Iceland’s Laugavegur: Gear

Iceland's Laugavegur: Gear

One of the most interesting and fun tasks to get ready for our Laugavegur trek was choosing the gear to bring along. I limited myself to a single carry-on bag, though I did cheat a bit as Icelandair permits a carry-on as well as a small personal bag for economy price tickets. I used that bag for my headphones, snack bars, and my midlayer, The North Face Hybrid Momentum jacket.

I started with a big list and then whittled it down as I could. I still ended up bringing more gear than I needed, but I also think that I didn’t miss anything, barring one very important piece of gear (scroll down to find out what it was, haha).

Iceland's Laugavegur: Gear

  • Backpack: To store everything, I brought the Eagle Creek National Geographic Utility 40 L backpack. Apart from a lack of hydration compatibility, this was an ideal pack.
  • Backpack cover – bought an OUTAD Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover, but didn’t need it as the Utility backpack I brought kept my gear dry through powerful winds and drizzle/rain/sleet.
  • Sleeping bag/Quilt – Big Agnes Farrington PrimaLoft Silver Sleeping Bag Liner – there was only one night in the huts where this wasn’t really enough of a bag to really keep me warm, even with all my clothes on. This is a great versatile piece to have in the gear closet.
  • Pants: L.L. Bean Men’s Cresta Hiking Pants, Lined – these ended up being too warm for the conditions, but they held up well for the most part. After a week of wearing them exclusively, however, they reeked. Not for the faint of heart.
  • Shorts: The North Face Rolling Sun Hybrid Short – quick drying and an internal drawstring make these a great choice if you’re going to get wet. I had thought about wearing them for stream crossings, but I only wore them the last two days, and then home. Great shorts.
  • Socks: Cloudline Apparel merino wool – these are fantastic socks. I wore each par for 2 days before swapping out for a fresh pair. Through 55 kilometers of hiking up and over mountain passes and through streams and rivers in one pair of sneakers, these socks kept me feeling great the whole trip. I probably could have gotten by with one pair.
  • Underwear: I used Icebreaker exclusively, opting for the Anatomica briefs and boxers, as well as the Cool-Lite Anatomica Zone Boxers. No chafing, no bad smells, these were, like the socks, changed out every 2 days. Also, like the socks, I probably could have gotten by with one pair.
  • Baselayer: merino wool shirts from Icebreaker, Smartwool, and Royal Robbins. Swapped these out every 2 days, but like the socks and underwear,  I probably could have gotten by with one shirt.
  • Midlayer – TNF Momentum Hybrid. This might be my favorite jacket ever, as it is comfortable across a wide range of conditions and also makes any jacket worn over it feel much, much warmer. I wore it every day, though in retrospect that had me sweating almost constantly. Should have left it off until the end of the day for wearing in the huts.
  • Hiking/Rain jacket: Patagonia Piolet Jacket – my tried and true jacket was too warm for the conditions and ended up wetting through after two days of incessant wind and rain. I wish I had brought my Mishmi Takin Virunga hard shell instead.
  • Hiking/Rain pants – Patagonia Torrent Shell. Because the L.L. Bean Cresta pants were so warm, I was constantly sweating, so there was no need to try and stay dry from the outside. These are a great pair of rain pants though, if you are on the lookout for some.

Iceland's Laugavegur: Gear

  • Boots/Trail shoes – The North Face Mountain Sneakers. I took a big chance with this footwear, as I ordered it just a week or so before the trip. It ended up being the perfect footwear. 55 + kilometers of hiking, being soaked through on stream crossings, walking through snow and relentless rain, and all the rest of the time of this 7 day trip. They still looked new after all that and they didn’t smell at all! 
  • Water shoes: Astral Filipe flip flops – something I didn’t need. I just ended up wading in my wool socks and sneakers, then letting them dry as I walked. Great plan that worked perfectly. Saved us a lot of time at the crossings as well.
  • Ear plugs – since I am the world’s loudest snorer (no, I have not been to see a doctor but yes, I am planning on it), I brought ear plugs in a large quantity for those that needed it. Those who laughed at my kindness paid for it through the night.
  • PackTowl – I think I only used this once during the trip, as I bathed only at the end of the hike at the Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk. I had hoped to do some swimming in the rivers we crossed, but with the rain all day for two of the days, it just didn’t seem appealing.
  • Headlamp – I brought the UCO Vapor+, but it was another item I didn’t use. Should have known better with the long days and us staying in huts, but a certain amount of emergency planning was needed, so it is what it is.
  • Toilet paper and Sea to Summit Pocket Trowel – didn’t need these, luckily, as I only used the facilities at the huts. The ground is really hard out there and there is no place to take cover out of sight of other hikers, so it was a blessing these were not needed.

Iceland's Laugavegur: Gear

  • Olympus Tough camera + holder + batteries + cable for charging: this is a great simple camera and I bought it mainly because it’s waterproof, but also because it’s shockproof, dustproof, everything proof and works great. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a small camera to take everywhere. I never used the holder and never needed the batteries or to charge it because it takes A LOT of photos with little battery use. I didn’t geo-locate, which, in retrospect, I wish I had, but I was worried about running out of batteries.
  • Power banks – I brought the myCharge Adventure Ultra and myCharge AdventureJumpStart, but happily barely had to use them. Since we didn’t have phone service for 2 days, my phone kept its charge pretty well and the Tough camera didn’t even come close to using up its battery, let alone the 2 others I had brought as backups. 
  • iPhone 6 Plus + charger – between the phone and my camera, I got quite a few good pictures while on this trip. I also used the Verizon TravelPass, which means you take your domestic talk, text and data allowances with you while you travel. It’s $10 a day, but you’re only charged on the days you use your device. So much easier than a SIM card or getting a phone in the foreign country or what-not.
  • Food: I brought some camp food for breakfasts and dinners (mostly Mountain House, my fave), as it was so simple to boil water in the huts. The Laugavegur huts have everything you need for dining, so leave the cup, bowl, stove, and flatware at home. For lunches I packed the highest calorie protein bars I could find, like the ones from ProBar.
  • Trekking Poles: this is what I didn’t bring and YOU MUST HAVE TREKKING POLES FOR THE LAUGAVEGUR! Sure, you could probably get away without them, but the few people we saw hiking without them seemed miserable. I didn’t bring them, because they are not permitted in carry on (but fishing poles are?). Happily, Jeff had a checked bag and brought me a pair of Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles, which were fantastic. Honestly, he saved the entire trip with that one friendly gesture.

Apart from the trekking poles, I ended up having no issues going with a carry-on bag only. If you’re thinking of trekking the Laugavegur, opt for the huts if you can afford them, it really helped cut down on gear and weight. I felt like I was on a day hike every day – for me that’s a novel feeling on a multi-day excursion.

Also, if you think you’ve cut the items to the bare bones, take a closer look. I am so glad I didn’t bring a tripod for the camera, but I also wish I had really thought about the things I probably wouldn’t need and left them at home. Just read the list above to see all the things I didn’t use.


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