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Expedition kit list for Iceland

Heavy pack - feeling the pain

I have had quite a few questions concerning the equipment we used for crossing Iceland. Here then is the kit list. If I had more cash or was more of a gear geek then I would change a couple of things. But I hope that it proves helpful. I’mve added links where I think they would be useful.

Packrafting Kit

Alpacka Denali Llama Packraft with spraydeck and seat fitted
3 part paddle
Bowline fitted to boat
Straps to tie rucksac onto boat
Small karabiners
Repair kit
Drybags – 1 for camera kit, 1 medium sized, 1 enormous (90l) for whole pack
Inflatable Lifejacket
Wetsock booties
Neoprene gloves
Throw Rope

Clothes etc

Hiking Boots
Waterproof Jacket
Waterproof Trousers
2 pairs socks
1 pair trousers
Thermal underwear
Down jacket
1 shirt
1 fleece
Wooly Hat
Sun hat
Head net for flies
Needle and dental floss for sewing
Cable ties
Gaffa tape
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Credit card
Mobile phone (no charger, so only turned on if needed)

Trekking and Camping Kit

90 litre rucksack. See this post on the best expedition backpacks
Trekking poles

Sleeping quilt [like a sleeping bag but only the top half]
3/4 length Thermarest
MSR Dragonfly Stove
Small MSR titanium pan
1.5litres of fuel bottles and Coleman fuel
Folding Mug
Lighter x2
Food: each day we shared a pan of oats with a few raisins for breakfast. In the day we ate two chocolate bars, a handful of nuts, an inch of salami, and a dehydrated evening meal. We were hungry!
Water bottle
Diary and pen
Book to read and use as toilet paper
Head torch (didn’t need this at all, but it seemed wrong to go without one)
Map case
First aid: zinc oxide tape and painkillers

Camera Kit

2x Canon 5D Mk II
Lenses: 17-40 f4, 35mm f1.4, 75-300mm f3.5-5.6, 24-105mm f4
Carbon fibre tripod
ND filters
12 batteries
280GB memory cards
folding solar charger
Go Pro Hero HD camera
Go Pro battery
32 GB SD cards for Go Pro
Olympus tough camera, batteries and cards (as back-up)

Microphone and 9V battery
Audio recorder

All you gear geeks out there: let me know what I should have done differently in the comments, please!

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  1. Was that a Hilleberg Nallo that you used? Although it’s bombproof, it’s also pretty heavy. How was the weather out there? I might have been tempted to use a lighter tent, maybe something like a Fly Creek UL2, which is half the weight.

    *Possibly* an esbit stove might have been a good idea, since you could have saved on carrying heavy liquid fuel. But I guess you’d have to do the maths on comparing the fuel weights.

    Everything else looks pretty reasonable. The biggest issue you have was the need to carry so much electronic kit, to document the trip. If you didn’t have to take the video and still cameras, or you substituted for a compact (not really an option, I understand), then you’d have shed a lot of weight. Maybe something like this would be a decent compromise (for the non-professional):

  2. Richard Mayneord Posted

    280Gb of memory cards? Wow, that’s alot of photos, even allowing for RAW files! When I spent a year travelling round the world I took 3 x 4Gb memory cards for my Canon 30D with me. Mind you, I had to save them to DVDs every month to allow for the 18,000 photos I took.

  3. All you ate was a few oats, some chocolate, and a dehydrated dinner? Even if you ate the entire dinner, you’re looking at maybe 1600KCal a day. How much weight did you lose?

    I did a 28 day trip and didn’t properly supply my food, I ran a 3000+KCal deficit each day, it was exhausting.

  4. List looks good (and awesome trip!). I would have tried to factor in more food, more carbohydrates. Even just a couple of muesli based energy bars. The extra carb would have made a big difference in how you felt and performed.

    Dragonfly is a big heavy stove. All you needed it for was boiling water for those meals, so you probably could have saved a lot of weight there by using say a simmerlite or going to gas (eg something like an MSR pocket rocket) or maybe even alcohol-Caldera cones are very efficient alcohol stoves-though for boiling ~50Litres of water I’m not sure-gas would almost definitely win.

