Iceland Hike – 2016

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The first hiking trail we encountered, approximately one hour after leaving the airport.

Iceland had been on my mind for a few years before I finally booked a ticket to go there. Getting there from Canada used to be quite expensive, but with the opening of some cheap flights from USA and Canada, my husband and I planned to take our vacation there in 2016.
I had read a lot of trip reports of people crossing the country West to East or North to South. However I did not want to plan something too ambitious as this would be my husband's first long distance hike. I ordered some 1:100 000 maps and decided on a route that would leave directly from Keflavik airport, where international flights land and would eventually lead us to the Laugavegur trail, supposed to be one of the most beautiful treks in that area. The goal of our trip was to hike, explore, have fun while not spending too much money.

 

We landed very early in the morning and started walking from Keflavik airport towards some trails nearby. As we were walking on the side of the road someone stopped to offer us a ride which we declined; we wanted to walk the whole way to Skogar, where we were planning to end our hike. After approximately one hour we got to the start of a trail.

It took us a couple days to reach Reykjavik using hiking trails. The landscape was amazing, we walked in moss and lava fields for most of the way to the big city. We went into Reykjavik mainly to find a grocery store where we could buy our supplies for the next 10 days and mail ourselves a box of supplies at the Hrauneyjar Guesthouse in the highlands that we would pick up further on our hike.

To plan the trip I used 1:100 000 maps I bought on the OS app called "PDF Maps". These maps showed a lot of trails all over the country. I traced a potential route with the application and then took screen captures on my tablet. I printed the screen captures of the maps so we could have a paper copy with us and would not rely only on electronics for navigation. I believe the maps I used have not been updated recently as we found a lot of trails to be non-existent when we got there, especially for trails close to Reykjavik. However we were always able to manage by changing our route slightly and did not end up in any "dead-ends".

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Drying gear on the Laugavegur trail

We ended up walking around 450 kilometers over 20 days. We could have planned a longer stretch as we ended up having free time, exploring side trails and doing short days in order to keep to the schedule. We freedom camped most of the time while hiking, except for one night in a room at the Hrauneyjar guesthouse where we picked up our resupply box and two nights on the Laugavegur trek where we stayed at the official trail campgrounds. We never freedom camped close to houses or in sight of a road. Iceland has become a very popular travel destination and we did not want to be annoying tourists. We only camped in spots out of sight, not at walking distance of a campground and where we were sure not to bother anyone. As always, we also practiced Leave No Trace camp principles. I took information about freedom camping on the blog Iheartreykjavik.net. It is mentioned on the blog that freedom camping is permitted under the following conditions:

“Camping with no more than three tents is allowed on uncultivated ground for a single night, unless the landowner has posted a notice to the contrary. However, campers should always use designated campsites where they do exist. Do not camp close to farms without permission. If a group of more than three tents is involved, these campers must seek permission from the landowner before setting up camp outside marked campsite areas.”

We traveled at the end of August and beginning of September. The weather was very pleasant for hiking but could change very quickly. A tent that can hold up to strong winds is necessary. In the regions where we hiked we could have hiked with a tent that is not freestanding but I have read that in other parts of the country a freestanding tent is recommended.

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Iceland being a remote wealthy country with a small population, the cost of living is quite high. Regular tourist expenses such as car rental, gas, hotels and restaurants are very expensive. Most of these expenses can be avoided by planning to explore the country on foot rather than by car. You get to see less territory, but at the same time you get to see a lot more of the territory where you are traveling in. We managed to keep the cost of the whole trip to a very reasonable level by camping most of the time and making our own food. You can see the total cost for the trip in the table below. Although the cost of the trip was low, we realize that the gear we were using is not necessarily very cheap. However we already owned the gear and there is nothing that we bought specifically for Iceland. Unaccounted for in the detailed expenses below are three nights at a brand hotel in Reykjavik that we got for free by using reward points.

A few notes on our gear list below: I brought a -15C (5F) degree sleeping bag, which was too warm for the season. A -7C (20F) would have been sufficient with warm clothes for colder nights. We never ended using our headlamps since there was so much daylight.

