Below is all the equipment I will be taking on my Iceland Traverse solo and unsupported hike, from the southerly most point to the northerly. My journey through the land of fire and ice will be 600km in length and I will be carrying everything I need for the duration of the trip. Due to the brutality of the Icelandic weather, the barren landscape of Europe’s biggest desert and the lack of civilisation, my kit choice will be paramount for the success of this adventure.
The equipment will need to withstand 120km/hr+ winds which whip volcanic ash everywhere, driving rain, hail storms and possibly snow. I will need to wade through fast-flowing glacial rivers but will also see no water re-supply for at least 3 days during one section. I will need to filter all my water and make sure I have a suitable repair kit and medical supplies for what the inhospitable environment might throw at me.
However, the equipment also has to be ultralight to bring the backpack weight to a minimum. This Helps to reduce aches and pains, and potential trip ending injuries. The majority of the weight in my pack is made up of food. I will be hiking on a large calorie deficit to keep weight down, taking just 2000 calories of food per day. Excluding food and water, and the basic set of clothes I am wearing each day, the pack weight carried has come to 10.6kg’s (which I am pleased with). To see the full breakdown of kit weights and reason for kit choice please see table at the bottom of the page.
Worn & Additional Clothing
My clothes are a layering system which aims to maximise efficiency and minimise duplicity. If the conditions demanded it, I could comfortably wear all of my clothes simultaneously, and therefore I am carrying nothing I deem as excess/luxury.
The items I will be wearing or never carrying are: Salomon S/LAB Qst GTX Waterproof Jacket, Salomon Bonatti Weatherproof Trousers, Salomon Aigle Warm Leggings, Salomon Drifter Air Midlayer Hoodie, Salomon Elevate Move’on LS Base Layer, Bridgedale WoolFusion Socks, Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots, Salomon The 37.5 Bra Sports Top, Salomon RS Pro Headband, Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Hiking Poles, Tissot T-Touch Watch.
In my bag will be: Salomon Elevate Logo Cap, Salomon Haloes Down Hoodie Jacket, Salomon Primo Warm Seamless Tights, Salomon Primo Warm LS Tee Shirt, Salomon Logo Beanie, Salomon Fleece Neck Warmer, Salomon Warm Overmitten, Extremities Goretex Mitt, Bridgdale WoolFusion Trekker Spare Socks, Rab Down Booties, River Shoes, Sea to Summit Nano Mozi Headnet, Salomon SMax Googles, Builders Dust Mask, Terra Hiker Poncho.
The goggles and dust mask are not on your average hiking kit list, but Iceland is notoriously windy and the volcanic ash that it blows around consists of tiny jagged pieces of rock and glass, that are sharp and abrasive. Not something I want in my eyes of lungs ideally.
I am taking a little bit of a risk with my sleeping choice by going ultralight. I am taking one of the most amazing little tents that is the size of a 500ml drinking bottle! Its low profile will help in strong winds and I have replaced the tent pegs it comes with for some beefy sand tent pegs for better purchase in the desert highlands.
An additional ground sheet will add protection to the lightweight tent fabric from the abrasive ground. I am using an ultralight bivy bag to add additional protection from wet equipment to my beloved Mountain Equipment sleeping bag. It’s going to rain a lot!
The equipment mentioned is: Nordisk Lofoten 2 ULW Tent, Nordisk Lofoten Ground Sheet, MSR Cyclone Stakes, Mountain Equipment Hellium 400 Sleeping Bag, Mountain Equipment Ion Bivy Bag,Thermarest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Mat.
I am a big fan of Osprey Backpacks, particularly for comfort. Due to the large amounts of food I will need to carry, I have had to go for a large capacity bag of 65L. I chose the Osprey Aura bag, which was far from the lightest of packs, BUT I felt comfort in this instance had to take priority over weight. The bag comes with a waterproof cover, but with Icelandic weather so notoriously wet I will be using a 90L dry bag inside the backpack, plus various dry bags for kit to go in inside the big liner bag. In addition to that I have a poncho that can go over the whole thing. That makes 4 layers of waterproof protection!
