Clothing and camera gear recommendation

Iceland is well-known for being one of the most spectacular natural destinations in the world, where a multitude of diverse and intriguing photographic opportunities abound. It is also known for its fickle weather, which can be serene and beautiful one second, then harsh and unrelenting the next. Nonetheless, the ever-changing weather in Iceland is part of what makes photographing it so special and the most important reason as to why you’ll need to come prepared to experience the elements, otherwise you may find yourself finishing up your tour prematurely!

So what should you pack for an Icelandic adventure? What photography gear will you need to bring with you? With limited carry-on allowances and checked luggage space on flights, packing and dressing for your trip to Iceland can be tricky - particularly if you’ve never visited the country before. Many of our photography tours will whisk you away to several different locations, so you’d better be prepared to brave everything that the atmospheric conditions in Iceland can throw at you.

To minimise the hassle of getting ready for your trip, we have put together this complete guide to tell you exactly what you should wear across different weather conditions, as well as what kind of camera gear will be the most beneficial for you to bring along during one of our photography tours. Your best bet is to think ahead and buy the right gear before you begin your adventure, so we’ve even included some links to make it easier for you to organise everything you’ll need to bring along before you arrive.

Winter Tour Clothing Guide

During winter, the land of fire and ice will be a crisp and snowy wonderland. Whilst frosty landscapes and eerily low sunlight can make for spectacular photography conditions, they aren’t always the most comfortable to shoot in unless you come prepared. Nobody wants to be standing around with frostbitten extremities and trust us, for most people, the Icelandic winter will feel bitterly cold. Keep in mind that the further north you go in Iceland, the colder it will be. To put things into perspective, temperatures in the north of Iceland have been known to drop between -25 and -30°C (−13 to −22 °F). It can also be very windy, making it feel a lot colder than it actually is. This is especially the case in the desolate Highlands area and around the coast. In fact, the locations most exposed to the elements are often where the best photography spots are, so it goes without saying that you’ll need to have clothing that can protect you in winter from the cold, the snow, rain and the wind.

Base Layers

So let’s start thinking about clothing from the base up. In cold conditions, base layers (which are also known as thermal underwear) can act as a second skin by sitting snugly next to your body and keeping you warm. What you should look for is a moisture-wicking base layer, which dries much faster than other materials and helps to transport perspiration away from your skin, as this will reduce the risk of dramatic changes in your body temperature. For the ultimate in outdoor comfort, your base layer should ideally be made of merino wool, synthetic fabric or silk. Choose a base layer that is dense enough to provide a layer of warmth based on your own propensity to feel the cold, but still thin enough to fit comfortably beneath other clothes. For a 10-day photo tour, you should bring along 3 to 4 pairs of base layers, each of which you will be able to wear at least twice during your stay.

For women, we recommend the Smartwool Women's Merino 150 Base Layer Pattern Long Sleeve, teamed with the Arc’teryx RHO LT Bottom. This combination is soft, stretchy and warm but best of all, doesn’t stick when layered beneath other clothing. The top and bottom also both have a flattering fit, are very breathable and stay warm even when wet.
For men, we suggest the Smartwool Men's Merino 150 Baselayer Long Sleeve paired with the Icebreaker Zone Legging. Both have a great fit, stay in place and keep you warm while you’re running around searching for the best composition. Best of all, the fabric in both of these base layers is breathable and has natural anti-odour capabilities.

Mid Layer

This layer goes on top of your base layer. Mid layers are important in maintaining insulation from the cold, as they trap air to help keep you warm and toasty. They are usually constructed from materials that are light, insulating and breathable, such as wool, fleece and down. They also come in different styles, such as vests, pullovers and with or without a hood. When choosing a style, consider things like interior pockets to keep phones or camera batteries warm and functional in the cold. You should also choose a mid layer that will allow you to move freely but fit closely to your body.

For women, we suggest the Helly Hansen Women's Daybreaker Fleece Jacket, which is soft, breathable and is made of 100g Polartec fleece to keep you warm and dry. The flatlock seams mean that you won’t be as bulky when you layer it with your other clothing. This fleece also includes zip-operated hand pockets, which create just enough space to store your valuables while you’re out shooting in-field.

