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Iceland’s weather is famously unpredictable, with everything from rain to snow to high wind, sometimes within minutes. It’s an environment that demands extra vigilance and care when protecting your camera gear.
I should know because on my most recent trip to Iceland I destroyed a camera. I was on the southern coast, photographing a seascape when a strong gust of wind unexpectedly blew my camera (Canon 5D Mark IV) and tripod over. The camera landed in a bath of black sand and salty seawater. Within seconds, the logic board of the camera was fried, and I didn’t have a backup.
From that experience and others, I’ve compiled a list of must-have landscape photography accessories for Iceland (and any hostile environment where fragile, expensive cameras go to die). Most of these are inexpensive, small, and easy to pack.
Disclaimer: None of these products were given to me, nor is this post sponsored. I purchased them all with my own money.
Vanguard Stone Bag
The Vanguard SB-100 Stone Bag is a simple, inexpensive ($11 at the time of this post) accessory which mounts to any three legged tripod. Simply attach the bag to the legs, throw in some rocks or dirt, and your tripod now has extra weight to keep it from tipping over.
Additionally, I found you can also use the bag as a shelf for lens caps, filters, lenses, whatever you have when you need a convenient place to temporarily store something.
When you’re done shooting, the is flexible enough to collapse inside the tripod legs. I leave my bag on the tripod at all times so it’s always there, ready to go.
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
Don’t trip or get lost in the dark! Wear a headlamp like this model from Black Diamond, and you’ll have plenty of light to see while hiking.
Additionally, this particular headlamp has a red light mode which provides sufficient illumination without affecting your night vision.
Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Wipes
The perfect wipes for lenses, camera gear and pretty much anything electronic. Each wipe is pre-moistened and sealed so you can rip one open whenever or wherever you need one. I always keep a few of these in my backpack.
Backpack with waterproof cover
Whichever type of backpack you bring, if the bag itself isn’t waterproof, bring along a protective waterproof shell. That way, if it starts raining while you’re hiking, water won’t leak through the zippers or fabric and get into your expensive gear. If you don’t already own a good camera backpack, I recommend (and use) the Lowepro Protactic 450AW. It has a built-in waterproof shell that can be pulled out from the bottom and wrapped around the pack within seconds.
As they say, the worse the weather, the better the photos. Only problem is, you camera and lens may get wet, or sand and bits of grit may become lodged between the buttons and dials (which can be such a pain to remove, if that’s even possible). Whenever I want to be absolutely sure my camera is protected from the elements while shooting, I attach this Vortex Storm Jacket Camera Cover. It collapses into a small pouch, which I keep in an accessory pocket at all times inside my backpack just in case I need it.
Protective SD Card Case
They may be cheap, but when you think about it, SD cards can be more valuable than camera gear, for the data they contain may be irreplaceable. And besides, SD cards can get lost, mixed-up, or malfunction if not taken care of. To help protect your cards against the elements — and so you always know where they are when not in use — a solid, waterproof SD card case is essential. The one linked below is the case I use, and it has served me well.
Rugged Backup Hard Drive
When backing up your SD cards (which you are doing…right?), use a rugged travel hard drive to keep your backup data safe and secure. There are lots of options out there, but the one which has worked well for me (and is also affordable) is the Silicon Power Rugged 1TB.
Another option I’m using now is the SanDisk external SSD. Smaller, lighter, and its USB-C.
Either way, a backup hard drive will help you keep your data secure.
Giotto Rocket Air Blaster
These air blasters are awesome for removing dust particles from your lens or camera sensor, for they allow you to clean your gear from a distance using only air. The Giotto Rocket Air Blaster is also small, lightweight, and best of all, doesn’t require any power or produce waste. Simple, clean, and usable forever. I always pack one of these.
USB Dual Car Charger
Why bring a car charger when most rental cars include USB ports? Well, because sometimes those USB ports don’t work, are underpowered, or there aren’t enough of them. Or, the car might not have them at all. To play it safe, I always pack this RavPower Car Charger. Two ports, fast charging, and plenty of power to charge batteries, phones, whatever you have. You’ll be glad you brought one.
If I could name one piece of camera gear which made the greatest impact, it would have to be an L-Bracket. These brackets — available from different brands and for specific camera models — make changing the orientation of your camera (from landscape to portrait and vice versa) so much easier. Once you start using one, you’ll never take it off. The link below is the one I use on my Canon 5D Mark IV, though you’d want to purchase the one appropriate for the type of camera you’re using.