Osprey Aura AG 65L Backpack, Sea to Summit Dry Bags in 90L, 13L, 8L, 2L and 1L, Lezyne Waterproof Document Wallet.
All water for the entire journey will need to be pumped and possibly treated. Although fresh flowing glacial water may look pure it still is full of tiny rock particles and can contain giardia and other parasites. So I will be filtering everything. If my pump should fail then I am taking coffee filter papers. These are super light as a backup, and if you filter the water through a couple of times you will remove the sediment and then you can pop in a purification tablet to kill any bugs. There is one section of the journey with no water options for 3 days. In addition to my Nalgene water bottles, I will be carrying a lightweight roll-up bladder that can hold 2L of water. This will provide me with 400ml a day to cook with 7330ml drinking what for each of the three days.
To keep the weight down on water and fuel, I will be only having just one hot meal a day. I am also including a seat pad here, which is a little bit of a luxury item, but at just 25g I think they are great. It just means you can cook or eat without sitting on very uncomfortable rough or wet ground.
Don’t overlook lip balm, it can be invaluable against cracked and blistered lips from the wind even in places that aren’t hot and sunny. For long trips, powdered toothpaste is much lighter, and a little bit will go a long way.
Eucryl Powdered Tooth Paste, Albus & Flora SPF 30 Lip Balm, Mini Toothbrush, Spare hairband, Toilet Roll, Trowel.
Hopefully, none of this list will be needed, but in such a remote environment as the central Icelandic desert I think a comprehensive medical kit is worth taking for the 260g in weight. I have needed pretty much every item in my medical kit at some point across all my expeditions and therefore would find it very difficult to leave any of it out. I also keep my Wilderness & Expedition First Aid refreshed.
QuikClot Clotting Sponge, Metronidazole Antibiotics, Co-amoxiclav Antibiotics, Steristrips, Antiseptic Wipes, Eye Wash, Orajel Extra Strength – Local anaesthetic for the mouth, Sterile Dressing, Steroid for Inflammation – Prednisone, Strong Antihistamine – Inorial, Anti-inflammatory – Diclofenac Tablets, Anti-inflammatory Gel – Voltaren 2%, Paracetamol Pain Killer, Imodium, Tick Remover, Safety Pin, Micropore Tape, Strappal Strapping Tape, Blister Shoe Patches, Mozi Spray.
Electronics and Navigation Equipment
With no possibility of charging any electrical items during the expedition, other than via a solar panel, I am navigating with a GPS that uses lithium AA batteries. I will also be using a Spot tracker that runs off lithium AAA batteries. The Spot tracker is used for both my safety, it has an SOS feature and an ‘I’m OK’ message and is linked to an online tracking map which provides the opportunity for friends and family to follow along the journey live. I use the fantastic ZeroSixZero for my online tracking maps, you can view my Iceland map here. I am taking a very large power pack as I will need to store as much power as possible via solar panel on the few days the weather permits the solar panel to work., charged by solar panel, but as I don’t expect to have a large amount of sunshine, I need to store as much power on the few days I can use it, hence the large capacity power block. This is to charge my small pocket camera and iPhone. I would have liked to have taken GoPro video equipment as well, but I just don’t think I will have enough solar power to charge more items.
Anker Powerport Solar Panel, Anker PowerCore 26800 Power Pack, Spot Gen3 Tracker Garmin Etrex 30x GPS, Silva Expedition Compass, Panasonic TZ90 Camera and Cable, Joby Mini Tripod, USB double adaptor wall plugs, Spare Lithium AAA’s for Spot Tracker, Spare Lithium AA’s for Etrex, Sennheiser Headphones, iPhone and Charging Cable, Maps.
Spares & Repairs
Leatherman Micra Multitool, Thermarest NeoAir Repair Patches, McNett Tenacious Tent Repair Tape, Nordisk Tent Pole Repair Splint, Dental Floss & Large Needle, Cable Ties.