For men, we recommend The North Face Canyonlands ½ Zip, a versatile midweight fleece pullover with stretch cuffs including thumbholes to keep your sleeves in place even while you’re being active. This fleece is lightweight and made of quality materials. It’s also sleek enough for you to wear to work or even on a night out.

Outer Layer

Now that we’ve got base and mid layers covered, we can move on to the outer layer. The outer layer, also known as a ‘shell’, is your protection from the wind, rain and cold. You need a shell to wear over your clothing because the moment that you allow the elements to penetrate your inner layers, you will begin to feel cold. Look for an outer layer that is waterproof, windproof and also breathable. Without proper ventilation, perspiration will condense on the inside of your shell and make it difficult for your body to regulate temperature. Your outer layer should also be roomy enough to fit easily over other layers and not restrict your movement, as well as have the option of a hood, which will help to keep your head dry.

Outer layers may, at first, seem to be very expensive. Keep in mind though that what you are paying for is functionality and practicality. The best outer layers are made from Gore-Tex or eVent laminated membranes, which provide waterproofing against wet conditions and alpine activities. Choosing an outer layer that is also sleek and stylish will mean that you can wear it out later on also, when you are no longer on a tour.

For women, we recommend the Mountain Hardwear Torsun Jacket. This jacket offers outstanding mobility through the arms and body, while keeping you warm and dry. It also has two zippered handwarmer pockets which will help keep your valuables secure. Pair it with the Arctix Women’s Insulated Snow Pant, which contains enough insulation to keep you warm whilst holding up against daily wear and tear. These pants also feature inbuilt gaiters with grippers, which form a seamless integration with your boots to keep moisture out.

For men, we suggest the Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket. Made of Gore-Tex, this outer layer is waterproof, snow-shedding, windproof, breathable, lightweight and durable. It has pit zips for ventilation and is quite lightweight, meaning that it will be easy to pack down if you need to take it off and stow it away. Team it with the insulated Arctix Men’s Snow Sports Cargo Pants for an ergonomic fit and the perfect amount of warmth. Like the women’s version, these pants are wind and water resistant, featuring inbuilt gaiters.


Now that your torso is warm, it’s time to think about your extremities. When it’s cold, it is easy to lose heat through your feet. Even if you have a pair of sturdy walking boots, it is very necessary to give your feet extra protection. So to keep you steady when conditions are rough, we suggest bringing along a few pairs of Eurosocks Ski Socks, which provide high performance protection to the foot and shin with an inbuilt brace. These socks also have superior wicking and self-drying capabilities that will keep your feet warm and dry, reducing the risk of blisters.


On a winter photography tour in Iceland, you could be covering all types of ground, from black sand beaches to ice caves and snowy mountains. Due to the variation in terrain, you will need sturdy footwear that will keep your feet warm and your ankles supported. The last thing you’ll want is to hurt yourself because your footwear isn’t up to scratch.

Although we will provide crampons and rubber boots suitable for arctic conditions to every participant during our photography tours, you should also bring along some sturdy walking boots for when we will be out and about in town or when we are not shooting in-field.

For women, we recommend something like the KEEN Women’s Koven Polar Winter Boot. These insulated, waterproof boots include a removable thermal heat shield insole that helps your feet stay warmer in cold weather.

For men, we suggest something like the Timberland White Ledge Men's Waterproof Boot. Made of leather, these boots have a padded collar and tongue to protect ankles, as well as a breathable footbed that is very comfortable.


There are three things you should consider when purchasing a pair of gloves for a winter photography tour in Iceland. First and foremost is warmth. Your gloves will need to do the basic job of keeping your hands warm. Second, the gloves will need to be dexterous and adaptable, so that you won’t have to take them off every time you want to take a picture. Finally, good photography gloves should be compatible with touchscreens. This might not seem like a big deal now, but it’s the kind of small feature that can make a big difference when you’re out in the cold.

Here are a couple of options that we like. The first pair is from Freehands and features a retracting finger design that means you can release your finger and thumb without having to take the whole glove off - perfect for shooting a quick photo while it’s cold and using a touchscreen.