Disclaimer: Gear lists represent what I used on previous trips and are not necessarily representative of gear I would use if I was to do these trips again and/or if I had infinite funds to buy new gear.
TOTAL BASE WEIGHT - Marilyne
6481g
TOTAL BASE WEIGHT - JM
8638g
Packing SystemPacking System
60L Zpacks Arc Haul
800
Quechua 70L backpack
1700
Dry Bag (Pack Liner)
200
MEC Pack Liner
114
Shelter SystemShelter System
EV2 Tent
2600
Sleeping SystemSleeping System
WM -15 Sleeping Bag
1170
WM -7 sleeping bag
900
Compression bag
50
Compression Bag
35
Therm-a-rest Neoair Xlite Pad, size regular
370
Therm-a-rest Neoair Xtherm Pad, size regular
461
Cooking SystemCooking System
Bic Lighter
22
Bic Lighter
22
MSR Reactor + Cloth
428
Light My Fire Titanium Spork
19
Light My Fire Titanium Spork
19
Victorinox Classic Pocket Knife
30
Titanium Mug
47
Ziploc Container
10
Ziploc Container
10
Gaz Canister
126
Gaz Canister
126
Water StorageWater Storage
Platypus Hoser Hydratation System - 2L
190
Platypus Hoser Hydratation System - 3L
165
Sawyer Soft Bottle
30
Plastic Bottle
48
Sawyer Squeeze Filter System + Seringe
81
Miscellaneous ItemsMiscellaneous Items
Passport and Passport pouch
57
Passport and Passport pouch
65
Wallet and id
39
Wallet and id
80
Sunglasses + Pouch
34
Catan Dice game + pen + cuben fiber pouch
50
Fisher Space Pen
21
Toiletry itemsToiletry items
Disposable Razor
8
OR Dry Ditty Bags
27
Trowel
30
Dermatone SPF 23 Skin Protector
30
Lightload Towel
17
Washing cloth
16
Hairbands
5
Eye cover
8
Medication
7
Soap Bottle
26
Soap Bottle
10
Travel size toothpaste tube.
27
Travel size toothpaste tube.
24
Toothbrush + Floss
9
Toothbrush
6
Safety and OrientationSafety and Orientation
Waterproof map case
77
Maps
40
Delorme InReach
200
Whistle
5
Silva Forecaster 610 Compass
15
ElectronicsElectronics
Iphone + Charging cable
143
Iphone + Charging cable
131
Lifeproof waterproof case
30
Lifeproof waterproof case
39
USB wall charger 2 outlets
54
USB wall charger and adaptor
32
US Single outlet charger
25
Headphones
12
Headphones
15
Portable charger + cable
283
Portable charger + cable
150
Small Tripod with Iphone clip
56
Petzl Headlamp
87
Petzl Headlamp
87
3AAA Batteries
22
OR Dry Ditty Bag
30
Gear RepairGear Repair
Cuben tape and repair patches
30
Sewing kit
40
Carried ClothingCarried Clothing
Marmot Speed Light Jacket
340
Arc'teryx Alpha SV
498
MLD Rain Kilt
81
Long Johns
205
Challenger Rain Mitts
27
Arc'teryx Rho LTW
241
PossumDown Gloves
43
Shorts
158
Arc'teryx Rho LTW Neck Gaiter
63
Sleeping t-shirt
153
Possum TuqueUnderwear
115
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hoody
204
Sleeping socks
61
Cuben Fiber Pack Cube (3)
54
Tuque
29
Gaiters
70
Neoprene Gloves
80
Underwear
30
Gloves
31
Sleeping T-shirt
104
Sea to Summit 8L Silnylon dry bag
27
Sleeping socks
90
Gaiters
86
MEC Long sleeve shirt
156
OR Dry Ditty Bags
34
Arc'teryx Long Johns
166
Worn Items (Not part of base weight)Worn Items (Not part of base weight)
Hiking Pants
431
Underwear
105
Chandail Asics manche longues
180
MEC Pants
464
Hiking Socks
90
REI Long sleeve shirt
194
Underwear
30
Arc'teryx Gamma MX
483
Earrings
1
Socks
76
Timex Watch
27
Black Diamond Trekking Poles
Bra
40
La Sportiva Hiking Boots
Headband
35
La Sportiva Hiking Boots
935
Black Diamond Trekking Poles
600
Arc'teryx Gamma SL Hybrid Softshell
312

ICELAND - 22 DAYS - COST FOR TWO (2016)

$ CAD

TOTAL COST ($CAD)

$ 2313.52

Flights (Wow air)
1316.97
Grocery (including freeze dried meals bought in the US)
369.72
Bus (to get back after the hike + to get to airport)
155.87
Restaurants
138.77
Hotel (one night)
99.36
Campings (two nights)
82.28
Maps (PDF Maps app purchases)
46.93
Fuel for camping stove
41.03
Miscellaneous (Mail + InReach + Drugstore)
62.59

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