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Camping in Iceland

Camping in Iceland can provide a great sense of freedom however, if you are ill prepared or encounter bad weather you can potentially spoil your trip.  

Camping in Iceland is heavily weather dependent
Due to the cold climate this is not the place to try camping for the first time
Don’t skip out on any of the recommended equipment
You may have to modify your current camping set up to accommodate for differences example: hammock camping is nearly impossible as there are relatively few trees in Iceland
Practice using all of your equipment before you arrive in Iceland, an unfamiliar tent can be difficult to set up in weather that you are not familiar with

SUMMER is the most accessible camping season but keep the following in mind:

With almost 24 hours of daylight in the summer you may wish to bring a sleeping mask to ensure a proper night’s rest
Summer does not necessarily ensure good weather, rain is very common in the summer
Very strong winds are commonplace all year round in Iceland
Campfires are not permitted in Iceland
See specialized packing lists to see which is best suited to your travel plan

As seen in this video, some terrain in Iceland (such as volcanic ash) can make it difficult to pitch a tent properly with all the necessary extra lines. That paired with incredibly strong winds can at best leave you with a horrible night’s rest and at worst ruin your tent and leave you vulnerable to the elements.

The following are some essentials for safe and comfortable WINTER camping in Iceland: 

Headlamp with extra batteries 
A tent that can withstand strong winds and snow (ideally 4 season) plus extra pegs and poles 
Sleeping bag with comfort temperature of -10°C (14°f) (Remember everyone is different, this is just a guideline!) 
Sleeping pad with R-Value of at least 5 to properly isolate from the cold ground 
White gasoline stove as they are much more efficient in cold temperatures than canister stoves 
Anything left outside the tent (boots, food, etc) will freeze
You must check to see which campsites are open during winter as many are only open during the summertime
Have a back up plan with contact info for guesthouses/hotels along your route in case weather becomes hazardous

The HIGHLANDS provide a more challenging camping environment:

Weather can be much more unpredictable and emergency services are much farther away
The rescue team’s highland patrol is only on duty during the summertime; in the winter you are completely on your own
Please be advised that when camping along the Laugavegur trail in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve you must camp only in designated campsites
During the wintertime all of the mountain huts (with the exception of Landmannalaugar sometimes) are locked and unmanned