The second pair is more expensive but will offer you both warmth and dexterity. These Head 3 Smart Gloves will allow you to be able to handle your camera with ease, without exposing your hands to Iceland’s cold. Initially designed for European Special Forces, these gloves are waterproof, breathable, have space for heat packs on both sides of the fingers and wrist, and include a conductive finger and thumb for touch screen operation.


Even with a hood on your outer layer, you might want to consider bringing a warm, woolly hat with you on your winter photography trip to Iceland. In biting wind and snowy conditions, it is important to keep your head and ears as warm as possible. A hat like this one comes in a range of colours, and will keep your head dry while you’re waiting patiently to capture that perfect winter sunset!


Although you will be wearing layers, you may also want to consider bringing along a scarf to help seal in your body heat. A scarf adds an extra dimension of warmth and can be used to protect your face in case of wind or snow. This MERIWOOL Unisex Merino Wool Gaiter is super soft, has natural wicking and antibacterial properties, and is even odour-resistant. Its versatile design means that you can use it as a scarf, mask, ear warmer or even as a headband.

Summer Tour Clothing Guide

The weather during summer in Iceland can be unpredictable and conditions can change in an instant. Although the temperature isn’t that different between winter and summer in Iceland, you can expect any time between May and September to be pretty mild. In July, the average temperature in Reykjavík fluctuates between 10 and 20°C (50 to 68°F). It can feel warmer when the sun is out but it’s hardly sunbathing territory. If you’re very lucky, you might experience continual blue skies for the entire duration of your stay. What’s more likely though is that you’ll experience Iceland’s famous ‘samples’ of weather, like a meteorological buffet. So pack and prepare for bad conditions, and be pleasantly surprised if you’re lucky enough to avoid them! Similar to winter, a summer photography tour is going to expose you to plenty of Iceland’s notoriously fickle weather. As such, your clothes and accessories need to be versatile and changeable, meaning that it’s best to

Upper Base Layer

It is important to bring upper garments that are breathable, quick-drying and which offer some sort of UV protection. During your photography tour, you may find yourself shooting in and around coastal areas, which can be windy and quite wet. You can use quick-dry shirts as base layers, teamed with long sleeve shirts to provide some protection against sudden changes in temperature. You will need to bring along 3 to 4 pairs for a 10-day adventure, each of which you can wear at least twice.

For women, we suggest the FOLLOWUS Women's Cool Dry Fit Compression Shirt. This shirt is lightweight and made of moisture-wicking fabric, which keeps you dry and comfortable while you’re being active.

For men, we recommend the Trailside Supply Co. Men's Standard Quick-Dry Active Sport Compression Base Layer Shirt. The soft, lightweight fabric of this shirt offers superior comfort and is great for managing moisture and odour.

Mid Layer

This layer goes on top of your base layer. Similar to during the winter, a mid layer in summer will help you stay insulated against the cold. You won’t need a mid layer as heavyweight as as during the winter, so it is best to look for one that is lightweight and breathable in a vest style, which will allow you to wear it unzipped if you become too warm.

For women, we recommend the Jack Wolfskin Kiruna Jungle. This lightweight fleece is perfect for hiking with light insulation and two hand pockets, as well as an adjustable hem.

For men, we suggest the Jack Wolfskin Kiruna Striped Jacket, which offers a basic level of heat retention. This classic summer hiking fleece comes in a compact pack size, so you can keep it in your backpack on standby for when it gets cooler higher up on the hill or when it’s time for a quick rest break.

Outer Layer

It is very unlikely that you will be experiencing snow during your summer trip, so while hats and gloves will come in handy when the temperature drops, the focus of your outer layer during a summer tour should be on dealing with the wind and the rain. What makes many of Iceland’s sights so spectacular is their exposure to the elements, particularly at the dramatic Reynisfjara beach or in the desolate Highlands. These areas can get very windy and we can guarantee you that when the wind picks up, the temperature can feel a lot colder than it really is. As such, we recommend bringing along a waterproof and windproof outer layer that can take the sting out of those biting Icelandic gales.

For women, we recommend the Wantdo Women's Hooded Outdoor Raincoat, which is water resistant and windproof. It is lightweight, easy to carry and will keep you dry on rainy days and during outdoor activities. It also features 5 pockets for carrying all of your important belongings. Team it with the Columbia Storm Surge Pants, which are built to handle the worst of wet conditions and will keep your legs nice and dry.

