Finance educated, mountain and glacier loving, imaginary ski extraordinary and current resident of Reykjavik.
An expert guide to packing for the Laugavegur trail in Iceland. Dos and don'ts for gear and clothes for a successful trekking trip in Iceland.
The Laugavegur Trail is a natural miracle. In its span of 55 km (34 miles), you can witness a diverse and stunning spectrum of landscapes. The trail takes you through volcanic mountain ranges that surround geothermal oases, black deserts, and glistening glaciers.
The scenery is an assortment of fire, ice, and hot springs, while the air is refreshingly clean, and the sky has a unique shade of blue that you'll always remember. However, the price you pay for this experience is dealing with intense and unpredictable weather. Even during summer months, it's possible to encounter snow!
So, how do you pack for a destination that offers a world's worth of landscapes and weather in one trail? What do you need to bring for a multi-day hike where electricity might not be available?
We're happy to provide some guidance on these questions.
We're excited that you're preparing for the Laugavegur Trail trek in Iceland! We understand the importance of clothing choices, as the weather can be unpredictable. And in general, the question of what to wear in Iceland comes up quite often. Our tip is to layer up and make quick adjustments for optimal comfort in any condition.
The Importance of Layering Whilst Trekking
Layering is key to staying comfortable and safe, so let's make sure we nail it. Only one layer can make all the difference in enjoying every moment.
Iceland's weather demands careful consideration of the materials you wear, from top to bottom. Whether you're choosing underwear or a coat, selecting the right fabrics is key to staying comfortable and enjoying all this beautiful country has to offer.
Regarding underwear, it's recommended to choose boxer shorts and a tank top or t-shirt made from fine wool or silk (or a combination of both). This is because fine wool and silk allow your skin to breathe and regulate your body temperature, thus preventing you from becoming too hot or cold.
If you're lucky enough to be there two or three days each year when Laugavegur is warmer than 15°C, you can wear light clothes to get a good tan. On all other days, you might want to bring boxer shorts to help you cross the river.
Now, let’s look at every layer in detail.
First of all,this layer should never be cotton. This applies even to expensive outdoor brands that claim their cotton is superior. Wet cotton (and it will get wet, either with rain or sweat) is cold cotton. Your first proper layer, the base layer on top of underwear, should be wool or high-quality synthetics. A fitted long-sleeved shirt and leggings (also known as ‘Long Johns’) would be ideal.
Long Underwear (Comfortable fit, not too tight)
Lightweight Shirts (Preferably with UV protection)
Specialized Hiking Underwear (Seamless or flat-seamed to prevent chafing)
Next up is your “soft shell.” It’s best to wear thin, lightweight hiking pants, as they’ll give you some wind protection and dry fast if you get caught in the rain. The wool you have on underneath will keep you warm and – if you’re unlucky enough that your legs get wet – will dry quickly.
On top, a lightweight jacket-type mid-layer works: This can be anything from Arc’teryx to UNIQLO. If you tend to get cold, grab an extra oneof these and keep it in your pack should need a little something extra. On top of this, you’ll want a light top. Think of something like a breathable windbreaker, jacket, or sweater.
Lightweight hiking pants
Optional breathable windbreaker
Since you are layered up and warm at this point, all you need is water and a windproofshell, top and bottom. If you get caught in heavy rain, you can always throw on this extra layer that will shield you from the wind and rain.
Water and wind-proof rain jacket
Water and wind-proof rain pants
Bring two hats! If it looks like it’s going to rain, keep the spare one in your pack so you can switch it out if hat number one gets soaked. A neck buff that can double as a face mask is especially handy since it is light and thin but seals off parts of your neck that can get exposed to wind.
After some trial and error in the glove department, we have found that two pairs of knitted wool mittens are the magic combination. You can wear one pair on a less windy day, but adding that extra pair will give you that precious wind protection if the wind picks up!
Warm hat x2
Gloves (wool mittens) x2
Shoes and socks
Invest in good socks and shoes for trekking. Your feet are the most important part of your body during a hike. Find reliable footwear that can handle the terrain and socks that keep your feet dry and comfortable.
If possible, don’t hike in brand-new hiking boots. Reliable, rugged ones you know will serve you well are always better than brand-new footwear. If you need to update your boots, try to do so with some time to break them in before the hike.
We’d also recommend you get some good advice on how the shoe should fit. Above all, make sure if you are standing on a slope, toes pointed down the hill, that your toes never touch the front of the shoe! Your toenails will thank you.
Quality socks are just as important as good boots. Many Laugavegur hikers have learned the hard way that great boots do little if you are wearing subpar socks! It’s well worth splurging a bit on specialized trekking socks. Bring a few pairs, some lightweight, others a bit heavier, and some comfy cabin socks to switch into when you get to the huts.
Last but not least, bring a good pair of river-crossing shoes. Flip-flops won’t do you much good. Instead, we’d recommend some lightweight sandals that won’t slip from your feet (Tevas are excellent for this purpose) and can be hung to dry on your pack.
Good hiking boots
Proper hiking socks (thin and thick)
River crossing shoes/sandals
For the night
As mentioned earlier, Arctic Adventures hikers on the Laugavegur Trail have the included luxury of getting luggage delivered between cabins, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t make your time in the huts or tents as comfortable as possible.
