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  1. #1
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    Going to Iceland. What shoes would you bring?

    Hey all,

    Girlfriend and I are bikepacking Iceland this summer, for thirty days starting in early July. Iceland is a particularly tricky climate to plan for.


    • It rains 70% of the time.
    • It's cloudy 95% of the time
    • It's windy 100% of the time (well, close!)
    • It's cold, as low as 32 at night and 50 average most days.


    We have most things figured out, since we're both avid winter campers. We have a 4-season tent and 20 sleeping bags, and good rain gear, fleeces, wool stuff, etc.

    Shoes are trickier. I am thinking I'd go with the shoe plan of Andrew Skurka, the long distance backpacker, and bring breathable, quick-drying trail runners instead of waterproof shoes. Plus lots of wool socks.

    So, if you're going on a multi-day wet trip, what shoes do you bring for flat pedals? Any suggestions?
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  2. #2
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    I'm a big fan of lightweight, waterproof hiking boots. Cold, wet feet are sub optimal. Will your trails runners provide stiff enough support? I am a big fan of anything Keen, currently using some low hikers that are waterproof. Also they come in size 15. Checked out any bike trip blogs? Planning on any stream crossings or hike a bike sections?

  3. #3
    saddlemeat
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    I have carried a pair of neoprene socks for similar conditions, they work well if you can get a pair that's comfortable. I used them and some fleece socks with a pair of Chacos, but would choose quick drying over "waterproof".
    I ride with the best people.




  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    I'm a big fan of lightweight, waterproof hiking boots. Cold, wet feet are sub optimal. Will your trails runners provide stiff enough support? I am a big fan of anything Keen, currently using some low hikers that are waterproof. Also they come in size 15.
    +1 - on the Keens. My go to wet weather touring shoes are a pair of waterproof Keen mid-height hikers. Possibly with some mini-gaiters if I want to keep myself as dry as possible

    If you have to cross streams you'll have to take them off as once soaked inside they are not drying anytime soon. That said if you are dealing with cold wet weather soaked trail runners won't be great for all day wear either.
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  5. #5
    sluice box
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    crocs not the ones with the fuzzy fleece.
    ptarmigan hardcore

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    +1 - on the Keens. My go to wet weather touring shoes are a pair of waterproof Keen mid-height hikers. Possibly with some mini-gaiters if I want to keep myself as dry as possible

    If you have to cross streams you'll have to take them off as once soaked inside they are not drying anytime soon. That said if you are dealing with cold wet weather soaked trail runners won't be great for all day wear either.
    This is the problem. I know from backpacking and hiking that, if you expect raining, quick-drying meshy shoes are exactly what's needed. When it is raining, your feet are going to be wet. Waterproof shoes have a giant hole in the top that lets rain in, inevitably. So, if you *have* to be wet, then you need to dry fast when the rain stops.

    Iceland's precipitation is profound. It might be raining for several days at a time, for most of the trip. And yes, I do expect to fjord a stream or three. So, I am thinking waterproof shoes won't work.

    The sandals and waterproof socks jam crossed my mind. My raincoat isn't going to keep me dry, but it will keep me warm, so I was thinking the same strategy for my feet re: waterproof socks.

    Other options I'm considering is fleece vs. wool socks (for the trail runners), neoprene (as someone mentioned) and... well, I would only consider gore-tex shoes if someone was particularly happy with the warm-when-wet behavior of their particular pair.

    I am not interested in anything that doesn't dry fast, period. Isn't that how you get trenchfoot?!
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  7. #7
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    I will say that I own a very big and burly pair of waterproof, semi-insulated boots that I wear for commuting and winter bikepacking. They have served me well from -20 to 40F, but I do not think that's what I want for this trip.

    Just because I know sometimes these types of threads are about the OP convincing themselves not to spend money- money isn't the question here and I'm genuinely interested in some feedback from PNW bikepackers, or anyone else who goes out when the weather is gnarly. I want the best option possible,
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  8. #8
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    I used Shimano MT91 spd shoes with a goretex layer. When it was raining I added gaiters on top of the shoes, so the water would not go into the shoe. This worked pretty well and I managed to keep my feet dry most of the time. They also add warmth. I got lucky with the weather and didn't encounter heavy rain for extended periods. It rained a little every day though. Eventually every shoe will get wet if it rains hard and then you probably want something that dries quickly. A goretex shoe will not dry out in the tent overnight. But when it's cold and raining, nothing will dry in a tent over night...

    For the river crossings I had small neoprene slippers that worked well. It was nice to put dry and warm boots on after the freezing crossings. Crocs would work also, and they dry out quickly so you can use them as camp shoes.

    Pictures and trip report of my visit to Iceland is here: ICELAND by Erik Plankton

  9. #9
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    Crosspoint Waterproof Bike Socks - Black/Gray
    $35.00 @ REI
    I wear these on the sideline of rainy football games.

    I also have a waterproof NRS Hydroskin liners, this what I put over smartwool trekking socks when I rode last winter. Also got these from REI, no clue what they cost, but t hey work well for me.

  10. #10
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    Don't forget you might have to cross lava flows so you'll need some good insulation under your feet

  11. #11
    seedub
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    Xtratuffs

    No BS. It's what the locals there who work and live in that climate will be wearing. Heavy yes, worry - no.
    you may have come before us on no bicycle, but that does not say you know everything.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 12:00 RIDER View Post
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    Crosspoint Waterproof Bike Socks - Black/Gray
    $35.00 @ REI
    I wear these on the sideline of rainy football games.
    I wear some of the merino lined ones for daily commuting in Seattle. I like them. But some downsides I see in this case are I'm not sure how fast they'll dry in a damp tent, and if you get water down the top of the sock they hold it in quite well.

