f all the packing lists for Iceland available across the internet, very few ever discuss the items you shouldn’t ever bother taking with you – either because they’ll utterly fail you when you need them most, or they’re just totally unnecessary.
We’ve compiled just such a list of items you may think you need based on our experiences in Iceland’s backcountry.
If you haven’t already, be sure to read Part 1 of our Iceland Packing List where we go over too much about the country’s extreme weather and cover the types of clothing to get you through it comfortably so you can enjoy as much of your trip as possible!
Be sure and also check out the other parts of our Iceland Packing List (linked at the bottom of this post.)
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Water Resistant Outerwear
At some point, water resistant outerwear will become saturated if exposed for a long enough period. Once it’s saturated – you’re done! It will no-longer keep you warm.
A down winter jacket or ski jacket is a perfect example – they are made for the occasional short encounter with light rain or snow but fail after prolonged exposure. How long each fabric will hold up to moisture is dependent on the manufacturer and how well it’s been cared for.
Only pack outerwear that is completely 100% WATERPROOF – check all your outerwear – otherwise you’ll be cold, wet, and miserable!
Check our post on Outerwear to read more on the subject.
Iceland is a cashless society. You’ll find Debit/Credit Card readers in even the smallest shops in, what seems to any rational human as, the most remote stores in the backcountry. We never used cash the entire time we were in Iceland.
Pack credit and debit cards and have PIN Numbers for both! PIN Numbers are used when purchasing gas – even for your Credit Card – so you may need to contact your bank to get a PIN set up for your Credit Cards.
It’s a shame you won’t really come in contact with their currency though, because it is really very pretty. Get some out at an ATM if you’d like – it makes an excellent souvenir!
Highly fashionable clothing is way too bulky and heavy for traveling light.
You’ll be miserable if they get wet – which is all but guaranteed, and they are not durable enough for touring Iceland which means they’ll end up ruined.
You’ll also stand out because everyone dresses in casual clothing anyway – even in Reykjavik.
The Hipster/Instagram/Vagabond Starter Pack
When we were standing at our Gate, waiting to board our plane, it was impossible not to notice nearly half the people at the gate were dressed the same way (like the images above.) It was like some kind of weird, 20-something cult of Pork-Pie hats and Leather Satchels.
Don’t dress or pack like this. Literally, everyone already does. You’ll just be following a trend and end up looking like a tool when you land in Iceland.
But most importantly, IT’S NOT PRACTICAL FOR THE EXTREME ELEMENTS!
There’s a saying among outdoor enthusiasts – “Cotton Kills!”
Clothing made from cotton can absorb 27 times its weight in water and takes an incredibly long time to fully dry!
It holds moisture against your skin which exacerbates hypothermia in cold weather and will actually make you colder than if you were wearing nothing at all!
Avoid packing cotton clothing at all costs!
Don’t even consider packing it – The wind will destroy even the most robust umbrella immediately!
This is what your outerwear is for.
What to Get once You’re There
There are a lot of items that we think you needn’t pack but are vital enough to still have. These are the things you should plan on buying at the grocery store once you arrive in Iceland.
- Hand Towels – between washing your hands and drying dishes or wet gear, you can never have enough towels! You can buy them cheap at both popular grocery store chains.
- S-hooks – super useful for hanging a lot of your gear around the campervan and keeping it off the dirty floor or your limited counter space.
- Clothesline and Clothespins – also incredibly useful for hanging wet clothes up for faster drying.
- Paper towels – Like hand towels, paper towels are one of those items that can tackle a variety of different uses and is extremely handy to have.
- Ziploc bags – the little plastic bags with a zillion uses – we’re just putting them on this list to remind you to get some during your trip.
Download the Complete Iceland Packing List
Further Reading for Iceland