For men, we suggest the Wantdo Men's Hooded Breathable Outdoor Hiking Windbreaker Waterproof Rain Jacket. This water-resistant, windproof and breathable jacket is designed to keep you dry on rainy days. It is made of lightweight, soft material that is easy to carry and features two hand pockets, one chest pocket, one large inner chest pocket, as well as a large inner mesh elastic pocket for all your important belongings. Pair this jacket with the

Columbia Men's South Canyon Pants, which are waterproof and ideal for a rainy day hike. The polyester shell is tough and durable though the fabric itself is quite soft and comfortable.


Even if you have a pair of sturdy walking boots, it is very necessary to give your feet extra protection. So to keep you steady when conditions are rough, we suggest bringing along a few pairs of MERIWOOL Merino Wool Blend Hiking Socks, which are soft, comfortable and absorb sweat from your skin, releasing it back into the air. These socks have natural antibacterial properties and are odour resistant. They are also easy to wash, quick to dry and will help you reduce the risk of blisters.


Many of Iceland’s most breathtaking locations are off the beaten track, so you will need to have footwear that can protect your feet and ankles from unsteady ground and stand up to wet, muddy or slippery surfaces.

These Timberland White Ledge Men’s and Women’s Waterproof Boots are lightweight and sturdy - perfect for traversing the diverse terrains during a tour of Iceland’s sights.

As we will be working on coastal and river scenes, you will also need overshoes or rubber boots for extra protection. This will allow you to get into the water for the right vantage point when searching for compositions. There is no need to worry about squeezing these into your luggage though, as we will provide you with rubber boots suitable for standing in the water for the duration of your photography tour.


We all know what happens when it’s cold, wet and windy: our hands go numb. And that’s a bad situation for any photographer to be in. The last thing you’ll want is to miss that perfect shot because your fingers are too cold. We recommend bringing a pair of gloves like these by Tough Outdoors, which are unisex, stretchy, and fit like … well, a glove. They’re not the thickest, but they will give you extra protection against the wind and are still compatible with touch screens. Handy!

Sun Protection

Summertime in Iceland means another more obvious thing: light. And lots of it. If you’re lucky and your tour coincides with blue skies and sunny weather or the Midnight Sun, then sunglasses and sunscreen are definitely needed. You might also want to bring along a cap or a hat. It might not feel like the Caribbean but you can still get sunburnt!

Camera Gear Recommendation

Whew, now that we’ve gotten the clothing out of the way, let’s focus on camera gear. If you want to bring home print and contest-worthy photographs, then follow this guide. We suggest that you pack your camera gear into a backpack suitable for carrying onto a plane, as it will reduce the risk of gear breaking in-flight.

A high megapixel Digital SLR or full frame Mirrorless camera

We recommend bringing along a digital camera, preferably a Digital SLR or a Mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor, as these cameras have better low-light capabilities. However, a crop-sensor D-SLR will also suffice. Cameras that are suitable for the job include the Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 6D, Nikon D810, Nikon D750, and the Sony A7R series. There are numerous other brand systems in the market today that we have not mentioned, such as Fuji, Olympus and Pentax. If your system is not in our list, then as long as it fits the basic requirements, it will still likely allow you to take photographs and to learn photography just as well as you would by using the brands above.


A crucial part of joining any photography tour is choosing the right lenses to bring on the trip. It isn’t logical to bring along every lens that you have in your collection, particularly if you have a limited carry-on allowance on the plane. For a photography tour in Iceland, you should bring 3-4 lenses at most, which will allow you to capture photographs across a range of different focal lengths.

Ultra Wide Angle Lens

We recommend that you bring an ultra wide angle lens, which will help you to capture the entire beauty of Iceland’s iconic locations. These types of lenses are the primary choice of most landscape photographers and are also useful for capturing the Aurora Borealis at night. Our photo guides have tested and recommend using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L Mark II, Sigma 20mm f/1.4 ART DG HSM Lens, Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF, and the Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8G ED. If you have a different brand, then make sure that you choose a lens with a high aperture, such as F/2.8, which will allow more light into your camera when it is dark. This will be useful for when we shoot the night sky.

