Top 10 Things to Bring for Hiking in Iceland


Top 10 Things to Bring for Hiking in Iceland

Top 10 Things to Bring for Hiking in Iceland

In 2015 I executed 9 very different hiking trips in Iceland while staying there for 8 months. As soon as I arrived there in May I realized that I might be lacking some equipment such as for example crampons, ice axe and high-quality winter clothing. Being accustomed to hiking in the Alps I didn’t expect that I’ll need winter equipment in late spring and summer as the mountains in Iceland are not that high – the highest mountain is 2.109 meters high. However, due to the geographical position of Iceland (63⁰ – 68⁰ N), conditions are quite harsh there and thus additional equipment is required in order to execute hiking trips safely and comfortably. More than once I had to refrain from climbing a certain mountain because I didn’t have the appropriate equipment – which is of course a damn shame!

So, in order to aid those who are planning to hike in Iceland I have made a list of the top 10 things to bring for hiking in Iceland, which includes the things I found to be especially useful – as well as those things I wish I would have brought. If you are planning to go hiking in Iceland, please also read the “10 things you should know before going hiking in Iceland” to be prepared for any hike you might wish to conduct.

 

Outdoor Research Helium II

Outdoor Research Helium II

1. Waterproof Jacket – Outdoor Research Helium II

When to use it: All-year-round on every hiking trip

As Iceland is an extremely rainy country, high-quality waterproof gear is necessary in order to be comfortable on the trails. Additionally, the weather in Iceland is very unpredictable; it happened to me more than once that the weather forecast didn’t stick throughout the day – or hour. I was using a Mammut Softshell Jacket for rain protection but unfortunately it didn’t offer sufficient protection for all-day rain and thus I got wet more than once. However, the jacket offered great wind protection.

For the best performance I would recommend the Outdoor Research Helium II jacket which is made of a 2.5-layer Pertex Shield material. The Pertex Shield material has a hydrostatic head of 10.000 mm and thus keeps you dry in the heaviest rainfall. Additionally it offers great breathability – it has a MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate) of 7000 g/m2/24h. The jacket is equipped with glued seams and high-quality YKK AquaGuard front zipper for additional protection.   It also features an adjustable hood, drawcord hem and a conveniently placed chest pocket. As the jacket weighs only 180 grams it’s perfect for the demanding Icelandic trails.

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Everyday use
  • All-year-round use

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Woolx Merino Hat

Woolx Merino Hat

2. Hat – Woolx Merino Wool Hat

When to use it: All-year-round on every hiking trip

The temperatures in Iceland are relatively low throughout the year (max. 20⁰C on “warm” summer days) and the strong wind never stops blowing. Therefore a high-quality hat is necessary – not only for hiking but for basically every outdoor activity.  I’ve been using the Woolx Merino Wool Hat on a daily basis and I found it extremely functional. The hat is made of 100% ultrafine 18.5 microns Australian Merino wool which is soft to the touch and offers incredible performance. It excels at moisture-wicking and odor-control properties. On long hiking trips I wore this hat for several days without washing it and still there was no sign of odor.  The hat is also lighter and less bulky than similar hats.

 

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Running
  • Everyday Use

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Montane Atomic Pants

Montane Atomic Pants

3. Waterproof Pants – Montane Atomic

When to use them: All-year-round on every hiking trip

The Montane Atomic pants come in incredibly handy in bad weather. I purchased them in the middle of my “Hiking Iceland” tour (October) as the weather became very rainy. As the Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket they are made of a 2-5-layer Pertex Shield fabric and thus offer an outstanding rain/wind protection. The pants are designed to be worn over hiking pants and are equipped with ¼ side zips which allow you to easily put them on without taking your footwear off first.  Additionally they feature an elastic waist with drawcord, Velcro adjustment straps in the calves’ area and snap fasteners in the ankles’ area. The pants are also exceptionally light – they weigh only 189 grams. The only con is that they don’t have any pockets or zippers to reach the pockets in the pants underneath. However, I was very satisfied with them and therefore I would recommend them to everybody who is planning to go hiking in Iceland.

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

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Lowa Renegade

Lowa Renegade

4. Comfortable Hiking Boots – Lowa Renegade

When to use them: All-year-round on every hiking trip

As the distances are usually vast on hiking trips in Iceland, it’s very important that you wear a pair of comfortable hiking boots. I was wearing the Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid boots and overall I was satisfied with the performance. However, these boots are more “Via Ferrata” oriented and thus equipped with a relatively stiff sole.  For hiking in Iceland I would recommend the Lowa Renegade boots as they are exceptionally light (only 1110 grams per pair) and relatively flexible, thus offering great comfort. The boots are equipped with an upper made of Nubuck leather, Vibram EVO sole, Climate Control Footbed and Gore-Tex lining. Due to the Gore-Tex lining they will keep your feet dry in the quickly changing Icelandic weather.

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Hunting
  • Everyday use

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Osprey Talon 44

Osprey Talon 44

5. Lightweight Backpack – Osprey Talon 44

When to use it: All-year-round on up to 4 days long hikes

The Osprey Talon 44 is an incredibly light backpack – it weighs merely 1040g. I’ve been using it throughout my Hiking Iceland tour and I simply can’t say a single bad thing about it. The backpack is made of a very light nylon fabric which is reinforced in the crucial areas such as for example the bottom. The backpanel is ergonomically shaped and made of foam, which is covered with a mesh fabric to provide good ventilation. Additionally the backpack features a chest strap, hip belt, 2 side mesh pockets, external lid pocket, internal lid pocket, sleeve for water reservoir and shoulder strap pocket. The main compartment can be accessed from the top as well as from the bottom. I was amazed over the comfort and stability of this backpack – even when carrying heavy loads. Therefore I would recommend it to every hiker who is planning to hit the demanding Icelandic trails.

