Iceland offers stunning natural landscapes to explore, from volcanic peaks to black sand beaches for all outdoor enthusiasts.
However, the variable and harsh weather requires being prepared with proper gear, clothing, navigation skills, and adequate food supplies.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at hiking and backpacking in Iceland from a lightweight standpoint, providing tips to help you prepare for your upcoming outdoor adventure.
We’ll share the TOP 5 trails in Iceland in two parts. The first is for day hikes under 30 miles, great for exploring in one day. The second is for longer multi-day trips.
We picked out some of the best day hiking trails in Iceland where having lightweight gear will be really useful:
Explore Iceland’s amazing long trails for unforgettable adventures with beautiful landscapes and diverse wildlife:
Iceland’s weather can be quite unpredictable and variable throughout the year:
Before you grab your backpack and head outdoors, take a look at the weather statistics for Iceland (Reykjavík):
Whenever you go, be prepared with layered clothing. For accessibility and weather conditions that facilitate immersing yourself in Iceland’s majestic landscapes, aim for the summer.
Campfires are allowed while camping in Iceland, but with important rules to follow. Fires must be built away from vegetation in an established fire pit or stone ring, kept small, never left unattended, and fully extinguished with water after use. It’s critical to check area regulations, as campfires may be restricted during dry conditions when the fire risk is high.
When backpacking in Iceland, key safety tips include: checking weather and trail conditions regularly and being prepared to alter plans; carrying proper navigational tools and knowing how to use them in case of fog or losing the trail; wearing suitable layered clothing and waterproof gear to avoid hypothermia; packing extra food/water/fuel due to minimal facilities in remote areas; crossing glacial rivers with caution and avoiding if flooded; not venturing onto glaciers without proper equipment and experience; understanding basic first aid; sharing your itinerary with someone; being wary of steep drop-offs and loose rock when hiking; and exercising caution around any sheepdogs encountered near farms. Iceland’s variable conditions and lack of infrastructure in the backcountry requires extra preparation and self-sufficiency.
When hiking in Iceland, it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any dangerous wildlife, but exercise caution if you come across Arctic foxes, reindeer, or sheepdogs. Give foxes space, as they may be aggressive if rabid. Steer clear of male reindeer during rutting season in fall when they can become aggressive. Be wary of sheepdogs, which may view you as a threat; avoid startling any sheep herds and don’t approach the dogs. If one chases you, stand still or back away slowly – don’t run. Report any concerning wildlife behaviors to local authorities.
Those backpacking in Iceland’s magnificent natural landscapes of mountains, fjords, waterfalls and hot springs can benefit from some savvy measures to explore this captivating scenery affordably. Opting for hostel dorms, hiking multi-day trails and camping in the wilderness maintains a low-cost approach to travel. Self-driving and cycling allows independent exploration of spectacular rural areas off the main ring-road while picnicking keeps fuel costs down. Free geothermal hot pools provide a relaxing soak without entry fees, and hiking up volcanic cones rewards with panoramic views over this epic scenery. With flexible multi-modal transportation and DIY food preparation, backpackers can maximize their nature discovery amid Iceland’s splendors on a budget.