Standard Zoom Lens

A standard zoom lens is also handy for general purpose photography during your trip. You will use this kind of lens for shooting Icelandic horses or waterfalls from a safe distance. Some standard zoom lenses that we recommend are the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L Mark II, Canon 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, and the Nikkor AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED VR. If you are using a different brand, then consider choosing one that covers an average distance from around 24-70mm. This is a versatile zoom range and will allow you to capture a variety of scenes in Iceland.

Telephoto Lens

During your Iceland photography tour, it is likely that you will be visiting glaciers and mountain ranges. These are the perfect times to use a telephoto lens, which will allow you to zoom in on things far away and to capture abstract details. Some telephoto lenses that we recommend are the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS Mark II, Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L IS, Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8G ED VR II, and the Nikkor 70-200 f/4.0G ED VR. Where possible, choose a lens that is not too heavy to carry, as we will likely be undertaking some short hikes on our tours. The last thing you’ll want is to be weighed down by your gear.

A sturdy and dependable tripod and head

The tripod is the lifeline of your camera and is a definite must for non-shaky photos in Iceland’s windy conditions. It is important that your tripod is sturdy and can deal with the rugged and outdoor environment. A flimsy, cheap tripod will simply prevent you from being able to shoot most of the time and the last thing you’ll want is your expensive camera crashing to the ground.

When choosing a tripod, look for something that is lightweight and suitable for travel. Carbon fibre tripods are lighter and more rigid than their aluminium counterparts, absorb vibrations more effectively, and are more comfortable to carry for longer distances.

You will also want to consider whether your tripod has twist lock legs or a clip type. Both types have their pros and cons. Clip types are easier to set up but are easily penetrated by sand and dust. On the other hand, twist locks are easier to clean and are mostly dust and dirt proof, though can still get sand caught in the threads if you adjust the legs whilst actively shooting in-field.

Manfrotto, Really Right Stuff (RRS) and Gitzo are all tripod brands that we have tested and which we have been using for years. These brands are also available in most stores. When choosing a tripod, make sure that you have the right model for your camera system, based on its height and weight. We suggest heading into a store to try your tripod before you buy it, so you can ensure that it is the right fit for you.

As a rule of thumb, the height of your tripod must not exceed eye level with the camera placed. This will not only ensure proper posture, but will also mean that it can be handled and maneuvered easily. So keep this in mind when choosing a ball head to fit on top of your tripod.

As we will be working on uneven surfaces, it is important that your ball head be flexible and can be adjusted accordingly. Make sure that you choose the type that you are most comfortable operating. When selecting a ball head, consider one with an Arca-Swiss quick-release plate for added security, a secure ball lock so that even a heavy telephoto lens will stay in place, and which has sufficient load capacity for your camera and lens. We recommend the Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 SP with Quick Release, the Benro B3 Double Action Ball Head, Sirui K-20X Ball Head, and the Vanguard SBH 100 Ball Head. If you choose to use a different brand, then make sure that it suits your shooting style, as this can affect the time that you spend setting up a shot in-field.


Filters are a mainstay of landscape photography and offer more creative possibilities with your Digital SLR than any other camera accessories on the market. They are used not only by our photo guides, but by some of the most notable landscape photographers in the world. This is because they allow for different moods to be captured across an array of weather conditions and scenes. Although some filter effects may be recreated in post-production software, there are other things which simply cannot be reproduced during post-processing and which must be done at the time of shooting.

To make sure that you bring along the appropriate filters that will suit you best, it is necessary to understand the different types of commercially-available filters.

Filter Systems

Filter systems come in two types - screw on and slot-in. Screw type filters attach via the filter thread on the front of most lenses and offer the advantage of using premium quality optical glass, while their small size means they’re easy to store and carry. The disadvantage is that each filter will only fit one diameter of lens, so if your lenses require different filter thread sizes, then you will need the same filter in different sizes. Also, stacking more than one screw type filter on top of another increases the risk of vignetting.

