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09, Equipment and clothing

Good outdoor equipment is essential for all our volunteers. Please see the list below of essential equipment that participants must bring. Weather conditions in the mountains in Iceland can be extremely changeable and it is very important that all volunteers are well prepared. 

Essential equipment

  • Tent – Our volunteers need to bring a good quality tent that can cope with strong winds and rain showers. It should be lightweight but make sure that it is big enough for both you and your equipment (a two-person tent is strongly recommended). Additional information
  • Backpack – As your main baggage, you will need to bring a backpack with a capacity of roughly 70 litres (though some participants prefer bigger packs). The teams often have to carry equipment between camps and suitcases are simply not suitable. A backpack is also essential for all long-distance hiking in free time during your placement.
  • Day pack – This is essential for workdays so that you can carry food, personal equipment and tools. Make sure it is small enough to take as hand luggage on your flight. Your day pack will also be very useful if you go hiking on days off.
  • Sleeping bag – A good quality ‘three or four season’ sleeping bag is essential. Even in midsummer the nights can be cold and damp and occasionally frosty. A sleeping bag with a -5° to -10° comfort rating for cold weather would be ideal. (Rab have included detailed information about comfort rating on their website which you might find useful)
  • Sleeping mat – A good sleeping mat is essential as it provides insulation from the cold ground and added comfort.
  • Hiking boots – Comfortable hiking boots are essential for all participants. Sturdy hiking boots that offer ankle support are strongly recommended due to the rough terrain. Make sure you have the opportunity to wear them in before the placement starts. 
  • Work boots – Participants may work in sturdy hiking boots or alternatively bring protective work boots. Soft fabric hiking boots are not suitable for our work. 
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers – You will need to bring waterproofs and these need to be good quality to cope with Icelandic conditions (Our volunteers are provided with waterproofs for work tasks, but these are not suitable for hiking in).
  • Work clothes – Bring warm clothes that you are happy to work in. Please note that jeans are not suitable for work as they become extremely cold when they are wet.
  • River crossing shoes – These are important as it can take several days to dry out hiking boots once they are wet. Sandals or lightweight trainers are suitable to use for river crossing.
  • Head torch – Although very useful during much of our season, there is almost no darkness in June and the first half of July.
  • Lunchbox and water bottle
  • Sunhat, high factor sun cream, lip salve and sunglasses – The sun can be very strong during the summer months in Iceland, it is very important to be protected.
  • Toiletries – Please stock up before you arrive at Thórsmörk (this is especially important with things like contact lens cleaners).
  • Personal first aid / welfare kit – Full first aid cover is provided throughout the programme but personal kits are important during times when participants are away from our projects (e.g., travel and days off). Basic contents should include plasters, tape and sterile wipes.
  • Medication – It is important that you bring sufficient supplies of any prescribed medication to last you the duration of your visit to Iceland.

Hand-washing facilities for clothes are available at our camps (hot water and clothes washing detergent).
Your clothing should include the following…

  • Fleece top – Be prepared! Almost any weather is possible! Bring warm clothes and different layers.
  • Walking trousers Whatever you feel comfortable with, something quick drying is useful. Please note that jeans are not suitable for hiking or outdoor work as they will not keep you warm if they get wet.
  • Warm hat and gloves – Work gloves will be provided but warm (or ski-type) gloves may be very useful.
  • Walking socks – Woollen socks are recommended as they remain warm even when they are wet.

Additional equipment
Just in case you have any space left, we have included this list of additional items which you might find useful.

  • Ground sheet (or tent footprint) – The ground at our Langidalur and Básar camps is soft but a groundsheet of tent footprint will help to keep your tent waterproof in rainy conditions.
  • Camping stove and cooking equipment – Although we provide cooking equipment for our teams, some participants choose to bring their own for use on the days before and after the placement. Please note that you cannot fly with stove fuel, but you can find it at most large petrol stations in Iceland during the summer months.
  • Backpack / day pack linersThe easiest way to ensure that your pack is waterproof is to line it with a thick polythene sack.
  • Sleeping-bag liner – Some volunteers use sleeping bag liners or fleece blankets for added warmth and comfort.
  • Towel and swimming costume – There may be opportunities to visit geothermal pools during your visit so you will need your swimming things.
  • Camera – Camera equipment is expensive in Iceland so make sure you bring everything you need including memory cards etc.
  • Solar charger – Access to electricity at our camps is limited so we recommend solar chargers as a simple way to recharge your electronic devices during your time with us on the programme.

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