Hiking Trails

Iceland wants to turn your quarantine sweatpants into hiking boots

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After more than a year of lockdowns and travel bans, we’re all looking for an adventure and wondering what to do with the sweatpants we’ve been wearing for months. The Icelandic travel agency responds to both issues with an unusual solution. Visit the Land of Fire and Ice in July, and you can drop off your quarantine sweatpants for recycling in what the tourist office describes as a custom, vegan, and sustainable hiking shoe. They also look pretty good: the campaign website promises cuffs that will “keep your ankles warm and emotionally supported,” trail-ready outsoles, and a water-resistant upper body perfect for the trail. Iceland’s rainy climate and abundant waterfalls.

Although the boots are free, they are limited in quantity and only available to visitors disembarking in Iceland in July 2021. If you were expecting a fully customized pair, you might also be disappointed, as the visitors’ sweatpants will only be used for the ankle cuff of the boots.

Photo: Iceland Affairs

Tourism accounts for the lion’s share of Iceland’s GDP – north of 40% – and the pandemic has hit the country hard. According to New York Times, Covid-related slowdowns in the industry have resulted in the layoffs of around 8,000 people, or 4% of the country’s workforce. Last year, the country’s government pledged $ 12 million to improve infrastructure for the tourism industry; the office boot campaign is the latest effort to advertise and attract visitors.

With Covid restrictions starting to ease, if you decide to visit Iceland this year, choosing a hiking trail might be your biggest challenge. Hot springs or whale watching along the fjord? Ice caps inland or island hopping with arctic terns? The 33.5-mile Laugarvegurinn, an ideal hideaway hike for newcomers to the backcountry, passes through some of the most geothermal areas on the planet, serving hot springs and colorful mountains galore. The 20-mile Jökulsárgljúfur is much further out and follows the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River through a huge basalt canyon. For true solitude, you can test your new boots on the 42 mile Hesteyri to Kögur Loop, located in the northwest corner of the island where sheep outnumber people.

Before you leave Reykjavik, be sure to check the current park and trail closures due to volcanic activity and leave plenty of room for eruptions and lava – they can change erratically and toxic volcanic fumes can change. spread much further than lava. As the Icelandic tourism industry warns, “Tracksuit boots won’t protect you from molten lava. Nothing will. Please venture out safely.