Travel Guide Iceland - Page 8

8. The right equipment for your trip

When it comes to Iceland, there are a lot of things you will need, not only photographical equipment which you will need on any trip, but special requirements on clothes or food as well. 


What I have learned very quickly is that backup equipment is essential. On my first day my 1000x ND filter dropped from my camera by accident and a little corner of it was gone. I could still use it but had to treat it with special care. After a week or so, my 64x ND broke as I fell on the ground with my camera and tripod in my hands. This time it broke into several pieces. Last, on my first day my walking shoes got completely wet as I was too careless and oversaw a hole full of water on the street. Since then I always travel with backup equipment, regardless what it is. Two camera bodies, two pair of walking shoes, two sets of ND filters, but I don't have all lenses twice, that's simply too expensive for me.


Well, maybe I shouldn't call it the "right" camera equipment as everybody has a different approach when taking photos and needs special equipment (e.g. for time lapse), but apart from that, this is the equipment I usually take with me on a trip to Iceland:

  - 2 camera bodies (Nikon D810 in my case)
  - 2 sets of ND filters (8x, 64x, 1000x) and ND gradient filters
  - UV filters (I am not an advocate of UV filters, but they protect my lense against heavy wind, salt and sand to the same time)
  - Lenses: 14-24mm f/2.8, 20mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, 24-70mm f/2.8, 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6
  - Tripod (carbon fibre and water resistant as weather conditions are rough)
  - Camera cleaning equipment (microfiber cloths, pair of bellows, lense pen, disposable gloves etc), don't save on this, you will need it!
  - Notebook, iPad
  - 2 USB hard drives for backups, one stored in my hand luggage, the other one checked-in
  - Batteries and rechargable batteries (tons of), and the charging facilities
  - GPS module for my camera (important to know where you have been)
  - Wireless or wired remote control unit
  - Powerpack for my phone
  - Rain cover for my backpack and camera
  - Threefold power plug
  - A small umbrella (for my camera, not for me)
  - And - that's a lowbrainer - a backpack which can carry most of your stuff

You see, that's definitely a lot you will need. Remember if you do other photos you might need different stuff like a drone, camera stand or whatever. 

It's good to have an insurance for all your camera equipment when something might break or fall down a waterfall. But you should keep in mind that this will only help you after your trip to get your money back but not during your trip as there is usually no shop with photographic equipment next to a waterfall. I only saw two shops, one in Reykjavik and one in Akureyri, the latter one having only basic stuff. Pretty bad when your camera fell of your tripod and broke.

I love this photo, however it always reminds me of where my ND filter broke


If you have read the previous sections you know how the weather can look like, even in the warmer months of the year. It is important to pack for any kind of weather, and to cover yourself in layers. Weather changes frequently and it can happen that you just unpacked your camera and it will start to rain.

I will not comment on any underwear or t-shirts or whatever you normally wear, I will focus on the stuff which is needed due to the weather conditions. Additionally, I always use hotels so I cannot comment on what you need when you want to go tenting. Here' what I would pack for your trip:

  - Some pairs of G1000 trousers
  - NO jeans! Really! If they get wet they take ages to dry
  - Rain pants
  - Some vitamin pills to support the basic food you will get
  - A small towel to dry things, e.g. your feet after you stepped into water or to sit down on
  - Medicine for the most common things, including blister pads
  - Creams for your hands and lips (especially lips was needed)
  - Something to cover your eyes during the night when it doesn't get dark
  - A pocket knife
  - Gloves, hats, caps, scarf when it gets cold. No leather stuff as it gets wet.
  - Cover yourself in layers, having a rain-proof layer on top (e.g. a rain jacket)
  - Your driver's license and credit card(s)
  - Sun blocker (for those being sensitive) and sun glasses
  - Trekking shoes, sometimes even winter shoes, 2 pairs
  - A torch and maybe a headlamp
  - Cereal bars for emergency
  - Waterproofing spray for your shoes
  - If you want to enjoy some alcohol, consider buying duty-free stuff before you depart as it is very expensive in Iceland

I cannot stress it enough, have everything with you at least twice. Maybe it helps to pack with bearing in mind that the whole island doesn't have any facility to buy backup equipment if needed. 

When I am heading for Iceland I realized that all this stuff is too heavy for the usual 23 kg check-in baggage you normally can take with you. So I check in another bag (or I share a second one with my fellow), this normally fits very well. And last, there's this famous feeling when your whole body shakes when you check-in your baggage and you pray that no-one will ask to weigh your carry-on backpack. When traveling with Icelandair 10 kg carry-on luggage is allowed, with 23 kg as check-in baggage, which is pretty fair. Anyway, I never hit the 10 kg mark, I am always beyond... 

As I always rent a car when traveling to Iceland, I can recommend to have a charging facility for your phone with you, and a facility to have your phone on the dashboard when you use it as navigational system. Last, an Icelandic SIM-card is helpful to keep internet costs low (although Iceland is within the European Union and therefore cheaper when it comes to mobile phone costs). You can buy these at the airport or directly in the plane.

After arrival at the airport you should get some cash in local currency (ISK, Icelandic Cronas). You normally can use credit cards anywhere but there might be spots where they are not accepted or are simply not working. 

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