD is a great, reliable option.
HDD’s require a little more delicate handling as the spinning disks inside can become damaged, but you can get a ton of storage capacity for extremely cheap (as far as photography equipment goes.)
If you’re shooting RAW files on a DSLR then we recommend a 1 Terabyte Passport.
If you’re shooting RAW files and video (especially 4K) then you’ll probably want a 4TB Hard Drive. They are very reasonably priced as far as photography equipment goes.
Dust and Weather Protection
Change your lenses enough and you’re bound to get dust and dirt inside your camera and on the sensor or back of your lens. Iceland’s windy conditions and sandy soil make this inevitability almost guaranteed!
A Lens Cleaning Brush and Blower means you’ll be able to service your camera on the road if you find those annoying little smudges and black dots in all your images. Just make sure you don’t rub anything on the sensor – you DO NOT want to permanently scratch it!
A tip for checking your sensor for debris is to set your aperture (f/stop) as high as it’ll go (f/16 or higher) and take an overexposed image or a photo of a uniformly white surface (like a piece of paper.) This will show you any dust on your sensor that needs to be blown out.
A Plastic Camera Rain Sleeve will keep your camera safe from the wet elements but still be able to capture the amazing pictures.
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Further Reading for Iceland
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