Iceland has been on my radar since I discovered my true affinity for the great outdoors in Tasmania, back in 2016. Since then, I have been on a mission to get closer with nature, be it day trips from Manchester to the Peak District, or adventures a touch further afield.
On 17th September 2018, I’m jetting off to this popular destination with my best buddy Jim, of Hikes, Bikes and Beards and together, we’re renting a car and driving around the entire Ring Road over the course of two weeks, camping along the way.
As well as being an epic adventure in itself, Iceland is important to us for another reason. Next year, we are embarking on the camping trip of a life time, if you will, by hiking the 2190 mile long Appalachian Trail together. Camping in Iceland is the perfect excuse to test out some of our gear, experience cold, wet conditions and get slightly more acclimatised to outdoor living (we hope).
So without further ado, here is my gear list for my two week camping trip to Iceland:
As we are renting a car for our Iceland adventure, we figured that we can be a little more lenient with the weight of our belongings. I’ve decided to take 3 types of bag; my main backpack, which will store the majority of my things, a day bag – especially useful for hikes; and a small bag for personal items.
Osprey Aura AG 65 Backpack
I got my pack fitted professionally by the lovely folks at the outdoor store, Ellis Brigham in Manchester. I tried on a few different styles until I found the one which fitted best (some were too tall and whacked me in the head, whilst others dug into my hips). My pack of choice is the women’s Osprey Aura AG 65 in small.
Fjallraven Kanken Backpack
I’ve had my Ox Red Fjallraven Kanken backpack for almost a year now and it comes everywhere with me, so I shall be taking it as carry-on during my flight and then use it as a day bag around Iceland.
Ultralight Fanny Pack
High Tail Designs are a brand new company based in Virginia, USA, specialising in ultralight outdoor products. As well as my backpack and day bag, I wanted a ‘bum bag’ (as us Brits call them) to keep my phone and money within arms reach and safe.
After discovering the brand on Instagram, I quickly fell in love with their Ultralight Fanny Pack in ‘Canary Seafoam’, which they kindly gifted to me, to test out in Iceland, before hitting the Appalachian Trail next year.
Not only are we camping to test out our gear for our thru-hike, but we also want to try and save as much money as possible on accommodation, because we are cheap bastards.
Vango F10 Helium UL 2 Tent
After a lot of umming-and-ahhing over tents; torn by price vs weight, I finally settled with the Vango F10 Helium UL 2 tent. Force 10 is a premium sub-brand by Vango and this tent is said to be one of the most advanced lightweight tents that they make. At 1.14kg and just under £200 at the time of purchase, I like to think that I struck a good balance between budget and portability.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
I love my sleep. In the past I have slept on thin foam pads and suffered heavily the next day after lying on my sides (Shakira was right – hips don’t lie). I also like to sleep on my back and front; basically wherever the mood takes me, so I opted for a little bit of luxury here with the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress.
Due to my tight budget and the extra weight I’m going to be able to lug around thanks to having a car, I’m taking my big, old brand-that-noone’s-ever-heard-of sleeping bag to Iceland. It weighs a tonne and even with a compression carry bag it’s huge; but it will do for now. Its -5 comfort rating is all that matters for this trip.
Cracking out the camp stove in Iceland seems like the perfect way to practice cooking some hiker meals and getting used to not having a kitchen at our disposal!
MSR Pocket Rocket 2
I found that the MSR Pocket Rocket would come up over and over again during my research into stoves and is a firm favourite amongst hikers. It’s wonderfully lightweight but strong, and folds away neatly into its little hard plastic carry case.
Hi Gear 2 Person Cookset
To accompany my Pocket Rocket, I went for the Hi Gear 2 Person Cookset from Go Outdoors. I didn’t want to spend much on cookware, so for under £10, this seemed like a good option.
The set is unbelievably lightweight – almost to the point that I worry it may blow away in a sharp gust of wind – and comes with 2 pots, one at 1.4 litres and the other at 1 litre (the lids also double up as frying pans). I figured I will test out both capacities in Iceland and if all goes well, take the most suitable size with me on the Appalachian Trail.
Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork
Like the Pocket Rocket, this Sea to Summit Spork came up numerous times during my research into camping trip accessories. It’s small, weighs next to nothing and comes with a mini carabiner so you can clip it to yourself and whip it out as soon as the hanger kicks in.
Sea to Summit X-Cup
Instead of taking a huge, heavy coat, my tactic is to perfect my layering skills for both Iceland and the AT – something I have been utterly useless at my entire life, but goddamn it, no more I say! To keep spending to a minimum for this trip, I plan to dig out some of the clothes I already own to go with the items below.
Freedom Trail Essential Baffled Jacket
This lightweight, synthetic jacket from Go Outdoors was cheap, folds down to nothing and is surprisingly warm. I got the purple one because I have zero sense of style. For my top half I’ll also be taking thermals, a base layer, fleece, body warmer and waterproof; giving me more layers than an onion but hopefully keeping me toasty – especially overnight when temperatures drop.
Regatta Pack It Waterproof Over Trousers
Being on a budget, I really didn’t want to spend a great deal on waterproof trousers (I realise I may retract that statement after actually spending days at a time in the rain – stay tuned kids). These no-thrills Regatta pants are cheap ‘n’ cheerful and fold down into a small carry pouch. For my bottom half I’ll also take some warm leggings and hiking trousers.
Not forgetting a hat and gloves, plus swimwear; as Iceland is famous for its geothermal pools!
Inov-8 Trailtalon 290 Trail Runners
Trail runners are the shoe of choice these days for the Appalachian Trail because they are unbelievably lightweight, comfortable and dry quickly compared to hiking boots. Iceland is where I plan to test my new pair out properly, with some warm hiking socks of course.
I’ve had this camera for the last couple of years and it has been with me to Europe and on many an outdoor trip. I’m a huge fan of the beautiful photos it takes, however, although relatively small and compact, I think it’s still not going to be sleek enough for my thru-hike next year and I’m looking into alternatives.
GoPro HERO4 Black
I know I am way behind the times here, but my trusty GoPro Hero 4 has been across Australia and Europe with me and has captured some incredible scenes along the way.
PEDCO Ultra Camera Tripod
I wanted a small, cheap, lightweight tripod to help me document my adventure and this guy seemed super popular amongst the technological outdoorsy folk. It also comes with a strap to secure it to fence posts and the like, which, quite frankly excited me.
Wilko USB Car Charger Double Port
I bought this handy dandy car charger to charge our phones through the car, which we will no doubt need to do during long drives without access to plug sockets.
I prefer using a Buff over a hat because they are so light and can be used in a multitude of ways. It should come in handy for keeping my face and neck warm, as well as hiding my disgustingly greasy hair.
Microfibre Travel Towel
I’ve had my The Little Bodhi microfibre travel towel since 2011 when I first began backpacking (wait, is that gross)? Anyways, it is lightweight and dries incredibly fast so is an essential.
Ladies, give the menstrual cup a go. I’m considering writing an entire blog post on this subject. This year, I completely put an end to disposable sanitary products. I said ta-ta to tampons and peace-out to pads in favour of the Moon Cup, and no word of a lie, it has changed my life.
Yes ok, it may not be everyones cup of tea, but for travelling and backpacking especially, it’s a game-changer. It saves weight, money, stress and the environment! If you do consider trying it out for your travels, I definitely suggest giving it a few months to get used to it before diving straight in at the deep end. Pun not intended.