Sometimes when you're preparing for a trip to an area foreign to you it may be difficult to decide what gear to take with you, what is necessary and what not. If you take too much with you the extra weight will slow you down, make the trip harder and put more strain on your bike and if you don't have everything you need you're in trouble.

I put up this "checklist" for your reference and hope you will find it helpful in preparing your own trip. This is what I had on my bike when I returned home after my trip around Snæfellsnes and the western fjords, June 1997 (update: and it hasn't changed much to this date in 2008).

My traveling bike is Cannondale F700, a great touring bike but with rather cheap components. Before the trip I gave the bike an overhaul after the winter, bought a new chain, 2.35 wide tires and added four bottle cages. Of course you only need two bottle cages normally but with four water bottles you don't need to camp by a stream or river because you have enough water to drink, cook and wash up the dishes. I was experimenting with bottle cages 5 and 6 and found them great for carrying soft drinks; normally my friends only use cages 5 and 6 for holding fuel bottles for the stove.

I have heavy-duty front and rear racks and wouldn't consider anything else after breaking 3 front racks in the last two years!

I use four Ortlieb "front rollers" panniers. They are very strong, absolutely waterproof with a reliable locking system that keeps them secure on your racks. I tried one trip with cheaper bags that kept falling off when I hit bumps and didn't keep my gear dry when it rained despite numerous plastic bags - never again. They are 25 litres each and I was tempted to buy the bigger rear panniers but was advised "if you can't fit it in these bags you, don't need it". Advice I quite agree with now.

On top of the racks I carry the small lightweight hikingtent, sleeping bag and mattress. I use a Rhino one-person hiking tent with aluminum poles. The sleeping bag is a cheap Freetime -5 degrees Celsius down bag, not very good but adequate with warm clothes down to freezing point. You need a mattress and if you're using a down bag you need a good mattress because the down does not insulate underneath you. I use the great "self-inflating" Therm-a-rest Ultralight, it's lightweight, compact and the comfort makes them worth the extra price. The sleeping bag I keep in a waterproof 10 liter Baja kayaking bag with a bit of extra room to keep my sweater handy or snacks and biscuits. I use straps to fasten this securely - I don't trust bungee cords because there can be a "whole lot of shaking going on", and not just in my Walkman.

Clothes: The weather in Iceland when I'm traveling is usually cool and comfortable, not too windy and maybe one or two rain clouds pass me by, but when it rains it's usually a light drizzle and not pouring rain. I wear padded cycling shorts and a cycling jerseys always. Usually with my Gore-Tex jacket and Lycra cycling tights if it's not sunny. I use comfortable Gore-Tex hiking shoes. If it's cold or raining I put on my lycra tights with Gore-Tex front that keeps me warm in almost all weathers down to -5 degrees Celsius and dry enough through the light rain we get here. If it's pouring rain all day I also have Gore-Tex cycling pants but I rarely use them. I usually wear padded cycling gloves but also keep handy my woollen gloves when it starts raining or getting cold. Cycling glasses are great to protect your eyes from the wind. This summer I tried for the first time glasses with yellow lenses and loved them - it seemed to be always sunny and bright.

What I pack and wear:
Helmet, yellow cycling glasses and sunglasses.
A pair of good Gore-Tex hiking shoes
3 padded shorts
2 short sleeved cycling jerseys and 1 long-sleeved "Transtex wool" jersey
1 lycra cycling tights with thicker knee panels
1 lycra cycling pants with Gore-Tex front
1 Gore-Tex jacket designed with good ventillation flaps and zippers
1 fleece jacket with wind stopping front - great in most conditions.
1 Gore-Tex pants, usually only used in extreme weather
1 warm fleece sweater, only used when I'm not cycling
3-4 pairs of socks and 1 pair heavy woolen socks I hardly ever use except maybe on cold nights

1 pair cycling gloves and 1 pair woolen gloves. I also carry warm wind shells that fit the handlebar and are very warm and comfortable in extreme weather and also fleece ear-covers that fit the helmet straps. I use them all winter long but you shouldn't need them here during the summertime, although you might want something to cover your ears and head when it's windy.

1 pair cycling overbooties to keep my shoes dry, an absolute necessity until I bought my waterproof Gore-Tex leather hiking shoes and still handy to keep water from running down the pants and into the shoes!

neoprene shoes for crossing rivers, but on most routes you don't need to ford rivers. That's only on jeep tracks and in the interior. On this trip I only used them on one jeep track from Arnarfjörður to Dýrafjörður that's not on most maps. It was a great detour on a rough track partly on a rocky shoreline that goes under water on high tide!

 I cook on a small Primus gas stove, using two stainless steel pots 0,75 and 1 liter, plastic cup, cutlery set and a sponge to wash up with.

I carry a small bag with soap, razor, sun tanning lotion(!), lip salve, etc. and another with a first aid kit (you don't want to stuff a bleeding wound with dirty socks), including disinfecting tissues, band-aids, gauze, etc.

The tools I keep together in a bag with: a pump, patches, extra tube, two sets of brake pads, grease, etc. and tools for most minor repairs. Total weight 1,7kg - I really should trim it down a bit.

Total weight so far is about 20kg plus the food, which was about 2 kg when I came home.

And now for the extra weight: I carried with me a 1.2kg guide book, far too heavy but full of information (and ads) and tons of tourist brochures- most only carry a map but I like to learn something more about the places I visit. I always carry a small camera on me and on most of my trips I also carry my SLR camera Canon EOS in a waterproof Ortlieb camera bag fitted on my bum bag. I carry 28-80mm and 75-300mm zoom lenses, one on the camera and the other in the bum bag, always handy and accessible but this set-up weighs about 2 kg.

Please let me know if you find this helpful. I'd like to hear from you, especially if you've cycled in Iceland. What route did you do, how was the trip, what did you learn, what tips do you have for me to pass on? And if you have, or know of, a web page with something about cycling in Iceland, travel stories or photos please let me know.

Update: 2008 it may be a while since I wrote this but it's all up date, I'm still using most of the same equipment or have replaced it with similar equipment. This is because I got great advice when I was starting out and I hope you will find my advice as helpful too.


©Páll Guðjónsson 

Íslenski fjallahjólaklúbburinn,
Brekkustíg 2,
101 Reykjavík. 


Kt. 600691-1399
Banki: 515-26-600691