Checklist of gear needed for Iceland
You don’t have to follow this list to the letter; it’s more for guidance, and what works for me. If you’re a regular camper and outdoor type, you may well own a lot of this kit already, or aspire to buying it anyway for repeat use. If this trip is a “one-off”, maybe I’d suggest the beg, borrow or steal approach.
Helmet – not necessarily an off-road type. If the weather is cold, you may not want freezing air blowing round your face and through helmet vents. Personal choice. I’ve worn a road helmet each time, but others have worn moto-x helmets & goggles. Ideal compromise may be one of those Ewen & Charlie hybrid things, with visor.
Jacket – again, conventional off-road body armour & race shirt probably won’t be warm enough. I’d suggest a vented fabric, armoured jacket. The kind of thing warm enough for winter riding, but with vents that can be opened if it’s “hot” (17C max!) during the day. Pockets for camera / drinks are handy.
Trousers – again I’d recommend fabric trousers, with some armour, or knee pads. On the last trip, some wore leather, but this isn’t the best material to get soaked through if we have to do a deep river crossing. Off road race pants are OK – but I think you’ll need thermals or an extra layer to go with these.
Waterproofs – if your jacket and trousers are not waterproof, take some thin, light over trousers / and jacket (cagoule?). There are some advantages to riding in gear which isn’t fully waterproof, as it it breathes better.
Boots – moto-x style, or tough road type boots. NOT fashionable little pixie boots that folks use for race track use J Ground is rough / sharp / hot underfoot – and some pushing of bikes across rivers or through snow / mud might be needed. Goretex boot inners aren’t a bad idea if you know your boots aren’t waterproof. Inners don’t work when water is thigh deep however.
Gloves – I’m a great believer in taking several pairs. I like fairly thin gloves (for feel), and sometimes add inners to try and minimise cold hands. Always have a least one spare pair, if first lot aren’t warm enough, or get wet.
Thermal base layer – up to you, but if you want the best, try Merino wool items. Natural, very warm and odour free. You can wear these for days.
Neck warmer – scarf or “Buff”
To save on size of hold luggage, it’s possible to wear a lot of your bike gear on the plane. To play safe, try and pack your helmet into your main luggage or hand luggage. We’ve often got away with it, but airlines could object to you carrying a motorcycle helmet as an extra item of hand luggage.
Tent – must be of reasonable quality, able to withstand wind and rain. I suggest 2-man designs that pack down fairly small and light. On the other hand, we used a tough four man tent this June – which although heavier and bulkier, could be split 3 or 4 ways on the aircraft. I used a tiny, one-man, almost “bivvie” style tent from Decathlon; under 2 kilos. The groundsheet was so thin, I took an extra tarp, cut down to size, to lay on rocky / muddy ground first. I have a number of tents and could supply if needed – although, guests would have to carry them.
Sleeping bag – one item not to skimp on. Economise all you like on some items, but don’t use a thin supermarket special for Iceland. I’d suggest a three season bag (or higher?) from a reputable maker. If you already have a down bag – take it. (down is very warm, and packs down smaller than a synthetic equivalent). Don’t go out and buy a down bag specially (they aren’t cheap) – a warm synthetic one will be fine – just a bit bulkier to pack. But if you’re a regular & frequent camper, and looking for a convenient excuse to buy yourself a down sleeping bag, then this is it. For lots more info on bags start by reading this….. https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/data_documents/knowledge/sleepingbags.htm
Sleeping bag liner – cheap item. You can make one yourself from a cotton sheet, or buy a basic cotton one from about £5. Again, Decathlon. Silk ones are nice, and pack down really tiny – but cost more. Why use one? They add a little warmth to any sleeping bag – arguably one season higher – and reduce the need to ever wash your sleeping bag (tricky with down bags).
Sleeping mat – equally as important – an essential layer under your sleeping bag, which adds a soft layer, but more importantly insulates you from cold coming up from the ground. A basic foam Karrimat costs from about £5 upwards, but these are quite bulky despite weighing nothing. Self inflating mats, like the original “Thermarest” are better. They needn’t cost the earth – Decathlon’s own brand “Quechua” ones are fine. Think of pack size.
Camping gear – start here http://www.decathlon.co.uk/EN/hiking-gear-68240668/ if buying kit, and consider Amazon, Cotswolds, Castle Camping, Outdoor Mega Store, World of Camping etc. etc.
For all camping items – if unsure, talk to me first. I’ve camped for years and have amassed a lot of stuff. If stuck, I might be able to help you out.
General clothing items
You can wear your bike gear virtually all day, every day. Maybe wear the same thermals every day, but treat yourself to clean tee-shirts. One pair of standard non-biking trousers, plus a clean shirt for the “night out”. An extra jacket might be handy; you can wear your bike jacket in the evening – but if it’s become soaking wet during the day – a nice, warm, dry comfy alternative might be welcome. A warm coat, jumper or fleece also makes a pillow. A woolly hat for outdoors at night. The sun may still be shining at midnight, but it can drop below zero in the interior uplands. Again, if you already own something luxurious like a down jacket – take it. Decathlon do a budget down jacket, which is far from the peak of style or quality (being 50% feathers), but at just £39 you can’t knock it for bike trips or places where a better jacket might get damaged or dirty. If your bike jacket doesn’t fulfil this role already, take a thin waterproof shell, in case of heavy rain.
Swim trunks or shorts for the Blue Lagoon and hot springs. Towel. Underwear, optional, but most people take it.
Cooking / eating
This year, we each took a favourite mug or glass, plus knife, fork & spoon and plastic bowl or plate. We bought cans of beer and favourite tipples on landing at Keflavik airport. The 4x4 support crew did the food shopping on day one, using money raised by our food kitty. Between us, we carried 3 stoves.
Gadgets & Other
A camera is good. Ipod & headphones for the flights? I took a dock last time, so we could listen to tunes whilst lounging in the hot pools. Torch? Not really needed (24 hour daylight remember), but can be useful inside a black tent.
First Aid Kit – we carry one anyway, but it’s worth taking a few personal items and any medication you may need.
Sunglasses – it can be very bright in the daytime. Even a tiny container of suncream.
Some cash – Icelandic Kroner. Currently around 200 ISK to £1 GBP. This is very very good compared to a few years ago. You won’t need all that much.
Early guess-timates are
- optional purchase of some booze on arrival (by card) £0 to £20
- daily snacks & miscellaneous, £10 per day?
- By mutual consent, it’s usually best to appoint a “kitty person” who pays for bike fuel, coffee stops and even snacks / lunch where the group is together. Say £15-20 per day, which would cover the shopping trip at the start, which buys the majority of food for the trip.
At 4 full riding days, and two part days either side, we’re probably talking about £125 each? Will re-calculate again prior to departure. Whatever we took in 2009 was wrong – we all had money left over at the end.