April in Iceland: Packing List and Camper Van

by valerie

While each season in Iceland will require it’s own unique accessories, much of this spring packing list can be replicated year-round ~ especially since Icelandic weather can be unpredictable and variable all year. If you’re traveling by camper van (like us), you’ll want to go the extra mile to make sure you have yourself covered for the elements! Just like you would on other outdoor adventure trips, there are two keys points to remember: (1) layer and (2) choose fabrics wisely. Wool, fleece, cashmere, down, waterproof; all of these make great choices for breath-ability, warmth, dryness, and comfort.

Dettifoss-North Iceland
Dettifoss, North Iceland. What you aren’t seeing in this picture are my exposed fingers turning to ice, and my eyeballs burning from the sun. Occupational hazard for single parents just trying to get a selfie.

With myself and two kids in tow, the goal was to stay warm and dry – above all else! Between the 3 of us, we could check 3 bags on the airplane; so we had plenty of space to work with in gathering gear. Those items shown with a strikethrough, we didn’t end up using…..but I was glad to have them.

Packing List for a Family of 3

Driving 11 days around Iceland’s Ring Road

Bags

  • 1 rolling hard-case luggage (used this to transport food brought from home: nuts, dried fruit, energy bars, tea, freeze-dried backpacking meals, almond butter)
  • 2 X-large REI Roadtripper Duffel bags (these two x-large bags carried ALL of the gear listed in packing list below, minus what we wore on the plane, obviously…..)
  • 3 carry-on backpacks (to hold personal reading book, fav stuffed animal, camera, plane snacks, etc)

Clothes (for each traveler)

  • 3 pairs of pants – fleece-lined leggings
  • 3 long-sleeved shirts – Smart-wool or other long-underwear style base layers
  • 2 sweaters – wool, cashmere and/or fleece
  • 1 light down jacket – for layering under heavier jacket, or by itself on a warmer day
  • 1 winter jacket – insulated and waterproof/resistant
  • 1 rain poncho
  • 4 pairs wool socks
  • 4 pairs undergarmets
  • 1 set of pajamas (optional, but nice to have an “indoor” set of clothes to sleep in)
  • 1 warm hat (wool)
  • 1 pair warm gloves (wool)
  • SWIMSUIT!!
  • 2 pairs of shoes
    • Waterproof Hiking Boots
    • Snow Boots
Spring packing list for Iceland Camper Van
Layers!
Spring in Iceland footwear
Waterproof, warm and comfy, Sorry, kinda dirty……
spring-iceland-packing list-gear-campervan
extras

Extras (for the whole group)

  • 15-ft length rope* (see below; nothing nefarious…..I promise)
  • 3 bath towels – for daily swims, hot spring soaks, and/or showers
  • 2 headlamps
  • Extra warm sleeping bag (1 kid is a cold sleeper…)
  • toiletries (toothbrush/paste, body butter, biodegradable body soap/shampoo, hair brush, menstrual hygiene products)
  • basic first-aid kit
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • portable USB charger for van
  • paper map of Iceland (20th Century throw-back!)
  • Games: Sushi Go and deck of cards (so retro)
  • water bottle
  • swiss-army knife/utility tool – always handy
  • cloth/nylon bag – to hold/separate dirty laundry
  • small pouch of powdered laundry detergent  (some campgrounds have washers/dryers)
  • The Little Book of the Hidden People (to read bedtime stories of Icelandic folklore)
  • credit card – chip and pin capability (NOT chip and sign) to fill up at gas stations

*Rope? What?! Um, yes. This was perhaps the most awesome thing I thought to take, and it was a huge success in our daily camper van comfort living. Used this as a line to hang up in the back of our camper van and it served two important uses:

  1. Drying Line – after a pool swim, we hung our towels and suits on this line to dry, and they were ready by the time of our next water dunk! We also used this line to dry any damp clothes/undergarments wet from the weather or hand-washing.
  2. Privacy Screen – we hung this line directly behind and parallel to the front driver’s seat, creating a ‘curtain’ for privacy at night in our living quarters.

Here are some video clips of the van ~ once the camera started rolling, the little hams got camera shy…go figure.

Camper Van Rental

We used Rent.is for our campervan rental, Renault Trafic 3 model. There are many great rental companies to choose from, but this was the best deal I found in terms of price and included features:

  • WiFi
  • Heater (toasty warm every night)
  • Mini fridge
  • Camping stove and fuel (hard to use in windy Iceland!)
  • Cooking and eating supplies
  • Table and chairs (didn’t use in April!)
  • Sleeping bags and pillows
  • USB port

They offered great airport pick-up and drop-off, easy return process, and friendly staff.

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Items I wished I had brought

While you can buy things you need throughout Iceland at the markets, sometimes you kick yourself for not bringing things you already own. I wished I had brought these specific items along:

  • Neck/face gaiter (when the cold wind kicks up, it can be brutal on your exposed face!)
  • Insulated mug with lid (to have hot tea on hand throughout day and while driving)
  • More dehydrated meals (with the wind and cold, it’s not possible to do any real cooking out there, and campsites didn’t have any sufficiently sheltered areas for this purpose. So heating water is the best you’re going to get in April, and ramen gets really old after a while…)

Again, if you’re traveling in a season outside of Spring, you can adjust accordingly. For instance, during the summer months, swap out the winter boots for rain boots. But no matter the time of year, you’re always going to want layers and stay focused on keeping warm and dry! If all else fails, splurge on an Icelandic sweater/hat/gloves combo and you’ll be golden…..

Read More about traveling to Iceland:

April in Iceland: Part One, Velkomin!

One thought on “April in Iceland: Packing List and Camper Van

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