Viking Ultra Iceland

The ‘little brother’ of the Fire & Ice Ultra, billed as an introduction to multi-day racing…but as the Fire & Ice is one of the toughest races in the world, this is still something to take seriously! Over three days, competitors cross 125km of Icelandic terrain, carrying everything they need.

Carrying kit means striking a balance between what you can reasonably carry and the warmth you need.


Down Sleeping Bag selection

Although not the depths of winter, May in Iceland can still be chilly at night. The most obvious choice from our main range would be the Minim 400 or 400 K, with a TOT (Typical Operating Temperature) of -5°C.

However, the Minimus/Minimus K has a TOT of 5°C, and the Superlight bag from our Design Your Own series can be specified with a TOT as low as 4°C; if combined with suitable down clothing, these bags could form the basis of an exceptionally light Sleep System, rated to 0°C or below.

S-bag TOT (Min Temp) Weight Packed size
Hght x Diam (cm)
°C  °F gm oz 
Minimus 5 41 465 16 21 x 13
Minimus K 5 41 380 13 21 x 13
Minim 400 -5 23 670 24 28 x 17
Minim 400 K -5 23 585 21 28 x 17

Additional points:

  1. TEMPERATURE RATING: Put simply, these are the temperatures at which you should be able to get a night's sleep in normal circumstances. For fuller details about the TOT rating see this Technical Briefing.
  2. LINERS: A liner will add to the insulation, but as always there is a trade-off between the extra weight and bulk, and the warmth you gain. Silk liners add roughly 2°C but only weigh around 140g so they’re a popular choice. If you’re particularly concerned about cold, our K Series Filler Bag is 100g heavier than that but will add 10°C.
  3. CLOTHING: Thermal baselayers obviously help to keep you warm, and lightweight warm layers such as our Wafer clothing boost the performance of the bag considerably. See the Clothing section below for more details.
  4. FABRIC OPTIONS: The Minim 400 and 400K come with M1 and MX outer fabric as standard, but are also available with Drishell/Ultrashell. These options are highly wind/water resistant but do not add significantly to the weight of the bags: Drishell adds about 40g, Ultrashell adds about 18g. The Superlight comes in exceptionally lightweight 10X (or even 7X, our lightest ever fabric), but is also available in Ultrashell.
  5. ZIPS: These bags are all designed with a wide enough opening to work without zips; zips are an option, but competitors often don't ask for one, to minimise weight. A short zip with draft tube adds about 50g (2oz), a full zip and tube adds about 110g (4oz). The Superlight is also available with a venting foot zip, which adds about 10g (⅓oz). Zips also add to the packed size.
  6. PACKED SIZE: PHD stuff sacs tend to be on the loose side, for ease of stuffing. All these bags can be compressed further in your pack.
S-bag TOT (Min Temp) Weight Packed size
Hght x Diam (cm)
°C  °F gm oz 
Minim 400 (Drishell) -5 23 710 25 28 x 17
Minim 400 K (Ultrashell) -5 23 603 21 28 x 17

Clothing selection

For cold days or at camp in the evening, the Wafer Jacket provides warmth down to round about freezing point, but weighs just 190g; if you really tend to feel the cold though, then the Ultra K Jacket or Pullover have also proved popular for this race, offering a fantastic level of warmth and still a very low weight: they have a TOT of -5°C but are nevertheless just 240g or 225g respectively. Moving in the opposite direction – getting less extreme – the WaferLite Shirt is warm down to around 5°C and, at 125g, is the lightest in the world.

Some may opt to take a light synthetic gilet too. Like the Wafer clothing, the Sigma Vest has a TOT of 0°C but, thanks to its synthetic Primaloft insulation, it’s far less moisture sensitive than down: you can wear it to boost core body warmth when running in the cold without being concerned about perspiration saturating it.

All the above clothing can be worn inside a sleeping bag on colder nights; if Wafer Trousers and Wafer Socks are also worn to create a Sleep System, the performance will be quite significantly enhanced, despite a weight gain of only 175g. And please, don’t underestimate the importance of the socks! Cold feet are a quick and simple way to an uncomfortable, interrupted night (and a sluggish, groggy next day).

The next Viking Ultra Iceland race was due to start on 25th May 2024 but has been suspended due to a volcano:

Photo: Taylor Leopold