  13. #13
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    the ones I mentioned are NOT lined, i never really payed attention to how fast they dry but like I said I'm wearing them in a different environment... when the game is over I'm showering and throwing everything in a bag, then eating a nd drinking w/ my coaches.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 12:00 RIDER View Post
    the ones I mentioned are NOT lined, i never really payed attention to how fast they dry but like I said I'm wearing them in a different environment... when the game is over I'm showering and throwing everything in a bag, then eating a nd drinking w/ my coaches.
    They might work then. As a tip to the OP, if you try these, wear/wash them a few times to soften them up. I almost returned mine because they were so uncomfortable the first few times I wore them.

  15. #15
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    While not planning on ever going to Iceland, I'll echo a previous posters sentiment about waterproof hiking boots. For my bikepacking, I use flats and hiking shoes.
    Help chart the mountains at www.appalachianbiketrails.org

  16. #16
    slow:biker
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    My vote is for quick drying footwear and it is based on the following:

    I've done quite a lot of backpacking in Northern Canada and some biking. I've been to Baffin Island, Northern tip of Labrador, Yukon and NWT. When it is raining, yes, your feet will get wet and stay wet. However, when it is NOT raining in northern climates the relative humidity is quite low and things dry rather quickly (including your skin - cracked fingertips and lips are not uncommon). My assumption is Iceland is the same.

  17. #17
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    I crossed Iceland on my Pugsley last year (on 3" tires though). No wet crossings on the Kjolur main route, but we took some detours that had cold river crossings. We both used sandals for such crossings. On the bike I used non-gore tex hiking shoes plus some old kinda fully covering gaiters. My shoes still got wet once after a little accident, but having wool socks meant that I was never cold. My friend used thin Nike fashion trainers and regretted it - simply too cold even in August in the highlands (where I assume you're going....).

    BTW, check the wind direction online before choosing which direction to go (Iceland have good sites to see weather and road conditions in the highlands). We had tail wind for a week, but met many other cyclists who had not checked the wind direction.

    Enjoy!

  18. #18
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    About wind, this site really helped me in Ireland:

    WindGURU: United States - Maui (north shore)

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by christian69 View Post
    I crossed Iceland on my Pugsley last year (on 3" tires though). No wet crossings on the Kjolur main route, but we took some detours that had cold river crossings. We both used sandals for such crossings. On the bike I used non-gore tex hiking shoes plus some old kinda fully covering gaiters. My shoes still got wet once after a little accident, but having wool socks meant that I was never cold. My friend used thin Nike fashion trainers and regretted it - simply too cold even in August in the highlands (where I assume you're going....).

    BTW, check the wind direction online before choosing which direction to go (Iceland have good sites to see weather and road conditions in the highlands). We had tail wind for a week, but met many other cyclists who had not checked the wind direction.

    Enjoy!
    Great advice. I'd love to pick your brain further. If I manage to sell off one of my MTB's before the trip, I'll be building a pair of 29+ wheels for the pugs, though, I won't be devastated if I do the trip on 4" rubber.

    I am thinking the sandals and running shoes option will be my go-to, but hadn't considered gaiters. Which ones did you end up using? My girlfriend has a pair of OR Huron's that will fit the bill, but I've got nothin'.

    Thanks for the bead on wind direction. I will use that
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  20. #20
    Fail again. Fail better.
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    Me & GF are doing the same thing but a month earlier. We will go with gore hiking shoes and waterproof covers + lightweight sandals for river crossings.
    Are you taking any particular trails? Good luck, maybe we'll cross each others paths.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by eastman115 View Post
    My assumption is Iceland is the same.
    I think Iceland would be quite different, to the wet and damp side.

    I have not been to Iceland but worked in BC coastal logging where it similarly rains a ton. We wore leather boots that were waterproofed, plus liner sock and thick wool sock. This setup kept my feet warm all the time. For Iceland I would probably go with a high top waterproof hiking boot with similar liner and wool sock, and gaiters to help keep water out. Any river crossings I would take them off and use river shoes or sandals.

    I tried out neoprene and then gore tex socks for hiking and biking years ago, and didn't find them useful. Water can run down your leg into them, and they hold water in just like they keep it out. The goretex socks were too tight to wear anything but a thin sock underneath. So I found my feet got clammy and stayed wet, which led to blisters when hiking. That may happen with quick dry shoes or goretex boots too but at least with waterproof boots you can stay dry for longer if careful.

  22. #22
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    My choice would also be quick-drying trail shoes with waterproof socks. I have no direct experience with GoreTex socks while cycling, but I use Klim GoreTex socks for "adventure riding" (think bikepacking on a motorcycle). I have had my moto boots full of water, with wet socks, stop and take off boots, put the Klim socks over the wet socks, put feet back in soggy boots, then ride the rest of the day. By the end of the day, my feet and socks were dry.

  23. #23
    um... yeah
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    Just got back from riding in Iceland.

    Yes, pay attention to the wind reports. There is very little vegetation to break up the wind. It can get crazy. Also, learn how to translate meters per second. The wind was far more of a concern than the precipitation while I was there.

    One thing I noticed was there is fuel alcohol in every gas station, so an alcohol stove is a good idea. There is zero firewood, so don't count on warming up at night.

    Bring eyeshades if you are sensitive to light at night. It will not get darker than twilight.

  24. #24
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    Have done 3 trips there. Would definitely go with lightweight mesh uppers for quick drying. If you go off the main roads in the interior you'll have plenty of river crossings. Waterproof shoes will get wet and can take ages to dry. On my last trip i used spd compatible northwave dolomite evo's. They work well when HAB-ing and dry very fast. Only downside for me was the sole delaminated after a month on the trails in Scandinavia last summer. Would advise to ride them a few months before heading of and get them fixed if required.

    Have a great trip!

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