    Thats a lot of camera gear, including a lot of lenses that overlap in range, and don’t really provide a lot of benefit. I understand having two bodies on a job like this, but still don’t see much point in carrying overlapping lenses. I would have left either the 24-105, or the 75-300 at home. Probably the 17-40 on one body, and the 75-300 on the other (the person with the latter can swap over to the 35mm 1.4 for wider shots). Actually, I personally prefer to use prime lenses (but haven’t used Canon albeit briefly), and I reckon you would have been able to achieve most of what you needed if you just had the 35mm. Its not action photography (unless you were getting the Canon’s out in the packrafts?), so spending slightly more time moving around to perfectly frame prime lenses isn’t an issue at all.

    But then, these things do cost money 🙂

    Great trip though, and some of the photography is amazing 🙂

    • Hi Adam,
      Thanks for your expert advice. I agree with quite a lot of your points, though with a couple of exceptions;

      – The stove is just the stove that I own from previous projects. I couldn’t justify buying another stove just for this.
      – Retrospectively the least used lens was the 17-40 which surprised me. And the 75-300 was surprisingly useful for drawing out detail from a wide, empty landscape and flattening the far distance.

  5. I’m also interested in your camera kit. I’m impressed that you bring a DSLR with you. How do you carry and protect it, especially in the packraft? Interesting that you used the zoom lens more than a wide angle.

    • Hi Dan,
      Photography is a big part of my life now, and particularly of the “work” side of my life (this Iceland trip was “work” by the way!). The quality is worth the weight for me.
      We carried them in dry bags. I think I might invest in a proper underwater housing for my next trip.

  6. I want to emphasise that I’m not a gear geek really. For expert advice you’d be far better off visiting

  7. Hi Al. I like the kit list, and have been to Iceland twice… stunning country!

    In terms of food, I’d definitely bring at least 4000Kcal per day if you’re hiking with all that weight. And more if hiking in extreme cold… which I know would bring you close to one kilo a day in food alone!

    But here’s a recipe for a great high energy muesli, maximising calorific value per 100g, so that you’d get 1,100kcal from 175g of breakfast alone… by the way don’t add the milk powder until you’re adding the water (hot or cold) and about to eat it unless you like it sour! I usually pack 350g (2 mugfuls) in doubled zip lock bags. The recipe below makes up 3.5kg plus whatever milk powder you use, and includes plenty of complex carbohydrates (as well as sugar for instant kick!) which means slow but steady release of energy for the first half of your day’s hiking. Enjoy!

    Item Amt (g) Total kcal
    Walnuts, cut 200 1,332
    Hazelnuts, cut 250 1,618
    Coconut flakes 100 606
    Sunflower seeds 300 1,788
    Almonds, cut 300 1,731
    Sesame seeds 200 1,148
    Crunchy oats 770 3,450
    Brown sugar 150 597

    Cornflakes 250 930
    Oats (Porridge) 500 1,930
    Rye 250 768
    Raisins 200 492
    Subtotal 3,470 16,389
    Dried milk 779 3,787
    Total 4,249 20,175

  8. Hi,

    I really enjoyed the video you made for your Iceland expo 🙂
    You put the link on the list for the video camera you used but which one in particular did you use? They all look pretty tiny so is the quality of the video/sound still good, is it difficult to hold it steady without a head strap and can it still be attached to a tripod? Also, which microphone and audio recorder did you use?

    Thanks very much,


  9. Sydnee Davis Posted

    Where did you start at and where did you end?

  10. Hi,
    I plan on doing the Laugavegur trek solo end-of-Aug 2016 with a few off route detours.
    As a landscape photography trip the camera equipment is an important aspect. ( I currently have a Canon 1DX, but am considering buying a 6D for the trip, maybe even the mk2 if available by then)
    If you’re interested I have a kit spreadsheet with weights. If nothing else it would be interesting to get feedback from a photographer who has done the trek.
    Send me an email if you wish.

    • Alastair Posted

      Hi David,
      I am sure that any of those cameras would be superb for the job. Good luck with it – such a lovely place.

  11. Thi Nguyen Posted

    I just wanted to know, how did you carry fuel on the airplane? is there a way to buy it in iceland before the expedition?



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