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Walking
  • Via Ferrata

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Garmin eTrex 30x

Garmin eTrex 30x

6. Handheld GPS Device – Garmin eTrex 30x

When to use it: All-year-round on every hiking trip

Iceland has a very low population density (3.2km2) which is unequally distributed with the vast majority living in towns along the coastline (2/3 of the population just in Reykjavik!) and a quite uninhabited interior – which is popular for hiking and mountaineering. It can therefore be very dangerous to miss the direction when hiking – it might take you days if not weeks to come back to civilization. Bad weather and low visibility sometimes make navigation especially difficult. While hiking in Iceland I was using the Suunto Ambit 2 GPS watch for navigation and I found it very useful.

However, as GPS watches are not yet able to show an actual map on the display I would recommend you the handheld Garmin eTrex 30x GPS device. It is an extremely powerful device that features long battery life (25h), WAAS and HotFix functionality, 3-axis electronic compass and barometric altimeter. It is also relatively small and therefore you can easily store it in your backpack’s hip belt pocket. The Garmin eTrex 30x GPS device weighs merely 141 grams and is equipped with a 2.2″ display which can show 65.000 colors. In addition to that, the Garmin device offers extremely detailed maps of Iceland.

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Trekking
  • Hunting
  • Geocaching
  • Backpacking

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Rab Latok Mountain 2

Rab Latok Mountain 2

7. Lightweight Tent – Rab Latok Mountain 2

When to use it: All-year-round on hikes that last more than one day

Sleeping in mountain huts in Iceland is fairly expensive and therefore I would recommend you to bring a tent. I didn’t bring it and I still regret this decision. For hiking the Kjolur route I had to borrow one but the only thing I could get was an ordinary 2-person camping tent which was extremely heavy. Needless to say, I spent enormous amount of energy carrying that thing for 55 kilometers.

I would recommend you the Rab Latok Mountain 2 tent which is extremely light (1850 g) but at the same time offers superb protection against natural phenomena. It comfortably accommodates 2 persons and still leaves space for some equipment. It is made of a 3-layer DVStorm fabric which uses the eVent waterproof technology. Because of the fabric and strong poles, the tent offers incredible resistance against wind, rain and snow. In addition to that it’s very easy to set up. Packed, it measures 55 X 18 cm and can thus be easily attached to a backpack with straps.

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking
  • Camping

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MontBell Down Hugger 800

MontBell Down Hugger 800

8. Winter Sleeping Bag – MontBell Down Hugger 800

When to use it: All-year-round on hikes that last more than one day

The temperatures in Iceland are low, even in summer, and you should therefore make sure that you bring a sleeping bag which provides sufficient warmth. I didn’t bring a sleeping bag to Iceland and therefore I had to buy one there. The prices for outdoor gear are ridiculously high in Iceland and as I wanted to save some money I bought a relatively inexpensive sleeping bag with a temperature rating of 8 C – after all it was July when I needed it. However, the sleeping bag couldn’t live up to its comfort rating and when it got very cold in the Icelandic Highlands in the night, I had to sleep with my jacket and pants on. Needless to say, I would not recommend this sleeping bag for anyone planning to sleep outdoors in Iceland.

Instead I would suggest the MontBell Down Hugger 800 for overnight hiking trips. The MontBell Down Hugger 800 has a comfort rating of -5 C and weighs only 1011 grams. It has an outer layer made of 20-denier Ballistic Ripstop Nylon and uses an 800 fill power goose down insulation. The material is also treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellant) for better resistance against moisture. Additionally the sleeping bag features a heat saving tunnel hood, drawcord for face hole adjustment, neck baffle and super spiral stretch system. The super spiral stretch system makes the sleeping bag more elastic for better fit and prevents the heat loss. As the sleeping bag is extremely light and warm, it’s perfect for the demanding Icelandic weather conditions.

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking
  • Camping

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Petzl Irvis

Petzl Irvis

9. Crampons  – Petzl Irvis

When to use it: All-year-round on icy and snowy trails – check for conditions before going

Icelandic trails are covered with snow for the majority of the year – in bad years almost constantly. For example Mount Esja was in 2015 inaccessible without crampons till late June. I didn’t bring my crampons to Iceland and therefore I had to skip many mountains which I would otherwise ascend. However, I still managed to conduct 9 different hiking trips – some of them even in December.

If you planning to go hiking in Iceland at any other time than high summer (mid- June – mid-August), I would recommend you to bring the Petzl Irvis crampons which offer great performance and are very light (820 grams). These crampons are made of stainless steel and thus offer great durability and corrosion resistance. They are equipped with 10 points and anti-balling plates which together offer great traction. The Petzl Irvis crampons come in two versions – clip and strap. As you will probably want to use them with an ordinary hiking boots, you will need the strap model – it fits most hiking boots.

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Ski mountaineering
  • Backpacking

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Petzl Summit Evo

Petzl Summit Evo

10. Ice Axe – Petzl Summit Evo

When to use it: All-year-round on icy and snowy trails– check for conditions before going

As I didn’t bring crampons I naturally also didn’t bring an ice axe. However, when you are wearing crampons you should also carry an ice axe (in case that you slip).

For frosted Icelandic trails I would recommend you the Petzl Summit Evo ice axe. This ice axe is more oriented towards technical mountaineering but it can also be used for hiking and general mountaineering. It features a curved shaft made of aluminum and a head made of stainless steel. The shaft is equipped with a  rubber grip and there is also a hydroformed handle at the curve. The ice axe offers great performance for climbing slopes as well as for self-arrest. The Petzl Summit Evo comes in three different sizes for good fit.

 

 

 

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • General Mountaineering
  • Technical Mountaineering
  • Glacier travel
  • Climbing

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