On the other hand, slot-in filters require you to purchase an adapter ring and holder, to which filters may be inserted. They are generally more expensive compared to the screw-in solution, but they introduce a few advantages that are important to landscape photographers. With a slot-in filter system, you can replace filters in the field rapidly. You can also install many filters without having issues with vignetting, as there are special holders available even for ultra-wide lenses.

If you plan to use a number of filters or have several lenses, a slot-in system is more practical. You only need to buy one of each type, which can be inserted into a holder attached to the lens with an appropriately sized holder ring. You will need a ring to suit the filter thread of each of your lenses but you can swap the holder between them. This will actually save you money in the long run.

Different Types of Filters for Landscape Photography

The following are types of filters that we recommend for landscape photography, which will allow you to make the best of any conditions when you are shooting in Iceland.

Circular Polarising Filter (CPL): These are used to boost saturation and also to enhance reflections or remove glare and flares.

6-stop and 10-stop Neutral Density Filters (ND): These are used for long-exposure effects. They provide the misty, still water effect and streaky, drawn-out clouds.

3-stop Graduated Neutral Density Filter (GND): These filters increase the dynamic range of any scene and make it possible to have bright foregrounds with well-exposed skies. They have a gradient ranging from dark at the top to clear in the middle, with a hard edge (abrupt graduation with a clear boundary between the transparent and the ND area) or soft edge (soft transition, where the graduation between light and dark areas is not so clear). For the purpose of shooting in Iceland, it is recommended that you bring along a soft edge GND rather than a hard edge, as there will be very mountainous areas where horizons are not well-defined.

For your photography trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase one of each of these filters well in advance, as they may not be available in Iceland when you arrive. Our filter system of choice is NiSi, as the filters are durable, well-made and modestly priced. To get started, you will need to purchase a NiSi 100mm Filter Holder Kit, which is made from black powder coated Aviation-grade billet aluminium. This filter holder will allow you to insert 3 filters at a time in addition to having a CPL fitted. The kit comes with 4 adapter rings, a filter holder and a CPL, which are designed in such a way that they won’t cause vignetting on ultra-wide lenses.

Cable Release or Intervalometer remote

When you use filters and tripods, it is a good idea to use a cable release or intervalometer remote. These will allow you to release the shutter of your camera whilst minimising shake, resulting in clearer and sharper photos. A remote will also allow you to create photos with shutter exposures of more than 30 seconds, which is the usual maximum exposure time allowed by your camera unless you take complete manual control by utilising Bulb mode. By using a remote for longer exposures in Bulb mode, you will be well-equipped for astrophotography and shooting star trails. Whichever cable release or intervalometer you choose, make sure you double check that it is suitable for your camera. We suggest the PRO Digital Camera Remote Controller, which is very user-friendly with simple controls and easy to understand instructions. Setup of this remote is pretty effortless while the housing is compact and durable.

Rain sleeves

Shooting in Iceland means that you will be outdoors most of the time and that your gear will be exposed to the elements. To protect your camera, we suggest investing in some rain sleeves, which offer protection from mist, water spray and dust. These are particularly useful when shooting at the coast, near waterfalls or when it is raining. The Altura Photo Professional Rain Cover delivers maximum protection for your camera and lens with a durable, lightweight, waterproof material. The sleeve is easy to install and remove, offering fast access to both your camera and lens. It is also compatible with most camera and lens configurations.

Cleaning Kit

When you are out shooting in-field, particularly in Iceland, it is likely that you will end up with smudges, drops of water, and other dirt on your lens. To keep your images spotless, you will find yourself regularly needing to clean the front element of your lens. We recommend getting yourself a Giottos Rocket Air Blaster, a Vortex Lens Cleaning Pen, a MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, as well as some ZEISS Lens Wipes. Putting together a cleaning kit like this help you to battle the elements, ensuring clean, dust-free images when you are out in-field.

Now that you’ve booked your trip and considered some of our recommended gear above, you will definitely be set for your exciting adventure to Iceland! Organising to have your clothing and camera gear well in advance of your tour means that you will be well-equipped for the dynamic weather conditions, which will be a huge boost to both your learning and actual experience of the workshop that you’ve booked. Bringing along these essentials will also help our guides to teach and show you how to photograph some of the most captivating and epic landscapes that you will witness in your life. So get ready to photograph some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world. We look forward to seeing you soon!