Once you get to the hut and start boiling water for that cup of tea, changing into comfortable sweats, fresh socks, and comfy cabin slippers is nice. Having an extra set of cabin clothes is also important if your first set needs to be hung to dry.
Pack earplugs and a sleep mask (especially important in summer because it won’t get dark) to guarantee a good night's sleep.
For nightwear, shorts and a T-shirt will do for the huts, but a wool base layer is a good idea for camping. If you rent a sleeping bag, a liner will make it feel like your own. And finally, a nice pillow is well worth packing.
Comfortable cabin clothing
Fresh and cosy socks
Sleeping mask and earplugs
That luggage service comes in handy on this trip. In addition to the right clothes and gear, a few items make your life easier on the Laugavegur Trail.
You’ll be glad you packed a good towel that dries quickly, waterproof bags (something like Sea to Summit Dry Bags) to organize your pack and make sure your backup hat and layers don’t get soaked, medication, painkillers, band-aids, toenail clippers (or make sure you trim right before you leave), extra batteries (you won’t have any electricity for the duration of the hike) and last but not least (if you are into that kind of thing), some nice wine.
Also, some hikers like to take magnesium supplements to sleep better and prevent cramps at night.
Quickly drying towel
Swimsuit (for hot springs)
Portable battery charger or extra batteries
If you plan to carry all your equipment yourself, make sure you choose a sturdy backpack with proper support. A 65L backpack should be enough to accommodate everything you need. On the other hand, a 25L daypack would be sufficient for your hikes between huts if you are hiking with a tour company.
If you plan on self-navigating, it's always a good idea to pack a handheld GPS device for safety reasons. When it comes to your day bag, make sure it has enough room to carry spare layers, water, lunch, hot drinks, a first aid kit, a swim kit, and a camera or phone.
If you're not with a tour group, make sure you have enough food to last you for the duration of your hike. So, it's essential to leave about 10 L of space in your backpack to pack enough food.
65L backpack (if self-driving)
25L backpack (for daily walking)
GPS and/or map (if self-driving)
Regarding hiking gear, having the right equipment can make your Laugavegur Trail adventure much more enjoyable. Whether you're joining one of our tours or planning your own trek, here are some essential items you might need:
Essential hiking gear
Backpack (Capacity: 50-65L for camping, 30-40L for hut stays)
Rain Cover (To protect against wet conditions)
Trekking Poles (For stability and support, especially on challenging terrains and river crossings)
Headlamp/Torch (Optional, due do Midnight Sun)
Gaiters and Microspikes (For snow and icy conditions)
Safety Whistle and Multi-tool (For emergencies)
Rentable hiking gear
If you're joining one of our hiking tours, we offer the option to rent essential hiking gear, making your trip even more convenient. Depending on the tour, you can rent the following items:
Renting gear allows you to fully enjoy the beautiful Laugavegur Trail without buying or carrying all the gear yourself.
Camping-specific gear list
If you plan to stay in tents on the trail, you will need to bring some extra equipment to make sure that you are safe and comfortable.
Weather-resistant and sturdy tent
Warm Sleeping Bag
Portable Stove and Fuel
Utensils and Cookware
Windscreen for the camp stove
While electronics are not essential, they can enhance safety and enjoyment.
GPS Device/Phone with App
Portable Battery Backup
Camera with spare batteries and waterproof protection
These items will enhance your trail experience by keeping you fresh and clean and preventing unexpected discomfort.
Travel-Sized Personal Care Items
First Aid and Protection
Sunscreen and lip balm.
Toilet paper (make sure to use designated toilets only!)
While you don't necessarily need these things, they can definitely make your hiking experience more enjoyable.
Dry Bags (to keep clothing and electronics dry)
Water Bottles/Hydration Pack
Improve your trekking experience
When you set off on your Laugavegur Trail adventure, you don't have to give up the comforts of home. Although the harsh terrain of Iceland is not suitable for wheeled suitcases, there's a solution that can make your packing process hassle-free and allow you to bring more of what you love.
Whether you choose huts or tents on our trekking tours, we've got you covered with our supply driver service – and it's included. Your luggage will be transported on the journey, making sure you don't miss out on those little luxuries that can make a big difference.
So, pack that bottle of your favorite wine, toss in a cozy pillow, stack up some captivating books, grab a sleep mask for those endless Icelandic summer nights, and don't forget those chargers for your gadgets. With this service, you can savor every moment on the Laugavegur Trail while enjoying the personal touches that make your trek even more special.
The Laugavegur Trail is hailed around the world for its breathtaking natural beauty and clean air. From the natural hot springs of Landmannalaugar to the glacial valley of Þórsmörk, you will be surrounded by magnificent scenery and astounding geological phenomena. The 55 km trail encompasses the Southern Highlands’ colorful rhyolite mountains all the way to the forests and lush greenery of Þórsmörk Valley.
There’s a common expression in Iceland: There is no bad weather, just the wrong clothes. With just a little preparation, you can enjoy the legendary beauty of the Laugavegur Trail without having to worry about cold toes or getting sniffles!
Arctic Adventures provides a range of Laugavegur Trail treks for different types of travelers, durations, and levels. Browse our Laugavegur trail packages for your next trip!
So, are you excited to go hiking in the Icelandic highlands?